Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a must when in New York. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, this monument is an important landmark and a testimony of the past of the city and the country, a symbol of what the United States wish to represent: democracy, freedom, hope.
Getting good, reliable and updated information on how to visit the Statue of Liberty is easier said than done, and many who wish to visit are at a loss not really knowing where to look, what to expect, or how to get tickets (and how far in advance). I sure was last time I went to New York.
But don’t worry: in this post, I will explain everything you need to know before visiting the Statue of Liberty.
What You Should Know Before Visiting The Statue Of Liberty
Some background information about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty is actually located in New Jersey state, but it’s within territorial jurisdiction of the State of New York (I know, confusing!). It represents a joint effort between the USA and France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Its official name was Liberty Enlightening The World. Lady Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The statue became a National Monument in 1924 and been cared for by the National Park Service since 1933.
The statue, which is made in copper, was designed by French sculptor Frederic August Bartholdi. Its metal framework was built by Eiffel – the same of the Eiffel Tower of Paris. It was not always green: originally, it was a copper color (so a rich brown). Throughout the years, exposure to air, pollution and water caused a change of color which eventually (in 1906) settled for the current green-blue shade we know it for.
Lady Liberty holds a torch with her right hand; whereas with her left one she holds a tabula ansata (a votive tablet) with Roman numeric inscription that reads the date July 4, 1776.
Raising the funds for the construction of the Pedestal was not easy. The mayors of Boston and Philadelphia offered to fund for that, but asked for the statue to be moved to their city. Eventually, Joseph Pulitzer, launched a campaign suggesting that anyone who’d contribute would have their name printed in the paper, and managed to raise the funds.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty
The Pedestal literally is the concrete part of the Statue of Liberty. In other words, this is the main bit you will be going to. Inside, you will find a small museum with an exhibit about the history and the creation of the Statue.
There are two ways of accessing the Pedestal: via a 215 steps staircase or by elevator.
The Crown is the highest accessible point. Some see no point in going up there, because the windows are small, almost impossible to take pictures from, and there are too many people fighting over them for the view. Views are indeed better from the Pedestal. But visiting the Crown is actually a memorable – provided it that you are fit enough for it.
There is no elevator going from the Pedestal to the Crown and you will have to push yourself to climb 162 narrow steps on a spiral staircase. It’s slightly claustrophobic.
To access the Crown, you will need tickets and a waistband which you will get after going through security for the Pedestal. Kids need to be at least 4 foot tall (122 cm) to visit the Crown, as they must walk on their own.
The original torch was replaced after renovation works that started in 1984. The torch had indeed been leaking since 1916, when during WWI the Germans sabotaged it, and it was decided to replace it with a 24-karat gold flame. The original torch was placed in Statue of Liberty Museum. Access to the torch is prohibited.
How long should you factor for visiting the Statue of Liberty?
The amount of time you spend visiting the Statue of Liberty varies depending on what you decide to see .Here is a breakdown of the various timings:
STATEN ISLAND FERRY – 90 minutes.
GUIDED TOURS OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY – 4 hours.
CRUISE AROUND THE STATUE OF LIBERTY – 60 minutes.
INDEPENDENT VISITS – It depends on what you decide to see. If you opt to see the Pedestal, the Crown, and then go to Ellis Island it will take you up to 6 hours from the time the ferry departs from Battery Park.
Should you opt for a guided tour to visit the Statue of Liberty?
Guided tours are a great hassle free option – your only worry will be that of getting to the meeting point in time for departure. The guide takes care of all the arrangements; literally holds your hand as you get on the ferry; and guides you around the site while sharing relevant information that will help you make the most of the experience.
Guided tours of the Statue of Liberty usually start with a ferry ride from Battery Park, during which you will get and impressive views of both the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. They continue to the Pedestal to visit the museum. Some have the option of visiting the Crown before continuing on to Ellis Island.
This Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour is the best tour if you’d rather have early access. It costs $59 USD and lasts 4 hours.
For more guided tours to the Statue of Liberty, click here.
Getting Statue of Liberty tickets
Here’s the deal. Theoretically, Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located, and Ellis Island, are free to access because they are part of the National Park Service. However, you have to get there by ferry and this means there is a price (sorry!). To that, you must add the price of the ticket to the Pedestal and the Crown.
