Ellis Island: visiting the Immigration Museum

When we were in New York City, we bought the New York Pass since it includes so many attractions for free or at discount prices. We went on a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, which was free with the New York Pass. The New York Pass allows a visit to Liberty Island. If you want to go up to the crown, you pay extra, and these tickets are apparently sell out quickly, so you have to go early!


Getting to Ellis Island

Statue Cruises offer the short ferry ride to get to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, and this was also free on the New York Pass. The Statue Cruises departs from Battery Park in New York. There is a departure every 25 minutes. Since it was the week after the 4th of July, it was probably busier than it would normally be. Although the lines to get onto the cruise was long, the pace at which we moved was fast, and we boarded the boat in no time.

The trip to Ellis Island

Seeing New York from the water gives it an entirely different perspective!


The first stop on the State Cruises trip is Liberty Island featuring the Statue of Liberty. Liberty Island was about 25 minutes away from Battery Park. When we neared Liberty Island, we could we could see the long, long lines of people waiting to get to the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t want to go inside and see the view from the top, so we decided not to get off on Liberty Island.

Statue of Liberty from the ferry

We stayed on the boat until we got to the second stop on the cruise, which is Ellis Island.

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum

From Liberty Island to Ellis Island only took about 20 minutes by boat. Ellis Island houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Upon entry into the Museum, they give you a handset with headphones. This is educational as you can walk from exhibit to exhibit and listen to the commentary on each of them. I found the whole museum fascinating – it covered every aspect of immigration you can think of and also covers the history of immigrants to the USA. Listening to all the commentary and finishing every exhibit would take at least 3-4 hours. We did not have that much time since the last boat back to New York City was leaving around 17:15. Therefore, we had to select the exhibits we found most interesting and wanted to learn about more.

Inside the museum there are toilets and outside there is a little restaurant/kiosk selling food. You can also buy souvenirs from a shop.


Adults will probably enjoy this museum more than children because of the topic. One can easily spend a whole day here if you are not in a hurry.

Statues on Ellis Island

Getting back to New York

Unfortunately, after finishing browsing the exhibits, the line to get on a boat to get back to New York was super long. And to make matters worse, the boats just did not stop at Ellis Island. Everyone was getting more and more restless and eventually, after a 90-minute wait, one boat stopped at Ellis Island. It was full, but at least we got back safe and sound after a short 10 minute cruise back to Battery Park.


Despite the long wait to get back on a boat and back to New York, I enjoyed the short ferry ride to Ellis Island and back, and visiting the Museum. The displays were very informative and comprehensive and I left knowing much more than before.

Have you ever been to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum before? What was the highlights of your visit there? Were there any low lights for you? 

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6 thoughts on “Ellis Island: visiting the Immigration Museum”

  1. By reading your blog I found you had amazing time in Ellis Island. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I wished that the blog was little longer with more detail. Other than that I enjoyed it and surely looking forward to visit with my friends one day.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. We also visited here with my family. Amazing history and a great tour. A must see if you’re in the area. It’s amazing to witness such an American icon of course! It was also cool to learn about how Lady Liberty was built. The real surprise was the museum though! There was really interesting stuff there and we really didn’t have as much time there as I would have liked. Definitely give yourself a few hours here to see the movies, pictures, take the free tour, and visit the gift shop. The ferry service was really good too. Always right on time and tasty snacks too.


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