Visiting Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty

Liberty Island Park with the Statue of Liberty is historic and recognizable site worldwide. The Statue forms a breathtaking scene in the middle of New York Harbor, and for millions of immigrants, it was an unforgettable part of a journey to freedom and opportunity. The Island is accessible by ferry, and it attracts more than 3 million visitors per year, with peak times being summer and the holidays.

The Statue of Liberty is a breathtaking work of art. Coming in at more than 300 feet tall, it is one of the largest sculptures in the world. Initially opened to the public in 1886, the Statue was a gift from the nation of France. It became a symbol of a great migration from Europe to America. The New York City area grew as vibrant ethnic neighborhoods and many cultural additions came with periods of European immigration. Associated with safety and freedom, many ethnic heritages honor the symbolic importance of the Statue and Ellis Island.

There are three types of tickets for the Statue of Liberty:

  • Grounds-only tickets: These tickets only allow visitors access to the grounds around the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Access includes park ranger-guided, audio, and self-guided tours. These tickets are the most easily available and may be the only type left for visitors who have not planned their trips in advance.
  • Pedestal tickets: These tickets allow visitors the same access as the grounds tickets but also include entry inside the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty sits. Inside the pedestal is the Liberty Island Museum that includes information of the building of the statue and how her interpretation has changed over time. The pedestal also offers panoramic views of New York and New Jersey at half the height of the statue. Only a limited number of day-of pedestal tickets are distributed within the first hour of ferry departures.
  • Crown tickets: These tickets allow visitors the same access as the grounds and pedestal tickets but also include entry to the Statue’s crown and its 24 windows. This access was closed after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and only reopened in 2009. Due to extreme popularity and a limit to how many visitors can ascend the statue, crown tickets are usually booked 6 months in advance or more. Tickets must be booked in advance of arrival via phone or online, and are not offered the day-of. There is no elevator to the top of the statue, only 2 spiral staircases. 

The nearby Ellis Island Museum is another must-see location in the New York Harbor. It was part of the rich history of immigration to America from Europe and elsewhere in which the port of entry was New York Harbor. No longer used to welcome new arrivals from around the world, the Ellis Island Museum is a favorite tourist destination. For many visitors, it has significance based upon family histories, as many families trace roots to immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. Souvenir seekers can enjoy concessions on board the ferries as well as on Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

A related tour is to view the Manhattan Skyline and shore from the Harbor. You can see Lower Manhattan, the Financial District, the complete Manhattan skyline, several rivers, and some of the great bridges in a full or half circle boat tour. These Harbor and River tours depart from New York City and New Jersey piers and can be set for daytime or evening viewing. The late tours provide sunset views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and night views of the New York City Skyline from the Hudson River.