The carful of kids stand in the shadow of the New York City skyline waiting for the Statue of Liberty ferry to arrive. We are finishing up a three-week road trip that took us from Central Texas to Quebec, the Canadian Maritimes and Boston.
Though I lived in NYC for several years, I never visited the Statue of Liberty so I’m just excited as the kids. I chose to depart from New Jersey because of the convenience for day trippers and the availability of tickets.
Top Tips for Families
- Pack a lunch though keep it small since nothing can go inside the Statue of Liberty
- Depart from New Jersey if you’re a day tripper with a car.
- Make reservations early, crown tour fills six months out, pedestal six weeks out for weekends and holidays.
- Arrive before you departure time.
- If short on time, skip Ellis Island.
Manhattan skyline mesmerizes the carful of kids as we waited for the ferry. It’s amazing to see for the first time. My 11-year-old daughter looked over to lower Manhattan with a look I know. She’s dying to get there and I hope she loves the city as much as I do.
The Ferry Ride
I pulled the SUV into the paid parking lot and found a spot with ease. After an airport-like security screen, the carful of kids fight a competitive New Jersey crowd to jockey our way to the top level of the ferry. We want a view and the Statue of Liberty amazes the crowd.
Our ferry departed from Liberty State Park in New Jersey and stopped at Ellis Island first before heading to the Statue of Liberty. Since we left at noon, we skipped the Ellis Island tour. We’ll come back another time and tour Ellis Island along with the other National Park Service sites of NYC like Governors Island.
After disembarking the ferry, we headed to the information center for a Junior Ranger booklet since the Statue of Liberty is a national monument.
The Pedestal Tour
The Statue of Liberty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an enduring symbol of freedom worldwide.
Statue of Liberty History
In 1865 Edouard de Laboulage first proposed a gift from France to the United States for its Centennial. Artist Frederic Bartholdi was commissioned to sculpt the Statue of Liberty.
But where to erect the statue? Bedloe’s Island offered a spot with 12-pointed star-shaped building. Laboulage and Bartholdi both agreed on Bedloe’s Island.
For the Centennial Exposition in 1876, the Statue’s hand holding the torch was displayed in Philadelphia. Fundraising continued in both countries to complete the project.
In 1879, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel replaced the first engineer after his death. He designed a structure to hold the weight and height of the statue and to withstand the winds of the New York Harbor.
In 1881, Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of the Biltmore Estate, designed the pedestal. He designed a pedestal half the height of the statue with poured 20-foot thick concrete walls and a granite block facade to sit on top of the 12-pointed star building already in place. Back in Paris, the statue started to take shape with its copper skin.
Completed and gifted to the United States on July 4, 1884, in Paris. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, after it was reconstructed and placed on its pedestal.
The Statue of Liberty was designated a National Monument in 1924. During the 1980s, the Statue of Liberty underwent a major restoration and a gold-leaf torch replaced the original one. I found the original on display in the museum.
Statue of Liberty with Kids
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Rangers present them after completing their booklet.
The carful of kids explored the entire complex and filled out our Junior Ranger booklets along the way. The last thing on our list, take the Junior Ranger oath and accept our badges before jumping on the ferry back to New Jersey.
Security at the Statue of Liberty
To board the ferry, all passengers must pass through an airport-style security. You can bring a backpack though further screening will be required.
For pedestal or crown tour ticket holders, an additional security checkpoint is required. You aren’t allowed to bring ANYTHING with you, except a small camera and medication, including water and unopened food. I rented a locker for $2 for the backpack and everything in my husband’s pockets–like keys and pens.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument is free though a ferry ticket is required for all passengers.
Reserve and Pedestal Access Tour
Seniors 62+ $14.00
Kids 4 to 12 $9
Toddlers 3 and under Free
Crown Access Tour
Seniors 62+ $17.00
Kids 4 to 12 $12
New York or New Jersey?
We skipped New York City this trip since we had only one day to explore. My boys, 6 and 10, are a tad too young to enjoy it.
The New Jersey Statue Cruises ferry offers paid parking and more availability for tickets.
Where’s the ferry?
All visitors must take a Statue Cruises ferry to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The first ferry departs at 9:30 a.m. and the last ferry departs at 3:30 p.m. and 6:45 during the summer. The Statue of Liberty is open every day except December 25.
The New York ferry departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Parking is limited so use public transportation.
The New Jersey Ferry departs from Liberty State Park at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive. Parking is available for a fee. I found plenty of parking during my visit.
Know before you go
- Give yourself the majority of day to explore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
- Purchase tickets ahead of time for the Statue of Liberty pedestal access.
- Crown access tickets sell out six months in advance during the holidays and summer.
- Even with tickets I found long lines for the ferry and security.
- I found a line for the pedestal elevator during our visit.