This list of the best things to do in the Financial District was written by Antonina Pattiz, Founder of New York Simply (an official partner of Apple Maps). I hope you find this article helpful!
If you’re looking for the best things to do in the Financial District, you’ve come to the right place. The Financial District (also known as FiDi), is the oldest neighborhood in New York City, making it a goldmine for history buffs. Historic 200-year-old buildings rub shoulders with soaring skyscrapers (including the tallest building in America). Let’s cover the best things to see while visiting the Financial District in Lower Manhattan!
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 10 Best Neighborhoods & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Things to Do in the Financial District in NYC
(Table of Contents)
Visiting the Financial District (Table of Contents)
- Best Things to Do in the Financial District in NYC
- Soak Up the Breathtaking Views at Manhatta
- Admire the New York Stock Exchange
- Visit Alexander Hamilton’s Final Resting Place
- Stroll Stone Street
- Take in the Views from the One World Observatory
- Explore the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Make a Toast at Fraunces Tavern
- Learn About Federal Hall
- Take a Tour of City Hall
- Swing by Bowling Green
- Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
- Explore the South Street Seaport
- Relax at Battery Park
- Enjoy Cocktails at The Dead Rabbit
- Take a Photo with the Charging Bull
- See The Fearless Girl Statue, Too
- Pop Into the Famous Oculus Mall
- Visiting the Financial District (Post Summary)
- Financial District Best Things to Do (Map)
Soak Up the Breathtaking Views at Manhatta
Soaring high on the 60th floor in the heart of the Financial District, Manhatta is a classy cocktail bar that’s worth a detour. This elegant bar serves up a diverse range of meticulously crafted cocktails, each a perfect blend of classic and contemporary flavors.
The ambiance is sophisticated yet inviting, making it an ideal spot for both special occasions and casual after-work drinks. The real showstopper is the panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Between the breathtaking panoramic views and expertly-crafted cocktails, popping in for drinks at Manhattan is one of the most romantic things to do in the Financial District.
Admire the New York Stock Exchange
New York City is synonymous with financial power and the iconic New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) deserves most of the credit. A symbol of capitalism, the historic edifice, completed in 1903, houses the world’s largest stock exchange (the listed companies have a combined value of over $30 trillion!).
The trading floor influences economies around the world, but it’s no longer open to the public (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks). But honestly, even just seeing the building from the outside is worth visiting the Financial District.
The New York Stock Exchange made our list of the Best Christmas Trees in New York City.
Visit Alexander Hamilton’s Final Resting Place
Located in the graveyard of Trinity Church, when construction was completed, Trinity Church was was the tallest building in the country (thanks to the 280-foot bell tower). Today visitors can admire the old-school wooden pews and stunning stained glass window that characterize this famous and church in NYC.
Hamilton fan? if so, Trinity Church may ring a bell. This is the church where Alexander Hamilton, his wife Eliza and 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 Broadway Musical Hamilton.
Local’s Tip: 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).
Hamilton appears on our list of the best Broadway Shows in New York City.
Stroll Stone Street
One of New York’s oldest streets, Stone Street dates back to the Dutch colonization of New York. In other words, this cobblestone street is older than America. Oozing old-world charm, the short path is bordered by restaurants on both sides, making it easy to linger at an outdoor patio with pints in hand.
Take in the Views from the One World Observatory
Reaching an impressive height of 1,776 feet (this is not a coincidence, America declared 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.
Taking in the panoramic views from the One World Trade Center observation deck is one of the most popular things to do in the Financial District. If you’re in a celebratory mood you should visit One Dine, the 101st floor restaurant for a drinks.
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Explore the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
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 museum pays tribute to the 2,977 lives lost on September 11, 2001. I consider this one of the most memorable things to do in the Financial District, as long as you can emotionally brace yourself.
The pace of the visit always feels rightfully slow, as visitors contemplate the gravity of the situation. 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 is made of two reflecting pools that sit atop the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers. You’ll see cascading waterfalls in both cavities, which symbolize a void that can never be filled. All the while, the One World Trade Center looms in the background and acts as a beacon for a resilient future.
Make a Toast at Fraunces Tavern
Fraunces Tavern dates back to 1762, making it the oldest restaurant in New York City. It’s famous for being the place where the Sons of Liberty Secret Society met during colonial days. This is also where negotiations were made for British surrender.
After the end of the Revolutionary War, Fraunces Tavern hosted a victory feast, which is where George Washington bid an emotional farewell to his commanding officers. Needless to say, enjoying a pint (or cocktail) at Fraunces Tavern is one of the best things to do in the Financial District, if not for the history alone.
Fraunces Tavern makes an appearance on our list of the 20 Best Scotch Whisky Bars in New York City.
Learn About Federal Hall
Brimming with American history, Federal Hall is, quite literally, the birthplace of our country. This iconic building stands where the original 1700s City Hall once did. The original building served as New York City’s first City Hall and housed the first US Congress.
Famous for being the place where George Washington took the oath as the first President of the United States in 1789. Today, Federal Hall serves as a museum and memorial to the nation’s early history and the birth of American government. Entry is free and tours are offered by the National Park Service (advanced-booking required).
Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing artifacts from colonial times and learn about pivotal historic events that occurred in the area. Any way you slice it, swinging by Federal Hall is one of the best things to do in the Financial District for history buffs.
Tour City Hall
The stunning City Hall building, with its elegant French Renaissance design, dates back to the early 19th century, making it one of the oldest functioning city halls in the country. Beyond its architectural beauty, City Hall is rich in political and historical significance, having been the stage for countless important decisions and events in NYC’s history.