These are the options available:
The official site to get Statue of Liberty tickets is that of State Cruises. The 3 options available are:
Reserve and /or Pedestal tickets – the most popular Statue of Liberty tickets. Definitely opt for the Pedestal access if available. It costs $23.80 USD for adults; $18.30 USD for seniors (62 and above); and $12.30 USD for children between 4 and 12.
Statue of Liberty Crown tickets: at the time of writing, the Statue of Liberty Crown remains closed and tickets aren’t currently on sale.
You can only buy 4 crown tickets at a time, so not ideal if you are visiting in a group. You can only buy tickets once every 6 months -a measure is aimed at curbing touts who may resell tickets for a higher price. You need to give your name when buying the ticket, so these aren’t transferable.
Hard Hat tickets – They include a 90 minute guided tour of the unrestored Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex, as well as a self-guided tour of Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The minimum age for this option is 13. Tickets cost $68.50 for adults and $63 for seniors.
The prices and options indicated above are for ferries departing from both New York Battery Park and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
Third party sites
Basic tickets on third party sites usually cost exactly the same as on official sites, but third party sites are more user friendly, with no pop-ups and no new page or new window opening for each link you click on. You can get your tickets months in advance, even when they are not available on official sites yet (perfect if you want to plan ahead) and you can cancel in a click up to 24 yours before your visit and get your money back almost immediately.
You can get your tickets for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island here.
You can buy Statue of Liberty tickets by calling numbers 1-877-532-9849 if you are already in the United States, or +1-201-604-2800 from other countries.
You also have the option to buy tickets in person at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. It’s open from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm daily.
Getting Statue of Liberty tickets on the day of your visit
You can’t get Crown access tickets on the day of your visit – these need to be booked in advance.
Reserve and Pedestal access tickets can be bought on the day of your visit but may be sold out, so it’s best you book in advance. Pedestal access tickets are not sold on Liberty Island, so you need to get them at the departure point – Castle Clinton in Battery Park.
Booking a time slot for visiting the Statue of Liberty
When buying your tickets you are requested to book a time slot for your visit. You have the option to go at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 am and at 12:00 and 1:00 or 2:00 pm (Pedestal, depending on whether you are visiting from New York or New Jersey) and up to 2:00 and 3:00 pm if you only have general admission.
Opt for the earliest departure available, so that you can enjoy the site with less crowds and at a slower pace. If you get the 9:00 am ticket you will be back in Manhattan by early afternoon, in time for lunch and to explore more of the city.
The 1:00 pm option won’t have enough time to explore properly.
You need to be at the ferry departure point at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour.
How and where to pick up your Statue of Liberty tickets
This depends on what kind of ticket you bought.
If you got your ticket via the official site, you can get your tickets via email and have to print them at home. Alternatively, you can pick them up at the Will Call (the ticket booth).
For Statue of Liberty Crown tickets, the only option is to pick them up from the Will Call window.
If you bought your ticket via a third party site, you can either print the voucher or use the app.
How far in advance should you book?
As far in advance as you can. Keep in mind that more than 4 million people per year have been visiting the Statue of Liberty in the last few years. Crown tickets are sold out up to 3 months in advance (only 500 people are allowed daily), whereas Pedestal access is more easily available.
It also depends on how large your group is. If you are a solo traveler you can find tickets more easily even a couple of weeks before actually visiting.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty on a budget
You can’t really visit the Statue of Liberty for free – not unless you are a child up to 4 years of age. However, if you are not interested in getting into the Pedestal or the Crown, and only care for the views, you can hop on the Staten Island Ferry. It’s not nearly the same thing – but if your budget or schedule are tight, you should definitely go for this option.
The Staten Island Ferry leaves from the Whitehall Terminal, in southern Manhattan, and runs 24/7 (so a fabulous option if you want to admire Manhattan in all its glory at night) every 30 minutes (every 15 minutes during rush hour on weekdays), on the hour and on the half hour. The ride lasts 25 minutes each way. Once you reach Staten Island, you can get off and back on. The overall journey can take you between an hour and an hour and a half.
