- Type: Museums, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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For 62 years this was the United States' main immigration entry point, and many U.S. citizens have at least one ancestor who passed through here. You can just glimpse Ellis Island (just north of Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty) when you stand on the shores of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. But most agree that to truly appreciate this historic site you'll have to take one of the Statue Cruises ferries over for a visit.
On the island, swing by the Main Building and the Immigration Museum housed inside. Stop by the "Treasures from Home" exhibit to peruse some of the family heirlooms and keepsakes that immigrants brought over on their journey. You can also do a little digging on your own family tree at the American Family Immigration History Center.
Recent vacationers enjoyed their trip, but they caution getting there is a bit of a hassle. You'll probably wait at least 90 minutes for a ferry to cart you from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty, before making a stop at Ellis Island. The first boat of the day leaves at 8:30 a.m., the last boat leaves around 6:15 p.m. Also, don't expect to stop at both attractions; the ferry will only cart you to one site or the other after 3 p.m. To save you some time waiting in long queues travelers recommend arriving early and purchasing from the ferry at the Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ (you'll get the same tour but face shorter lines).
Visiting the island itself is free, but you'll have to pay $13 for the roundtrip ferry from either Battery or Liberty State park and $8 for an audio tour of the museum. Visit the island's National Park Service website for more information, or go to the Ferry Cruises website for boat schedules.