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September 1, 2020

When Is the Best Time To Visit the Statue of Liberty?

No trip to New York is complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty. The world famous monument has been a symbol of welcoming to the city for over 130 years.

This amount of fame brings heavy crowds week after week. There are no days off for Lady Liberty, and that can be intimidating when trying to figure out the ideal time to visit.

The truth is there is no one “right” answer. Every day, week, and month has its benefits and disadvantages. This guide will help you figure out the best time for you to visit and what to prepare for any day of the year. 

Best Time of the Year

Liberty Island

If you have the flexibility to plan your trip to NYC at any time of the year, consider what season seems most appealing for a trip to the statue. Like many of New York’s most famous sites, most of your visit will be outdoors and the crowd levels will be similar. Here are the pros and cons of each season. 

Spring

Pros: 

  • New York weather is ideal in the spring. Days are sunny and slightly breezy, without being too hot or humid. April, May, and early June will be the best outdoor months. 
  • The crowds tend to be lighter compared to the summer or late December. The end of April and beginning of May is the best time to visit if you’re looking to guarantee a slower day. 
  • Overall, the entire city sites are more pleasant to explore. People are recovering from a harsh winter and happy to be outside in the nice weather. Plants are coming back to life. It’s the perfect calm before the storm of summer. 

Cons:

  • While the temperatures are nice, spring is the “rainy season” in New York, which means a greater chance of experiencing rain while you’re visiting the statue. The cloud cover might even ruin your view from the pedestal. 
  • Spring Break is an easy time for families to travel without having to miss school, but this also increases the number of people visiting the statue each day. These breaks tend to occur in March and April. 

Summer

Pros:

  • Since the summer is such a popular season, the statue becomes even easier to visit. The first ferry leaves earlier, they depart more frequently and you have more sunlight to enjoy your day. 
  • You won’t have to be concerned about the weather spoiling your visit. Definitely no snow or ice. Even if there’s a chance of rain, storm clouds tend to pass quickly in the summer months. 
  • With the weather so warm, there’s no need for gloves, hats, scarves, etc. This makes it so much easier to get through security before you board the ferry.

Cons:

  • Two words. Heat & humidity. It’s worse in the summer than any other time of year. Heat is just as dangerous as cold. Visits to the statue take anywhere from 2-5 hours so make sure to take care of yourself– hydrate, wear sunscreen and take it slow.
  • The statue is crowded pretty much all of the time. Especially June through August. This is the time to book your tickets in advance so you don’t wind up arriving only to see a “Sold Out” sign. 

Fall

Pros:

  • Like spring, the weather is very pleasant in the fall. The intense heat is dying down and the days become slightly cooler. The end of September and October will typically be warm enough to enjoy being outside but without the heat exhaustion that you might experience in the summer.
  • After the summer rush has ended, crowds are not as heavy anymore. Tickets to the statue don’t sell out as often, so you can be a bit more flexible deciding when you want to go. Waiting times are shorter and lines move quicker. Fall has the most “slow months” with September, October, November and the beginning of December all being mostly crowd free.

Cons:

  • Since there aren’t as many people visiting the statue, this is when the ferry schedule begins to shrink. With later departures and more time in between each boat, a moderately crowded day in fall could begin to feel like a normal summer day crowd.

Winter

Pros:

  • Late winter is the slowest tourism season by far. Lines at the statue will be much shorter, almost nonexistent, and there is hardly ever concern about tickets selling out. This means more room for flexibility as well.
  • If you’re planning to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty, there’s a better chance of being in a small group. Less people are booking, so you’ll probably end up with a more intimate, or maybe even private, tour. 

Cons:

  • There’s no getting around it– the weather will be cold. Some days are more mild than others, but you can expect low temperatures and maybe even snow or ice. You might be used to it, depending on where you are from, but keep in mind that you will be spending lots of time outside on a very windy island. Cold weather is a lot less intimidating from inside your car or office.
  •  Ice and snow can be very dangerous. Chances of a huge snow storm are small as they only happen a few times a year in New York. But always be sure to check for weather updates, like you would in the heat. 
  • Less crowds means the most limited ferry hours and the least amount of daylight. Be sure to check the Statue Cruises website for the official ferry schedule

Guide tip: Since the holiday season falls within winter, this section only applies to days in mid-December, January and February. Keep reading for the guide to holiday trips. 

