17 Best Things to Do in the Financial District, NYC

Iconic artwork, centuries of history, modern museums, eye-catching architecture: when it comes to the best things to do in the Financial District, NYC, visitors are spoiled for choice!

Situated at the far southern tip of Manhattan, New York’s Financial District (also known as FiDi) is simultaneously incredibly historic (the city of New York as we know it today was founded here in 1624) and ruthlessly modern.

Its most popular attractions include stories of some of our country’s most idealistic moments (George Washington was sworn in as president here), as well as its most tragic (the 9/11 Memorial and Museum).

Planning a visit to this incredible neighborhood and want to make the most of it?

Here’s what to do in the Financial District, NYC!

Photo of skyscraper in the Financial District as seen looking up--a common sight, even seeing NYC in a day.

Best Things to Do in the Financial District, NYC

Soak up magnificent skyline views at the One World Trade Center.

As the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, it’s safe to say that the One World Trade Center, located in the heart of FiDi, boasts magnificent views of Manhattan and New York Harbor!

If you’re looking for an alternative observation deck to the classic options at the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, the One World Observatory on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center is the perfect fit.

Book tickets to the One World Observatory today!

nyc skyline as seen from one world observatory in fidi nyc at sunset

Marvel at the Oculus.

Part shopping mall, part subway stop, part memorial, part bizarre marvel, the Oculus is nothing if not unforgettable.

What do you see when you look at it: a whale, a bird, something else entirely?

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And when you step inside, do you feel a bit swallowed?

It’s a bizarre place, but however strange, it’s also an emotionally charged one.

The Oculus is built right on Ground Zero, and, in addition to its other purposes, functions as a somewhat subtle memorial to 9/11.

Interior of the Oculus Building in NYC with shoppers visible down below. It's worth stopping here for a oment during your one day in New York City!

Tour the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Without a doubt, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is the most emotionally devastating part of visiting the Financial District.

It’s also, of course, inseparable from the neighborhood that once called the Twin Towers home.

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The memorial and the museum are technically separate destinations.

The memorial, which is located in the footprints of the two towers, is sobering and free to visit.

view of 9/11 memorial in financial district new york city with pool in the foreground and oculus in the background

On the other hand, the museum is an intense, heartbreaking account of the events of 9/11 and the rescue and recovery events that followed, and is home to tens of thousands of artifacts, and exhibits, including preservation of first-person testimony.

If you hope to visit the museum, you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance (and, if you can, schedule your visit for outside the peak hours in the middle of the day, as the museum can get very crowded).

Regardless of whether or not you tour the museum during your trip, we highly recommend taking a moment to reflect at the memorial.

Book tickets to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum today.

close up of names engraved on 9/11 memorial in financial district nyc itinerary

Museum-hop through FiDi.

While the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is, without a doubt, the largest and most famous museum in NYC’s Financial District, there are several more worth visiting if you have time!

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The National Museum of the American Indian (an affiliate of the Smithsonian in Washington DC), Fraunces Tavern Museum (where patriots once plotted for the American Revolution), and the Museum of Jewish Heritage (“A Living Memorial to the Holocaust”) also call the neighborhood home.

The National Museum of the American Indian, pictured below, is also housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which was built at the turn of the 20th century.

alexander hamilton custom house, one of the best attractions in fidi nyc, at night

Explore The Battery.

It’s safe to say that The Battery is one of the most popular stops in the Financial District… if for no other reason than the fact that this is where visitors board ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

This famous park is also worth visiting for other reasons, though.

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It’s home to Castle Clinton National Monument, beautifully shaded green space, many monuments and memorials, and views of the Statue of Liberty.

Fun fact: if you’ve heard of “Battery Park”, this is the same place!

The park’s name was changed (back to) its historical name of The Battery in 2015.

You can read more about the history of the park here.

red flowers in the battery with castle clinton visible in the background, one of the best places to visit finanfical district new york city

Snap a photo with the Charging Bull.

To me, the Charging Bull is synonymous with tourist attractions in FiDi, and it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t always there!

In reality, though, you don’t have to go far back in history to find the origin of the Charging Bull: artist Arturo Di Modica first debuted the statue (without permission) in 1989.

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The bull was conceived as a testament to the grit and determination of the American people, and New Yorkers in particular.

Today, it is one of the most popular places to visit in the Financial District, so prepare to wait in line (or arrive at dawn) if you want to grab a photo with it!

I took the photo included here by standing off to the side and snapping quickly while two people changed places.

photo of the charging bull in nyc financial district, a must see during a 4 days in new york itinerary

… and the Fearless Girl.

Several years ago, the Fearless Girl statue stared down the Charging Bull–but not anymore!

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Due to the positive messaging behind the Charging Bull statue, many felt that it wasn’t the right place for the Fearless Girl, and she was moved in 2018.

