The Wall Street area, or FiDi, as it’s sometimes now called, used to be just for bankers and tourists on their way to the Statue of Liberty. No more! The downtown neighborhood, and the surrounding area (The Battery, Battery Park City, etc.) rebounded from the tough times post-9/11, and now offers numerous ways for families to appreciate both old and new aspects of the southern tip of Manhattan. Read on for all the hot spots, and plan your day downtown!

The Oculus
Is it a spaceship?An alien creature? A trippy ice formation erupting from below? It’s actually a transportation hub and deluxe shopping center, the latter of which is called Westfield World Trade Center. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Oculus is worth a trip to have a look inside (very sci-fi), even if you don’t want to buy anything. If you do, numerous high end retailers and places to snack (including Eataly downtown) are happy to take your money. It’s worth checking Westfield’s event calendar, as it hosts lots of fun and free happenings.

70 Vesey St.
Online: westfield.com

 

Seaglass Carousel
A magical, musical “underwater” ride you can take day or night that’s totally worth the five bucks.

Battery Park
State Street and Battery Place
Online: thebattery.org

 

Bosque Fountain
A sort of wet and wild “Whack-a-mole”, this fountain spouts water at random intervals, and is a fun way to cool off in warmer weather. LED lights illuminate it at night, adding to the spectacle.

Battery Park
Online: thebattery.org

 

Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
It’s not just for tourists! As New Yorker’s we’re jaded because we see her every day, but up-close-and-personal, she’s truly awe-inspiring. The smart move here is to buy tickets in advance to skip the line to purchase them (it can be considerable, and you’ll save a lot of time and hassle.) Visitors can go on and inside Lady Liberty (the base, the arm) but you must buy a ticket in advance, and these sell out well ahead of time — so if it’s on your bucket list, plan accordingly. But standing at her feet is plenty impressive. In addition to the main attraction, Liberty Island is also a nice place to picnic, with lots of shaded lawn space to hang out. Pack a lunch; food options are fine, but nothing special, and of course, pricey.

Head over to Ellis Island for an amazing lesson the history of New York, and America overall!

Online: nps.gov

 

photo: Harold C. via Yelp

National Museum of the American Indian
Located in the grand and historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House,  National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present, and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Part of the Smithsonian, the museum, which also has a location in Washington, D.C., is free to the public. Head here for permanent exhibits dedicated to American Indian life and culture of the past, as well as engaging, contemporary work showcasing the work of American Indian artists today.

1 Bowling Green
212-514-3700
Online: nmai.si.edu

photo: Kin T. via Yelp

Teardrop Park
Tucked away in Battery Park City, Teardrop Park is a gem with a large slide, sandboxes, water play,  places to “rock hop”, a reading area, naturalistic plantings, and even restrooms.

Online: bpcparks.org

One World Observatory
It’s not cheap, but it is pretty extraordinary, beginning with the experience of waiting to board the elevator to the top — a ride which in an of itself is pretty mind-blowing.

One World Observatory
One World Trade Center (entrance on the West Plaza alongside West Street near Vesey)
Open daily, 9 a.m.-midnight
Tickets: adults 13-64/$32; kids 6-12/$26; seniors/$30, kids under 5/free (but must be ticketed)
844-696-1776
Online: oneworldobservatory.com

 

photo: Liz C., Yelp

Staten Island Ferry
It’s a classic, it’s free, and it’s a great way to see the Statue of Liberty up close. What’s not to love? Take it from Whitehall Terminal.

4 Whitehall St.
Online: siferry.com

 

photo: Joseph Y. via Yelp

St. Paul’s Chapel
Part of Trinity Church, St. Paul’s Chapel is truly an historic New York City site, and celebrated its 250th anniversary. Built in 1766, this is the place George Washington walked to to attend services following his inauguration down the street. (True story!) This is also the building that miraculously went undamaged, even though the twin towers fell across the street. (The chapel served as an ongoing rescue and relief center in the months that followed.) The chapel hosts events throughout the year, and free tour are available.

Broadway and Fulton Street
212-602-0800
Online: trinitywallstreet.org

 

photo: Michael S. via Yelp 

Federal Hall
That’s George Washington standing proud outside, and with good reason: this is where he became the first President of the United States. (This is where the inauguration took place.) Now a museum dedicated to Washington, the building was also home to the first congress, supreme court, and executive branch offices.

26 Wall St.
212-825-6990
Online: nps.gov

 

Century 21
Destination of bargain-lovers everywhere, this New York institution is a classic downtown diversion.

Online: locations.c21stores.com

photo: Rowena Y. via Yelp

Fearless Girl
Designed and installed by an advertising firm to promote an index fund,  Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” stands confidently opposite the iconic Wall Street Bull statue. You’ll know you’re getting close, by the crowd assembled. (There are plans to move her to a spot opposite the Stock Exchange by the end of 2018.)

8 Broadway

photo: Brookfield Place Facebook page 

Brookfield Place
Another high-end shopping center, Brookfield Place is not just a spot for fancy goods. The complex hosts an ongoing series of fun and free events, as well as engaging public art installations. In the winter, you can take a spin at the center’s ice skating rink or grab a photo with Santa. This is also a nice place to get a bite to eat, thanks to its elevated food court and market options. 

230 Vesey St.
212-978-1698
Online: brookfieldplaceny.com

photo: Phil H. via Yelp

The Elevated Acre
Another park and hidden gem, this retreat is well-known by office workers in the area. Hop some escalators to reach this little park, the lawn of which is always a perfect green thanks to Astroturf. (There are lovely plantings of real greenery here too, though.) Not only does this park offer great views of the East River and Brooklyn, you can charge your phone, thanks to outlets in some of the benches.

55 Water St.
Financial District
212-963-7027
Online: 55water.com

What’s your favorite spot to hit with the kids downtown? Tell us in the comments! 

—Mimi O’Connor

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