I’ve seen the Statue of Liberty hundreds of times in movies, on tv shows and in travel magazines but nothing prepared me for seeing her in person. Catching the Staten Island Ferry on our first day gave us a look at her from a distance but I couldn’t wait for our trip to Liberty Island later in the week.
Although rain was predicted on the day we were to visit, we woke up to clear blue sky which was perfect for our day at Liberty Island. We arrived at the Statue Cruises ticket booth at Battery Park by 10 am and it was already busy with eager tourists. Two ferries had already departed with the early birds.
We cleared the airport style security screening and lined up to board the ferry. The ferry ramp is quite steep but the crew were on hand to help out if needed. It is a quick 15 minute trip to Liberty Island and I found I wasn’t the only one excited as we neared the Statue. The ferry seemed to list slightly to one side as everyone clambered to get a good photo. It is lovely to see people so enthusiastic but everyone vying for a photo op on one side of the ferry didn’t seem like a good idea to me.
People were rushing around after we disembarked but we stood for a moment looking up at the Statue glimmering as the sun shone on her like a spotlight. Against the vivid blue sky she was an imposing sight. Standing at the base we felt dwarfed by her size. She is one tall lady.
We collected our audio tour headsets and made our way to the museum and the pedestal level prior to further crowds arriving. We were surprised to find yet more security screening. Our backpacks were secured in timed lockers which used fingerprint recognition – very James Bond. Although frustrated at the slowness of security checks, I can certainly understand the necessity due to events in the past and given that the Statue of Liberty represents freedom and democracy.
Once cleared, there was bad news for us. The ranger informed us that the elevator was out of order and therefore we couldn’t use the pedestal portion of our tickets. These things happen of course, but when you have one shot at seeing something it is hard not to feel disappointed.
Heading up to the museum we past the previous torch which is now on display in the foyer. This was removed due to corrosion in 1984 and replaced with a new torch covered in gold leaf. The museum proved informative and interesting. Although I was aware the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the USA, I did not realise what a feat it was to have it made and the further work done by the US to fund raise for the pedestal which she stands on.
The kids were taken with the life-size replica foot and face which helped them understand the scale and size of the real Statue. AJ commented, “Imagine putting nail polish on those toes!”
We’d come a long way for this experience and decided that an elevator being out of order would not stop us from accessing the pedestal. Hubby was prepared to walk BJ up the 26 steps to the top. This decision caused one of the staff members much concern. He warned, “It’s not easy. It will cause you trouble you know. Don’t come back and say I didn’t tell you.” BJ did really well on the stairs and we made it to the top. Once there BJ wasn’t that keen on standing still to admire the views he preferred walking around. I was happy we made the effort to see New York’s skyline from the pedestal and it gave us a different angle of the Statue. We also watched those with crown tickets climbing the steep spiral staircase inside. Someone referred to it as a “nose to bum” experience which looked fairly accurate watching the close quarters for those heading up.
Going down the stairs was trickier for BJ but we made it and there was a sense of satisfaction in the accomplishment. The staff member who had been concerned seemed relieved to see us back in one piece.
We headed to the cafe for lunch and we were pleased with the range of hot and cold options on offer. We opted for sandwiches and sat outside enjoying the sunshine. The cafe and gift shop are both accessible.
Walking around the base of the Statue we stopped for more photos and reluctantly agreed that we should catch the ferry back to Battery Park. Our visit to the Statue of Liberty was definitely a highlight of our trip to New York and one I believe is not to be missed.
Statue of Liberty tips
My Statue of Liberty tips
1. Check the National Parks Service website for information about accessibility – www.nps.gov/stli/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm
2. Statue Cruises operates the only service to the island. The National Parks Service cares for the monument and has implemented an advanced reservation system if you wish to visit the museum, pedestal and crown. Please note the museum and pedestal are the only wheelchair accessible levels. To make a reservation contact www.statuecruises.com
3. Allow extra time to clear the airport style screening prior to boarding the ferry. The ferries operate every half hour.
4. Allow at least 2-3 hours if you intend visiting the museum and pedestal. We spent 4 hours and I could have easily stayed longer just relaxing on the island enjoying the scenery.
5. Although the pedestal is wheelchair accessible there is a step out the door to the open air viewing area. This area is also narrow (see photo above of AJ)
6. The family/companion restroom is located inside the gift store.
7. Backpacks are not permitted inside the Statue and must be secured in a timed locker which costs $2.
8. The souvenirs at the gift shop are reasonably priced and some items were cheaper than the tourist shops at Times Square
9. The Seaport Ferry subway stop is NOT wheelchair accessible so I suggest you either use the bus system or ensure you get out at an accessible subway station and transfer to the bus.
We would like to thank Statue Cruises for providing complimentary tickets for our trip to the Statue of Liberty. We had a wonderful day.
It is always fantastic to hear from our Facebook community and to learn of how they find an experience. I was disappointed to hear from Helen that they were unable to access the walkway. I am sharing her experience so visitors are aware that access may not be possible. It may be worth double checking prior to booking tickets. This is what Helen had to say of her visit –
“We booked tickets to the Statue of Liberty & Pedestal. Boarding at Battery Park was very choppy and only really possible with my partner pushing the manual wheelchair up the ramp. It would have been impossible for me however, the crew were fantastic and I’m sure would have helped if I didn’t have any “muscles” with me! My main point is that although the lift to the pedestal was working, we were not allowed to take a wheelchair outside onto the actual walkway. The reason being, it is so narrow, that no other visitors would be able to get past Evan if he was out there. This was no big deal to us as we are very easy going, and entertained Evan by looking up inside the Statues “skirt” and making lots of jokes, hehehe. But I thought it was worth mentioning and will also be emailing the National Parks to suggest they make this clear on their website.”
Even if we had been unable to access the walkway on the pedestal I would have found the visit to Liberty Island and the museum worthwhile. We absolutely loved our visit.
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