You think you're familiar with the Statue of Liberty, one of the most recognizable icons in the world, until you visit; she's much more than we anticipated and we learned a lot about her history. I've seen her from afar, even fairly close up on the Staten Island Ferry in the past, but a visit to Liberty Island to see her close-up far exceeded any expectations that we had. Reserve your ferry tickets in advance and avoid the ticket lines. Better yet, reserve the 8 AM (earliest) cruise and arrive at Battery Park a bit early to be on the first ferry and beat the crowds. Upon our return to Battery Park, we noticed that the lines were much longer. The only way you can get there is via Statue Cruises, the official transportation to/from Liberty Island. When you purchase your ferry ticket, there are 3 options: ferry ride only, "monument access", and if you reserve far enough in advance "crown access" (limited availability, must reserve far in advance). We planned our trip only a few weeks in advance and, unfortunately, the crown access was out of the question; crown access allows you to climb a really cool looking spiral staircase up to the .... crown. "Monument" access was great, allowing us up inside of the statue, able to see the inside structure and able to peer all the way up. The National Park Service web site incorrectly states that there are "no locker storage areas at the screening facilities" and that you "must keep bags, packages" with you at all times. In fact, there are locker rentals available for a nominal fee and you MUST leave backpacks, etc in the lockers -- you can't carry them up into the statue. These lockers aren't huge, so don't try to bring a suitcase, but they are available and convenient (first lockers I've ever used that utilizes your fingerprint as your "key"). Unfortunately Ellis Island was closed, due to damage from Hurricane Sandy, so we'll have to catch that on our next trip.
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