A family visit to the Statue of Liberty
A family visit to the Statue of Liberty can be done many different ways. Your type of visit depends on how much time you have, how far in advance you are willing to plan, as well as what your level of interest is. We have visited Lady Liberty in the summer and winter, as a family (with 1 or 3 kids), and as a couple.
Here are my top tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty:
1) Get crown tickets: Reservations online 3-6 months in advance are not uncommon in order to obtain tickets inside the crown and only cost $3 more. Adults must have ID and pick up tickets at will call in Battery Park. There are a limited number allowed each day. Children must be able to hike it on their own (48″) as the staircases are winding and slim and require a little bit of physical fitness. Remember that the Statue is made of copper, so in the summer heat, the crown climb can be 10 degrees warmer inside. Our climb was during Thanksgiving weekend, so the extra warmth was welcome. All crown tickets include pedestal access. The crown was by far, my favorite portion of the statue, being able to see her from the inside and the view from her crown windows. It’s much smaller than you think, but SOOOOOO worth it!!
2) If you can’t get crown tickets, get tickets to the pedestal: The pedestal access tickets allow you to get much closer to the lady as well as a fantastic small museum inside. The photo opportunities from the pedestal towards the New York City skyline are great. And since there are not massive crowds on the pedestal, the photos of your family in front of the Statue look that much closer and overall better.
3) If you can’t get access to the pedestal or the crown, the Statue of Liberty is still worth a visit: We took Duke (age 10 at the time) to NYC a few years ago without tickets to the pedestal or crown. It was during the busy summer season, and I did not plan enough in advance. Let that be a warning to you. So in order to save face, we did the audio tour of the island. The kids audio tour version is narrated by a bird that guides you around the island describing the statue and talking about how it was built. Duke loved it, and so did we!
4) Make sure you visit Ellis Island: Hubby and I visited Ellis Island without kids the first time we went. We took the long audio tour because it was so fascinating. Unlike the statue of liberty, there is no children’s audio tour of Ellis Island. So when we went back with Duke, he only lasted through the short audio tour. I still thought it was important to do, and he did enjoy it for the most part.
5) Be prepared for security: Before boarding the ferry, everyone is subject to security screenings. The ferry has limited seating outside, so make sure you head up top for the views. Even in the winter it wasn’t too cold to see the Statue on approach. If you have tickets to the pedestal or crown, there is an additional screening once you get on Liberty island. Also, there are tiny storage lockers for those climbing the crown. A big backpack won’t fit in those lockers, and they won’t let you climb with anything other than you coat and a camera.
6) Go early in the day and pre-purchase your tickets online: The early bird gets the worm. That is never more true than when securing tickets for the crown or pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. But even if you can’t get those, pre-purchasing your tickets will save you a lot of time in line at Battery Park where the ferry departs from NYC. If you only get up early one day while in NYC, make it the day you visit the statue. The crowds are considerably larger as the day wears on. Waiting until later in the day could translate into long ferry lines at both ends, including Ellis island, crowded photos, or having to pay expensive prices to eat the moderately decent food on the island.
Overall, I’d plan on this activity to take you most of the day, especially in the summer season. If you make the first ferry, you could probably arrange a late lunch back in Manhattan. On our Thanksgiving weekend crown visit we got to Battery park around 10am, and didn’t get back until around 2:30pm. And we didn’t have time to stop at Ellis Island. Then it took another 30 minutes to an hour to get back uptown for our next activity. If you set aside most of the day for the Statue of Liberty, you won’t be rushed and probably enjoy it a little more.
Is the Statue of Liberty touristy? Absolutely. Although I think it’s an interesting and important part of American history.
Is it worth a visit? Without a doubt.