How to Spend a Day & What to do in the Financial District (Our Picks + Map)

view of the Lower Manhattan skyline and World Trade Center from Liberty Island in NYC

So you’re visiting New York City and you are wondering what to do in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. Let us help you! One of our favorite parts about living in New York City is getting to show our friends and family who are visiting everything that makes this city so wonderful from historic sites, iconic attractions, local digs, and things they may not have discovered or found on their own.

In addition to living in New York and still wearing our rose-tinted glasses when it comes to doing touristy things in the city, we have been travel blogging for a decade, and sharing helpful travel guides is what gets us going!

So consider this Financial District, New York guide as what we’d recommend to you or what we’d personally take you around to, as a friend or family member visiting us spending a day in Lower Manhattan primarily around the Financial District.

Oh, and I have my official New York City sightseeing guide license! So it’s like getting a tour sightseeing around the Financial District for free :).

And while you could totally hop around the city in a day, we always recommend trying to stick to one area doing everything there is to do or that you want to do in that area before going elsewhere.

Why is that? Well if you could travel around the city as the crow flies, it would be quick to get 2 miles away, but in the city depending on what you’re trying to do and where you’re trying to go, this can eat up a lot of your precious time.

Plus, each neighborhood or area of New York City has plenty to offer to fill a day and Lower Manhattan is no different. So this guide will focus on what to do in the Financial District in a day from morning activities until evening.

Oh, and we will recommend more things to do in the Financial District and attractions that we didn’t include in our itinerary so you can customize your day (or decide what to come back to do in Lower Manhattan another day) at the end of this post along with a Lower Manhattan sightseeing map.

Disclaimer: This guide contains affiliate links.

Where is the Financial District?

view of woman walking on a rainy day in Lower Manhattan with One World Trade Center in the background

The Financial District is technically anything below Chambers Street and is commonly known just as “FiDi”.

This will focus on how to spend a day in New York City’s downtown (down, downtown) around the Financial District and South Street Seaport.

Consider the New York Pass to Save on Attractions

If you’re visiting NYC over a few days and planning on checking out multiple museums, tours, and attractions like observation decks you may want to check out the New York Pass by Go City that allows you to save money on attractions using their attraction pass. It can save you a lot of $$$.

You simply buy the pass that makes most sense for your visit and then you can use that to book all your experiences that are included in the New York Pass using the Go City App.

Attractions that are featured in this guide to the Financial District in Downtown New York that are a part of the New York Pass include:

  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry
  • One World Observatory
  • Fraunces Tavern Museum
  • South Street Seaport Museum

Other famous attractions included on the New York Pass include The Edge, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Circle Line Sightseeing cruises, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA, tickets to a New York Yankees game, food tours, and more!

The Financial District in a Day

Morning at South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport District in Lower Manhattan NYC

The Financial District is where you’ll find the city’s most historic areas, including South Street Seaport, home to some of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. This waterfront neighborhood is along the East River and offers incredible Brooklyn Bridge views!

Start your morning by grabbing a cup of coffee either in Seaport at Cafe Patoro (223 Front Street, opens 8 AM) or Variety Coffee Roasters (140 Nassau, opens at 7 AM) on your way to Seaport. (Variety is one of my favorite coffee shops in the city.)

Then, make your way wandering around the 19th-century storefronts of South Street Seaport, Fulton Street is where you’re going to find a few cute shops namely the McNally Jackson Books Seaport (which also has a cafe in it) and a few others.

Unfortunately, some of the shops do not open until late morning and if you want to do everything we are recommending, I’d keep scooting along to the reason why I think you should start your day here, the views!

Wander down to Pier 16, where you’ll spot old ships like Lightship Ambrose before reaching the lovely seating areas where you can enjoy your coffee while taking in the Brooklyn Bridge views!

And while you’re wandering around here be sure to take a look at the Titanic Memorial Park and Lighthouse at Fulton and Pearl Streets to honor those lost on the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

It’s also quite pleasantly quiet down here in the mornings. Wander up and down the other piers, then make your way to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, around a 15-20 minute walk away.

Tip: If you are doing the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, I’d try to get to the ferry at The Battery for an earlier ferry no later than 10 AM to give you time to see the rest of what to do in Lower Manhattan in a day!

If you’re not doing the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, you can go at a more casual pace.

