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Ellis Island Tours

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For more than 60 years, Ellis Island was the point through which countless immigrants came to the United States. And although it was closed in the 1950s, it became a national monument in the 1960s and is now a popular tourist attraction. Many people take Ellis Island tours, in fact, not just to snap a couple photos and see the historic buildings, but also to use the research facilities located there to look up family histories as well. It can be a very moving experience to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Most Ellis Island tours combine a trip to Ellis Island with a stop at Liberty Island, which is where the Statue of Liberty stands. The two islands are technically part of the same national monument, although they are not connected, and because each historic site is not large it is easy to visit both in the space of a couple hours or less. And if you prefer not to climb up into the Statue of Liberty but just want a few up-close photos before heading on to the museums at Ellis Island, the combined visit is even quicker.

Some of the Ellis Island tours are basically cruises of the New York Harbor and offer just a quick glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, among other things - they come with an audio tour, so you can learn a little bit about the history of these places, but you do not get off the boat to visit the museum. So if you want to actually get off at Ellis Island and visit the museum, perhaps even look up a family member in the archives, make sure the tour you are booking allows for this.

Actually, if you want to be at your leisure to spend as much time as you want in the museum and looking through the archives, your best bet is probably to look for a hop-on/hop-off style of tour that includes Ellis Island. It will include many other stops in New York City, so you can visit the major sights easily - a hop-on/hop-off tour allows for easy transfer between sights as well as flexibility in terms of how much time you want to spend at each attraction.