new york city
New York City
Statue of Liberty - Lower Manhattan
Statue of Liberty - The Statue of Liberty is a gift from the French, designed by Frederic-August Bartholdi and built to commemorate America's 100th birthday. It was unveiled in 1886, and it's been a big hit ever since. It's not just size, 305 ft. tall, but she's very green (the statue is covered with a copper skin). And that's mom's face up there - Bartholdi used his mother's face as inspiration for the statue.
To visit the Statue of Liberty, you'll take the boat from Battery Park, near Castle Clinton, to Liberty Island. In the past, climbing up the inside of the Statue of Liberty on a hot summer's day was a rite of passage for kids, and now it's back (although on a lottery basis). With a timed reservation, families can visit the 10th floor observation pedestal and other museum exhibits (including a full-size replica of Liberty's face). Click here to reserve your time pass in advance. A reservation isn't required just to wander around Liberty Island.
While gazing up at the Statue of Liberty, here's some things to look for. Liberty's crown has seven rays, which symbolize the seven seas and seven continents. The tablet she is holding is inscribed with July 4, 1776 (the 1776 is in Roman numerals). Liberty's nose is 4 feet, 6 inches long, her mouth is 3 feet wide.
Tip: Even with your time pass reservation, you'll need to take the ferry to Liberty Island, and the lines can get long, so allow plenty of time for the boat ride, so you don't miss your time slot.
Ellis Island - In your family, perhaps your ancestors came through Ellis Island to America. Starting in 1892, twelve million people arrived at Ellis Island, their first step on United States soil, where the fate of immigrants was decided.
After you've entered the main building, stop into theater for a 45 min. presentation, "Island of Hope, Island of Tears," with a 30 min. documentary. Inside the museum, kids can see the Registry Room where immigrants were processed, a dormitory room, clothing and items people brought from their homelands, models of Ellis Island, and most impressive, the Stairs of Separation, three different stairs. The left stair led to the New York ferry, right to the railroad office, and the center stair was for people who were detained (waiting for other relatives to arrive or medical inspections).
American Family Immigration History Center - Search to find if your family records are at Ellis Island (1892 -1924). The information to bring with you - name and approximate age at arrival, date of arrival and port of departure.
There are loads of picnic tables outside, so if the weather's nice, bring a picnic. Also, nice views of the Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island.
The Battery Park - One of our favorite areas in Manhattan, it's much more than spot to pick up the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A long promenade goes up the Hudson River, perfect for walking or biking, plenty of playgrounds and grass to run around for little ones. Lovely shade, benches, flowers in summer, and it's cooler along the river.
At Castle Clinton, buy your ferry tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (one boat goes to both destinations).
Around the Castle is a nice shady garden with benches, and a fun water play area, a water fountain where in summer, the kids can cool off.
Rent bikes - Rent bikes at Bike and Roll and bike up the Esplanade (on the west side) all the way to Hudson River Park. With older kids or teens, bike up the east side to South Street Seaport and over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Kids will have fun riding the unique SeaGlass carousel, like being a fish under the water!
Rockefeller Park - Esplanade (Battery Park City) - Head over to Battery Park City and one of our favorite parks, Rockefeller Park. This park has an excellent playground, with oodles of climbing structures, sand play area, picnic tables, and chess tables, and bunches of whimsical bronze sculptures (our favorite is the big toe with the little guy).
Or you can just sit on the soft green lawn (North and South Meadows) and watch the ferries, tugs and barges out on the Hudson River.
Hudson River Park (North Moore St. and Pier 25) - Mini-golf with eighteen holes, snack bar, and large water-play area and playground.
Ferry to Staten Island - The ferry to Staten Island is a super boat ride around New York harbor, and it's free! Pick up the ferry at the Whitehall Terminal, and ride to Staten Island, you don't need to get off, just ride back. The ferry runs every half hour, a one hour ride round trip. Avoid taking the ferry at rush hour, as commuters do use the ferry to get to and from Staten Island.
Tall Ship Clipper City - 1 ½ hours on a sailing ship around the harbor (hardy sailors can help with sails), late April to October. Ship departs from Slip 2.
National Museum of the American Indian (One Bowling Green, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House) - An outpost of the Smithsonian, this museum is a treasure trove of art of the Americas - masks from the Northwest, amazing clothing from all over the United States, Navajo weavings, jade from Mexico and gold from Peru. The exhibitions (with goodies from the collections) change each year, but there's always something fascinating to see. The museum is free and open daily. (If the weather is bad, this is a good place to stop after you've visited the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.)

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