If you’re looking for the best things to do in the Financial District, you’ve come to the right place. The neighborhood, also known as FiDi, is the oldest in New York City and a goldmine for history buffs.
The architecture is the most beautiful you’ll find in America because the neighborhood is home to 200+ year old buildings and monolithic skyscrapers. All within the span of a few blocks!
So if you’re looking to visit the Financial District and need some suggestions on what to visit, this post is for you. I’ve spent years hitting the pavement and am confident these are the best things to do in FiDi.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best things to do in the Financial District NYC
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
The Statue of Liberty is one of New York City’s most beloved landmarks, and getting a peek at her is one of the best things to do in the Financial District. You can find a view from Battery Park, but there’s a better way to get up close without having to pay a visit to Ellis Island.
The Staten Island Ferry connects Lower Manhattan and (you guessed it) Staten Island, through New York Harbor and floats right by Lady Liberty herself. Add this to the list of the best free things to do in the Financial District because riding the ferry won’t cost a dime.
The ferry runs 24/7 and each ride takes about 25 minutes. During the weekday rush hours ferries depart the South Ferry Station roughly every 15 minutes, but on the weekends expect to wait 30 minutes between ferries. If you’re looking for the best experience try to ride during sunrise or sunset.
To make things clear, riding the Staten Island Ferry is FREE. If someone offers to sell you tickets to ride the ferry please decline, this is a scam.
Visit Federal Hall
One of the best things to do in the Financial District is to visit Federal Hall, quite literally the birthplace of America. The original building served as New York City’s first City Hall, well before the American Revolution.
Federal Hall is where George Washington was sworn is as the first president of the United States, and served as home to our first congress. There is so much history in Federal Hall that I could spend days talking about, or you can just visit yourself.
Entry is free and well worth the stop, and there are tours offered by the National Park Service (advanced-booking required). Since Federal Hall is conveniently located near to more fun things to do in the Financial District there really isn’t an excuse not to pop in for a quick visit.
Address: 26 Wall St, New York, NY 10005
Shop Brookfield Place
It’s easy to walk into Brookfield Place and forget you’re in Manhattan, the mall has palm trees inside! But even if you don’t plan on shopping, visiting Brookfield Place is one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
There are plenty of places to eat ranging from table service restaurants to cafes and food halls. Not to mention, Brookfield Place is located on the Hudson River, so you get dinner and a view.
Visiting the mall is one of the best things to do in the Financial District on event nights too. Throughout the year Brookfield Place hosts silent movie nights, art shows, and live music (full schedule here).
The Rink at Brookfield Place is also one of the best ice skating rinks in New York City, open from December to March. You get to skate outdoors over the Hudson River with stunning views of the Financial District.
Address: 230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281
Take a Photo on Stone Street
One of New York’s oldest streets, Stone Street dates back to the Dutch colonization of New York. It’s crazy to think the road is older than America itself, and therefore visiting one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
Oozing old world charm, the narrow cobblestone path is lined with restaurants and offers plenty of unique photo-taking opportunities. After sunset when the string lights it makes for one of the most romantic places in FiDi.
For drinks be sure to make a reservation at The Cauldron, Stone Street’s very own magical pub. You can sign up for “potion” making classes or “wizard afternoon tea” and learn to make your own bewitching beverages.
Admittedly Stone Street is short, but that only helps make the case that visiting is one of the best things to do in the Financial District. Stopping by won’t take long and you’ll get a peek into a centuries old piece of America.
Hang out at Bowling Green
Bowling Green is the oldest park in New York City and one of the best things to do in the Financial District, especially if you’re a history buff.
After George Washington read the Declaration of Independence in NYC on July 9th, 1776 patriots rushed the park to topple the Statue of King George III. The park’s fence had finials (the decorative top of a fence post) depicting a crown, which the Sons of Liberty sawed off.
The fact that you can still touch the original fence installed by the British in 1773 and feel the saw marks never fails to blow my mind. The fact that the 250 year old fence is still in tact just goes to show, they don’t make things like they used to.
And even if you’re not familiar with the American Revolution, visiting Bowling Green is still one of the best things to do in the Financial District. The park radiates with spring blooms and the fountain makes for a great place to hang out.
Have a drink at Fraunces Tavern
Want to have a drink at George Washington’s former headquarters? If so, be sure to swing by Fraunces Tavern, one of the best things to see in the Financial District.
Before the revolution it was the home of Stephanus van Courtlandt, the first native born mayor of New York City. During the revolution it was the site of negotiations with the British for their surrender.
After the revolution Fraunces hosted a victory feast, which is where George Washington bid an emotional farewell to his commanding officers. These are just the highlights though, the Tavern has been up for
Visiting Fraunces Tavern is one of the best things to do in the Financial District, but don’t come expecting 5-star food. It’s typical bar food, but the beer is good and the history is better. Plus upstairs there is a museum showing what the tavern would have looked like during the revolution.
