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This post compares the various options you have for Statue of Liberty tours, including tours with pedestal access and tours of Ellis Island.
There are several ticket options that can really enhance your visit to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Before exploring these options, make sure that you read our post on ticket options.
Every ticket includes both self-guided audio tours as well as U.S. Park Ranger and volunteer talks on both Liberty and Ellis Islands.
There are no additional costs for these tours. The audio tours can be picked up and dropped off on both islands.
You might also consider a guided tour from one of several outside companies.
These tours include skip-the-line and priority access and you will have your own tour guide from start till finish.
These tours run between $50 – $70 and include the ticket for the ferries and usually include access and tours of the pedestal. There are several different types to choose from.
Lastly, you might want to consider a separate guided tour of the abandoned hospital complex on Ellis Island.
These are known as hard hat tours because participants are required to wear hard hats. This tour costs $40 for adults and $35 for kids.
Park Rangers and volunteers provide English-language guided tours throughout the day on both Liberty and Ellis Islands.
These tours can last anywhere from 30-45 minutes and are included in the cost of every ticket. No additional tickets are needed to take the tours.
You can find your Park Ranger or volunteer tour guide at the Liberty Island Flagpole located on a road that leads directly from the ferry landing.
Tours depart from the information desk inside of Ellis Island’s Registration Building.
Tour frequency depends on the availability of rangers and volunteers, but they generally depart every hour.
The advantage of these tours is the expertise of the rangers and volunteers and that these tours are free. They won’t even accept tips.
However, the disadvantages are that your timing has to be right, otherwise, you may need to wait 30 minutes or more.
Additionally, there is no cap on the number of participants, so groups can get pretty large in the high season.
There are also Junior Ranger Program packets for kids aged 7-12.
If you’re more comfortable going on your own, you can also take advantage of the self-guided tours available on both islands.
These audio tours are automatically included with every ticket purchase and are available in a number of different languages including Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.
Audio tours can be picked and dropped off on both islands right next to the ferry landings.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of our free, GPS-led audio tour of both Liberty and Ellis Islands. Here’s an audio sample.
The National Park Service also offers a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty.
However, there are a handful of walking tour companies that offer guided tours of Liberty and Ellis Island, which include your ticket for the ferry and pedestal access.
Each of these services is very highly rated and fairly priced. Expect ticket costs to range from $50-$70 on average.
There are also a number of other boat tour companies that cruise past the Statue of Liberty, and provide commentary on board.
Check out our post detailing the specific boat companies that offer Statue of Liberty cruises so to help decide which is best for you.
If you are planning on purchasing one of the discount tourist attraction passes, keep in mind that they also include several boat cruises.
Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.
Below are a few companies that offer similar tours. Some of the tours guarantee pedestal access.
This tour company provides multiple tours that focus on small groups and include a trip to the Statue of Liberty, including an early access outing that will allow you to avoid the crowds.
They also have day trips which include Lady Liberty, One World Observatory, the 9/11 Museum and more.
Whether you’re looking for a tour that just covers the Statue of Liberty or something a bit more detailed, this company offers great services you might want to consider.
Don’t be fooled by the generic name – this is actually one of the most trustworthy tour services in NYC.
In addition to offering a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, they also provide a combo tour to both Lady Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial as well as a tour that includes walks in Midtown and Lower Manhattan with a visit to Top of the Rock.
You may have to pay more for the experience, but you’ll also have the chance to visit different locations and avoid overbooking!
With an average rating of between 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (see the reviews), it’s clear that each of these tour packages is well received by most customers.
Their Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour is especially well-received, as only a handful of reviewers have had anything negative to say about their service.
Below are their tours that include the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Most of these tours are available year-round.
Fully guided tour from beginning to end.
This tour differs from the tour listed above, in that it includes a guided walking tour of Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and then a self-guided tour (with skip-the-line privileges) of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This ticket also includes a Wall Street Tour!
If you’re looking for something a bit quicker, this 3 hour express tour will take you to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, but it does not include access to the pedestal. That said, these are priority tickets which will get you to the landmark and back in a relatively short amount of time.
When you disembark from the ferry to enter the main immigration building and museum, you won’t help but notice of a number of buildings across the ferry inlet.
You are looking at some of the 29 buildings of the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital.
These are pleasant looking buildings in the Belgium style with a somewhat unpleasant history.
Operating from 1902 until 1930, the Ellis Island Hospital complex was a state of the art medical facility that was the last line of defense for the United States of America against contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera, trachoma, diphtheria and countless other ailments.
The 29 buildings included a contagious disease ward, laundry room, doctor’s quarters, an autopsy theater, a kitchen, power plant, dormitories, operating rooms, and a crematorium.
Approximately 3500 people perished while detained at the hospital and roughly 350 babies were born here.
You can watch a 55-minute documentary on the hospital titled “Forgotten Ellis Island”.
Hard Hat Tours
The hard hats are required because you will be walking thru buildings and tunnels that have been left in disrepair.
Only the haunting images created by street artist JR (watch the 2nd video below) and commissioned by Save Ellis Island are recent additions.
Proceeds from ticket sales go to the restoration and maintenance of the hospital complex.
For access to parts of the complex not covered on the tour, please check out this virtual tour of those off-limits sections.