So you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty and want to know all the best Statue of Liberty tips? All the mistakes not to make? Well, having visited three times in four years I have all your answers!
Visiting the Statue of Liberty had always been a goal of mine and always topped my NYC bucket list. She’s my favorite New York City landmark and my favorite color. She was a gift from France and remains a powerful symbol of freedom, democracy, hope and the American dream: reading books alone on your private island while wearing nothing but a sheet and a crown.
Being a child of the ’80s, my first memory of the Statue of Liberty was seeing her walk through New York Harbor on the way to the Manhattan Museum of Art with the help of American soul singer-songwriter Jackie Wilson. That remains, to this day, my very favorite scene from Ghostbusters 2.
Did Jackie Wilson or the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” have a similar lasting effect on you? If so, allow me to help all of your childhood dreams come true. Here are my best Statue of Liberty tips and all the things you should avoid when visiting the Statue of Liberty.
1. Don’t confuse the ticket types
I did, but just on my first time–the sole reason I only made it as far as Lady Liberty’s feet. That’ll be funny in a minute…
Where to get Statue of Liberty tickets
Statuecruises.com is the official ticketing site for visiting the Statue of Liberty. I can’t emphasize enough the need to reserve your tickets in advance. They do sell day-of tickets on site if it’s absolutely necessary but really, do you actually enjoy mobs of tired, cranky tourists and standing in line all day?
Which Statue of Liberty tickets to buy
So for starters, you need to answer this question: How far in advance are you booking these tickets?
Are you visiting the Statue of Liberty tomorrow? Oh hey, look at that–you don’t have a choice as to which ticket you can get. Planning a trip six months from now? Well, now you’ve got some thinking to do!
Statue of Liberty ticket options
There are, technically, three ticket options but in my opinion really only two. (Options 2 and 3 are the same price so obviously you should go with the package that offers more, just in case you decide to use all the benefits later.)
Crown Reserve tickets
The Crown Reserve ticket gets you into Lady Liberty’s crown and everything on down. Start by admiring her brain–the way you should all women. Even the ones that wear togas.
With the Crown Reserve tickets you get:
- full access to the Statue’s crown and pedestal
- full access to the grounds and museums of both Liberty and Ellis Islands
- priority access into the screening facility
- an audio guide for both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- and round-trip ferry service all for $26.50 (or less–how old are you?)
Pedestal Reserve tickets
The Pedestal Reserve ticket gets you up to Lady Liberty’s big feet and no further.
With the Pedestal Reserve tickets you get:
- full access to the Statue’s pedestal (and no higher)
- full access to the grounds and museums of both Liberty and Ellis Islands
- an audio guide for both
- and round-trip ferry service all for $23.50 (or less)
Nothing higher than ground level for you.
The Reserve ticket gets you:
- access to both Liberty and Ellis Islands
- an audio guide for both
- and round-trip ferry service for the same price as the Pedestal Reserve
So, if you’re going the $23.50 route, just get the Pedestal Reserve. It really is neat up by her feet.
2. Don’t pass on the CityPASS
The New York CityPASS is a discount booklet that saves you 40% on NYC’s top attractions that you’re probably going to be visiting anyway. The New York CityPASS includes a Statue of Liberty Reserve tickets.
If you’re simply pressed for time while visiting the Statue of Liberty but still want to see her up close and/or also check out Ellis Island to see which ancestors you can blame for moving your family to North Dakota long, long ago, get a New York CityPASS.
And though Statue Cruises is the only official ticket seller for the Statue of Liberty, they have authorized CityPASS to include their tickets.
3. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your tickets
They sell a limited number of tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty, fewest of which are the Crown Reserves. These tickets to the hottest headpiece in town (upstaging even whatever Lady Gaga is sporting this month) sell out months in advance.
I’m a hardcore procrastinator, yes, but when you’ve longed to channel your inner Peter Venkman as long as I have, you make exceptions. And this is possibly the most important of all my Statue of Liberty tips.
Consider the Statue of Liberty the Adele of national monuments–only seeing this lady live won’t cost you a year’s rent and the naming rights to your first-born child. “Hi, meet my daughter, Bank of America Smith.”
When to book Statue of Liberty tickets
Crown Reserve tickets: 3-4 months in advance
Pedestal Reserve tickets: 3-4 weeks in advance
Reserve tickets: 3-4 days if you must but seriously, go with the Pedestal.
4. Don’t discount the crown
If you’re physically able, not the least bit claustrophobic or afraid of heights, and have enough advance notice you must go into the crown! Another of my personal favorite Statue of Liberty tips.
To me, going up to the Statue of Liberty crown is the whole experience. And since they don’t give out crowns to spelling bee runners-up or science fair honorable mentions this is the closest I’ll ever get to actually wearing one.
Besides, it’s not every day you get to climb a human-shaped building. And men, you’ve always wanted to know what goes on inside a woman’s head so now’s your chance!
