Ellis Island: The Complete Visitors Guide

Everything You Need to Plan Your Visit to Ellis Island

USA, Upper New York Bay, Aerial photograph of Ellis Island
Westend61 / Getty Images

Between 1892 and 1954 over 12 million immigrants arrived in New York City by steamship. Their first stop was Ellis Island where they underwent legal and medical examinations before being cleared for entry to the United States.

Today the halls of Ellis Island have been transformed into a museum dedicated to sharing the experience and stories of these people who left everything to call America their home. Through a variety of interactive displays, tours, and displays, visitors to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum can learn about New York City's rich immigrant past.

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Getting To Ellis Island and More

Ellis Island from Staten Island Ferry
InSapphoWeTrust/ Wikipedia Commons 

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is located on an island in the middle of the New York Harbor. The island is located both in the state of New Jersey and New York.

Because it's surrounded by water to get to Ellis Island, you'll need to take a ferry from Battery Park City or New Jersey. We've put together ferry directions and details about the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, as well as some interesting facts about Ellis Island to help you plan your visit.

More: Get Ellis Island Directions and Details

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Touring Ellis Island

Ellis Island Inside

 Melizabethi123/ Wikipedia Commons 

There are several options for touring Ellis Island. Check which ones are available when you arrive.

  • Ellis Island Audio Tour - Self-paced, free audio tours are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic and Russian. The tour combines both narration and first-hand accounts of the experience at Ellis Island. A single tour covers both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There is even a special tour available for children 6-10.
  • Ellis Island Ranger-Guided Tour - This free tour of Ellis Island lasts about 45 minutes and is offered hourly. There are no tickets required for the tour and it's handicap-accessible.
  • Free Ferry Building Tour - Sign up for this tour when you arrive at Ellis Island, as space is limited. The tour is offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as some weekends.
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Visiting the State of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

 William Warby/ Flickr 

Many visitors choose to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on the same day, because they are so close to each other. The ferry that takes you to Liberty Island also stops at Ellis Island. One ticket gets you to both places, so you can save money by going in the same day. The only problem is there is a lot to see at both, and it's a big undertaking. So rest up the night before, and get an early start so you aren't rushed.
More: Read about Seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in One Day

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Map of Battery Park Area

Ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island leave from Battery Park City and the Financial District. Beware: you will most likely be approached by peddlers trying to sell you tickets to the Statue of Liberty. They often over-charge. Purchase tickets online or in the Statue Cruises official ticket office inside Castle Clinton to avoid being scammed.

Battery Park City has many attractions and things to see. You can do them before your Ellis Island visit or when you return back to Manhattan. This map of Battery Park City and the Financial District features streets and major landmarks including the World Trade Center for easy viewing. There is also a printable version available.

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Ellis Island Photos and Tips

Ellis Island Immigration Station

 Public Domain Pictures 

One of the best ways to get excited about your trip to Ellis Island is to look at photos. Many provide a birds eye view you won't get while you are there. It's amazing to see the magnitude of the building as well as the water around it. Prepare for your visit to Ellis Island or relive it by checking out these Ellis Island Photos.

You can also prepare for your trip by reading these tips for visiting Ellis Island. They will set you up to make the most of your day to this historic and important site.