9 Kid Friendly Activities in the Financial District in New York City

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The island of Manhattan, the most populated borough of New York City, is filled with dozens of neighborhoods from Harlem on the far upper East Side all the way down to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. The Financial District, also known as Wall Street, run the entire southern most part of the island and is the economic capitol of America with the New York Stock Exchange located in the heart of the District. The area was founded by the Dutch in the 17th century and became a bustling area for trade, with the East River on one side and the Hudson River on the other. Today, the Financial District is filled not only with financial businesses, but with plenty of preserved historical sites, museums, and family friendly attractions.

Note: There are other popular attractions in the area, including the September 11th Memorial and Museum, the New York Stock Exchange, and City Hall, that we have not visited. We don’t consider this a complete list of everything to do in the area, but rather activities we have enjoyed and believe other families with children (and even without!) will like.

Parking in the Financial District: We typically drive into New York City and park closest to our last stop of the day. We usually have good luck with reserving a spot through Icon ahead of time, and get better rates by prepaying. Other sites to plan parking ahead of time here and here. Check here for information on subway and bus routes in the Financial District.

Accessibility: All of the locations on our list are handicap accessible and allow strollers. We recommend bringing a small, collapsible umbrella stroller for the toddler crew. Every location has restroom facilities somewhere on site (usually near check in and admissions). We recommend sturdy sneakers, since all of these locations are (IMO) walkable to one another.

Dining in the Financial District: There are hundreds of dining options throughout the area- some good indexes include this one, this one, and this guide dedicated to the Seaport area.

Staying in the Financial District: We’ve only had one occasion to stay overnight in the Financial District and enjoyed our stay at Marriott’s Residence Inn Downtown manhattan/Financial District. This site has a good list of hotels

Nine Family Friendly Activities in the Financial District:

  1. Complete a scavenger hunt at The National Museum of the American Indian, located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which chronicles the history of indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The scavenger hunt throughout the Infinity of Nations exhibits showcase artifacts from 10 geographical areas and several additional exhibits share Native American writing, clothing, rituals, and housewares.
    Kids especially love the imagiNATIONS Activity Center with tons of hands on activities (open Tuesday through Sunday)
    Travel Tips: Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the museum is free to visit 364 days a year (closed on Christmas); Mili Kàpi Cafe offers drinks, sandwiches, salads, and snacks; gift shop on site; museum map here; plan on 90 minutes to explore all exhibits.
    Read our full post here.
  2. Explore two marine vessels at The South Street Seaport Museum, which honors the legacy of one of the busiest seaports in the world. The museum campus includes indoor exhibits, a fleet of vessels docked at Pier 16 on the East River and overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, and a 19th century print shop across the street.The museum hosts tons of seasonal sailing excursions and programs, family friendly events, and holiday celebrations. There are weekly Family Weekend Activities
    Kids especially love climbing down into the cargo hold of Wavertree and ringing the bell on the Main Deck of the Ambrose. ** Note the ships are not handicap accessible
    Travel Tips: The museum and ships are open Wednesday through Sunday; admission is pay-what-you-wish; restrooms are located in the indoor museum exhibition space; plenty of dining options in the Seaport District; check the calendar for daily sails and excursions; plan on two hours for exploring all vessels and museum exhibits. 
    Read our full post here.
  1. Eat at Fraunces Tavern Museum, the site of George Washington’s post Revolutionary War farewell address to his officers in December of 1783. The Tavern was also the location of the first offices for the Departments of Foreign Affairs, War, and Treasury. The tavern opened as a museum in 1907 and has over 8500 artifacts in its collection, displayed in rotating exhibits throughout the two floors of museum space.  The first floor Tavern and Bar is open to the public for lunch and dinner. 
    Kids especially love the Clinton Dining Room, the Flag Hall, tea from 1774, and even a lock of Washington’s hair!
    Travel Tips: The museum is open from 12pm-5pm daily; tours of the museum are available Friday-Sunday; make sure kids grab a scavenger hunt to complete; check out the calendar for special programs; plan on 90 minutes to tour all exhibits.
    Read our full post here.
  1. Research your family’s heritage at Ellis Island, the first place over 12 million immigrants arrived at between the 1890s and 1950s, when the immigration office closed. The National Park Service took over the island and reopened it as a museum documenting the immigrant experience and preserving thousands of personal stories and effects of immigrants in 1990.  Visitors can now tour several museum exhibits, view short films about Ellis Island, listen to an audio tour, and attend daily ranger-led tours and family friendly programs.
    Kids especially love researching their family’s past to find ancestors who arrived at Ellis Island and testing their citizenship knowledge.
    Travel Tips: Ellis Island is accessible 364 days a year- check here for up to date information; visitors must board a ferry boat at Castle Clinton; restrooms are available at Castle Clinton, on the ferries, and on Ellis Island; concessions are available on Ellis Island and visitors can bring some bags with snacks and drinks; make sure kids grab a Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge and stamps; plan on at least half a day (4-5 hours) round trip to see all of Ellis island.
    Read our full post here.

