I’ve been to New York three times in my life, and all three times I’ve included a Statue of Liberty visit.
For people who grew up around it, it may be a no-big-deal tourist site, but as someone who grew up in the landlocked center of the country, it was something I only knew by way of history books, photographs, and movies. Standing large and majestically, it was the stuff of storybooks.
Hopping on a ferry and riding across the water from Battery Park as the statue comes closer into view fills me with a kind of awe. Imagining all of the people who have found their way to it – from all around the globe – and the feelings they were experiencing makes it a must-see celebrity of the trip.
As the Statue grows ever larger in sight, people crowd around the edges of the boat, speaking myriad languages, and taking photographs with the statue hovering behind them. With excited smiles, they beam, capturing the moment.
After making one’s way off the boat, there are picnic tables, a gift shop, and bathrooms, and a huge lawn with a magnificent view of the New York City skyline.
On my first Statue of Liberty visit when I was in high school, I made the long trek up the inner spiral staircase to the crown. I remember peeking through the tiny windows as more tourists waited behind me, quickly taking a photo as we passed.
The second time I visited, it was just a few months after 9/11, and the crown was closed to visitors. This time the trip came up with fairly short notice, and the crown tickets had already been snatched up. (You have to buy them about three months in advance.)
By the time I was ordering, there was just one ticket left to get to the statue’s pedestal. So I purchased one pedestal ticket and then just a general boat ticket to get to Liberty Island.
David and I were joined on our Statue of Liberty visit by our friend, Katrina, from Suburban Snow White. Katrina also was only able to get a boat ticket. However, when we got to the Will Call ticket booth, since one member of our party had a ticket for pedestal access, they freely gave additional pedestal tickets to the rest of the group. It was a really lovely surprise.
We were going to be getting there around lunchtime, and I’d read online that the food options on Liberty Island were of the fast food variety and pretty uninspiring.
So the night before, we all went to Whole Foods and picked up some picnic-worthy lunch items: a couple packs of baked tofu (that I opened with scissors before leaving since you have to go through an airport-style metal detector), roasted red pepper hummus, grapes, raspberries, crackers, and Cassucio, a nut-based cheese by Kite Hill.
I’d tried the Kite Hill White Alder in the past, but this was my first time sampling that particular flavor. It’s a squishy, mild cheese that was a tasty indulgence since it isn’t sold where I live.
After filling our bellies, we made our way to the pedestal entrance. Bags have to be checked and put into lockers, and no food is allowed inside of the Statue. We locked up our bag and headed up the 215 steps to the pedestal. (There’s also an elevator option available, but we decided to skip the line.)
While the view is better from the bottom of the statue where you can take it all in, there’s something so bucket list-worthy about seeing it from the inside. It brings it all home that you’re really there.
The area around the pedestal is a tight squeeze, and so I can see why they have to limit the amount of people who are allowed at one time. One high school girl was having a rough time of it because of the height and was sitting on the floor with her back up against the concrete looking positively ghostly.
We headed back down to the base to walk around the museum inside. They have drawings and pictures of the statue being made, a life-sized replica of her face, and an area that features the responses of early visitors to the statue.
Finally, we walked around to the front of the Statue for more photos, waved goodbye, and took the ferry back to where our trip began.