The Best Way To See The Statue Of Liberty

During our visit to Manhattan over Thanksgiving weekend, we planned a day where we’d have the chance to do something we hadn’t done in a long time and it involved us taking a boat. No, we weren’t going to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty. We weren’t going to Ellis Island either. We’d done both of those things before. Our trip was more important, we were going to Staten Island.

Yes, that Staten Island.

Sharon lived there for much of her life and for as long as I knew her before we moved to Florida. Once I got to go back to New Jersey for my reunion, she wanted to go back to her home borough for the Staten Island versions of authentic New York pizza and Chinese food (Note from Sharon: cuz they don’t taste ANYTHING like the pizza and Chinese you get in Manhattan).

One perk of going to Staten Island is that when you take the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan, you get what might be the best view of the Statue of Liberty from the water. Even better than the boats that take you to Liberty Island. The kicker is, the Staten Island Ferry is free.

From our hotel, the Residence Inn Manhattan New York/Times Square, all we had to do was ride on the 1 train to South Ferry station (which is the last stop). Here are all the subway lines that go to the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall terminal.

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When you get off the subway, the way to the Staten Island Ferry is clearly marked on the overhead signs.

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Getting off the escalator from the station, you can’t miss the ferry terminal.

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That doesn’t mean there aren’t seemingly hundreds of people in the area, going to everyone they see that looks like they’re not local, and try to sell them a ticket on the boat to see the Statue of Liberty. Of course, they’re selling tickets to one of the many tourist boats that’ll take you on a trip around the harbor and a look at Lady Liberty.

Since we still can put on the New Yorker face, we plowed right through them all and into the terminal. During the day, ferries leave on a regular schedule, every 30 minutes or sooner after work hours. Remember, this isn’t supposed to be a tourist attraction but a way for 70,000 people to commute to and from work every day.

We only had to wait around 10 minutes to board the next ferry.

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It was November in New York but we still picked a spot outside along the railing and in a few minutes we were on our way. Right away you’re treated to some fantastic views of Lower Manhattan.

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It wasn’t long before we saw the Statue of Liberty. We were treated to views worthy of a Liberty Mutual insurance commercial (You know you can’t be on land and see the statue like they do on TV, right?) (Note from Sharon: OMG, the views in those Liberty Mutual commercials are SO FAKE! You’d have to be IN THE WATER to get those kinds of views. Good theme song, though. “Liberty, liberty, liberty. Liberty.”)

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We kept chugging along towards Staten Island, and we docked about 25 minutes after we left Manhattan. Many of the people on the ferry with us turned right around and got in line for the next ferry headed back to Manhattan. We didn’t though. I think Sharon was the happiest person on the ferry to get off at Staten Island. (Note from Sharon: I was! I was HOME!)

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We did what people do in Staten Island. We went for some pizza, saw a movie, walked around the mall and finally went for dinner at the Chinese restaurant Sharon grew up going to before her family started going to the other place that was closer to their house.

Just a bit of warning, there’s not much to do near the ferry terminal but they’re building an outlet shopping center that, when it opens, should be very popular with the many tourists who take the ferry every day. To get to anywhere we wanted on the island, we had to Uber around from place to place.

It was late by the time we headed back and the ferry was very empty. We tried to get some night shots but with our iPhones, we weren’t able to get any good pictures with the distance, limited light and movement of the ferry.

If you’re solely going to see the Statue of Liberty and wanted to do a quick turn around, the whole trip would take about 90 minutes to two hours. For a free trip and two hours of your time, you get to get a good look at the Statue of Liberty the same way that millions of people getting to the United States for the first time did, from a boat.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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