Each year around 4.3 million people include visiting the Statue of Liberty National Monument to their travel plans. That’s more than 10,000 daily visitors to this tiny New York City landmark. With that many tourists, it takes some advanced planning (and some insider tips!) to make sure you and your group make the most of your visit.
We have made visiting the Statue of Liberty part of our #parkchasing plans twice, once in 2016 and a return visit in 2019. While it wouldn’t be fair to call the first visit a complete failure, there were some things we learned that made the 2019 visit more memorable and enjoyable.
Today we’re sharing our “Everything You Need To Know…” guide to help you plan the best trip possible. It’s the things we wish we would have known the first time and what you can expect on your next visit.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting The Statue of Liberty – Making Reservations
Book from the official NPS concessionaire.
One of the things that can be overwhelming and confusing when you’re planning your visit to the Statue of Liberty are the options for tickets. If you’ve spent any time in NYC, you’ll know ticket hawkers and combo packages are everywhere. But we’ve heard some really awful experiences about pirated, non-guaranteed, or scalped tickets ruining trips to the Statue of Liberty. Proceeds from these ad-hoc ticket sales may not also go to support the National Park Service either. And who wants that?
Even though you might find a better deal elsewhere, we recommend you only use the official NPS concessionaire for Statue of Liberty tickets. Check out the Statue of Liberty website and book from there.
Book your reservations early.
If you don’t use any of the other tips in this post, please, please, please use this one. Book your reservations as early as possible for visiting the Statue of Liberty. All 4.3 million visitors are in line with you. You need to plan ahead.
Yes, we know it can be hard to predict the weather 6 months ahead.
Yes, we know your travel plans may change and you’re out the money.
But if you don’t pick a time to book your tickets, you run the risk of not getting tickets at all. Like many of our other national parks, it’s becoming more and more difficult to have a walk-up experience. In 2016, we made a last-minute decision to go to NYC and even though we were able to grab tickets they weren’t at the best time and they weren’t for the tour we wanted. We learned from that experience and booked tickets well in advance in 2019.
Book the right departure location.
The Statue of Liberty ferry service departs from two locations Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey and Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. If you’ve purchased a ticket and it’s from any other ferry terminal, you’ve booked something other than the official NPS tour (see #1).
That being said, make sure you review your ticket information carefully. We’ve watched people walk up to the window only to realize their reservations were for the other ferry terminal…in a different state.
Go early in the morning.
Although your ferry ticket is stamped with a time of departure to get to the Statue of Liberty, once you’re on the island, you’re allowed to stay as long as you like. That means–like most things in life–there’s an advantage to arriving early. Crowds tend to be smaller and there are fewer visitors in the museums and exhibits as well. The later in the day you go, the longer the lines and the fewer options you’ll have for taking the ferry back off the island.
Book the crown or pedestal tour.
If you have the time in your schedule and can meet the mobility requirements, we highly recommend booking the crown or pedestal tour. Climbing the winding staircase inside of the Statue of Liberty will always be one of our most memorable National Park experiences.
Book the tickets early and pay the tiny bit extra (it’s less than $5 more) to see the inside of the monument.
Your National Park Pass does not cover the ferry.
Do you own an America the Beautiful Pass? While there are no entrance fees to Liberty Island, the concessionaire that operates the ferry charges a separate fee. Your national park pass will not cover the ferry fee or tickets to the pedestal or crown tours.
- Statue of Liberty National Monument in Pictures
- Trip Recap: New York City’s National Parks
- Visit all the National Parks in New York
- Our New York City National Parks Trip
What You Need to Know Before Visiting The Statue of Liberty – Check-In & The Ferry Ride
Expect long lines and crowds.
Apologize if we’re starting to sound like a broken record here, but given that you’re shuttling more than 10,000 people onto a tiny island every day, it’s best to plan for crowds and some waiting in lines. While the National Park Service does its best to work with the huge visitor numbers, it’s still an urban park with tricky logistics.