Is it worth visiting the Statue of Liberty crown?
Absolutely. My experience visiting the Statue of Liberty greatly impressed me and I now recommend it to everyone.
My time in the crown exceeded all expectations, no easy feat for someone whose signature memory of this monument involves her walking through Manhattan, crushing cop cars and the hopes and dreams of one Vigo the Carpathian.
What visiting the Statue of Liberty crown is like
I had imagined a steady sweaty stream of tourists climbing up to the crown and down, being tightly packed into her hollow head like John Cena into a fitted button-up. Instead, I was incredibly surprised to find only 10-15 people are allowed into the crown at one time, with the place all to ourselves for a period of about 20 minutes.
Rather than being given just the chance to pass through in an upsettingly subdued tourist conga line, we were free to take our time with photos and had two guides inside the crown all to ourselves.
They answered everyone’s questions and spent time teaching us all the literal ins and outs of the Statue of Liberty that you just can’t learn watching late ’80s comedies.
When everyone felt they’d had enough time inside the crown, we collectively made our way down. Cha cha cha!
It was such an interesting, intimate experience and not at all like you’d expect. It was definitely less tourist-attraction and more National Park. Less feeling the hot breath of a stranger on the back of your neck and more like finding a $20 bill in last year’s windbreaker.
The only thing missing was Jackie Wilson lifting me higher and higher. I will not forget my Walkman next time.
How to get to the Statue of Liberty crown
A note about visiting the crown: there is no elevator to the crown. From the pedestal you must climb an additional 162 steps to the top via a narrow staircase and a maze of cast iron framework. Like any good woman, Lady Liberty doesn’t make it easy for just anyone to get into her head.
Statue of Liberty crown tickets
In case this wasn’t clear in the last section, if you want to go into the crown of the Statue of Liberty, you must purchase Crown Reserve Tickets. And you must do so as early as possible as there’s a limited number and they go fast.
5. Don’t underestimate the path to the crown
162 steps may sound like small potatoes, sure, but keep in mind this is up a steep, narrow corkscrew staircase with very low overhead that puts all Italian church towers to shame. I’m 5’3″ and this stairway still presented a challenge.
As you can see in the pictures, I couldn’t even fit one of my size 7 shoes entirely on the steps. I kept thinking of Shaquille O’Neal and his 7’1″ body, his size 22 shoe, and how many Icy Hot patches he would need after this. It’s just not possible. Not even a genie from a magic boombox could help him.
6. Don’t head to the Statue of Liberty without knowing where you’re going
The white tent-like building behind Battery Park is your destination–the circus inside not unlike the interior of a clown car. But before you can enter the big-white-top you must pick up your tickets from will call.
And since my readers are the smartest around, you’ve got reservations so you get to walk past the freak show that is the line of people trying to buy same-day tickets.
Where to pick up Statue of Liberty tickets
When you arrive at Battery Park, head to Castle Clinton to pick up your reserved Statue of Liberty tickets. Don’t confused it with… oh, nope, it’s the only walled castle in the park. Will call for reserved tickets is at WINDOW 6 only.
Knowing where to go ahead of time may sound obvious, but on our first time visiting the Statue of Liberty we almost missed our reservation time after thinking we’d “be able to figure it out when we got down there”–my modus operandi.
Where to get in line for the Statue of Liberty
Got your tickets? Now get in line. I can’t tell you where that will be exactly since it all depends on when you’re visiting the Statue of Liberty. All I can say is see the above, extremely informative and well-made photo.
On my first visit, a Friday in early September, my friend and I walked right into the white tent. On my second visit, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the line started where I show the line sometimes starting.
What you need to know about the Statue of Liberty line
It moves quickly
So it winds around the building? You’ve got a reservation; you’re fine. You won’t be in it for more than a couple of minutes.
Don’t get in line until your reserved time
I know, it’s long and you’re getting anxious. You think that by the time you get to the front of it, 30 minutes will have gone by and you’ll be set.
But, there are line attendants and if you’re in that line even five minutes before your reservation, you’ll have to get out.
7. Don’t be fooled by the people outside the subway
When exiting the South Ferry subway station, chances are you’ll be bombarded by people trying to sell you tickets for visiting the Statue of Liberty. They will be in your face, shouting, trying to block your way.
Just because these people wear vests with words on them doesn’t mean they’re not there to rob you. They’ll show you their “credentials,” but you’re smart–you know that any ol’ Joe Schmo with a printer and access to the laminator at FedExOffice can get “credentials.” It’s called a hustle. It’s also how I ended up backstage at an Incubus concert one time.
Statue of Liberty ticket scam
They’ll tell you the Statue of Liberty is sold out and the only way you can get tickets is through them. The aggressive strangers on the street. Outside the subway.
