Our 4.5 year old wants to see the Statue of Liberty when in NYC. How to?
December 19, 2019 11:33 AM   Subscribe

We're going to York for a couple of days with our son, who is four and a half. He is very excited to see the Statue of Liberty when he is there. I'm totally confused by the plethora of choices and ways to see it.

I think going up inside it probably impossible and a bad idea. But can we go to the pedestal? To the island? Or are there good cruises/tours that get you very close?

Also - what options seem too boring/stressful for a 4-and-a-half-year-old? (Like - standing in line for an hour waiting for tickets is not good)

We'll be in NYC Dec 22/23/24. Are there any particular good times to do this? Is this stuff we need to arrange tickets in advance for?


(We're staying in Park Slope, if that matters, though I suspect it does not)
posted by ManInSuit to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would take the Staten Island Ferry! It leaves every half-hour from Lower Manhattan, is free, and sails right past Lady Liberty.

You can go to the island, but there's nothing to do there.
posted by vitout at 11:39 AM on December 19, 2019 [22 favorites]

You get a great view from the Staten Island ferry which is free and not crowded in the middle of the day. Most other private Manhattan boat tours will get you a good view for pictures, but if you really need to step on the island, there is only one company authorized to do that: Read the NPS Website. Even Alec Baldwin has been suckered by companies that sell you fake tickets that may get you on a boat but will not allow you to disembark on the island.
posted by soelo at 11:41 AM on December 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Despite what the people aggressively selling tickets in lower Manhattan may lead you to believe, there is on one option for buying tickets for boats that actually stop at the island. Those tickets appear to be sold out for the dates you'll be there. Seconding vitout recommendation for the Staten Island Ferry for a free cruise that takes you close the island. If you want to pay, there are also other tours which get closer to the island, but none that land on the island other than "Statue Cruises."
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:42 AM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: there is on one option for buying tickets for boats that actually stop at the island. Those tickets appear to be sold out for the dates you'll be there

Is that right? From what I can see there - it looks like there are plenty of "New York Reserve" tickets on Dec 22/23/24 - that get us onto the island, but not the pedestal. Not sure if I'm misreading. Also not sure if it's worth it in terms of time/hassle... (As vitout says: There's nothing to do there...)
posted by ManInSuit at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, ManInSuit, you're right -- there are still island tickets available for the dates you'll be there.

I did it, I enjoyed it, and the audio tour is quite good. The Ellis Island visit, which is included in all the tickets, is also great.

However I didn't have a 4-year-old in tow... whether it's worth it with him depends on his excitement and patience level (and also on the temperature in NYC that day).
posted by mekily at 12:01 PM on December 19, 2019

Response by poster: What's the NPS boat visit like? Around how long it is? Are lines very long? (Trying to gauge if it's a fun time for a little kid).
posted by ManInSuit at 12:06 PM on December 19, 2019

I took my two little kids (4 and 6 at the time) and they had so much fun. What's cooler than seeing a HUGE statue? The NPS boat ride is maybe 15 minutes (there's bathrooms and snacks on board), and the lines to get on move pretty quickly (might be crowded around the holidays). Very worth going into the pedestal to look out over the city and stand at the statue's feet if you can scrounge up some tickets. There's also a new museum on the island with various cool artifacts - if island access gets you in there, I would definitely recommend it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:13 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: ThePinkSuperhero, thanks!!! I think the tickets that remain do not get us to the pedestal. I'm confused about the museum(s): is there one on Ellis island and one on Liberty Island? I think the remaining tickets only go to the Ellis Island one.
posted by ManInSuit at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2019

There is a museum on Ellis Island that is separate and different from the one on Liberty Island, and I was just coming in here to recommend it with enthusiasm. It's pretty fascinating, and there's a few kid-friendly sections.

