While on the train to New York City recently from my home in Connecticut, I overheard a mom with three young kids (under 12) talking enthusiastically about how they were going to spend the day in “The City.”
“First we’ll take the subway downtown and go to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty,” she said. “Then we’ll go to midtown and see the wax museum, and…if you behave, we’ll go to Toys R Us.”
All I can say is thank goodness I did not see this family on the other end of the day, heading home after all of this. That would have been one very challenging train ride.
While I encourage families to visit Manhattan with young kids, I can’t stress enough how important it is to just nibble at the apple, not take big bites.
Certainly, a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island should be very high on any family’s list. But be realistic, to really appreciate these historic landmarks, you should allow the better part of a day.
To make it easy for yourselves, book your tour and ferry tickets before you go. You can easily do this online at Statue Cruises or by calling 1-877-LADY-TIX (1-877-523-9849). There are four different ticket options ranging from Reserve With Crown (which includes access up to the crown of the statue and admission to the museum at the base) to simple access to the grounds of both Liberty and Ellis Islands. There are also three-day flex tickets which give you the option of going anytime within a three day period. One of the advantages of purchasing tickets in advance is that it allows you priority entry into the Security Screening Facility, saving lots of time at your departure.
Whichever ticket you buy, give yourselves plenty of time. Waits can easily be an hour (or more, depending on the season, weather, holidays—check the website for current wait times). Don’t be turned off by the idea of the line, however. It actually moves fast and along the way, you’ll be treated to the unbelievable talents of many street actors.
So what else to do? You can pretty much throw a dart at a map of Manhattan and find something that will appeal to your kids. Just avoid the temptation of doing it all at once and you'll all have a great time.