The Best Statue of Liberty Tours: What to Know Before You Go

Use these tips and advice to help plan your visit to the iconic national monument.

U.S. News & World Report

The Best Statue of Liberty Tours

Best Statue of Liberty Tours

Making a trek to the Statue of Liberty is a must-do activity for New York City tourists.(Getty Images)

The Statue of Liberty is America's most iconic and enduring symbol of freedom. A gift from the French, the "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" – its official name – was dedicated in 1886. It was often the first thing immigrants to the United States saw as they sailed to Ellis Island. The statue holds a torch in one hand and a book of law inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence in the other. She stands a little more than 300 feet tall and is made of copper, which has oxidized over time to create her signature green patina. To make the most of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, consider these key tips.

What island is the Statue of Liberty on? The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, southwest of Manhattan, in New York Harbor.

How long is the Statue of Liberty tour? The length of the Statue of Liberty tour depends on how long you wish to stay. Visitors typically allot a few hours to tour Liberty Island and the statue. Visitors to the Statue's crown are only permitted to stay for a few minutes, while those visiting the pedestal are not limited. If you opt to visit both Liberty Island and Ellis Island, plan to spend approximately six hours on the trip and select an early departure time.

Know Before You Go

  • What: Statue of Liberty Tours
  • When: Ferries depart from New York's Battery Park and New Jersey's Liberty State Park daily starting at 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 3:30 or 4 p.m., depending on the season. Ferries from Liberty Island back to the mainland depart at 5 or 5:45 p.m. daily, depending on the season. The site is open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours during the summer high season.
  • Cost: Tickets start at $18.50 per adult; $9 for kids 4 to 12; free for children 3 and younger.
  • Must-know tip: Statue Cruises is the only ferry company authorized by the National Park Service to transport visitors to both Liberty and Ellis islands. You can purchase ferry, pedestal and crown tickets at StatueCruises.com.
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm

Visitors can stop by the Information Center, explore the Statue of Liberty Museum (opened in May 2019), visit the pedestal and walk up to the statue's crown during their visit (with advance reserve tickets). The museum houses artifacts, including the original torch, as well as multimedia displays detailing the statue's history and creation. Meanwhile, the on-site Information Center offers brochures and tour schedules. Kids can join the Junior Ranger program at the center by picking up a booklet of activities to complete to earn a special badge. Any visitor is welcome to take a free Park Ranger guided tour of the statue's exterior, which explains how the statue was made, its symbolism and more, or use a self-guided audio tour.

The pedestal stands at about half the height of the monument and boasts panoramic views of New Jersey, New York City, the New York Harbor and Ellis Island. Brave-hearted visitors will want to take the narrow, double-helix steps to the statue's crown for bird's-eye views of the city. There are 162 steps from the top of the pedestal to the top of the crown. There is no elevator and the park service discourages this trek for visitors who suffer from heart and respiratory conditions, claustrophobia, acrophobia and vertigo.

Restrooms are available in the gift shop and in the statue's lobby. No large bags (carry-on luggage, large suitcases, etc.) are allowed on Liberty Island. Backpacks, strollers, large umbrellas and food and drink are prohibited inside the statue. Locker facilities to store personal items during your visit are available at the base of the statue; lockers accept quarters only. You will need an ID to pick up your tickets from will call (if you choose to get your tickets there). If you plan to visit the crown, each ticket holder will need to show a valid ID along with the ticket that bears their name; minors without ID are exempt from this policy.

Ticketing Options

Each ticketing option from Statue Cruises – the park service's official ferry provider – includes round-trip ferry tickets and access to specific park attractions.

To access both the pedestal and the crown, you need to reserve and purchase timed tickets before your trip. Tickets to the pedestal sell out quickly, and you'll likely need to book tickets to the crown at least three months in advance. While walk-up tickets are available to visit the park's grounds, you are not guaranteed to get a ticket to the pedestal. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your departure to retrieve walk-up or will call tickets.

Both the Reserve tickets (a basic trip to Liberty Island that includes access to the grounds, museum and an audio tour) and Reserve with Pedestal tickets (which also include entry to the pedestal) start at $18.50 for adults and $9 for children ages 4 to 12. Reserve with Crown tickets include access to the grounds, pedestal and the crown. Tickets start at $21.50 for adults and $12 for children; travelers can only book four Reserve with Crown tickets per order. Ticket prices are the same for both New York and New Jersey departures.

Statue Cruises also offers a Flex ticket, which allows you to visit Liberty Island one time within three days of your ticket purchase. Flex tickets do not include entry to the pedestal or the crown. During popular seasons, security screening wait times can last more than an hour for those with Flex tickets.

Travelers love seeing the Statue of Liberty up close. Multiple tourists recommend departing as early as possible to make sure you have enough time to see everything, especially if you combine your trip to Lady Liberty with a visit to nearby Ellis Island. If you purchase a ferry ticket for 2 p.m. or later, you will not be able to go to both islands, but will have to pick either Liberty or Ellis Island. Reviewers recommend allotting at least half a day to see everything and suggest going in the morning to avoid crowds. They also stress booking tickets to the crown several months in advance to make sure you obtain tickets.

Getting There

You'll need to take a ferry to reach Liberty Island. Before you board, you'll go through an airport-style security screening, and if you plan to go inside the statue, there will be an additional screening before you enter. The ferry departs from two locations: Battery Park in New York City and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Ferry operators recommend arriving about 30 minutes ahead of your reserved time.

You can reach Battery Park via public transportation, such as the subway or bus. The 4 and 5 trains stop at Bowling Green; the M5, M15 and M20 bus routes also stop within walking distance of the ferry. Driving is an option, but parking is severely limited. If you're planning to do more sightseeing, heed the advice of reviewers and sign up for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, many of which stop at Battery Park.

For ferry departures from Liberty State Park, you can arrive via the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Plenty of parking is available, for a fee, if you choose to drive.

Several independent tour companies offer tours to the Statue of Liberty that include private guides and extra perks like priority ferry boarding. Some also combine trips to the Statue of Liberty with visits to other NYC attractions, such as the 9/11 Memorial. However, these companies are not official vendors of the park service, meaning there may be unnecessary charges.

Additional tour options:

Looking for more information on New York City? Check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Lyn Mettler, Contributor

Lyn Mettler has written for U.S. News since 2014 covering a range of travel topics, including ...  Read more

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