NYC: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

If you're exploring New York's Financial District, you're in the right place to take a trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and see the Statue of Liberty up close (or even head up inside Lady Liberty).

Head to Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park to buy your tickets but, be warned - scammers operate in this area. The only place you can buy tickets from is the Castle Clinton National Monument ticket office, online using the Statue Cruises website or, if you're heading in from New Jersey, at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Liberty State Park.

We used our New York Pass - you need to get printed tickets from the ticket office if you have one - which got us our return ferry, entry to the grounds of Liberty Island, and entry to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum with audio tour. If you don't have a Pass, this ticket costs $19.25; if you want to visit the Statue of Liberty Pedestal or Crown, you'll need to book this plenty in advance (and pay more).

A gift from the French, the Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886 and is a figure of the Roman liberty goddess, Libertas. Most people notice the torch held high in her right hand, and the book in her left hand inscribed with the date of the US Declaration of Independence, but the broken shackle and chain at her feet is harder to see. Originally she was a shiny copper colour - that bright copper colour became the green shade we see today because of oxidation reactions. Pretty cool, huh!

Whether you decide to hop off the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty is your call, but for us seeing her up close from the boat was more than enough - though there was a moment when we didn't think we would see her properly. When we visited it was a really mild December day - a really mild, misty and rainy day. As we neared closer, the mist only seemed to get thicker. Fortunately it cleared and we were able to view her in all her glory as we set sail from Liberty Island for Ellis Island.

So, what is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum? It's the place where around 12 million immigrants arrived into New York between 1892 and 1954 - and the descendants of these 12 million people pretty much account for half the people living in the United States of America today.

The museum is split into three key sections, aka three audio tours to listen to, with the most important audio tour being The Ellis Experience. Whatever you do, make sure you explore with this audio journey. That's because this tour takes you through the museum as if you were an immigrant arriving fresh off the boat at Ellis Island - it's a powerful and important listen.

There are other exhibitions there to discover, and you could easily spend a day visiting both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Like with most New York attractions, you do have to go through security so it's better to get there earlier as queues tend to be shorter first thing. On that miserable day in December the queue was non-existent.

And speaking of December, we didn't use our New York Pass to take any of their listed cruises (some of which depart from the Battery Park area). A full-on cruise is definitely something to do in summer though because, as you can see from the photos above, it can be pretty miserable being on the water in winter, even for a quick jaunt to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Is the Statue of Liberty on your bucket list? x

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