Update: Due to Hurricane Sandy-related damage, Ellis Island is currently closed to the public.
Trust us, even if your blood doesn’t run red, white and blue you will not be underwhelmed or disappointed by either of these two major New York landmarks. Note that, contrary to some mistaken notions, the mother of all American statues is not actually on Ellis Island, though that historic place and its resident Ellis Island Immigration Museum can be reached by the same ferry. Liberty Enlightening the World, sculpted by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi and a gift from the people of France, was unveiled in 1886. Although security concerns placed the statue off-limits after 9/11, Lady Liberty’s insides were reopened for guided tours (reservations required) in 2004. The monument underwent extended renovations in 2011 (including new stairs and an elevator), reopening in 2013 after an extended Hurricane Sandy-related closure. You can now climb up to the crown, and take in the carving on the pedestal, which features the 1883 Emma Lazarus poem that includes the renowned lines ‘Give me your tired, your poor/your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’. On the way back to Manhattan, the ferry will stop at the popular Immigration Museum, on Ellis Island, through which more than 12 million people entered the country between 1892 and 1954. The exhibitions are a moving tribute to the immigrants from so many different countries who made the journey to America, dreaming of a better life. The $6 audio tour, narrated by Tom Brokaw, is informative and inspiring.