My First Visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum

Although I’ve been to New York City many times over the years, I had never been to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island Museum until recently. Various reasons come to mind as to why I never went to either place before.  On my first visit to New York City I had the intention of going but just missed the last ferry there (this was well before the 911 tragedy so you could just walk up to the ferry terminal, pay, and get on a ferry if there was space). On subsequent visits to the city, either there wasn’t time to see the statue or there were no slots available for the pedestal or crown online when I tried to buy tickets.

When I was planning things to do for a racecation to Morristown, New Jersey where I was going to be running a half marathon in my 40th state, I was happy to find out I could take a ferry from Liberty State Park in New Jersey to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I immediately booked our tickets. Even though tickets to the crown were sold out five months in advance, I was able to get tickets to the pedestal so I was grateful to at least get that.

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The day of our tour, it was hot and sticky.  We had tickets for 10:00 in the morning so we left our hotel room with the intention of getting at Liberty State Park between 30 minutes and one hour in advance, depending on traffic. When we got there, we had to stand in a long line to go through security screening so it was good we had allotted plenty of extra time.

Finally we boarded the boat and took the short ride to Ellis Island Museum. You have the option of staying on the boat and just going straight to the Statue of Liberty or spending some time at the museum before heading to the statue. We like museums so we got off and spent some time exploring all three floors.

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Ellis Island Museum is full of photos and stories from immigrants seeking a better life in America. There are artifacts including clothing, books, and other personal items many people took with them for the long journey from their home countries. You can walk through the steps the immigrants had to go through upon their arrival at Ellis Island. You can see the sleeping areas, rooms for health inspections, a room that looked like a court room, and others. Audio tours are also available in nine languages.

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As I said earlier, we ended up going through all three floors of the museum. We also had lunch at the cafe, which was over-priced but the food was pretty good at least. The day we were there it seemed like just about half the school kids in the area must have been there on a school field trip so it was crazy busy but maybe it’s always like that. We spent a couple of hours here before we went outside to wait for the ferry for the Statue of Liberty.

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When you see the Statue of Liberty from a distance it seems much smaller than it really is. Finally, we got off the ferry and walked around the base of the statue. If you can’t get tickets for the pedestal or crown, you can walk around the base. It’s beautiful to just walk around and admire the views. A word of warning, though if you don’t like crowds. The ferries are crowded, Ellis Island Museum is crowded, and walking around the base of the statue is crowded. The crowds thinned out in a few places around the pedestal but that’s it.

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The views of the Manhattan skyline and the water surrounding the statue were nice. We got a ton of photos from the pedestal. I’m sure the views are even better from the crown. Next time I’ll just have to get tickets at least six months in advance for the crown or figure out when the off-season is, if there is such a thing. I’m glad I finally got to visit Ellis Island Museum and the Statue of Liberty. It was a fun and history-filled day!

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There are many options for tickets through Statue Cruises but all include the ferry from either Battery Park in New York or Liberty State Park in New Jersey and all tours include access to Ellis Island Museum and an audio tour. Prices increase for crown, pedestal, or hard-hat areas. Book as far in advance as you can because spaces especially for the crown are limited and sell out months in advance.

More information can be found on the National Park Service page here.

Allstate New York 13.1 Half Marathon, New York- 30th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New York was my 30th state.

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the Allstate New York 13.1 Half Marathon. Only it wasn’t really funny but at least now I can look back at it and while I’m not laughing at least I’m not as upset as I was then.

So first the drama that happened on the way to the race and then the specifics.  My husband, daughter, and I took a taxi to the race start and when I got in I told the driver we were going to the National Tennis Center (our hotel was nearby also in Queens so I knew it should only be short ride).  He nodded his head and we took off.  After about 10 minutes I realized he was circling around Corona Park, where the National Tennis Center is, but it was obvious he didn’t know exactly where to go.  I looked at my watch and it was 10 minutes before the race start.  I started to panic as I watched the minutes ticking away and we still weren’t there.  Finally I told my husband I just wanted to get out, so I told the driver to just pull over right where he was and let us out.  I just blindly ran in the direction I thought the race start should be (based on the race website) and made it to the start with a couple of minutes to spare.  I was furious that I was almost late to the race start because the taxi driver didn’t look up the directions and pretended to know where he was going, but I tried to channel that into positive energy and ended up running a good race and enjoying myself.

The state of New York has no shortage of marathons or half marathons.  There are at least two half marathons in every single month of the year and a marathon in every month except four.  This may make it difficult to decide which one to do if you’re only going to run one in each state, like me.  However, I always knew my half marathon in New York would be in New York City.  I had been to New York City before and typically I like to run races in new cities, but honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to go back because I had so much fun the previous times I had been there.

It did occur to me that the weather can be temperamental in New York City in March but I thought I would take a chance and hope for the best.  Fortunately the weather for the race was a bit chilly and windy but at least it didn’t rain so overall it was pretty good.  Later in the afternoon the day of the race, a storm blew in and it was freezing and raining, so things could have been much worse.

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Typically I tend to choose races that are off the beaten path at least a bit and since this race was entirely through Queens and no other boroughs, it gave me a glimpse into another part of New York City I had not experienced previously.  Like most first and even second time visitors to the great city, I had stuck to Manhattan and had not ventured out much beyond that.  This gave me and my family an opportunity to see things such as Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum, and Queens Botanical Garden. There’s even a small zoo in Queens although we didn’t go there.

This was my daughter’s first visit to the Big Apple so of course we also went to the Empire State Building, American Girl Doll Store, Metropolitan Museum of Art , Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Public Library, the iconic American Museum of Natural History (one of my favorites), and the Guggenheim Museum. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a tour to see the Statue of Liberty (I didn’t make reservations far enough in advance) and of course there were other things we missed as well, but we squeezed in as much as we could in a few days after the half marathon- no way I was doing all of that walking before the race.

From my post-race notes:

“Ran through Corona Park in Queens, which is relatively scenic and has a glimpse of Manhattan at one point.  Course had two double loops, was very flat with only “hills” being bridges.  Very good volunteer support along course.  Was very windy and overcast with temps in the low 30’s at start and mid 30’s at finish.  Had been dealing with a strained hamstring which caused back of knee pain in the 2 weeks prior to race, but thanks to a massage 3 days before the race was able to run at good pace with no pain.  Finished in 2:02, my goal time.  HUGE medal, technical shirt, and plenty of post-race snacks and beverages.”

The race for 2016 was cancelled and it’s not clear whether it will be brought back for 2017. However, like I mentioned earlier, there are many others to choose from with more than 10 just in New York City alone throughout the year.

Here is the link to the race series: 13.1 series

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