Tour the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

looking at the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island wearing a lady liberty crown in NYC

Spending a day in the Financial District and Lower Manhattan, my pro tip would be to do the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the morning. It’s going to take a few hours so make sure you ate enough to sustain you through lunch before getting on the ferry.

Since it’s still the morning, one of my favorite cheap eats is getting a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (bonus points for you if you can order it in one word like a local as “baconeggandcheese”) from the food carts you’ll spot all along the walk over as folks in the Financial District eat these on the way to work.

There of course are a few other options at these carts, but they are limited and it’s a great quick, affordable bite to eat.

Okay, so how do you get to the Statue of Liberty? First, you have to get your tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty which also includes a ferry ride to Ellis Island. If you didn’t get your tickets in advance, you’ll need to go to Castle Clinton National Monument in The Battery to buy tickets.

If you have tickets already, you can find the ferry departure point right by here too.

You have a few options for tickets:

Note: Make sure for all of these that you choose New York (NOT New Jersey) as your departure point.

  • General Admission ferry tickets to Liberty Island & Ellis Island with audio tour included
  • Crown Reserve includes tickets to the pedestal and tour the crown of Lady Liberty. These are limited and book out quick, so don’t hesitate booking these. You also get access to Ellis Island and the audio tour.
  • Pedestal Reserve includes tickets to the pedestal in addition to the audio tour and ferry to Ellis Island.
  • Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour includes a 90-minute guided tour of the unrestored Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex in addition to the ferry to Liberty Island and the audio tour.
  • Fully Guided Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour is a 4-hour guided tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island with a guide including your ferry transfers and tickets.

If you want to do any family searches at Ellis Island, I recommend having your family information ready or do an online passenger search first. I was surprised at how long it took me to find my relatives as their name was spelled differently.

What’s cool about this is you can actually do it all from home and even order prints or other things without stepping foot in New York City! There’s something to be said though about finding the passenger records in person at Ellis Island though if you do want to do that.

FAQ for Visiting the Statue of Liberty

Is there food at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island?

Visitors can buy snacks and beverages at the Crown Cafe on Liberty Island and the Ellis Cafe on Ellis Island.

What time does the Statue of Liberty open?

The Statue of Liberty opens at 9:00 AM when the first ferry departs for Liberty Island.

What time is the last ferry to the Statue of Liberty?

The last ferry for the Statue of Liberty departs The Battery at 3:30 PM and the last ferry leaves Liberty Island at 5:00 PM. If you take the last ferry, you may not have time to stop at Ellis Island so it’s best to go earlier in the day.

How long does it take to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island?

You will need at least 3-4 hours to visit both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

OR Ride the Staten Island Ferry

view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry in New York City

Many people have already been to New York City and may not feel the need to visit the Statue of Liberty again, no sweat we have another great option for you and another top pick for what to do in the Financial District and Lower Manhattan that’s FREE!

Head to Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan and follow your way to board the Staten Island Ferry for the best free views of the Statue of Liberty! Leaving Manhattan, you will want to be on the right hand side of the ferry to see the best views.

As you’re departing Manhattan you’ll also get great views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the One World Trade Center (aka the Freedom Tower).

The ferry ride is about 25 minutes, then you’ll arrive to St. George Terminal in Staten Island. If you’re wanting to hustle back to Lower Manhattan, after you pass the Statue of Liberty, head to the front of the ferry to be first to get off.

You’ll want to hustle off the boat and walk around to the boarding area for Manhattan-bound ferries which leave around 5 minutes after you arrive. This time you will want to be on the left-hand side of the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.

If you’re not in a hurry to get back to Lower Manhattan, walk over to Postcards, a Staten Island 9/11 Memorial that is a tribute to the lives lost on 9/11 with views of Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center.

Staten Island is home to many firefighters and police, this memorial honors the 274 Staten Island residents who didn’t survive the 9/11 attacks.

Tip for riding the Staten Island Ferry: The Staten Island Ferry is BYOB! Stop by a bodega (corner store/market) and grab a drink of choice or buy one in the ferry terminal. The ferry terminal drink prices are more expensive though!

See Everything at The Battery

If you’re not ravenous be sure to do a lap around Battery Park or The Battery before heading to lunch. You could also back track after lunch as it’s not a very far walk away if you need to eat right away.