To avoid the crowds, go after rush hour (so between 9:30 and 11:30 am) or after 7:00 pm. Depending on the season, that’s also the best time for sunset views!
Visiting the Statue of Liberty with a New York City Pass
This is what you need to know about visiting the Statue of Liberty with the New York City Pass:
- You only get access to the Statue of Liberty Reserve;
- You can’t book a time slot – you just show up at the Will Call window on the day of your visit and exchange your pass for a ticket;
- It is not a skip the line or priority option – you must show up early;
- For Pedestal access, it works on a first come first serve basis – if you are visiting in peak season, forget about that!
- Crown access is not included – you have to buy it separately and you can’t even deduct the price from the reserve access that is on included in your pass.
You can get your New York City Pass here.
Other Useful Things To Know
The best guided tours
The tour below is completely hassle free. Given what it includes, and that is lasts 4 full hours, it’s actually really good value for money.
Book in advance
Book at least 3 months before you are planning to visit. This is a popular tourist attractions and you if you leave it to the last minute you may end up with no tickets!
What to do if Statue of Liberty tickets are sold out
Do not despair. You can probably to visit even when it seems that tickets are sold out. It really depends on what you want to experience.
Here are a few tips and things to know:
DEPART FROM NEW JERSEY: If all Statue of Liberty tickets with ferry departure from New York are sold out, look for tickets with ferry departure from New Jersey Liberty State Park. You can get there via public transportation (discover how here) and on the way back you can opt for the ferry that takes you back to Battery Park or Liberty State Park.
GO EARLY: Plan to be at the Will Call window at 7:00 am. The office opens at 8:00 am and you may manage to get lucky and find a ticket.
CONTINUE CHECKING ONLINE: There is always a chance that someone cancels their ticket and this becomes available again.
PRO TIP: Guided tours usually have more availability because they are more expensive. This Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour is one of the best around.
OPT FOR THE RESERVE TICKET: If you are ok just going to the Reserve, chances are that tickets will be available even last minute – but keep in mind you won’t have access to the actual monument.
GO ON A CRUISE: If everything is sold out, you still have the option to take a cruise around Liberty Island or to ride the Staten Island Ferry. Ok, they are not quite the same thing but better than nothing.
How to get to the Statue of Liberty
Ferry departure points
Ferries to the Statue of Liberty depart both in New York and New Jersey.
In New York, the ferry departs from Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, and follows this route: Battery Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Battery Park.
In New Jersey, the ferry departs from Liberty State Park and follow this route: Liberty State Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Liberty State Park.
The first ferry departs at 8:30 am. The last one leaves at 3:30 pm in low season and at 4:00 pm in high season.
The last ferry back departs at 5:00 pm in low season and 5:45 pm in peak season.
You can see the full ferry schedule here.
Liberty Island and Ellis Island are open every day except on Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and Christmas day.
Accessibility of the Statue of Liberty
Even people with limited mobility can visit the Statue of Liberty. Wheelchairs are available free of charge on Liberty Island, and there are elevators going up to the Pedestal. There is no elevator to get to the Crown. Service animals can access all areas of the park except the Crown.
Fore more information on visiting Statue of Liberty with a disability, you may want to check this page.
You will need to go through airport-style security to board the ferry. You will have to do the same to access the Pedestal and the Crown.
Prohibited items include weapons, scissors, knives, large bags and backpacks, packages and parcels. You can’t wear anything that hides your identity.
For access to the Crown, you will also need to show a document – usually your driving license or passport will do. One document per person is needed – so if you booked a bunch of tickets, each person in the group will have to show proof of identity.
You must store your personal belongings in a locker before accessing the Pedestal and the Crown. You can only really take your camera, medications and ticket to the Pedestal and the Crown.
Lockers are available for rent at the entrance of the Statue. They cost $2 USD for up to 2 hours.
Facilities at the Statue of Liberty
Toilets are available in the monument and near the food area, as well as at departure points.
Food and drinks
Bring your own snacks or a small lunch if you can. Food is available on Liberty Island and even on the ferry, but to be honest it is way overpriced and really low in quality (think junk / fast food).
If you are planning a larger trip to the US, these posts may come of use:
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