Visiting the Statue of Liberty with kids

At last! We were excited to finally see the Statue of Liberty with the kids after all these years.  They are very familiar with the Las Vegas version (yes, we know that’s a stretch) and saw a replica when we were in Japan last July.  They have been asking to see the “real one” for some time now and we finally made it.  We visited the Statue Liberty with the kids during a Saturday afternoon on Columbus holiday weekend on Oct. 2011.

We bought our tickets online through the statue cruises website a couple of weeks before our trip.  Unfortunately, our pressed time schedule combined with the holiday weekend didn’t allow us too much flexibility.  During our planned date/time, the tickets with access to the pedestal and museum were sold out.  These were actually the same price as the regular tickets.  Crown tickets needed reservation months in advance and were already sold out for 2011.  The interior of the statue will be closed for renovations starting Oct. 29, 2011 for a year.

We were able to get the 1 PM reservation out of Liberty State Park in New Jersey and printed our tickets at home.  We chose this location over Battery Park in NYC because parking was cheaper at $7 and plentiful.  We were coming from Long Island so it was about the same distance to both locations.

We didn’t pay any tolls going into New Jersey but, we ended up paying $18 in tolls to get back to Long island.  Whoa!  We hardly have any toll roads in Southern California so this was a price shock for us.  We plan on taking a subway and boarding from Battery Park next time.  There also seemed to be less people on ferries going to Battery Park.

Statue Cruises ferry

Liberty State Park was spacious, clean and offered a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.  We saw plenty of people having picnics and having a run or a stroll on the walkways.  We briefly caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty which the kids excitedly pointed out.  She seemed a whole lot closer from here.  There were plenty of parking spaces and restroom facilities.  Don’t miss a visit to the Empty Sky: New Jersey 9/11 Memorial by the entrance to the ferry.

Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial

We went through the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ) for the security screening before boarding the ferry.  Tickets can also be purchased here.  The  CRRNJ Terminal together with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island formed the Historic Trilogy that welcomed immigrants into the New York during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The immigrants boarded their trains here to travel to their new homes throughout the country after processing at the Immigration Station on Ellis Island.  There was a replica of the old trains inside the terminal as well as one on display outside by the railroad.

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ)

We were a bit surprised to see a very long line through the Security Screening Facility late in the afternoon but luckily we were able to go on the shorter, priority entry line for those who bought their tickets online.   So, we highly recommend getting your tickets online to save  some wait time.  The lines eventually merged into one door for airport- style security screening.  I can just imagine the long lines on a Saturday morning in the height of summer season here.   There were only two X-ray machines here and it seemed to move slower than the airports if that’s even possible.

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ) boarding area

The ferry boarding area had plenty of seats and some historical boards for interesting historical reads about the Historic Trilogy and unbeatable views of the Manhanttan skyline.   To see ferry schedules, click here.

Statue Cruises Liberty State Park waiting area

It was an absolutely gorgeous and sunny day in the low 70s for New York in October. The ferry was not in full capacity so we were able to grab some seats on the outdoor, upper deck seats.  There were concession stands on the ferry selling overpriced snacks and souvenirs but always seemed to have lines.  I guess if you’re hungry this will do so pack some snacks and drinks to save some money.

The ferry made a brief stop at Ellis Island but since we were on a tight schedule decided to postpone a visit here for another time.  We plan on making a return trip especially since we couldn’t get tickets to visit the statue’s pedestal and  crown this time.

Ellis Island

The ride to Liberty Island with the stop took about 30 minutes. We were greeted with marvelous views of Lady Liberty in all her glory.  I last saw her up close when I was in high school and she was magnificient then and she still took my breath away.  She still looked incredible for being almost 125 years old.  My kids were beside themselves with excitement as we approached the island.

Statue of Liberty

We headed straight to the Visitor Information Center to get the kids their Junior Ranger Program and a map.   We decided to explore the area behind the statue first.   There was a park setting with plenty of seats with amazing views of Manhattan.

The Crown Cafe restaurant inside the building  facing the visitor center was pretty busy.  There was a small gift shop next to the cafe selling mostly national park merchandise.  The bigger gift shop though was on the other side.  It was a decent size with plenty of merchandise to buy to remember our visit.  They even had Barbies dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

We followed the walkway along the water to see Lady Liberty up close.   It also made for some excellent views of the area and to watch the many vessels on the water enjoying the beautiful day. Along the way, we stopped at the various outdoor exhibit panels to learn more about the statue’s history.    There is a wealth of information here and we tried to learn as much since we missed the museum inside.

Liberty Island walkway and grounds

One of the most popular spots on the island is the grassy area near the front of the pedestal.  Hordes of  visitors were here taking pictures.  It was quite amusing to see how different visitors pose with Lady Liberty.   Here’s our take below.

Statue of Liberty with kids

Statue of Liberty with Junior Rangers
We got the Junior Rangers Activity Book at the Visitor’s Information Center which was near the docks.  The kids were required to complete Activities 1 & 2 which consisted of a total of 8 questions about the Statue of Liberty.  They must also complete 5 of the 8 remaining activities in the book.

The activities ranged from putting things in order in a timeline to matching what each part of the statue symbolizes.  These activities were supposed to be for ages 7-12 but my 6 year old son was able to do them too.  They were all pretty interesting things to keep the kids busy and a fun way to learn important facts about the statue.

Statue of Liberty Junior Rangers

My kids eagerly completed the activities and turned it in for a certificate and their Junior Ranger Badge to add to their collection.  After reciting the pledge and a Q & A with the friendly ranger, of course.   It was great to help them find the answers because we also learned many important things about Lady Liberty along the way.

Did you know that the seven rays on her crown mean that Liberty can enlighten the seven continents and seven seas or that her official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”?  We enjoyed our brief visit to Liberty Island and our kids were thrilled to finally see the “real” Statue of Liberty.

Liberty Island

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