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I love summer for the sole fact that there are no schedules, no rules (kind of) and no pressing deadlines that have to be met – except for having fun and making as many family memories as possible! So taking a 4,000+ mile, 16 day road trip was just what the doctor ordered for our busy family of 5! And it was awesome!
The first leg of our trip was spent going up the east coast and staying in hotels and enjoying city life until we headed into the great outdoors and ruggedness of the Canadian Gaspésie Peninsula. Our days were long and filled to the maximum to be able to take in everything along the way!
See Our Whole Trip HERE!
We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island back in 2010 but since the kids were so young or not born, we wanted to take them back so they could remember visiting this time. So after day 2 in Virginia and Pennsylvania, we headed to the ferry on the New Jersey side and enjoyed a day immersed in American history.
Statue Cruises Ferry
Both trips we took the ferry over to Liberty Island and Ellis Island from the New Jersey side for a couple of reasons:
- Parking is cheaper
- Easier to access
- Less crowded usually
Make sure you purchase your tickets well in advance, because regardless of whichever side you chose to take the ferry from, they fill up fast!
When you arrive and park your vehicle you will have to get out and walk a bit – and you may think you are in the wrong place because this is what you see initially, a covered passage way that looks pretty beat up.
You can purchase Statue of Liberty ferry tickets ahead of time.
You walk down a long path until you reach this gorgeous building and enter in to purchase your tickets (if you have not already done so online beforehand) – these next couple of pictures are actually from our 2010 trip. While we visited this time we experienced the mother of all downpours! We were sooo soaked for several hours. even though we had rain jackets on!
You then board the ferry and head for Ellis Island and Liberty Island. You can choose to get off at whichever island you prefer and then take another ferry (they depart every so often from both islands) to go to the next island before making your return trip back to whichever terminal you parked at.
Back to 2018 🙂 see the rain?? Clayton braved it and rode on the open air ferry deck while the kids and I huddled inside trying to drip dry!
We chose to visit Ellis Island first this time because most of our time was spent at Liberty Island our last trip.
About Ellis Island
- From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
- During the early morning hours of June 15, 1897, a fire on Ellis Island burned the immigration station completely to the ground. Although no lives were lost, many years of Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855 burned along with the pine buildings that failed to protect them.
- On December 17, 1900, the new Main Building was opened and 2,251 immigrants were received that day.
When you first enter through the doors you are greeted with luggage in all shapes and sizes along with large images of immigrants from years ago coming and hoping to be granted permission to enter the country. It’s so moving, emotional and beautiful all at the same time.
You can then tour other rooms of the now museum or you can go upstairs to the Registry Room, which to me is stunning architecturally.
My absolutely drenched and kind of unhappy crew! bahahaha
One of the neatest parts of the going to Ellis Island is having the ability to search the records of those that came through the doors at Ellis. You can pay a small fee to search the databases to find ancestors and see their records. You have the ability to pay to have the records printed, but I chose just to take pictures…because my family actually had come over to the USA in the 1800s before Ellis Island had opened up. However, we were able to find a couple of individuals with my maiden last name!
Once we finished walking around and visiting all of the exhibits, we enjoyed a few drinks and snacks in the café. We were fortunate enough to have an acting immigration officer come and join us! Thankfully he approved the kids so they were able to pass through and not be held in the holding rooms! Phew ;-p
By then, the rain had finally stopped so we headed outside and checked out the beautiful New York City skyline – being the official photographer in my family, I hardly end up in photos…so I asked Clayton to snap a few of me to prove that I was along on this road trip!
Liberty Island: Statue of Liberty
We then boarded the next ferry over to Liberty Island to visit the Statue of Liberty.
About Lady Liberty
- Athough construction on the statue started in 1884 it was not entirely complete and revealed to the world on October 28, 1886. Congress made it part of America in 1956.
- She stands at an enormous height of 305 ft.
- The copper statue which resembles a mint green color holds a torch known as the ‘light of reason’ and a book of law marked with the date of the United States Declaration of Independence
- The female statue stands upon a granite pedestal engraved with the words, ‘New Colossus.’
- The statue also bares broken chains that lie at her feet
- The lite flame on top of the torch is painted with a very thin layer of 24 karat gold
- The crowned figure with several spikes represents the several continents and seven seas
- Throughout the years the Statue of Liberty is a constant reminder of equality, patriotism and human rights
- Lady Liberty recognizes an idea of universal freedom
- The statue symbolizes a dream of the future and not of the past
Statue of Liberty Pedestal
I’m going to be mixing years of photos again now because back in 2010 we were able to get pedestal tickets – where we were able to go up to the torch on Lady Liberty.
You can purchase tickets for the Statue of Liberty pedestal and crown here.
On the grounds of Liberty Island there was a high sc
hool band playing patriotic tunes as well as the Liberty Bike from American Chopper, which my hubby was super excited about!
After a fun filled day, we took the ferry back over to Liberty State Park in New Jersey and had once again admired the pretty scenery.
There were gorgeous flowers in bloom – flowers that I have no idea what they are called, but they are the exact flowers I decorated my daughter’s nursery with …and still have in her room today!
By this point everyone was pretty hungry and tired of walking, so the kids were actually relieved to be heading to the car thinking we were going to continue our drive on to Connecticut. However, we had a surprise up our sleeves! We had booked a hotel downtown Manhattan right smack dab by Central Park and Times Square, right next door to the Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert Show!
We let everyone rest for a bit and enjoy some cartoons (who doesn’t love laying in bed watching tv on vacation??) and then grabbed some $1 slice pieces of pizza and walked around Central Park and Times Square! ….but more on that in the next post! Like I said, our days and nights were filled to the brim!