w/added visits to the 9/11 Memorial & the Sea Glass Carousel
Tourism spots in this amazing city of New York are not often my go to locations on where to spend my limited free time, but when family comes into town all bets are off. I’m not typically enthralled about allotting time to be spent in tourist traps or places I never go; don’t even get me started on Times Square. The only excitement that should ever be elicited from Times Square is when stopped there on your train route when you’re given those few flittering moments of cell reception on an otherwise data free subway ride. Although, since the new year MTA has rolled out better cell service across all subway stations so Times Square 42nd Street has lost a little bit of its appeal on that front.
Now seeing that I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty not once, but twice now; I feel like I’ve got some pretty good recommendations and opinions about how to have the best overall experience.
7 Tips for a Stress Free Visit to the Statue of Liberty
- Firstly…Make The Trip!
I have many friends who have lived in the city for ages and have never been to visit the Statue of Liberty. Before having went I always scoffed at the idea. Simply take the Staten Island Ferry or the IKEA Ferry, they’re free and get you a fine view… WRONG! It’s simply not the case. Seeing the statue from afar, still while in Manhattan or from a ferry simply isn’t the same as stepping foot onto that island and looking right up at it. It’s the detail that makes it so special.
- Go Early
Get your day going early. I’ve done 10am and 12pm appointments at the statue and much preferred the earlier. The longer you wait to get to the ferry to head over, the longer the line will be. To be fair it was never that bad in my opinion, it’s a ferry so it can fit quite the large number of passengers.
- Ticket Booth
When you arrive in Battery Park to check in and get your tickets, swing around to the backside of the circular ticket booth. Everyone seems to go to the first window they see creating lines that are 4 to 5 families deep. Meanwhile, I walked around to the back and walked straight up to a ticket operator.. no wait!
- Dress Appropriately
This should go without saying, but dress for the weather. All the elements are heightened out there on Liberty Island. No buildings, trees, or anything of the like to protect you from the sun, wind, chill, etc.
- Check The Weather
Piggybacking off the previous comment, check the weather. I understand that if you purchase a ticketed portion that would be far in advance, but whenever possible be mindful of the weather. I’ve visited the statue in fall and winter; surprisingly the winter excursion was far more enjoyable. Yes there was snow on the ground, but it was just a chill, you get used to it. The fall day however was on an incredibly blustery day. The wind could knock you down if you weren’t careful. I’m sure the direct sun in the summer isn’t all that ideal either.
- Go Inside
Whenever possible, schedule some time inside the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been to both the pedestal level and in the crown. The pedestal level gives you great views of the surrounding boroughs, Manhattan looks particularly gorgeous showing off the Downtown/FiDi skyline. But if you’re up for the challenge, it is absolutely essential to take a climb up to the crown. The experience of knowing you’re inside that statue, seeing her eyes from the inside, peering through the windows of the crown, touching the squiggles that make her hair… it’s all surreal.
- Climb Like A Champ
No elevator, all stairs, but honestly, it goes incredibly quickly on the walk to/from the crown. Some of my family had some difficulty with the spiral staircase, tight space, height, etc. My tricks: way up – don’t bother with the handrail, lean left into the middle column and just walk right up // way down – lean back, rest your left arm on the handrail (smooth chrome) and just slide right down. I could have been up and down that staircase so quickly if it weren’t for the people in front of me slowing up the process.
After you’ve made the trip to Liberty Island, it’s only natural to hop on the ferry and head over to Ellis Island to spend some time. Honestly, people don’t give Ellis Island enough credit. Sure, Lady Liberty is all flashy and appealing on the outside, but the museums and architecture on Ellis Island are astounding; another reason to go early and not feel rushed. Take your time and read the fine details throughout the exhibit and wander around the many halls of the Immigration Museum, three floors of some pretty astonishing history.
* And side note: if you stand in the spot where I took the photo below, it has a pretty intense sound amplification of your voice. The smallest of whispers sounds like you’re yelling. It was so cool!
Once you’ve taken the ferry back to Manhattan, hop off and head right to the other end of Battery Park to the SeaGlass Carousel! Built by the Battery Park Conservancy to bring in more light to the southern tip of Battery Park and honor what was once the location of the first New York Aquarium. We were fortunate enough to catch the carousel at sunset and the view could not have been more idyllic.
The interior is an underwater wonderland that any kid would gush over! The mystical lighting, tropical fish, views of the waterfront. A very cute magical experience!
Having just left Ellis Island in an educational and historical mindset, I find it’s a good time to visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to educate yourself and pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day and the numerous repercussions on the entire city of New York. Photography is limited within the museum so I’ve only included photos of the exhibit in the main lobby. “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning”. The museum is a huge eye opener to first hand accounts of the attack and I highly encourage everyone to go. I’ve been twice now and still feel like I haven’t covered all the info offered. The absolute bare minimum of time needed is 2 hours, and that is pushing it. Ideally, 4 hours would be perfect to take your time with no rush.