As the entrance point of countless people to the United States, Ellis Island is a wealth of cultural, visually spectacular, and ultimately memorable experiences. The grandeur of Ellis Island lies in the opportunities to experience New York City in some of the most unique ways possible, and this list is meant to shine a light on that wealth.
From exploring the immigrant history of New York City, to some truly novel perspectives of the Big Apple, Ellis Island is in many ways part and parcel to the complete New York experience.
You’ll read below all the major points that typically find themselves on bucket lists, and some experiences you’ve maybe never considered. Take a moment to see how you can start chipping away at that New York to-do list, or discover a new passion.
We all know that America is a land of immigrants. Ellis Island was, for much of the country’s history, the gateway for people from all around the world embarking on a better life in the United States, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is the key to that history.
Once you walk underneath the steel and glass canopy which guided millions to their new lives, you step into the first impression of the United States for her dreamers. Exhibits explore the reality of immigrants landing at Ellis Island, through curated collections of belongings left behind, photo galleries, and so much more.
You’re also given access to intake records. Many visitors try their hand at searching for relatives that arrived through Ellis Island, opening up a whole new world of self-discovery that many find vindicating and surprising.
2. Sea the City
Whether high atop one of the city’s skyscrapers, or travelling through the underbelly of New York’s subway system, the amount of unique perspectives you can experience in the Big Apple is staggering.
We know that seeing Ellis Island, Manhattan, and other iconic sights of New York City is breathtaking from a Jet Ski on the Hudson River—and Sea the City is here to take you there.
Seeing the upper city’s soaring heights from the water is, as many describe, a humbling experience. Along with our expert jetski professionals, you can have a safe, thrilling, and spectacular experience taking in all that Ellis Island, and New York City, has to offer. Learn more or book your tour today with Sea The City.
3. The Statue of Liberty
What trip to Ellis Island would be complete without homage to the symbolic Statue of Liberty? Since gifted to the United States by France in the late 19th century, the Statue of Liberty has been perhaps the most iconic symbol of acceptance, prosperity, and grandeur from America’s storied immigrant past.
There’s tons of ways to experience the Statue of Liberty. Our Sea the City tours, for instance, pass right by the mammoth landmark. There are also tons of other options for truly novel views of the Statue of Liberty, including from the air or by the sea with Liberty Helicopter and Sea the City Jet Ski Tours.
You can also travel to the top of the Statue of Liberty, which gives you a breathtaking view of the city. This is one of the most popular ways to take in the statue, so consider one of the alternative approaches for an experience of a lifetime.
Do you want to take on the Hudson River and the best Ellis Island highlights in style? This exclusive dinner cruise allows you to experience Ellis Island, Ellis Island Bridge, Manhattan, and more of the city while sailing in luxury.
You can purchase a simple cruise ride, but the options available make this a wonderfully customizable experience. For instance, you can add a wine pairing, a three-course dinner, and other add-ons to make the trip as inclusive as you want.
If you’re a fitness freak, or just love a good bike ride, the paths available on Ellis Island are bar-none. As you fly through the various sites on the island, you’re also burning calories in the process!
Blazing Saddles offers bike rentals that take you through many different parts of the metropolitan area, including through wonderful vistas with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as their treasures. For another great alternative take on Ellis Island, Blazing Saddles brings the memories.
6. New York Harbor Tours
New York Harbor Tours offers a unique and unforgettable way to get up close to the sights of NYC without waiting in lines. You can see Ellis Island and other key landmarks from the comfort of a private motorboat. While some boat tours might pack you in like sardines, New York Harbor Tours has a maximum of 6 people per tour which makes for a truly intimate experience.