How To Enjoy Lower Manhattan In One Day
Exploring Two Centuries In One Square Mile
If you’ve got only one day to explore Downtown, there are a few must-sees for you to hit up. This itinerary is perfect for adults and families, although keep in mind that it requires a lot of walking, and little ones might get a tad overtired.
A Top 10 Tour Of Things To See Downtown In One Day
- City Hall Park (Broadway and Chambers Street)
- The Woolworth Building and St. Paul’s Chapel (233 Broadway to 209 Broadway)
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum (180 Greenwich Street)
- One World Observatory (117 West Street)
- The Oculus (50 Church Street)
- Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street)
- Trinity Church (89 Broadway)
- New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall (corner of Wall and Broad Streets)
- Stone Street (Broad Street to Hanover Square)
- The Battery (State Street and Battery Place)
First Stop: City Hall Park (Broadway And Chambers Street)
Start in City Hall Park, an elegant green space that doubles as home to the city’s seat of power. You can often find rotating public art located by the park’s historic fountain, and it’s a nice resting spot that puts you right in the middle of the buzz of office workers and municipal employees criss-crossing at the center of city government.
Second Stop: The Woolworth Building And St. Paul’s Chapel (233 Broadway To 209 Broadway)
One of the city’s most important architectural landmarks, the Woolworth Building was the tallest building in the world at its inception in 1913 until it was dwarfed by 40 Wall Street in 1930. Continue on to St. Paul’s Chapel, which dates back to 1766 and is Manhattan’s only standing pre-Revolutionary church. The chapel was President Washington’s first stop after taking his oath of office at Federal Hall and, after 9/11, served as a refuge for many of those affected by the tragedy.
Third Stop: 9/11 Memorial & Museum
At the World Trade Center site, you’ll find the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Reflection Pools. Set aside two hours for a visit inside the museum, an emotional, moving tribute commemorating the September 11 attacks. Outside, the memorial includes the largest manmade waterfall pools in North America at an acre each in size, surrounded by bronze parapets with the names of the victims.
Fourth Stop: One World Observatory
Just north of the Memorial plaza, you will find the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the symbol of a revitalized district. Head inside for a trip on the SkyPodElevators, which climb 102 stories in 47 seconds to reach the One World Observatory. Take in the city, and surrounding states, with views for up to 45 miles in all directions.
Fifth Stop: The Oculus (50 Church Street)
While on the World Trade Center campus, you can’t miss the striking Oculus building, designed by Santiago Calatrava. While the white wings above ground will catch your eye, most of the buzz is taking place inside. In addition to housing a major transportation hub (12 train lines!), the Oculus is home to over 100 shops at the Westfield World Trade Center, everything from high-end couture to candy shops to an Apple Store. Go for the browsing, stay for the intricate rib-like interior architecture, which makes you feel like you’re walking inside a whale.
Sixth Stop: Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street)
With both underground and overground entrances, Brookfield Place is Downtown’s escape for fashion, food and art along the Hudson River. Its palm tree-filled Winter Garden and marble grand staircase provide a calming backdrop for an exclusive collection of shops, public exhibits and some of the city’s most talked-about food purveyors and restaurants. You can grab quick, quality to-go meals at the Hudson Eats food hall or relax and dine at one the sit-down restaurants on the ground floor. Most have waterfront patios with Hudson River views.
Seventh Stop: Trinity Church (89 Broadway)
Trinity Church was, at the time of completion in 1846, the tallest building in Manhattan, but is famous for its graveyard, which serves as the final resting place for the likes of famous New Yorkers Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton.
If visiting on a Sunday, keep your ears open for the sounds of church bells ringing throughout the streets of Lower Manhattan. The church’s steeple houses the nation’s only 12 change-ringing bells which rotate 360 degrees. (Note: the interior of the building is under construction. Only the graveyard and grounds are currently open to the public.)
EIghth Stop: New York Stock Exchange And Federal Hall (Corner Of Wall And Broad Streets)
No visit to Lower Manhattan is complete without stopping by the New York Stock Exchange, which, in addition to being the world’s largest stock exchange, is also one of the places Bane tried to rob in The Dark Knight Rises. While access to the building’s interior is limited to special tours, the facade, public IPO celebrations and surrounding attractions are worth the visit. Be sure to say hi to Fearless Girl, who faces down the Stock Exchange from her perch across the street. You can’t miss Federal Hall — a huge statue of George Washington prominently guards the front. Inside is a small, informational museum dedicated to the nation-shaping events of postcolonial New York, including the first U.S. Congress and the inauguration of America’s first president.
Ninth Stop: Stone Street (Hanover Square To Broad Street)
This cobblestone street is lined with restaurants to please everyone’s tastes. Dine outside in a decidedly European vibe — a clear testament to New York’s past (and indoors if the weather is not cooperating with your trip.) The pedestrian-only passage is usually a vibrant happy hour spot filled with office workers from the nearby Wall Street area.
Tenth Stop: The Battery (State Street And Battery Place)
At this park located at the very southern tip of Manhattan island, you can look out across the water to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. In fact, boats* depart every hour, but to thoroughly enjoy the statue, the museum and Ellis Island, we recommend setting aside three hours for the round-trip adventure. It’s a great excuse to base your stay in Lower Manhattan, and add the Lady Liberty visit for the next morning.
If you have two days to spend, check out our expanded trip plan.
*Tickets to the Statue of Liberty can only be purchased in two places: online at www.statuecruises.com and at the ticket office located inside Castle Clinton, in the Battery area itself. Any tickets purchased elsewhere will not get you onto the islands, or up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty, and will most likely only be boat tours on the water.