5 Tips for Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Last week, I went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for the first time in almost thirteen years.  As the great-grandchild of immigrants, it was surreal thinking I was standing in the shadows of where our American heritage began.

While I absolutely loved the experience, I wish there were a few things that I would have known about prior to visiting.

Use Statue Cruises

It’s the only official service that goes to the islands.  And from what I saw, they were the only ferries coming and going.  Statue Cruises offers opportunities to buy food, souvenirs, and take in the beautiful scenery above deck.

Pack light

When you buy your ticket, the time is not actually based on the ferry’s departure.  You are paying for your spot to stand in an extensive security line, and the amount of people waiting to board makes the situation particularly stressful.

Bring Cash

At least $50, and definitely stash some singles!  To get up to the pedestal and crown, visitors are required to stash away their belongings in lockers.  At the moment, the lockers are cash only.  I made the mistake of bringing only credit cards.  Then, I walked a quarter of a mile to the nearest ATM only to find the machine was out of money.

Thankfully, customer service was able to provide me with a locker free of charge.  However, I was very close to missing my entrance to the statue altogether.  Like, minutes.

Visit the crown

I’m not sure if I got really lucky the day that I visited, but buying tickets to the crown is well worth it.  If you’re a big photog, there are some awesome photo opportunities.  I really enjoyed taking in the view and talking to the park rangers stationed in the room.

Research your ancestry prior to your visit

Ellis Island offers a unique opportunity to look up one’s immigrant ancestors.  For $7, you have up to thirty minutes to rent a computer and sift through records.  Although I tried it, I didn’t get very far — the information is dense, so you really have to know what you’re looking for.  Do your research beforehand.

Do you have any other tips?  Feel free to share!

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