Early July, I had the opportunity to take a trip to see one of America’s greatest landmarks: The Statue of Liberty! The day was Sunny and all around perfect for the outdoor adventure. Although my family members never came to the United States through Ellis Island *Side Eye*, I am still amazed at the stories and the number of immigrants that traveled through this entry point.
Arriving at the Statue of Liberty
Accompanied by my mother, we got to Liberty State Park, New Jersey, at around 10 AM Saturday, July 7th. Parking was not too much of an issue at this time. We were able to pull right in and find a space. However, it was definitely filling up quickly by the minute so the earlier you arrive, the better.
We already had our tickets purchased so we were able to proceed in the line as normal. A line attendant scans the ticket and then we continued through a security check. For security purposes, be prepared to go through a “TSA-like” check. Yes, you must go through metal detectors in order to proceed onto the ferry.
Belts off, keys and all contents in your pockets must be emptied into a bucket and walk through to be checked. I definitely wasn’t expecting this. I’m not sure if this has always been a procedure but I can only assume this is post September 11 security check points. I hate going through it, but I appreciate the added security for not only my safety, but everyone else.
And then…you wait in line to board the Ferry.
Onboard the Ferry to Ellis Island
So…let’s talk about this Ferry. I love boats. I always have. My father had one when I was a child and I loved when we got to take the boat out to the lake to go fishing. But this ferry was less than desirable. When boarding, they rush everyone on in a disorderly manner. It’s a mad house! You are squeezed in between people you don’t know and it’s, for lack of better words, gross. I’m pretty certain I was groped numerous times by men behind me. Way too close for my personal liking and an invasion of my space! Not good!
Now, after you push your way on the boat and hopefully you didn’t leave anything in your pockets to be pick-pocketed, the Ferry is spacious, and kind of nice. They have vendors onboard selling food and souvenirs and if you’re lucky, you can grab a seat up top and look out as we sail to the first location.
Depending on what side you get on, the New Jersey or New York side, always make sure you get on the correct ferry. I would hate for you to have parked on the New Jersey side and take the New York Ferry and then have to find a way back to New Jersey.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
The first stop from the New Jersey Ferry is at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
Wow. I made it. Take a deep breath and look around. THIS is where previous immigrants came hoping for a fresh start and a new beginning. Little did they know all of the hoops they had to jump through for each checkpoint before entry.
The museum is OVERWHELMING! I would plan to spend a minimum of 3 hours just to get the basics. Luckily, the museum is prepared. They have walking tours led by instructors, however, these are only given at certain times throughout the day so you’ll have to wait if you missed a tour.
Technology in the Museum
Another option, which is the option we chose, is to take the audio guided tour. And it’s FREE! Stop at the front desk and pick up a “phone” for the tour. They ask what language you are needing and hand you the pre-programmed phone.
With the phone, it takes you through the exhibit rooms and you can listen as it provides historical facts and helps take your imagination back to an earlier time. As you travel through the exhibit rooms, you’ll find blue markers with numbers that you dial into your phone.
Listen to the stories. Some stories make you laugh while others will make you want to cry. It’s a humbling experience and very informative.
If you have time, the Museum also has a computer center where you can go online into their database to search for your ancestors that came through Ellis Island. I didn’t waste my time looking at this, because, again *side eye*, but this is definitely an awesome service. Spend some time looking through the database to see if your family members made the journey and what information is listed about them. You never know what or who you may find!
Back onto the ferry, bum rushed on like criminals and packed in like sardines and onto our next destination to see Lady Liberty herself!
I push my way out of the crowd only to get caught in an even bigger crowd. Did I mention It was crowded! You would’ve thought it was Black Friday on the island.
Anyhow, once on the island, you’ll see a few vendors set up, the gift shop, and a large restaurant. I wasn’t interested in that to begin with so we began to the left and took the longer route around to get the front of the statue. Stop along the way, take some photos as you overlook the New York Skyline. Be quick! Other tourist will rush you to get out of the spot for a photo so be prepared to fight (lol jk)!
As you make your way around the island, eventually you get to the front of the statue. Truly massive and an amazing sight to see. Stop and get your photos. It will be super crowded!
Now, if you want to actually go inside the statue, then that is an extra fee. I did not pay the extra fee but I think if you’re there and have the extra spending money on hand, then go for it!
I can only imagine what it felt like after being on a ship for weeks at a time, leaving everything you know behind in hopes for a better life in a new country, and then to finally see the Statue of Liberty standing tall and to know that you have made it.
Liberty State Park
While you’re at Liberty State Park, make sure you take some time to look around. The day was beautiful for us, so we got to walk along the water and enjoy the day. Stop at the old railroad terminal and glance at what used to be. There’s a center to gather information, restrooms, and some artifacts to take a look at.
Also, if you continue walking near the water, you will see a September 11 memorial. This marks where the Twin Towers once stood and where it used to be visible from New Jersey as you look into the Manhattan Skyline. A great reflection piece of all that we lost on that day. Names line the walls as well of the lives lost.
How Much Does it Costs to Visit the Statue of Liberty
If you’re thinking of making a visit to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, then check the site for prices. The ticket prices are dependent upon what you are wanting to tour and if you are entering from the New Jersey side or New York side.
You can purchase tickets ahead of time or wait until you get there. Due to the popularity and the amount of people that frequent the statue, it is recommended to purchase ahead of time so that you are guaranteed entry.
Check HERE for the most up to date prices and availability!