Statue of Liberty

Top choice monument

in Financial District & Lower Manhattan
Image by Brian Lawrence / Getty Images

Reserve tickets online well in advance (up to six months ahead) to access Lady Liberty’s crown for breathtaking city and harbor views. If you miss out on crown tickets, you may have better luck with tickets for the pedestal, which also offers commanding views. If you don't score either, don't fret: all ferry tickets to Liberty Island offer basic access to the grounds, including guided ranger tours or self-guided audio tours. Book tickets through Statue Cruises to avoid long queues.

Conceived as early as 1865 by French intellectual Édouard de Laboulaye as a monument to the republican principles shared by France and the USA, the Statue of Liberty is still a symbol of the ideals of opportunity and freedom. French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi traveled to New York in 1871 to select the site, then spent more than 10 years in Paris designing and making the 151ft-tall figure known in full as Liberty Enlightening the World. It was then shipped to New York, erected on a small island in the harbor (then known as Bedloe's Island) and unveiled in 1886. Structurally, it consists of an iron skeleton (designed by Gustave Eiffel) with a copper skin attached to it by stiff but flexible metal bars.

The 162-step slog up tight, narrow steps to the statue's crown is arduous and should not be undertaken by anyone with significant health conditions that might impair their ability to complete the climb. Access to the torch has been prohibited since 1916.

Liberty Island is usually visited in conjunction with nearby Ellis Island.