Address: 54 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004
Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institute, and covers the indigenous people across North America. The best part? Visiting the museum is completely free and one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
Located inside the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, you can expect interactive exhibits that include films, audio, games and painting. The museum covers more than 1200 American tribes and has nearly 1 million artifacts from over 12,000 years of history. It’s no surprise visiting is one of the best things to do in the Financial District!
Address: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004
Hang out at the Elevated Acre
One of the neighborhood’s hidden gems, I was on the fence about including the Elevated Acre as one of the best things to do in the Financial District. Admittedly, the intimacy of the park is part of what makes it so serene.
The Elevated Acre is a small park tucked away on a rooftop at 55 Waters Street, all you have to do is take the stairs and you’ll find an oasis in the concrete jungle. The park has plenty of seating, an open lawn and a meandering path through shrubs and trees.
You’ll get views of Brooklyn and the Financial District and the best part? There’s free WiFi! So if you’re looking to work or hunker down with a good book be sure to visit the Elevated Acre, one of the best things do in FiDi.
Address: 55 Water St, New York, NY 10041
Take a photo with the Woolworth Building
Soaring an impressive 792 feet, the Woolworth Building’s claim to fame is that it was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930. Over 100 years later it’s still the 20th tallest building in the U.S. and one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
Can you imagine walking by this monolithic skyscraper in those days? It dwarfs everything around it! The building was commissioned by Frank W. Woolworth, and designed in the Beaux-Arts style with elaborate Gothic detail.
When it was completed in 1913, this iconic NYC building set a record for fastest build of a skyscraper. Effectively setting the stage for future skyscrapers in New York City, like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.
During the grand opening ceremony, President Woodrow Wilson pushed a button from the White House to light up the interior floors and exterior floodlights. To the shock and delight of the crowd, it worked!
Although the lobby is closed to the public you should still make an effort to see the facade, the building can be viewed just about anywhere in the Financial District.
Address: 233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279
Visit City Hall
Visiting City Hall is one of the best things to do in the Financial District because it’s he oldest city hall in America that still houses it’s original government offices.
This includes the Office of the Mayor and Chambers of the New York City Council. There are group tours available on Tuesdays and individual tours on Wednesdays, but you’ll have to call to make a reservation.
City Hall is worth a visit even if it’s just to see the outside. Construction was completed in 1812 and its one of the most beautifully designed buildings in the Financial District.
Walk South Street Seaport
The South Street Seaport is a small and historic part of Manhattan that technically isn’t part of the Financial District, but it’s so close it warrants a visit.
Made up of small shops and restaurants along the East River, visiting is one of the best things to do in the Financial District. Attractions include a lighthouse tribute to the Titanic, the McNally Jackson Bookstore, the Tin Building food hall and Pier 17’s waterfront restaurants.
Even if it’s just for an evening stroll, the cobblestone streets have a charming vibe you’re not going to want to miss. Bundle up if you visit in the winter though, this popular Financial District activity can be windy and cold!
Hang out at the Battery
Located at the southernmost part of Manhattan, the Battery is a park offering views of Brooklyn, Governors Island, Staten Island and even New Jersey. The best view though? The Statue of Liberty.
If you visit during sunset, Lady Liberty is illuminated with a warm light and rumor has it if you listen really hard you can hear the National Anthem. 😉
The park is named after the artillery batteries that were created to protect the settlements on Manhattan, and even fired on the British during the Revolutionary War. Today though it’s one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
There’s a dog park, water features, and plenty of green-spaces for picnics and lounging. The Battery also has a Seaglass Carousel, where instead of riding horses you get to ride fish.
Grab a drink at the Dead Rabbit
Located in the Financial District and named after an Irish gang that ran rampant in lower Manhattan, the Dead Rabbit opened in 2013.
The founders, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry hail from Belfast, Ireland and had a simple goal. They wanted to create one of the best upscale cocktail bars in NYC with the atmosphere of an Irish Pub, and they delivered.
Whether I’m visiting for dinner or just an after-work drink the Dead Rabbit is one of the best things to do in the Financial District. With four bars, each room is cozier than the last and the staff makes you feel like old friends.
The Financial District hot-spot has also earned several awards, most notably #1 bar in the world in 2016. It’s hard to go wrong with any drink, but the hot-toddy on a cold day is hard to beat.
Address: 30 Water St, New York, NY 10004
Visit the New York Stock Exchange
New York City is synonymous with financial power and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) deserves most of the credit. One of the best things to do in the Financial District, the New York Stock Exchange stands as a symbol for capitalism.
Visitors are no longer able to tour the interior of this famous NYC building (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks), but, honestly, even just seeing the building from the outside is worth a trip. Try arriving at 9:30am or 4pm to hear the ringing of the bell, which marks the start and end of the day’s trading.
Address: 11 Wall St, New York, NY 10005
Visit the Charging Bull
One of the most popular attractions in the Financial District is the Charging Bull. The 7,000 pound bronze statue always has a line of folks waiting to take a picture.
Created by Italian sculptor Arturo Di Modica, the statue was unlawfully dropped off in front of the New York Stock Exchange on December 14th, 1989. The New York City Police Department removed the bull, but later reinstalled it in it’s current location (at Bowling Green) on December 20th, 1989.
Meant to represent financial optimism after the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987, Charging Bull has become a cultural icon. It’s been adopted as capitalism’s mascot, becoming a can’t miss thing to do in the Financial District.
And Fearless Girl
Originally set in front of the Charging Bull statue, Fearless Girl was commissioned to advertise an index fund made up of companies who have gender-diverse leadership.
After complaints from the Charging Bull’s artist, the statue was moved (but stayed in the Financial District) to Broad Street directly in front of the New York Stock Exchange. There are footprints where Fearless Girl originally stood and people will often stand in its place for a picture.
Fearless Girl has become such a fan-favorite that replica statues can be found all over the world, including in Oslo, Melbourne and London.
Shop at the Oculus
Westfield World Trade Center, more commonly known as the Oculus, is the largest shopping complex in Manhattan so visiting is a no-brainer and one of the best things to do in the Financial District.
The Oculus looks like the spine of a fish long forgotten, it’s quite the architectural feat! Brightly lit and resembling a futuristic spacecraft, not only is it a mall – it’s also a functioning subway hub.
Plus, there’s plenty of places to eat making it one of the best places to visit in the Financial District. An added bonus is that it has public bathrooms, which are hard to come by in NYC.
Address: 185 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
Visit Trinity Church
Trinity Church was originally built in 1698 before being destroyed by the Great New York City Fire of 1776. The second building went up shortly after before succumbing to damage due to severe snowfall in 1838.
Alas, the church you see today is actually the third building, which was completed in 1846. When construction was complete, this church building was the tallest building in the country, largely thanks to the 280-foot bell tower.
Today visitors can take in the old-school wooden pews and stunning stained glass window that characterize this famous and beloved Financial District church.
If you enjoy the sound of pipe organs swing by the Pipes at One recitals held every Friday at 1pm (one of the best things to do in the Financial District). When you’ve had your fill, swing by the small church museums to see an interesting collection of photographs and diaries.
Any Hamilton fans out there?
If so, Trinity Church may ring a bell. This is the church where Alexander Hamilton and his son, Phillip, are buried.
Hamilton served as the first United States Secretary of Treasury and was recently resurrected from the history books thanks to the hit musical Hamilton.
You can see Hamilton’s tombstone from the sidewalk, it’s definitely worth a quick stop if you’re a fan of this founding father. If you want a closer look, make sure to tour the cemetery when visiting this popular Financial District attraction.
Address: 75 Broadway, New York, NY 10006, United States
Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial
Sometimes I’m hesitant to mention visiting the 9/11 Museum because it’s such an emotional experience (you can’t help but cry). The 9/11 museum is a profound tribute to the 2,977 lives lost on September 11, 2001 and is truly one of the best things to do in the Financial District. It’s worth the visit, as long as you can emotionally brace yourself.
Located right next to the moving 9/11 memorial, this New York City museum is thoughtfully designed. You’ll need to purchase a ticket and go down an escalator because it’s located underground.
The pace of the visit always feels rightfully slow, as visitors contemplate the gravity of the situation.
This museum experience is heartbreaking but important, I think everyone should see the 9/11 Museum if you visit the Financial District. It’s something you won’t be able to forget.
Whether you go to the museum of not, make sure to take in the grandeur of the moving 9/11 Memorial (right next to the museum).
The 9/11 Memorial consists of two reflecting pools that sit atop the footprint of the destroyed Twin Towers. You’ll see cascading waterfalls in both cavities — symbolizing of a void that can never be filled and an unrelenting sadness we can never shake.
All the while, the One World Trade Center looms in the background and acts as a beacon for a resilient future.
Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
Visit the One World Observatory
I know I can’t be the only one scared of heights, however the views from the One World observation deck are well worth the scare!
Checking out the bright lights from above is one of the best things to do in the Financial District. It’s magical to say the least, and if you’re in a celebratory mood you should visit One Dine, their 101st floor restaurant for a drink.
Reaching an impressive height of 1,776 feet (this is not a coincidence, America declared its independence in 1776), the One World Trade Center, sometimes called the Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in America and the sixth tallest building in the world.
This is one of the most popular things to do in the Financial District so I strongly encourage buying tickets in advance. But fair warning, pay attention to the weather reports, you won’t want to waste a visit on an overcast day.
Best things to do in the Financial District (Post Summary)
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry
- Visit Federal Hall
- Shop Brookfield Place
- Take a Photo on Stone Street
- Hang out at Bowling Green
- Have a drink at Fraunces Tavern
- Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
- Hang out at the Elevated Acre
- Take a photo with the Woolworth Building
- Visit City Hall
- Walk South Street Seaport
- Hang out at the Battery
- Grab a drink at the Dead Rabbit
- Visit the New York Stock Exchange
- Visit the Charging Bull
- And Fearless Girl
- Shop at the Oculus
- Visit Trinity Church
- Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial
- Visit the One World Observatory
Best things to do FiDi (map)
And there you have it folks! My list of the best things to do in the Financial District.
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