Liberty and Ellis Islands

Celebrate your freedom on NYC's most patriotic isles.

The Department of the Interior has a little gift for New York starting Saturday 4: the chance to tour Lady Liberty's crown (The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island; 212-363-3200, The statue has been closed since September 11, 2001, but it will reopen at 10am with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, speeches and music (details were not confirmed at press time). Given the difficulty of evacuating via the narrow, 168-step spiral staircase—built for maintenance, not daily use—visitors must now enter with a ranger in groups of ten, meaning only 30 people can visit per hour, for a total of 240 per day. But the view through the crown's 25 windows is worth the wait, sweeping 20 miles from New Jersey's hills to far out into the Atlantic. Eager patriots have snapped up crown tickets for the next month (you can still visit the statue on the Fourth and through the summer), so book ahead. But August visitors, be warned: The inside of the metal statue is 10--20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Boats shuttle you from Liberty to Ellis, so after hanging with the Lady, stop by the Immigration Museum (Ellis Island; 212-363-3200,; daily 9:30am--5:15pm; free with ferry ticket), where one of the 12 million passengers it processed may be an ancestor. You wouldn't be barbecuing today if it weren't for them, right?

HOW TO GET THERE Take a ferry from Battery Park by Statue Cruises (Castle Clinton, Battery Pl at State St; 877-523-9849,; ferry service and statue access $12, crown access $15; reservations required).