The Top 8 Things to Do in Manhattan's Financial District

Financial District in Downtown Manhattan, New York City, USA

Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

New York City's Financial District, known by its nickname FiDi, is a booming neighborhood at the southern tip of Manhattan. It is enclosed by the West Side Highway on the west, Chambers Street on the North, Brooklyn Bridge on the northeast, and The Battery on the south.

Historically this neighborhood was all about business. It is where the Twin Towers stood and where One World Trade Center is now located. But in recent years it's become a place for fun. Many of city's best restaurants, bars, parks, museums, and activities are all located in this area. There are playgrounds for the kids, shopping centers for adults, fancy food halls for foodies, public sculptures for art lovers, and more.

And the good news is this neighborhood is dense, so you can pack a lot into your visit. Here is a guide to one of New York City's most buzzy neighborhoods.

01 of 08

Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The 9-11 memorial waterfall with skyscrapers in the background

Stella Levantesi / TripSavvy

The Twin Towers that fell on 9/11 were located in the Financial District, and the entire neighborhood was destroyed. No trip there would be complete without a trip to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to commemorate those who perished and learn about the powerful history. The Memorial's twin reflecting pools where the towers stood, are particularly moving.

Leave ample time; an average visit takes over two hours. It's also recommended to download the audio guide before you get there so you can get context to the exhibits. Check opening hours and ticket prices on the website.

02 of 08

Shop at Brookfield Place New York

interior of brookfield place shopping center

Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281, USA
Phone +1 212-978-1673

Brookfield Place is a state-of-the-art shopping center in the Financial District that has fun for the entire family. It has a waterfront plaza that changes seasonally. In the winter it is an ice rink, and there are igloos set up in which you can socialize. In the summer it's a park used for fitness classes, outdoor movies, and outdoor dining.

Inside you can find stores for children, women, and men as well as a variety of food and drink options. Order a glass of wine and grilled cheese at Le District, a French Marketplace, or indulge in a seafood platter at Seamore's. The Institute of Culinary Education is located in the complex, and it has its own hydroponic farm. There are special events happening at Brookfield Place regularly. Check the schedule on the website.

03 of 08

Ride a Sea Horse at the SeaGlass Carousel

Battery Park - Sea Glass Carousel, fish on the right is modeled after a clearfin lionfish


Water St &, State St, New York, NY 10004, USA
Phone +1 212-344-3491

Located within The Battery, a 25-acre park at the southern tip of Manhattan, there is an imaginative experience the entire family will relish. The city wanted to mark the Battery's history as the first home of the New York Aquarium so it commissioned an aquatic carousel to be created. Users ride on glass sea horses as they go up and down and change colors. Fantastic music plays in the background. It's a feast for the eyes (as well as for your cameras!) Check the hours on the website before you go; it's often closed for private events.

04 of 08

Play Mini Golf and Volleyball Under the Stars

Pier 25 at Hudson River Park, Manhattan, NYC

 pikappa / Getty Images

West St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Phone +1 212-627-2020

Pier 25, situated along the Hudson River in the Financial District, is filled with fun activities for the entire family. You can play mini golf on a 13,000-square-foot, 18-hole course. It has challenges along the way including a waterfall, stream, pond, cave, footbridge, even a sand trap.

The pier also has beach volleyball courts that can be reserved in advanced. If sports aren't your thing hang out in the playground, get ice cream, watch dogs play in the dog park, and more. It's all outdoors, and on a warm summer evening, there is no better place to be.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Kayak in the Hudson River (For Free!)

Kayak in the Hudson River

 Robert Jones / Pixabay 

Pier 26, New York, NY 10013, USA

From May to October The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaks for New York City residents and visitors. They have everything you need for a day of water fun: life jackets, paddles, boats, changing rooms, and more. They even have sun block if you run out! There might be a line to get a boat, but it's worth the wait. An instructor will give you a briefing, and then you are free to paddle around the river for hours. Don't forget to enjoy the New York City skyline views from the water.

The boathouse is located on Pier 26. It's located on the Westside Highway just north of N Moore St.

06 of 08

Stroll through the South Street Seaport

Lightship Ambrose at its home port, South Street Seaport Museum, Lower Manhattan, New York City, New York.

 Joe Mabel / Wikipedia Commons 

12 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038, USA
Phone +1 212-748-8600

The South Street Seaport is a historic neighborhood in the Financial District. It is where New York City got its start as a port city, and there are still original boats, bars, and cobblestone streets from that era.

Start your visit at the South Street Seaport Museum where you will learn why New York City was so important for shipping. Then head outside to see the historic mercantile buildings and ships docked in the harbor. Many of these buildings have been renovated in recent years and are now trendy places to shop and eat. You'll find everything from vegan fare to creative ice cream shops. The neighborhood also has rotating public art displays.

07 of 08

Journey Through the Oculus

Calatrava-Designed Oculus, a Transportation Hub next to Tower 3 by Richard Rogers

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

The Oculus, part of the World Trade Center, may be a train station, but visitors from around the world flock there to see the fantastical architecture. The city spent $4 billion on the project and tapped Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to design it. It's made of glass and steel and is supposed to look like a dove in flight.

The Oculus is connected to half a million square feet of retail space, and there are shops everyone will love. There are brand names like Victoria's Secret and Reiss London but also quirky boutiques only available in New York City. There are places to pick up sushi, ice cream, or a beer; public art displays, and pop-up exhibits almost every day.

08 of 08

Take a Trip to Italy Without Leaving New York City


John Li / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

101 Liberty St 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10007, USA
Phone +1 212-897-2895

Eataly NYC Downtown recreates the best parts of Italy (but you don't have to board a plane to get there.) Inside the giant building are multiple restaurants that each specialize in something yummy: pasta, pizza, meat, fish, and more.There are wine bars, cocktail bars, and gelato stations. You can shop for items usually only sold in Italy. Pick up some home-made pasta and authentic olive oil to try to cook at home!

Check the website for special events like cooking classes (for adults and children), parties, tastings, and talks.

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Where to Eat, Drink, and Play in Manhattan's Financial District