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!
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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
… and the Fearless Girl.
Several years ago, the Fearless Girl statue stared down the Charging Bull–but not anymore!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.