The boat that takes you to Liberty Island and Ellis Island stops at Liberty Island first, so this is the perfect chance to get off on Liberty Island, walk around a little bit, then go get in line for the Ellis Island one when you're ready and go there. This is the perfect chance to tell your kids all about "cool statue,huh? Hey, you know that this is the first thing that great grandma Whoever saw when she was a little girl coming to America for the first time ever to live! But before she got to get off the boat she had to go to this other place so the government could meet her and her family first. Let's go THERE now!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, there are museums on both Ellis Island and Liberty Island and thankfully "All ferry tickets include access to the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration." I think your child will love the whole experience! We enjoyed our trip into the pedestal but if it's not an option, you will still have a full and enriching day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

(I have just noticed that you are in Toronto, so please disregard my comments about tying Great Grandma Whoever into the proceedings. But you know what I'm getting at, yeah, by allowing Ellis Island to introduce a conversation about immigration and how people come from other places.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

We took our kids with the "grounds only" ticket. We took the boat to Liberty Island, walked around the outside (this was before the Statue of Liberty Museum was open), then boat to Ellis Island, and went through the buildings, then boat back to Manhattan. There is a very nice kids audioguide; it's aimed at ages 6-10, but some younger kids might enjoy parts of it.

Walking through the original Ellis Island buildings and learning about the history through the adult audioguide was fascinating, but can take several hours. If you have multiple adults, you could take turns doing that for a bit while the other adult chases your son around.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2019

The boat to the island requires a security screening. That will take some time.

Nthing the others on the suggestion for the Staten Island Ferry.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:36 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a counterpoint, I took my 5 year old on the Staten Island Ferry a few months ago, and we both pretty much hated it. It was pretty crowded in the middle of the day and the crowds crushing on and off were slightly nerve wracking with a small child. Also, my daughter was really excited by the statue as a concept, but the view from the ferry was somewhat meh for her — you don’t get very close. Definitely a low point of my trip with her.
posted by another zebra at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2019

Coming from NJ we usually leave from liberty state park. Lines are much shorter and parking at the park is easy. We usually go from the park to the statue and return to NYC on the boat that drops at Battery park. After the day in NYC we take a Ferry (leaves from the port near the freedom tower) back to liberty state park.

You would do it backwards. Take the Ferry to liberty state park, then the boat to the statue, then then take the return from the statue back to battery park. Seems a bit longer but the ferry to the park is easy, not crowded and would be fun for kids. If it's a nice day, the park has great views of the city and the statue. If you have a longer period of time Liberty Science center is also fun for kids, but you would need to arrange transportation from the Ferry dock to the Science Center.
posted by NoDef at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If he really just wants to SEE it, you can do that from Battery Park at the bottom of Manhattan. Here's an image of the view. I suspect a kid your son's age might be bored by all the options to get really close to it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:00 PM on December 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Also consider taking the ferry to Governor’s Island. It’s a great place for kids to play and you’ll get some decent views of the statue.
posted by gnutron at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2019

Also consider taking the ferry to Governor’s Island. It’s a great place for kids to play and you’ll get some decent views of the statue.

Sadly Governor's Island is closed for the winter right now, otherwise that would have been my suggestion too!
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:34 PM on December 19, 2019

The view from Battery Park is very good if the entire “boat and tour of maybe island?” part falls through. We were there for an engagement party and I know very little about where things are in New York, and was pleasantly surprised when I looked out over the water “Oh, look! It’s the Statue!”
posted by kellygrape at 6:50 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If youre staying in Park Slope (depending on which parts) and find yourself on a manhattan-bound F train as it goes elevated between the 7th Ave and Carrol St Stops it affords a distant but distinct view of the statue from the systems highest point (and apparently the highest elevated tranist station in the world) at Smith-9th Sts.

I have ridden that train a lot and somewhat regularly there are tourists/kids getting excited about seeing it from the train (and depending on my mood i occasionally get nostalgic for the early days when i had moved here and wasnt totally jaded).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:18 AM on December 20, 2019

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