First things first. Check out the views of the Statue of Liberty and where the Hudson River flows into the New York Harbor.

If you’re a history buff, walk along the Monument Walk to see the 20 some monuments honoring key figures of New York City and United States history including military monuments.

Don’t miss the enchanting Seaglass Carousel, this modern carousel is a whimsical, under-the-sea themed ride at the site of the first home of the New York Aquarium (which is now permanently housed at Coney Island).

It’s only $6 per ride and it’s open from 11 AM to 7 PM.

Lunch at Fraunces Tavern


This is where we take ALL of our visitors in New York City and is definitely one of the top things to do in the Financial District!

Not only is this a historic site dating playing a pivotal role in American history during the Revolutionary War, but they also serve great food and drinks (we love the beer selection and they have a few beers on their nitro taps).

Fraunces Tavern is the oldest tavern and bar in New York City. This is where General George Washington gave his farewell speech to his Continental Army, the last spot where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were seen in the same space alive before their infamous duel, where peace negotiations with the British were held, and so much more.


If the history fascinates you, you can tour the Fraunces Tavern Museum upstairs. Just keep in mind the museum closes at 5:00 PM. Admission is $5-10 and if you’re visiting on the weekend, you can even join a free guided tour on Saturdays at 1 PM and Sundays at 2 PM.

You have options to dine here, I prefer to dine in the Independence Bar area as it feels like a rustic tavern, the Tallmadge Room is the historic dining room setting, and if you’re feeling up for live music while you dine be sure to secure a reservation for their Piano Bar Upstairs which offers jazz brunch!

Take a Walk Down Stone Street


Just around the corner from Fraunces Tavern is the historic Stone Street, a beautiful cobbled lane that’s the oldest paved road in the city (and one of the oldest streets in the city) surrounded by beautiful 19th-century buildings.

The reason many of the buildings here are from the 1800s is that most of the historic structures were destroyed in The Great Fire of 1845.

If you’re lucky, there won’t be a bunch of commercial beer brand tents blocking the pretty view of Stone Street. The street is lined with bars and restaurants and while I get the allure of taking advantage of a pedestiran-only lane for outdoor seating, they couldn’t pick an uglier way to do so with corporate beer branded tents all over the place.

It’s truly an eyesore. But occasionally, you can witness Stone Street empty with nothing but a string of lights overhead. It’s one of the few places in New York City that remind me of the old-world feeling streets of Government Center in Boston.

Visit The Charging Bull at Bowling Green


Another one of the most famous landmarks and things to do in Lower Manhattan is visit the Charging Bull Statue at Bowling Green. In my humble opinion, it’s sort of ridiculous how long the line is for people to touch the balls of the bull.

Even during the pandemic when Times Square was eerily quiet and empty, there was a line for the Charging Bull?!!?

But maybe it’s because the Charging Bull is believed to bring good luck and financial prosperity to those who touch it. The statue was created by sculptor Arturo DiModica in 1989 following the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1987.

The Charging Bull is meant to be a symbol of strength, optimism, and resilience representing the bullish market sentiment in the American economy.

I don’t like to wait in lines for such things, but if you do want to wait in line, it does move pretty quickly.

Walk Down Wall Street

Next, on our Financial District exploring is to make your way to the world-famous Wall Street! You don’t need a ton of time to spot the famous and historic landmarks here.

First, you’ll want to spot the New York Stock Exchange, the center of global finance and the largest stock exchange in the world. While you won’t be going inside, it’s worth just admiring its neoclassical facade and iconic global landmark.

Be sure to catch a glimpse of the Fearless Girl statue by sculptor Kristen Visbal as a symbol of gender equality. The statue was erected in 2017 facing the Charging Bull as social commentary highlighting the issues of sexsim and the need for greater representation of women in leadership roles.

That was until The Charging Bull sculptor was so angry that he filed a lawsuit against Visbal claiming her work infringed upon his artistic copyright and distorted the original message of his work.

After a settlement was met, the Fearless Girl was repositioned facing NYSE, which still highlights its original message and symbolism.

There are a few other historic landmarks along Wall Street, one definitely worth mentioning is Federal Hall National Memorial, you can’t miss the statue of George Washington on the steps which was placed here because this is where he was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.

The building served as New York’s City Hall and hosted all kinds of historic events before and after the American Revolution.