Today, she lives in front of the New York Stock Exchange, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll stay there forever!

fearless girl statue in new york city financial district

Stop by the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

Though visitors can’t go inside the Exchange, if you’re coming all the way to FiDi, it’s worth taking a quick look at one of the most famous buildings in the city!

front facade of the new york stock exchange in nyc financial district with columns out front

Check out Bowling Green.

As NYC’s oldest park–it has been designated as public property since 1686–Bowling Green is a memorable stop when visiting the Financial District!

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Historical stories hold that Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan for $24 from the Lenape people here, and though that is likely far from the whole story, the legend serves to fold Bowling Green into the larger story of NYC.

You’ll find the Charging Bull sitting at the far end of Bowling Green, so it’s an easy addition to your list of things to do in the Financial District.

fountain in bowling green park nyc with skyscrapers in the background

Pay a visit to Trinity Church.

The historic Trinity Church is still an active Episcopalian parish, and the Gothic revival building immediately sticks out on Wall Street as distinctly different from the more modern skyscrapers that surround it.

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Hamilton fans will no doubt recognize Trinity Church, whose cemetery holds the Founding Father and his family.

Alexander Hamilton was also involved with the congregation, whose history (though not the current building) dates to the 17th century.

view of trinity church front facade as seen looking up during four days in nyc itinerary

Get a quick look at the Federal Hall National Memorial.

Though the current structure is the third iteration of the original 1703 building, Federal Hall is worth dropping in on for its significance to a piece of American history that far predates the more modern vibe of the New York City Financial District as a whole.

This is the spot where George Washington was sworn in as president, where the first US Congress was held, and also–a bit earlier than the other two events–a letter to King George was drafted by the colonists formally protesting “taxation without representation”.

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Federal Hall National Memorial is operated by the National Park Service and typically operates as an interesting and free-to-visit museum.

Unfortunately, in 2021, the memorial closed to the public due to structural concerns with the building.

We recommend checking the NPS website for updates regarding the future reopening of Federal Hall!

front facade of federal hall national memorial with statue of george washington, one of the top attractions financial district nyc

Stop by Stone Street.

Want to transport yourself to Europe without leaving Manhattan?

There may be no better place to do so than Stone Street!

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Originally paved in 1658, Stone Street was the first street paved with stone in the city and has been a recognized historic district since the 1990s.

It’s beautiful, unexpected, and also lined with plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy while resting your feet for a bit!

long exposure of stone street nyc at night with flags hanging over the street

Visit St. Paul’s Chapel.

Built in 1766, the historic St. Paul’s Chapel is part of the Trinity Church Parish.

Like Trinity Church, St. Paul’s has a connection to the Founding Fathers.

George Washington was a member of St. Paul’s during a time period when Trinity Church itself was being rebuilt after a fire, and he prayed there following his inauguration in 1789.

front facade of st pauls chapel in fidi nyc
ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

More Attractions Near the Financial District, New York

Set off to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

As two of the most popular attractions in New York City, it’s safe to say that boarding a boat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is one of the top things to do in FiDi!

Located in New York Harbor, you can opt to visit both or just one of these incredible sights during your trip.

Fair warning: it takes more time than you think to see both islands in detail.

Think of your excursion more like a day trip than a single activity if you want to see them both, and opt for the earliest ferry that you can!

Pre-book your ferry and tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island today!

kate storm and jeremy storm taking a selfie with the statue of liberty nyc

Walk to Brooklyn.

The Manhattan end of the Brooklyn Bridge is less than a 20-minute walk from the heart of the Financial District.

If you are planning to cross the bridge on foot during your trip to the city, it’s easily combined with your time in the Financial District!

The entrance to the bridge is right in front of City Hall, too, which will allow you to catch a quick look at another memorable building as you start making your way to DUMBO.

view from the center of the brooklyn bridge facing manhattan with skyscrapers in the background

Catch the Staten Island Ferry.

Want to admire views of the Statue of Liberty, but don’t want to take the time (or shell out the money) to visit?

The Staten Island Ferry is the perfect solution!

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It’s absolutely free to ride (the official website warns to beware of scammers trying to sell tickets) and boasts excellent views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor.

The ferry leaves from Whitehall Terminal near The Battery in the Financial District, NYC!

orange staten island ferry passing by liberty island in new york harbor

Where is the Financial District in New York?

The Financial District is located at the far southern tip of the island of Manhattan.

The neighborhood’s northern border is often considered to be Chambers Street, which is also where you’ll find City Hall and the Manhattan entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.

long street of wall street new york city on a cloudy day with people walking past the stock exchange

How to Get to the Financial District

Generally speaking, the easiest way to get to FiDi from other places in the city (especially other places in Manhattan) is via the subway.

Several lines run to the Financial District, NYC, and they generally move much faster than taxis/Ubers do if you’re coming from Midtown or Uptown.

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    About Kate Storm
    Image of the author, Kate Storm

    In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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