Looking for something fun and educational to do with the kids on your next trip to New York City? You will love Monica’s tips for touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with kids!
5 TIPS for Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with Kids originally appeared on NYC Tech Mommy by Monica Encarnacion.
Our latest adventure took us to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
My Big Boy has been learning about immigration at school. He’s been researching Ellis Island and learning about the history and significance behind the Statue of Liberty. Being that we live right here in NYC, we thought a visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would make the perfect family day trip. So last Thursday when schools were closed here in NYC we decided to not let learning come to a stand-still. Instead, we packed up some sandwiches, piled the family into the mini-van and headed out to New Jersey. Wait! New Jersey?
Just keep reading, I’ll explain…
We had an amazing time during our trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island but I have a few tips you might want to keep in mind if you plan on taking the family on this FUN adventure this summer.
1. Plan Ahead And Head Out Early
We decided on this trip last-minute. We didn’t have much time to plan but we did, however, go online and purchased our tickets the night before. Wish we would have done it sooner, though. The only tickets left were for the afternoon which means we had less time to see it all. So word of advice, plan ahead and buy your tickets early! If you can, buy them as far in advance as 7 days. That will give you best options in terms of travel times for ferry departures.
2. Act Like A Tourist Without The Long Lines
Remember how I mentioned that we headed out to New Jersey. Well here is a cool little hack that will help you get to your destination quickly and stress-free. Instead of taking the ferry from NYC, we drove (because let’s face it, who wants to be on the subway with kids) into New Jersey, parked our car for a minimal fee (just $10) and hopped on the ferry at Liberty State Park. This was so simple and quick. No lines at all and I just loved the comfort of being able to drive there. Liberty State Park is a beautiful place with beautiful views of downtown Manhattan and Jersey City. Wish we would have had more time to explore it but since we failed at #1 (see above) we ran out of time. There’s always next time, though!
3. Go Prepared
We packed some light sweaters, hats, and sunscreen. The ferry ride can get pretty breezy so you’ll be happy you brought that light jacket or extra sweater. Even on a cool day, the sun can get pretty strong so a hat and some sunscreen is a must, especially for the kiddies. You also don’t want to spend tons of money on over-priced snacks, so pack a small bag or small cooler (larger coolers are not allowed) with sandwiches, juice packs, water, maybe some fruit. Your pocket will thank you! The only snack we purchased during the entire trip was a couple of pretzels while on the ferry, because who doesn’t love a NYC pretzel? It only cost us $5 for two.
When you arrive at Ellis Island, only a few feet from where the ferry docks you will find a nice area with small tables. It’s the perfect place to stop for a little lunch/snack break! Plus you don’t want to miss the incredible views of the NYC skyline from here. Make sure to have your camera ready!
4. Take Advantage of the FREE Audio Tour
The audio tour is included with your ticket so take advantage of it! You can pick up an audio device right from the booth as soon as you hop off the ferry. I do however recommend you bring your own headphones. The speaker is loud enough to hear when held up to you ear but you’d probably prefer to be completely hands-free. Headphones are provided but I’d rather use my own.
They even offer an audio tour geared towards kids. Just make sure to ask the booth clerk for the proper kids tour code because otherwise they will just direct you to use the adult tour code. I highly recommend that you follow the kids tour if you are traveling with your kiddos. My son truly enjoyed it and learned so much from it. I even learned a few new facts myself! Although I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty many times, I had no idea that the wall that the pedestal and statue stand on was at one time a fort that protected the harbor during the war of 1812. See! The audio tour is a great way to learn a little history.
5. Skip The Climb To The Top with Statue of Liberty
We knew we could not walk all 354 steps up to the crown of the statue with two kids in tow. We settled for only making our way up to the top of the pedestal. It was cool but really not worth it. If you are traveling with small kids, skip this part! My six-year-old enjoyed the walk around the outside of the statue the most (guided by his audio tour). I realized this once we got to the island but since our tickets were already purchased we went ahead anyway.
Going into the statue was a real pain because once you get inside you have to check in your stroller. If you are like me, you’ve stuffed all kinds of things into your stroller and now you will have to stuff it all into a way too small locker. The cost of the locker was only $2 but I just hated having to unload all the stuff from the stroller only to replace it all a few minutes later. Backpacks, camera bags, even purses are not allowed past the checkpoint.
We had a baby carrier with us, which my husband was wearing to carry our 7-month-old who had just fallen asleep. Well, guess what? He had to take that off too when we got to the security checkpoint. That was a real pain! Baby sleeping, peeling her off my husband’s chest while he emptied out all his pockets, removed his belt, cell phones, etc. Going through the strict security checkpoint with a sleeping baby was a bit of extra stress we didn’t really need.
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Once we finally got inside my son was so excited that he ran through the entire place so quickly and we really didn’t get to see much. We skipped the museum altogether (because my son was way too excited to make that stop) and made our way to the top of the pedestal, which you can reach by elevator or by climbing the 215 steps to the top.
Guess which one we chose? Yep! The steps, I hated my husband for that one, oh my poor knees and my achy back. Word of advice, just wait for the next elevator! Or better yet, do yourself a favor and skip this part altogether! You can plan to make the climb later when the kids are a bit older (I would say 10 and up is a good age). It’s just a bit too hectic with young kids.
You can see and enjoy the beauty of this monument best from the outside anyway so take a nice leisurely walk around Lady Liberty instead. But if you must venture into the statue, click the link ahead to learn more about visiting the pedestal.
Our day trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was so much FUN! We learned so much and I’m sure my Big Boy will remember this trip for a long, long time. Already he hasn’t stopped talking about it since we got back! So follow my tips, gather the kiddos and head out on your own NYC adventure this summer! Enjoy
Head on over to NYC Tech Mommy to see even more great pictures of their trip to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.