Visit Trinity Church and Churchyard


On your way to the World Trade Center area, be sure to pay a visit to Trinity Church! Perhaps you were fans of the movie National Treasure starring Nick Cage, this is where he found treasure beneath the church!

Beyond that fun Hollywood moment, Trinity Church is a historic landmark and site that dates back to the American Revolutionary days. In fact, the church graveyard is visiting by many to see the gravesite and tombstone of founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

Next to Hamilton, you’ll also find Eliza and Angelica Schuyler Church’s tombstones too. If you’re really into Hamilton, we did the Hamilton walking tour and it covers a lot of the landmarks in the Financial District associated with Alexander Hamilton’s life including the churchyard tombsites! It’s pretty fun, educational, and only 2 hours long if you want to fit that in your day in the Financial District!

Visitors are welcome to walk around the church graveyard and visit the church from 8:30 AM to 6 PM. But if you want to do a quick pass by, you can do that as well, just walk down Rector Street and you’ll see Hamilton’s tomb from the other side of the fence.

The interior of the church is also beautiful if you want to go inside.

Visit St. Paul’s Chapel

St Pauls Chapel and the World Trade Center in the Financial District NYC

On your way to the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial & Museum, another easy historic stop and Financial District landmark is St. Paul’s Chapel.

This is one of the oldest churches in Manhattan that dates back to the 18th century and played a pivotal role during the American Revolutionary years as this is where George Washington would attend services and worship.

You can actually visit the pew he would worship at, which was conveniently located just a few blocks away from Federal Hall.

There’s also an 9/11 Memorial at St. Paul’s Chapel, it’s a miracle that this church given its proximity to the site of the Twin Towers even is standing. During the rescue efforts, the chapel was used as a place to rest for first responders, rescue workers, and volunteers.

The chapel stands out among all the new architecture surrounding it with it’s beautifully preserved Georgian architecture and shaded trees.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

911 Memorial and One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattans Financial District

Continue your way to the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers that were attacked. At the site of this tragic event that impacted the entire globe on September 11th in 2001.

The 9/11 Memorial is free to visit and features two reflecting pools at the Twin Towers site with the names of all the victims inscribed on the bronze parapets surrounding the pools. The names inscribed include the 2,977 victims of the September 11 attacks in 2001 in addition to the 6 victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

This is an emotionally heavy memorial and many people experience strong emotions here. Please keep in mind this is a memorial of a tragic event and be respectful with the types of images you choose to take here, it’s quite shocking how many people might be unaware that their jolly or overly posed photos might be considered offensive.

If you want to continue on learning more about the 9/11 attacks, victims, first responders, and first hand accounts of what happened on that day you can visit the 9/11 Museum.

You’ll need to purchase a ticket to visit the museum, and we recommend purchasing that in advance as this is a popular attraction.

Visit the Oculus Center

The interior of the Oculus in New York City

Steps away is the Oculus Center, a transportation hub and shopping mall at the World Trade Center complex worth a visit. This is what to do in the Financial District when you need a break too. By now you’ve been walking a lot and could use a quick break, bathroom stop, or a quick refreshment.

All of that can be done here, not to mention the interior of The Oculus is a popular photo spot. If you want to do some shopping, you can do that here too.

If you need any conveniences or items, there are two Duane Reade/Walgreens inside too.

Head Up to One World Observatory

view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge from One World Observatory in the Financial District NYC

One of the best Financial District attractions that will WOW you is the One World Observatory Observation Deck, where you’ll be greeted with views from atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere!

The elevator ride up to the observation deck is a journey of its own. The 47 second educational ride up to the 102nd floor is incredibly smooth and shocking at how quick it is.

When you arrive to the 102nd floor you’ll be greeted with 360 views of the city skyline, famous landmarks, and boroughs, and you can even see New Jersey!

You have the option to use the One World Explorer iPad guide to aide your visit. This will help you identify what you’re looking at as you walk around the observation deck.

While you’re up here, stop by the bar on the 101st floor and enjoy a drink with the views! There’s also a restaurant up here (you’ll want to make a reservation if you want to eat dinner here) if you want to dine with a view!

Since this is a popular attraction, we recommend purchasing your tickets in advance and planning accordingly.



I’ve already sent you to our favorite restaurant in the Financial District for lunch, unless for some reason you didn’t eat there for lunch, go back to Fraunces Tavern for dinner.

