Visiting the 9/11 Memorial may be more of a somber activity to do with your kids, but it’s an important piece of the city’s history and one that can help you discuss the events that happened there. If you’re planning to pay tribute to victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks at the Memorial, here’s how do do it with your kids.

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Reserve Your Tickets in Advance
The Memorial is open for visiting through a time reservation system. The easiest way to book your tickets is online, but you can also book by calling 212-266-5211. Tickets are free, but reservations made online or by phone carry a $2 nonrefundable service fee per pass. Passes for same-day visits are also available on a first-come, first-served basis in person at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site at 20 Vesey Street.

Know Before You Go
Be prepared for the security screening before you enter the Memorial. Baggage larger than 8”x17”x19” are not allowed, and there’s no bag storage on site. All bags will be scanned by x-ray machines and may be opened and checked by hand. More info on the screening process and prohibited items is available on the website. You can also check out guides to photography (personal pics are fine), tribute items (small and non-perishable) and visitor rules and regulations (be respectful).

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Visiting With Kids
Strollers are allowed, and the Memorial is well set up for wheelchairs so accessibility is no problem to any area. With younger kids, keep the time at the Memorial short so they are on their best behavior. If you’re taking older kids, check out the Memorial’s guide to talking to children about the 9/11 events so you’re prepared to explain what happened and the significance of the Memorial.

About the Memorial
The actual Memorial is made up of two reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size and featuring the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools. There’s a lot of space near the pools with benches for sitting and trees for shade in the grove, so if your kids need a break, you can take them away from the crowds at the pools to calm down or have a snack.

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Must-See: The Survivor Tree
The Survivor Tree is a pear tree that was the sole tree to survive the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center. It was originally planted in the World Trade Center Plaza. After its discovery, it was transported to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for some TLC. It has since been replanted in the Memorial Glade (the grove of trees surrounding the Memorial).

Insider Tip
There’s a lot of waiting involved to get into the Memorial. You can either get there early so you’re first in line, or get there right before the cut off of your time period so you have less time to wait in the initial line. You will still have to line up to get through security however, so be prepared. Bring items to distract kids, and plenty of water and snacks (there’s no food for sale in the Memorial).

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Places to Eat and Play Nearby
After visiting the Memorial, let the kids run off steam at the playground in West Thames Park (West Street between Albany Street and West Thames Street.) If you’re hungry, grab delicious and reasonably-priced sandwiches and salads at kid-friendly Aroma Espresso Bar (100 Church Street).

9/11 Memorial Preview
Located at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, at the northwest corner of Greenwich and Albany streets.

Hours:
Now through September 22, 2013; 10:00 am – 8:00 pm with the last entry at 7:00 pm.  September 23, 2013 – December 31, 2013; 10:00 am – 6:00 pm with the last entry at 5:00 pm.

— Christine Knight

Photos by Christine Knight and  Phil H