Visiting During the Holidays

Miniature Statue of Liberty with Lights

While summers are crowded, visiting the Statue of Liberty during the holiday season is a whole other beast. The week between Christmas and New Years, in particular, is the busiest time of year at the statue. But don’t forget Thanksgiving weekend either. It’s an ideal time to travel for people, with kids being out of school and some offices being closed. 

Even if the weather is freezing you are guaranteed to see crowds. You would be shocked to see how long people are willing to wait. So be prepared for long lines, outside, in the cold. Wear a warm jacket, hat, gloves, scarves, etc. It’s better to overdress and remove layers rather than having to suffer in pain. Plus, if you’re smart, you can avoid some of those crowds.

Keep reading for tips on how to make the most of your visit on super busy days. 

Best Time of the Week

Liberty Island from Overhead

Ok, so you booked your trip for your favorite season, now how are you supposed to decide which day to visit the Statue of Liberty? Luckily, this is a lot simpler as there aren’t many pros and cons within the days of the week. 

Of course, if you have the flexibility to check the weather a couple of days ahead of your visit before you book, you know what days to avoid because of rain, snow or intense heat. Since weather is unpredictable, the only real variable when comparing days is crowds. 

As you probably expect, Saturday and Sunday will be busier than weekdays. The weekend doesn’t just bring tourists, but also locals or people taking shorter trips. Keep in mind, a weekend in October will usually be a lot lighter than a weekend in August.

So, if you’d like to avoid as many crowds as possible, come during the week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would be best. While Friday is technically a weekday, since it is so close to the weekend, many people can easily take off work and crowds are more likely to be heavier. Mondays as well are surprisingly crowded. My theory is that people plan to start their trip with the Statue of Liberty and get it out of the way. It’s a good idea, unless you want to avoid as many people as possible.

What If I Can’t Avoid Crowds?

Crowds on the Statue of Liberty Ferry

Not everyone has complete and total control over planning their Statue of Liberty visit. Or maybe you scheduled everything very specifically and it just happened to be a really crowded day. Don’t panic. There’s plenty of things you can do to help manage the mass of people and still have the best experience possible. 

  • Book your tickets in advance. Even if you’re planning on going on a Wednesday in the middle of January, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. This eliminates any possibility of having to miss out on the view you wanted and saves you from waiting in an extra line. 
  • Avoid lots of bags. This is a good rule no matter how crowded it is, but if you have less bags, security will be much quicker. Leave any weapons at home and don’t bring any food or drinks (other than water) if possible. You’ll avoid having to lock up any items and zip through security with little to no hassle. 
  • Always always always follow directions. If you see a gap in the line, fill in the space. If a security lane is open, don’t be shy, just walk right up to it. Remove any items that need to be put through the metal detector and follow the directions of security staff.
  • Breathe. Just breathe. Getting frustrated will only make it worse and won’t make the lines move any faster. Just enjoy the time you are having with your family or friends and you’ll get where you need to go before you know it. 

Best Time of Day

Statue of Liberty Sunset

There is no getting around it, you will have to wake up early. I know vacations are supposed to be relaxing but the Statue of Liberty is much more relaxing without hordes of people. The absolute best time of day to see the statue is first thing in the morning. In the summer, the first ferry leaves at 8:30 and you should definitely try and be on it. Security will usually open around 8:15 so it’s best to be in line before then. 

Being on the first ferry means you can be one of the first people in the museum, inside the pedestal and on Ellis Island. You can see everything so much faster and save lots of time by avoiding the rush of people that will arrive late morning or early afternoon. There’s no other way. Even the difference from 8:30 to 9:30 is significant so it’s best to push yourself to arrive early.

If it’s impossible to fit the statue into your schedule first thing in the morning, you can visit in the early afternoon. But you will most certainly end up waiting in much longer lines and could potentially miss out on seeing everything you want for the sake of time. If the early morning won’t work, at least try to shoot for before noon.

Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island

So that’s everything you need to plan your timing at the Statue of Liberty. As you can see, there are benefits to visiting any time of the year. But no matter when you go, it’s always important to be prepared and make the most of the experience. Expect the unexpected and have fun! You can always guarantee that no matter how many people are on the island, Lady Liberty will be there waiting for you.

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