You’ll push past them–you ain’t no fool. You’ll try to ignore them but, after they continue to follow you down the street, finally say something like, “I have reservations, leave me alone!” Then they’ll scream at you for a good ten seconds and call you a “b*tch” as you walk away.
I’m going to let you in on a not-so-little secret: no official employee of the American National Park Service would ever call you a b*tch for already having tickets to their park. These people are scammers who make, I can only imagine, craploads of money off gullible tourists. But you aren’t one of these.
There are numerous reports (and arrests) on this particular band of hooligans and you can find more information on this scam here. Don’t be dumb. Get your tickets straight from the source.
8. Don’t forget there will be airport-like security
Upon entering the big white tent you’ll be subjected to your first round of airport-like security screening. You travel; this is nothing new. Everything, in the bin. Pockets, empty. Shoes, off. Jackets, off. Belts, off.
Prepare for this to make not only yours but everyone else’s trip to the Statue of Liberty go a lot smoother. Statue of Liberty tips, security edition:
- Leave backpacks and shopping bags at your hotel. These aren’t allowed inside the Statue of Liberty anyway. To enter the crown you are allowed only a small purse and a camera.
- Don’t wear 45 gold bangles you’ll have to painstakingly remove one by one. Ahem, lady directly in front of me.
- Don’t get redressed right there in front of the metal detector. Move. Along.
Once on Liberty Island you will have to repeat the security screening process before actually entering the Statue of Liberty. An important piece of advice for the second security screening: get in front of Mrs. T this time. I pity the fool that ends up behind her.
9. Don’t ride inside the ferry
And by this I mean: venture out! The ferry to and from the Statue of Liberty is not simply a means to an end. To use an incredibly clichéd phrase: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
Board the boat and snag one of the outer, top level spots if you can. Don’t stay inside, behind the green glass where it’s temperature regulated and smells like hotdogs. The ones who do are the same people who are probably going to pay for a sightseeing cruise later on in the week. For three times as much. From the crooks outside the subway.
Consider your ferry ride the free sightseeing cruise that it is. From the outside on the top level you’ll be treated to fantastic views of Lower Manhattan and all around the Statue of Liberty. I’m telling you, she has no bad sides. (Except from underneath where she kinda looks like Jabba the Hutt. ⇣⇣⇣)
10. Don’t forget there’s an elevator
From ground level to the top of the pedestal it is 215 steps. However, there is an elevator up to the pedestal should you need it. It is clearly marked, located beneath the pedestal behind the giant torch, and attended by an expert button-pusher.
It is only from the pedestal to the crown where stairs are the only option. This is where the Shaq portion of the ride comes to an abrupt halt.
11. Don’t let the park ranger forget to give you the crown wristband
In order to enter the Statue of Liberty, you’ll have to check in with a National Park ranger before entering the second security screening. He or she will compare your tickets with your IDs and, if you have a Crown Reserve ticket, should give you the wristband you’ll need to get past the pedestal.
However, our ranger never gave us the wristbands we didn’t know we even needed. This could have been very bad and time-consuming for us (read: exiting the park completely, waiting in line to reenter and having to go through security screening again).
Instead, after much convincing we’re actually supposed to be there, this resulted in the four of us being personally escorted to the crown. The Statue of Liberty staff is nothing if not accommodating but had this been a busier day there’s no way this would have happened.
If you have Statue of Liberty crown tickets, make sure the park ranger at the desk inside the Liberty Island security tent next to the gift shop gives. you. a. wristband.
12. Don’t underutilize the guides
As I mentioned earlier, at the top of the crown there are two guides that know everything there is to know about the Statue of Liberty. It won’t be as entertaining as this episode of Drunk History but at least you’ll know your facts are straight.
They’ll spend the time show-and-tell-ing you fun facts you’d never know otherwise. Like, how her shell is only the width of two pennies pressed together and whether or not she’s naked under that toga. She is French, you know that.
The Statue of Liberty is not so much a tourist attraction as it is a member of the National Park Services. The ranger guides love their jobs and above all want you to learn and enjoy your time. Come with questions! Come with jokes! But come with minimal jewelry!
13. Don’t skimp on how many photos you take
You’re going to see Lady Liberty from just about every possible angle and girl’s got it going on! She just can’t take a bad picture–take advantage of this perfect artistic subject.
She’s beauty and she’s grace. She’s Miss United States!
14. Don’t forget about Ellis Island
Access to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is included in the Statue of Liberty ticket. After boarding the ferry on Liberty Island, the next (and only other) stop is Ellis Island. Between the years of 1892 and 1924 Ellis Island was the chief gateway into the United States for over 100 million immigrants.
If you wish to check it out, get off here. (Don’t hold your breath for a private tour with Will Smith though.) If not, the ferry will continue on to Manhattan where you started this adventure.
And if you’re worried you won’t have enough time to see both, check out my post on how to visit Ellis Island in a hurry for many time-saving tips.