All this to say, popping in for a tour is a great education activity while visiting the Financial District. Group tours are available Tuesdays and individual tours are available Wednesdays, but you’ll have to call to make a reservation (they book up quickly!). The surrounding City Hall Park adds a touch of greenery and tranquility amidst the bustling city, pop in if you’re feeling overwhelmed by skyscrapers.
Swing by Bowling Green
Bowling Green is the oldest park in New York City, it’s also a must-see for history buffs. The reason? In 1776, shortly after George Washington read the Declaration of Independence, American soldiers rushed to the park to topple the statue of King George III. If you swing by the park while visiting the Financial District, you can touch the original fence installed by the British in 1773 (250 years ago), which is one of the most unique things to do in the Financial District.
Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
Housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the National Museum of the American Indian offers a profound look into the diverse history, art, and cultures of Native American peoples. From traditional clothing and pottery to weapons and artwork, the museum’s collection spans over 12,000 years of history in the Western Hemisphere.
The National Museum of the American Indian provides an invaluable experience through thought-provoking exhibitions, live performances and film screenings. The museum strives to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous cultures and their significant contributions to the world.
The best part? There’s no admission fee, which means visiting the museum is one of the best free things to do in the Financial District.
Explore the South Street Seaport
The South Street Seaport is a revitalized historic located near the East River in Lower Manhattan. Offering a unique blend of old and new, cobblestone streets and restored 19th-century buildings coexist with modern shops, restaurants and bars.
The Seaport is also rich in maritime history, featuring the South Street Seaport Museum, historic ships, and breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River. Whether you’re exploring its historic ships or simply soaking in the scenic waterfront atmosphere, South Street Seaport is a must-see in the Financial District.
Relax at Battery Park
Located at the southernmost part of Manhattan, Battery Park offers great views of Brooklyn, Governors Island, Staten Island and New Jersey. The best view though? The Statue of Liberty, especially at sunset.
The park is named after the artillery batteries that were created to protect the settlements on Manhattan. Some of these batteries were used to fire on the British during the Revolutionary War. The park is much more peaceful now, visiting is one of the most relaxing things to do in the Financial District.
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Enjoy Cocktails at The Dead Rabbit
Named after an Irish gang that ran rampant in Lower Manhattan, the Dead Rabbit opened in 2013. Hailing from Ireland, the founder, Jack McGarry, wanted to open an upscale cocktail bar with the atmosphere of an Irish Pub. The Financial District hot-spot has also earned several awards, most notably #1 Best Bar in the World 2016. It’s hard to go wrong with any drink, but the hot-toddy on a cold day is hard to beat.
Take a Photo with the Charging Bull
The Charging Bull is one of the most popular attractions in the Financial District. The 7,000-pound bronze statue is the brainchild of Italian sculptor Arturo Di Modica. It was made to symbolize financial optimism and prosperity after the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987. The statue was unlawfully (albeit stealthily) installed in front of the New York Stock Exchange on December 14th, 1989.
The New York City Police Department removed the sculpture, but later reinstalled it in its current location on December 20th, 1989. There’s no denying that the Charging Bull has become capitalism’s adopted mascot, you won’t want to miss it!
See The Fearless Girl Statue, Too
The Fearless Girl statue in gained fame as a potent symbol of female empowerment and gender equality. Unveiled on International Women’s Day in 2017, this bronze sculpture, depicting a young girl standing firm with hands on hips, faced Wall Street’s Charging Bull.
Created by artist Kristen Visbal, the statue originally intended to promote gender diversity in the business world. It quickly resonated globally, symbolizing the strength and empowerment of women, especially young girls. The Fearless Girl’s defiant stance against the iconic symbol of financial power has inspired many replicas across the world, including Oslo, Melbourne and London.
Interesting background: The Fearless Girl statue was moved from its original location facing the Charging Bull to a new spot in front of the New York Stock Exchange. The reason? Arturo Di Modica (who designed the Charging Bull) felt the statue’s placement villainized the bull, so the Fearless Girl Statue was moved to the new location.
Pop Into the Famous Oculus Mall
Westfield World Trade Center, more commonly known as the Oculus, is an architectural marvel! It’s also the largest shopping mall in Manhattan and an active subway hub. Designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, the stunning, dove-like structure represents a phoenix rising from the ashes, a poignant tribute to the rebirth of the area post-9/11.
Inside, the Oculus is a bright and spacious mall full retail stores, cafes and restaurants. Plus, there’s public restrooms, which are hard to come by in NYC, so take advantage! Admittedly, you can keep your visit short, simply pop in for photos. Don’t skip visiting though, this is one of the most interesting things to see in the Financial District.
Visiting the Financial District (Post Summary)
- Take in the Panoramic Views at Manhatta
- Visit Federal Hall
- 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
- 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
Visiting the Financial District (FAQs)
What is the Financial District known for?
Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, the Financial District is known for being the birthplace of American capitalism. It’s home to major financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street, symbols of global finance. The area is also famous for iconic landmarks such as the Federal Reserve Bank and the Charging Bull statue, the skyline is marked by skyscrapers, including the impressive One World Trade Center.
Is the Financial District in NYC worth visiting?
The Financial District in NYC is definitely worth visiting, especially if you’re interested in finance, history and iconic architecture. Home to Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve, it’s the heart of America’s financial industry. It’s also full of historical landmarks like Trinity Church and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. You won’t want to miss it!
What is the famous street in the Financial District?
Wall Street is the most famous street in the Financial District. This iconic thoroughfare is synonymous with the American financial industry and is home to major financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. Spanning just eight blocks, It has played a central role in the economic history of the United States since the 18th century, the street’s name is derived from an actual wall that Dutch settlers built in the 1600s for protection.
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Financial District Best Things to Do (Map)
And there you have it folks! My list of the best things to do in the Financial District.