Be patient. Be kind. Expect long lines and larger crowds that you’d experience at other places. If you follow our basic National Park Etiquette guidelines, you’ll be best prepped for what to expect.
Plan for airport-style security.
When you travel on the Statue of Liberty ferries or into the pedestal/crown tour area, expect and prepare for airport-style security. Read the guidelines in advance about what you can and can’t bring with you during your visit. Follow the regulations carefully to minimize the time you’re in the security area.
If you have pedestal or crown tour tickets, you’ll need to go through additional airport-style security once you arrive on Liberty Island.
Don’t be afraid to move around the ferry.
The ferry ride to Liberty Island takes about 15-30 minutes. If you feel comfortable, we encourage you to move around the ferry boat. Test out the different decks for different photo opportunities. Be sure to watch the front and the back of the boat for different vantages of Lady Liberty and the New York City Skyline.
If you’re departing from Battery Park and are not interested in moving around the boat, we recommend sitting on the starboard (right-hand) side of the boat.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting The Statue of Liberty – On the Island
Look for unique vantage points.
While we love the classic NYC photo of a family propped in front of Lady Liberty (and there’s a vendor who will sell you a professional photo if you’d like), some of our best photos of the National Monument came from unique angles. Walk all the way around the island. View the monument and the skyline from different vantage points–not just the standard touristy ones.
Visit the museum and watch the park film.
We’re always surprised about the number of visitors who walk off the ferry, view the Statue from a few different angles, and then leave. The National Park Service opened a brand new museum in 2019 on Liberty Island. The interactive exhibits and three-room park film help tell the story of how the Statue of Liberty came to stand in New York Harbor and represent freedom around the world. Allow enough time for the museum and stroll up to the accessible rooftop.
Meal options are okay, but nothing special.
If you happen to catch a hunger bug while you’re visiting the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, there are cafeteria options at both sites. However expect that you’ll pay tourist-level prices and be limited to basic American fare (burgers, sandwiches, chips, and fries). You are allowed to bring food and beverages on the ferry but are not allowed to bring these items into the pedestal or crown tours.
The audio tour isn’t necessary to have a great time.
When you get off the ferry, one of the concessionaire staff will offer you an audio headset that works around the island. By typing in the number listed on signs around the island, you’ll be able to access audio recordings of rangers and historical figures. But it’s not necessary to take the audio tour in order to enjoy your time. If anything, we found them distracting and limited our interactions with each other during our first visit.
Talk with a park ranger or take a ranger-led walking tour instead.
The National Park Service posts a schedule of ranger-led activities at the Flag Pole Plaza. When you arrive off the ferry, we recommend that you stop at the sign and check when the next ranger-led walking tour will be held.
Then, as you walk around the island, the museums or visit the crown, be sure to stop and chat with a park ranger. Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the monument since 1933. The staff members that work here share in a long legacy of pride and park history.
Passport stamps are in the bookstore.
Looking for National Park Passport (affiliate link) stamps at the Statue of Liberty? You’ll find them in the Liberty Island Bookstore and the Liberty Island Information Center while visiting the Statue of Liberty. Then when you hop over to Ellis Island, you’ll be able to find the rest of the stamps in their museum bookstore.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting The Statue of Liberty – Our Other Tips
Allow more time for Ellis Island.
One common mistake we hear from fellow #parkchasers is not allowing enough time in their travel plans for all of Ellis Island’s exhibits. When you make plans for visiting the Statue of Liberty, make sure to check ferry schedules and allow yourself enough time to see and tour Ellis Island.
Depending on if you’re able to book a crown or pedestal tour and interest level of your group, we recommend two hours at the Statue of Liberty and at least two to three hours at Ellis Island for the full experience.
Don’t miss NYC’s other National Parks.
When you arrive back at Battery Park or Jersey City, remember that Statue of Liberty is not the only national park worth visiting in New York City. New York’s national parks are some of the most popular and diverse of all the units in the park service. To find out about planning a New York City #parkchasing trip, check out this post: