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Statue of Liberty

Visiting Lady Liberty with Statue Cruises

I am a firm believer that getting out into the world provides ample opportunities for learning and personal growth. It is also so rejuvenating to get a change of scenery once in a while. Might be why we’ve started this travel blog thing.

In our case, here are some things we’ve learned from our adventures:

  1. Despite any good intentions to change, we are not, and may never be, part of the ‘early crowd’- this has consequences, but some things are just facts.
  2. We are not city people. At least, not with our children, and not when having to get from point A to point B. Again, the children compound this.
  3. Food is life, and any good day out involves a plan to eat often. Packing food would be smart, convenient, and cost-effective – but, again, this is not our strong suit and there are no signs of improvement in this area.

This Labor Day weekend, Just Get in the Car decided to take a ride to one of our nation’s famous historical landmarks – The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We were generously hosted by Statue Cruises, who run ferries to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island from Liberty State Park in New Jersey, and Battery Park in New York.

Since we were driving up from Philadelphia, and since we do not find navigating big cities enjoyable, we chose to take the ferry from Liberty State Park. Our first mistake of the day was not looking at the map and figuring out where to park. We pulled into the first parking lot that we came across, which was about a two mile walk to the ferry. Don’t do that. There is ample parking near the ferry terminal, and you should park there. We started out being early, and ended up being right on time – which translated to being late, given the airport grade security process.

If you do park in the lot near the ferry terminal, it is currently $7. However, it seems that the kiosk to prepay to exit is unnecessary. You do not get a receipt, or proof of payment, and will have to pay a second time upon trying to exit the lot. Although we watched several people seeming to have difficulty exiting, it wasn’t until it was our turn that we realized what was happening. Consider yourself in the know!

We had been told to arrive about 30 minutes early, but if you are on a strict time schedule and need to get on the ferry at your scheduled ticket time, you should leave at least an hour for the security line. And if you have fragile children (or adults) with you, it would be helpful to have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand. You may be waiting in a long, hot (or cold) line.

When we got through security, which was quite painless, and onto the ferry, we were anticipating the ability to buy drinks and snacks – because we were not prepared, as you should be. We had seen on the website that there was a concession stand on the ferry. There was, and we were extremely excited to see our chance for refreshments. Sadly though, it was just a tease for us. I am not clear if it was COVID related, but the concession stand on the ferry was not open for business.

MIss New Jersey

Cue the hangry children meltdowns.  (Side note – hangry children do not appreciate the use of that word to describe their demeanor).

After our two hour drive, parking mishap, and hour wait in the security line, all of our limits were being tested and we quickly realized that we would not have time to visit both islands. The ferry stopped first at Ellis Island, which I had been very interested in checking out since my grandparents came through from Italy there as children. Since we had touted this as a visit to the Statue of Liberty to the children though, we decided to skip Ellis Island and head straight to Liberty Island for some time with Lady Liberty. We will have to make a return trip to get the full experience of both islands.

Of course, per lessons we’ve learned about ourselves, food was our top priority upon disembarking the ferry. Luckily, the cafeteria was right there when we got onto the island. We were able to grab some food (typical museum quality food and prices), and have lunch looking at the backside of Lady Liberty and the beautiful water views. We saw many sailboats out enjoying the sunny day.

Ellis Island
Liberty Island

After we got everyone fed, we were all in a more pleasant mood and ready to do some exploring. Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty National Monument stands, is a beautiful island in the Upper New York Bay. With plenty of green space, benches, and views, you could easily spend a few hours here. Aside from the indoor café, there are several outdoor concession stands for things like lemonade and ice cream. Of course, given our time constraints, we didn’t get any treats on the island, but you should!

Shawn was disappointed that just as was the case during his first visit to the Statue of Liberty, he would not be able to go inside and climb to the top. The monument is currently closed due to COVID. However, you can still take plenty of pictures, and also stroll around in the museum which highlights the history of the creation of the statue and how it ended up as a universal symbol of liberty.  In the museum, you can see the original crown and torch.

Monument Closed
Sad Shawn

Depending on which island you are on, the last ferry back to where you started is between 5-5:15p. They must have a lot of people get on the wrong ferry (one heads to New Jersey and one to NYC). They made several announcements that I was sure no one could possibly miss. However, as we were getting on the ferry to New Jersey, after about ten very loud announcements about getting on the right ferry, there was a couple that had to get off ours and onto the New York one. Moral of the story: get on the right ferry. Listen to people who are yelling announcements on repeat.

Once we were off the ferry, we headed toward the parking lot – where we saw a beacon of light. That’s right folks; our day was completed with a stop for ice cream at a strategically parked ice cream truck. Everyone enjoyed this yummy treat before heading into the car for our ride home.

All in all we had a lovely day visiting one of the most famous historical landmarks in the United States, perhaps the world. It is humbling to think of what it must have meant to see the statue in view after a long and arduous journey across the sea in hopes of a better life.

COVID notes: prior to accepting the offer from Statue Cruises to visit, we were assured of significant COVID procedures – masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer stations. It was evident that the National Park Service and Statue Cruises had put several measures in place to keep everyone healthy. There were space markers on the ground in all areas where queues formed, hand sanitizer was available in many areas, staff regulated spacing in many areas, and most everyone wore masks – they were required in several indoor spaces. I should note though, that at the end of the day on the return trip on the ferry, the crowd was triple what it had been on our way to the islands. Also the gift shop was quite crowded. If this is a concern for you, you may want to wait until COVID has passed to visit. There is plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the island safely, however.


Just Get in the Car

Kristin and Shawn live in Delaware County, PA. They love to travel and go on new adventures with their three kids, follow along!

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