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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: Dos and Don’ts for Your Visit

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As two of the most popular attractions in New York City, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are probably on your must-see list — and they should be — but how can you make the best of your visit to these historic landmarks? There’s a lot to experience at each place, plus a few guidelines for guests, so I’ve rounded up a list of do’s and don’ts to help make your trip a breeze.

I’ll also share what you can do at each site and answer a couple frequently asked questions. Consider this your how-to resource for exploring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as told to you by a local NYC tour guide.

Arrive early to buy or pick up your tickets or check in with your tour company.

Always, always, always budget ample time to travel in NYC, wherever and whenever you’re leaving. Manhattan traffic is notoriously unpredictable, especially around bridges and tunnels if you’re staying outside the island. Subway service can also be inconsistent on weekends and during rush hour.

Book your tickets for Lady Liberty’s crown well in advance.

For those who want to view Manhattan from the inside of the iconic crown, I can tell you it’s a fantastic way to experience the statue and see New York Harbor. But be warned: The wait list is long — 6-9 months long.

If that’s not an option for you, consider reserving tickets at no additional charge for pedestal access. You’ll get a beautiful view of the city from there as well.

Don’t feed the animals.

Pigeons and squirrels abound at Castle Clinton. Yes, they may be adorable, but for their health and safety (and yours, too), please do not feed them. Same goes for the geese on Liberty Island.

Don’t bring oversized packages or bags.

The National Park Service’s list specifically mentions “large packages, suitcases, carry-on luggage, and other large parcels.” These aren’t allowed on the ferry or on Liberty and Ellis islands. You can rent a locker for $2 after the first security checkpoint on Liberty Island, but they aren’t huge. While they can fit a small backpack or purse, leave the big stuff at the hotel.

If you must bring luggage, a large bag, or packages with you because you’re headed straight to the airport after your visit, consider placing your items in off-site storage for a fee.

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