The Statue of Liberty is located just off the southern tip of Manhattan, on Liberty Island. We caught the ferry, operated by Statue Cruises, from Battery Park for a scenic ride to the island. We reserved our departure time ahead of time, which can be done here. We arrived early so we had plenty of time to explore Castle Clinton, a national monument, as well as visiting The Sphere. The Sphere was once located in between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After the September 11 attacks, The Sphere was discovered under rubble, in fairly good condition other than a few holes and dents. It contains an eternal flame as a memorial for the victims of September 11 and remains at Battery Park.
Once aboard the ferry, we headed to the top deck on the far right. I had read that this was a great spot to get views of the Statue from the water. It was the perfect vantage point for taking photos!
Once docked, you are free to wander the island as you wish. Liberty Island has an eatery with a large outdoor space for eating, gift shop, restrooms, and grassy areas for lounging. We also packed a picnic lunch and filled in with some items from the restaurant on the island. We all loved seeing the Statue up close.
After spending a couple hours on Liberty Island we were ready to head over to Ellis Island. We caught a short ferry ride over, eager to enter Ellis Island just as so many Americans did before us. The museum itself is located right in Main Building of the old immigration station and features artifacts from passengers and old photographs. The Great Hall is just that--vast and great, evoking the feeling of hope and promise, surely what the new immigrants felt upon their arrival. The self-guided tour offers plenty of time to explore at your own pace, with the option of doing the Audio Tour. There is also a special Audio Tour just for children.
Some favorite photos from Ellis Island:
Once we finished touring, we settled in for the award-winning documentary, "Island of Hope, Island of Tears". It was very informative and we learned a lot about the immigrants through the archival footage. A park ranger was available afterwards to answer questions as well.
Our entire family left Ellis Island feeling a connection to those who first passed through its doors. Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were the highlight of our trip to New York City!