Ellis Island - Statue of Liberty banner

Ellis Island Tours and Other Programs

If exploring Ellis Island is on your agenda during your trip to New York, you will be happy to know that you have many options available to you. You can learn about the history of Ellis Island and the plight of immigrants while having fun by taking part of the various tours and programs on offer to visitors. There’s something for the whole family, so bring the kids along. Check out what’s waiting for you:

Museum Walking Tour

If you need some guidance as you visit the museum, free walking tours are available. These tours last about 45 minutes. National Service Park Rangers or volunteers lead them. Handicapped visitors are accommodated. You do not need tickets for the walking tours. They start at the top of the hour. Ask the information desk for details—that’s where the tours depart from anyhow.

Ferry Building Tour

There is also a free Ferry Building Tour waiting for you at Ellis Island. The hour-long tour exposes visitors to the “Future in Balance: Immigration, Public Health and the Ellis Island Hospitals” exhibit. The subject matter of the exhibit is the United States Public Health Service and immigrant illnesses. You will need to sign up for this tour, because spaces are limited. This tour is only available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and some weekends. Call 973.347.8400 (extension 17) for more information.

Audio Tour

Ellis Island audio tours are also offered. There is a small charge of $6.00 for this tour, but they give visitors who do not necessarily understand English a chance to learn about Ellis Island. They are available in many foreign languages (as well as in English). You can find them at the concessions. If you need more information about the audio tours, contact the concessionaire, Aramark at 212.344.0996.


You can catch the film “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” during your visit. This award-winning documentary is shown in two 140-seat theaters. Each presentation lasts 45 minutes. A park ranger gives a 15-minute introduction before the 30-minute film. Get you free tickets from the Ellis Island information desk.

Theatrical Presentation

A 30-minute theatrical presentation is also available at Ellis Island. The presentation covers immigrant accounts of the journey to the New World. Offered each day from spring to fall, it features professional actors and is brought to audiences through the collaborative work of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., and the National Park Service. For reservations, call 212.561.4500. Tickets cost $6.00 each.

Live Hearings

At the Hearing Room, you will find free live hearings that call for audience participation. After you hear accounts of Ellis Island immigrant hearings, you help decide the verdict of the trial. These live hearings give you a chance to learn about the immigrant policy of the 1900’s. Ask the information desk about schedule details.

Genealogy Program

If you want to research the immigration history of your family, Ellis Island is the place to start. The genealogy workshop would come in handy. Organized by the National Park Service and the National Archives, the program is offered from March to October. You will learn how to trace your family history. It is a free service open to all Ellis Island museum visitors. If you need more information, call 212.363.3200.