Even though I have traveled to New York City more than 30 times over the last few years, I have never visited their many of their popular landmarks.
While in the Big Apple for an event last week I added a couple extra days to my trip so I could check out some of the city’s biggest attractions.
The most famous monument in the United States, the Statue of Liberty, has always been on my list to see but I have failed to get there time and time again. This time, however, we started our trip in Battery Park so we could visit Liberty Island and the very famous lady that stands proud welcoming everyone to the city!
Battery Park all on its own is a great place to visit for both young and old. There is so much to do and see as you walk along the water, you could easily make a day of it.
Statue Cruises are located at the South end of Manhattan. Very accessible, visitors can take the train or just drive and park at one of the lots like we did.
Tickets to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands can be purchased inside Clinton Castle when you arrive. From there visitors make their way through a pavilion that houses security scanners similar to the ones you see at the airport. Everyone and everything must go through the scanner before you board the ship, but thankfully the process is quick and efficient.
Once on board the ship you can chose one of three floors to sit at for your trip over to the island.
We chose to go to the very top of the ship, which was packed.
If you want to ensure the best view of the Statue make sure you check the top deck to see how packed it is and then you can make the decision to take the next boat to secure the perfect spot to take photos of the famous landmark.
If the crowds prevent you from getting the perfect photo of Lady Liberty on the way in don’t stress. You get a second chance when you pass it again as you leave.
Once on the island, visitors can grab an audio guide and stroll through the park to learn more about the statue and its history.
Visitors who want to see more can get upgraded tickets to visit the pedestal(no extra fee but you need reservations) or the Crown($3 extra). Both of these options were sold out the day we were visiting. If you are planning to visit the crown the gear you can take to the top with you is limited so just be aware that you will need to check your back pack or purse before climbing to the top to get a better view.
We enjoyed just walking around the base of the statue – admiring it from below. You also get a nice view of the city from the island and some of the adjacent bridges and islands.
On the way back the boat stops at Ellis Island where you can get off and visit the immigration museum, before returning to Battery Park.
Before or after your cruise leave time to look around the park where the cruise terminal is. There are a lot of sculpture, like the Sphere, which stood in the plaza at The World Trade center for more than 3 decades before it was damaged during the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
In March of 2002 the Sphere was placed in Battery Park as a temporary memorial for those who lost their lives on 9/11.
The Clinton Castle is also a significant landmark as it was built in 1811 as one of the 5 forts to defend New York Harbor. It was given to the city by the U.S. Army in 1823 and now serves as the National Park Service Visitor Center and the ticket office.
Facts To Note:
- Give yourself about 3 to 4 hours to do both Liberty and Ellis islands.
- You can reserve a time to do the tour, but you don’t have to. Pre-buying your tickets will save you time, but visitors looking to just go on the fly can do so by buying a ticket at the port.
- There are snacks and souvenirs for sale on the ship.
- Visitors are free to stay on the island for as long as they would like(within operating hours). There aren’t timed exits or time constraints.
- If you want to tour the Crown you should reserve those tickets in advance. We were told that on some dates they sell out months in advance.
- The boats go from New York City and New Jersey so you can chose which port is easiest for you.
- For $50 you can do the Hard Hat tour at Ellis Island and visit the 750-bed Ellis Island Hospital, including infectious and contagious disease wards, kitchen and the mortuary and autopsy room. We didn’t do this tour but plan to next time.