See New York City's most famous lady, the Statue of Liberty, like a VIP on a guided tour that includes special access to the statue pedestal. You'll take an early ferry to Liberty Island without waiting in lines that can stretch for hours, and arrive before the crowds. Then take another ferry to Ellis Island, following in the footsteps of millions of immigrants, and make the most of this experience with a tour of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, where you can walk the Stairs of Separation, visit the Kissing Post, and hear personal tales at the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.
Your tour starts at Battery Park, where you'll get a little context for your upcoming visits by exploring the memorials around the park, which rarely get the attention they deserve by visitors rushing to catch the ferry. Spend some time at the Castle Clinton National Monument, Pier A Harbor House, the American Merchant Mariner's Memorial, the Sphere, and New York Korean War Veteran's Memorial.
Then it's off to Liberty Island with priority boarding to get the best seats on the ferry; because you're leaving early (often on the first ferry, depending on the time of year), you'll arrive at the Statue of Liberty before the crowds. Once there, enjoy stunning views of the city and take a guided tour that leads you right up to the pedestal, getting you closer to Lady Liberty than the standard visit.
Here, your guide tells you a little about the city's greatest icon. Gifted to the US by France and designed by their finest architects, including Gustav Eiffel (whose Parisian tower you may be familiar with), Lady Liberty wasn't as warmly received as you might think. Hear all about the struggle that got her on her feet and eventually became dear to the people of New York.
Then return to the ferry for the cruise over to Ellis Island, where you'll follow in the footsteps of 12 million immigrants. From your guide, learn about the lengthy immigration process they went through, walking the Stairs of Separation to understand the island's two very different names, 'The Island of Hope' and 'The Island of Tears.' Explore the museum's impressive collection of interactive displays, and ask your guide any questions you have before your tour ends here; you can stay a little longer if you'd like, or head back to the ferry with your guide to return to Manhattan.
With small groups of 20 people or fewer and early morning ferries to the islands, your tour is typically quiet and relaxed, removing the hassles of the average visit. And with an expert guide on hand, you're certain to learn a thing or two, getting more from your experience than you would by visiting these sites on your own.