If you did eat Fraunces Tavern for lunch, then we recommend either dining at One Dine at the top of One World Observatory if you want to have a memorable experience with incredible views!

Check out Eataly NYC Downtown for a few different Italian dining options or for an iconic New York dining experience make a reservation for Delmonico’s, the first fine dining establishment in the country known for it’s signature Delmonico steaks and several culinary dishes that have originated here!

After Dinner Drinks

inside The Dead Rabbit

If you’re not completely exhausted from a fun-filled and eventful day checking out all the things to do in the Financial District, you may be up for a night cap or after dinner drink.

While there really isn’t much going on for options of nightlife in the Financial District area, as it’s a very day-focused area being where many people work, not live, there are actually a few famous bars in the area.

By now you already have been to Fraunces Tavern, a few doors down check out The Dead Rabbit, an Irish bar that was voted the top bar in the world several years in a row famous for it’s Irish Coffee and crafted cocktails.

If you’re looking for more views, head to the incredibly swanky rooftop cocktail lounge Manhatta for elevated cocktails in a gorgeous setting with skyline views.

A unique bar to grab a drink is The Press Room located within the Alamo Drafthouse in Lower Manhattan. While it seems weird to suggest going into a movie theater for their bar, Alamo Drafthouse is an exception. Their Downtown Brooklyn location also has a unique bar featuring a macabre anatomical wax collection (that’s pretty creepy tbh).

The Press Room is more laid back and offers nearly 50 craft beers on draft and serves also as a museum of sorts for its collection of vintage newspaper plates.

Other Things to do in the Financial District

I recommended more than enough to fill an entire day in Lower Manhattan around the Financial District, but perhaps one of my suggestions isn’t your cup of tea or you’re coming back to New York City and have already done a few of the things I mentioned and want a few more options.

Well, you’re in luck, here are a few more fun ideas for what to do in the Financial District!

Mercer Labs

inside one of the exhibitions in Mercer Labs in the Financial District in NYC

If you love immersive sensory art galleries and museums, you will want to book a ticket for Mercer Labs. This museum is focused around art and technology through 15 exhibition spaces designed to be experienced by all your senses.

We went on a media preview and were blown away. We spent two hours in here and I think I could have spent more.

Some of the exhibits feature projections, sensory deprivation, robots, and so much more. During the experience you will have experienced simulation of all five of your senses.

Better yet, this is a family-friendly activity in Lower Manhattan that can be enjoyed by all ages.

More Museums

If you’re looking for alternative museums to check out, you have quite the selection in the Financial District. In addition to the ones I’ve mentioned you can visit The Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park dedicated to skyscraper architecture and it’s FREE!

The African Burial Ground National Monument is also free and worth visiting as it commemorates the 15,000 enslaved and free African Americans buried there during the 17th and 18th centuries. It serves as a poignant reminder of their contributions, struggles, and resilience in the face of slavery and discrimination.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust serves as a testament to the 6 million Jewish victims during the Holocaust and their memory, educating visitors about the atrocities of the Holocaust, and promotes tolerance, understanding, and remembrance.

The National Museum of the American Indian is a Smithsonian Museum in the Financial District that honors and educates about the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

South Street Seaport Museum

Ambrose ship in South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan NYC

If you’re looking to spend more time in South Street Seaport, be sure to check out the South Street Seaport Museum, which focuses on the maritime history of New York City including access to historic ships docked along the waterfront, museum galleries, artifacts, and the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Megan Looking at Brooklyn Bridge

Hands down, this is one of the most iconic things to do in New York City and one of the most beautiful bridges in the world! If you already haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge you absolutely should.

From the Manhattan side, enter the Brooklny Bridge pedestrian path at City Hall. Walk to the towers for the iconic photos and turn back to continue your day in Lower Manhattan, or make your way to DUMBO.

If you want to walk the whole bridge, give yourself a minimum of 45 minutes to get across accounting time for stopping to enjoy the views of the skyline, Statue of Liberty, and photos of the bridge itself.

If you go over to DUMBO take a walking break at the waterfront of Brooklyn Bridge Park or head up to the top floor of Empire Stores at TimeOut Market New York for more sweeping skyline and Brooklyn Bridge views and have a drink or bite to eat.

Financial District Sightseeing Map:

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