Liberty State Park: Ideal Visiting Time and Best Activities
Are you planning a trip to Liberty State Park? You might want to plan ahead! With 1,212 acres, this massive park sees five million visitors annually and has no shortage of spectacular views, historic structures, and one-of-a-kind adventures. That said, it’s safe to say there is a lot of stuff to do at Liberty State Park!
Liberty State Park offers insight into the city’s historical background and metropolitan development, unlike many parks.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the area focused on waterfront industries and passenger transportation. The harbor area helped grow New York City into what it is today. The park’s heart is the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, located at the northern tip.
Where the Terminal stands holds the Statue of Liberty, the gateway of immigration and one of the truest monuments of American identity.
When Liberty State Park was built, it resurrected the harbor’s former glory, which had become filled with decaying buildings and debris. After years of rehabilitation, the park finally opened on Flag Day, June 14, 1976, as “New Jersey’s bicentennial gift to the nation.”
So, before you head out, make sure you’ve made a list of all the best stuff to do at Liberty State Park before your visit and make the most of one of America’s most iconic places!
When should I visit?
If you’re looking for good weather, the best time to visit New Jersey or New York is May through early September. The weather is at its peak for outdoor and indoor activities and is mostly warm during the day.
May tends to see the weather heating up, with highs getting to 70°F. Summertime can get rather hot, with temperatures rising to 100°F during the day. By September, it cools off again.
April is the region’s rainy season, so you might still get a few showers if you visit around it.
However, because the weather is optimal from May to September, it is also the busiest. If you’re trying to beat the crowds, go before or after the high season begins or ends.
Additionally, the high season brings elevated prices so that everything might be slightly more expensive. Hotel stays will dip during the winter months.
Visit the Historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal
The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal is a must-see for anyone visiting Liberty State Park. Not only is the Terminal beautiful to look at, but it’s also a historic landmark that laid the groundwork for our nation’s identity.
From 1892 through 1954, The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal stood with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, bringing immigrants from the shores of the world to their new home. It was the first piece of land transportation they took to step foot on American soil.
Visitors can view the small museum dedicated to area history, check out one of the interpretive programs or tours, or launch here to use the ferry service to get to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Ferry to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty
If there is one thing you should do at Liberty State Park, visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. And there is no better way to do it than taking the ferry to it, just as the immigrants would have seen the statue themselves.
The ferry offers transportation across the Hudson to both monuments. Audio guides ensure you’ll learn everything you might want to know about these iconic landmarks.
Once you get to the Statue of Liberty, you’re welcome to head up all the way to the crown, although sometimes access is limited when it’s overcrowded.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to boat from one destination to the other. If you choose not to get off at the monuments, the entire trip will be one hour and fifteen minutes.
The ferry service begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. and travels seven days a week. The fee is $7 for adults, $3 for children, $6 for seniors over 62, and $6 per adult in groups of 25 or more. There is no admission fee to either monument.
Pack a picnic and enjoy the view
Anyone visiting Liberty State Park should get all they can from the stunning vistas offshore of the Hudson River. And because of that, the park anticipates visitors to gather along it.
If you’re from out of town, be sure to hit up your local deli or sandwich shop and set up along the two-mile promenade, where Liberty Walk links two picnic and playground areas that offer some of the best views in the city.
You’ll see the ferries shuttling tourists from the Statue of Liberty and the striking stoney front of Ellis Island. And if you plan an evening picnic, the sunset behind the Manhatten skyline can’t be beaten.
Hike the Hudson River Walkway
There is no better way to get a good sense of an area than to walk around it. And hiking the Hudson River Walkway is the best way to see Liberty State Park.
This 5.5-mile loop around the park is an easy hike that showcases the area’s salt marshes and historic railroad. Hikers will see fishermen pulling flounder from the Hudson Bay and the Manhattan and New Jersey skylines.
The hike is also known for its birding spots and lush gardens. Additionally, if you don’t feel like taking the loop back, hop on the shuttle bus or Light Rail and head home.
Spend the afternoon at the Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center isn’t a museum you’ll want to miss. The interactive nonprofit center hosts 12 exhibition halls, 110 species of animals, giant aquariums, wind simulators, a 3D theater, live simulcast surgeries, and one of the best planetariums in the U.S.A.
The museum always has new exhibits and installations, so be sure to hit up their website before you go. It’s 300,000 square feet and is attended by more than 750,000 guests yearly, so you’ll also want to buy your tickets early.
The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium is the biggest in the Western Hemisphere, so it’s worth planning around. And while many of the exhibits are family-friendly, almost anyone would enjoy the museum. There is plenty to see and a little something for everyone.
General admission is $30 for adults and $25.99 for children when bought in advance. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Make it to one of New Jersey’s fun annual events
There are plenty of events that take place at Liberty State Park that will make your trip even more special. During the summer, free outdoor concerts are held.
Additionally, the Liberty City Jazz Festival puts on a show to benefit the park in September.
Lastly, the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is world-famous as the largest and most anticipated balloon festival. Take a ride on a hot air balloon and see the park in a way you’ll never forget. It’s sure to top your list of things to do at Liberty State Park.