Back in the day, hundreds of thousands of future Americans were greeted by the Statue of Liberty after a long and often grueling trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Their first feel of American soil was at Ellis Island, where new arrivals would be processed for immigration, full of hope for a new life in a new nation. A lot has happened in the world, and the USA, since those early days, but the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island still proudly retain their aura of hope and the upholding of US values and freedoms.
Any trip to New York would be richer for visiting these important spots, which can be seen across the Hudson from the southern tip of Manhattan. Although the tiny landforms of Ellis Island and Liberty Island are actually closer to New Jersey, there are plenty of excellent boat tours departing from Manhattan. Some include merely a cruise, which brings you closer to them, while others drop you off at the islands to explore the museums and sights they contain. here are five of the best Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty tours in New York.
From $22/per person
The best value way to tour Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is this self-guided option. The fee includes a round-trip ferry from either Manhattan or New Jersey. Regardless of your start point, the ferries operate a route that stops at Liberty Island, followed by Ellis Island. You can hop off the ferry at each stop on this tour, then access the self-guided audio tour which will help you better understand the significance of Lady Liberty and the Ellis Island immigration station. Entry to museums on both islands is included. Access to the Statue of Liberty Crown costs extra.
From $25/ per person
A big part of the appeal of boat tours and cruises on the Hudson River is the remarkable view. If you don’t have enough time in your schedule to make a stop-off at the islands, then an hour-long cruise like this one is a great alternative. You’ll glide over the water up to within 100 feet (30m) of the Statue of Liberty for some excellent photos. Heading back towards Manhattan, there’s an equally thrilling skyline, dominated by the One World Trade Center and Empire State Building. Tours run at least twice daily.
From $28/ per person
Nothing beats the New York city skyline for urban beauty, and no time of day is better than sunset, as the skyscrapers begin to light up and the golden hour paints everything warm. This sunset cruise from Pier 36 in the Lower East Side passes beneath the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges towards Liberty and Ellis islands. It makes a close pass of each as the sun starts sinking beneath the horizon. Watch the sunset over New York Bay before heading back to complete the hour-long cruise. This tour usually only runs from Thursday to Sunday each week.
From $60/ per person
If you have a little more time to spare, a longer tour really adds value to your experience. For example, this great option begins with a guided walking tour of Battery Park’s monuments and history in Manhattan, ending at the 19th-century Castle Clinton. Next, your guide will help you board a ferry for Liberty Island, followed by Ellis Island. At each, you’ll take a self-guided tour of the museums with an audio guide. All ferry and museum tickets are included. This tour can last over three hours, especially if you wish to take your time on the islands.
From $60/ per person
One classier option for those who only want to take a cruise is the City Skyline tour, which takes place aboard a 1920s-style yacht. Starting out up in Chelsea at Pier 62, this two-hour journey also offers a much more comprehensive tour of New York Bay, exploring the Hudson from Chelsea down to Liberty Island, then up the East River towards Brooklyn Bridge. There’s an onboard bar (extra fee) and plenty of indoor (with plate glass windows for better views) and outdoor seating for all weather.