9 Tips for Visiting Liberty & Ellis Island

My sister and I recently when on a trip to New York City. The primary reason for the trip was to see Anastasia on Broadway. It was so, so good and did not disappoint in the least.

While on our short trip to NYC, we did some of the typical touristy things around the city. One of those must do tourist spots is Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for theĀ  historical museum detailing all that immigrants went through when entering the country via New York City between 1892 and 1954 while it was in operation.

My sister and I jotted down quite a few tips during our trip to Liberty and Ellis Island and I can’t wait to share them with you!

#1 Tickets in Advance!

Please, please buy your tickets in advance! There are so many benefits. The first being that there is a slight discount to purchase your tickets online vs. in person. The second is that you will not have to wait in a very long line to purchase tickets when you arrive. And, the third and most important is that you will skip the stand by line and get to enter security through a shorter line. You can see below the difference between our advance ticket line on the right and the stand by (those who bought their tickets there) line on the left! And, this picture doesn’t even do it justice, that line went on and on!

#2 Purchase Your Tickets Months in Advance if You Want to Go Inside the Pedestal (Base) or Up Into the Crown!!

We purchased our tickets the day before online and were able to get tickets for the ferry to the islands, but no tickets were available to go inside the Statue of Liberty into the Pedestal or the Crown. We were told that they only sell 200 of these passes a day and so you must purchase them well in advance.

I recommend purchasing tickets AT LEAST 3 months in advance. When I got on the website mid-July, the earliest available to see the crown was Halloween! Visit Statue Cruises to purchase tickets.

#3 Security Will Be Similar to Airpot Security

Even if you entered in through the Advance Ticket line, you will still have to wait with everyone else to get through security and to get on the Ferry.

This is pretty basic, but be prepared to walk through metal detectors and have your bags searched. When first entering the building seen above, things will be quite jumbled and crowded. Spread out and don’t cluster. Fill in all the way to the left. There are multiple lines.

#4 Go Upstairs on the Ferry!

Everyone will crowd in on the lower deck. There will also be a very long line for the cafe on the lower level. So, go upstairs! There will be more seats available and a much shorter line for the cafe.

#5 Prepare for Motion Sickness!

If you are prone to motion sickness, make sure to take Dramamine before boarding. The boats are very rocky. This was so bad on our return trip that while waiting to depart the boat it was tipping so much from side to side that people were sliding and knocking into each other. We were desperate to be let off that boat!

FYI, there’s a bathroom on board as well.

#6 Audio Guide for Ellis Island, but not Liberty Island

We felt the audio guide was less interesting at the Statue of Liberty and that we would have been fine walking around it and reading the plaques with information. The people narrating the guide were a bit long winded at times and we both kind of zoned out while listening to it. It also made the Statue of Liberty take way to long!

#7 Fill in All Available Space For Ellis Island Ferry Line

It is not a single line, just push in and fill in all available space. You are not cutting.

#8 A Lot of Walking!

Be prepared for a lot of walking. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and know that you will be on your feet most of the day. Be especially prepared for this on Ellis Island as the museum does not have benches. I actually sat on the floor at one point and I saw several people sitting on the edge of the displays.

#9 Give Yourself An Entire Day

I say this specifically because of Ellis Island. If you are not going inside the Statue of Liberty, then Liberty Island could easily be a quick stop. But, Ellis Island has so much to see and do! We only got through one section of the museum before it was closing time and we had to leave. I would recommend starting early and seeing the Statue of Liberty either first thing or last thing. Or you could do each on separate days and devote an entire day to Ellis Island.

So, those are my top 8 tips for visiting Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City! Have you visited either of these places? What was your favorite part? Do you have any tips to add to my list? Please share in the comments section!

Craving more travel? Check out all of my US Travel posts!


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