  1. Climb inside the pedestal of The Statue of Liberty. One of the most popular attractions in all of New York City, the Statue of Liberty was a 1886 gift from France and has been protected and maintained by the National Park Service since 1933. Visitors can take a boat ride to Liberty Island and explore inside the Pedestal and even climb to the Crown (with a special ticket). There are museum exhibits that showcase the history of Lady Liberty and ranger led programs offered each day.
    Kids especially love walking up inside the pedestal and the Immersive Theater.
    Travel Tips: Liberty Island is accessible 364 days a year- check here for up to date information; visitors must board a ferry boat at Castle Clinton; restrooms are available at Castle Clinton, on the ferries, and on Liberty Island; concessions are available on Liberty Island and visitors can bring some bags with snacks and drinks; make sure kids grab a Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge and stamps; plan on at least half a day (4-5 hours) round trip to see all of Liberty Island.
    Read our full post here.
  1. Learn about George Washington’s inauguration at the Federal Hall National Monument on April 30th, 1789. The Hall was originally the home of the British royal governor’s council and the assembly of New York, and was used as a City Hall and America’s first Capitol The current building, built in 1842, was a Custom House and later the home of the US Treasury system. Today, visitors can explore several exhibits inside the Hall to learn about its past and importance in American history. 
    Kids especially love the This Place Matters booklet, seeing the inauguration Bible, peeking inside the vault, and earning Junior Ranger badges and stamps.
    Travel Tips: Part of the National Parks of New York Harbor, the site is free to visit Monday through Friday from 10am-5pm, with tours at 10am and 2pm; no dining facilities on site; be sure kids grab a Junior Ranger booklet to complete; plan on 90 minutes to fully explore the exhibits.
    Read our full post here.

  1. Marvel at the architecture of Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. The present Trinity Church, located at Broadway and Wall Street, is the third building on the property, dating back to 1846, and was built in a Gothic Revival Style. The original Trinity Church was granted a charter by King William III of England in 1697 in the Espicopal faith. Inside the church is the Chapel of All Saints, also open to the public. St. Paul’s Chapel, located a few blocks away at Broadway and Fulton Street, was built in 1766 to accommodate the growing population at Trinity Church, and now welcomes over one million visitors each year. The church was rebuilt in 1790 after a massive fire destroyed the original church in 1776. and George Washington was a regular parishioner of St. Paul’s Chapel. The churchyards of both churches include tombstones that date all the way back to the 1680s- check here for a Trinity churchyard map and here for a St. Paul’s churchyard map to see all of the notable tombstones and monuments. 
    Kids especially love seeing the tombstones of Alexander Hamilton and the Schuyler sisters (if they’re big Hamilton fans) in the Trinity churchyard and learning about St Paul’s role in helping the first responders in the September 11th terrorist attacks. 
    Travel Tips: Both churches are open to the public from 8:30am-4pm, but check here for up to date information on visiting hours; visitors must pass through security to enter; visitors are asked to be respectful while on property and appropriate dress code and decorum is expected; plan on 30-45 minutes to explore each church and church grounds.
  1. Learn about the enslaved Africans buried at The African Burial Grounds National Monument. Thousands of enslaved men, women, and children were brought to “New Amsterdam” by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries and forced into hard labor, developing what would become lower Manhattan. These enslaved men and women were required to bury family members outside city limits in an area that was discovered during a 1991 construction of an office building. The remains of over 400 enslaved men, women, and children were unearthed and a 20 year initiative led to the preservation of the African Burial Grounds and reburial of the remains. Today, the National Park Service oversees the indoor Visitor Center and museum exhibits that explain the daily life of African slaves and their vast contributions to the building of lower Manhattan, as well as an outdoor Monument and memorial. 
    Kids especially love the interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center and completing a Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge. 
    Travel Tips: The Visitor Center and outdoor memorial are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-4pm and are free to visit; a small gift shop on site; no dining facilities; plan on 90 minutes to fully explore the indoor exhibits and watch the introductory film and visit the outdoor Monument. 

  1. Learn how to make pizza (and other Italian dishes!) at Eataly, THEE place to be for Italian (really, any) food lovers! There are dozens of locations throughout the United States, including three locations in New York: Flatiron District, Downtown, and SOHO. Inside each Eataly are several small speciality dining kiosks, larger full service restaurants, daily demonstrations and classes, and retail stores. There are also classes geared towards children and make for a super fun family activity. 
    Kids especially love rolling the dough and eating the fruits of their labor (and don’t forget to stop and get dessert!)
    Travel Tips: Make a reservation for a class (or dining) ahead of time; come hungry! And plan on bringing a few treats home.
    Read our full post here.

Bonus: Walk part (or all) of the Canyon of Heroes, a mile long sidewalk (on both sides of the street) from Broadway at Battery place all the way to City Hall, marked with over 200 black granite plagues that display the date and honoree of every ticker tape parade in New York City.

Looking for more adventure throughout Manhattan? Check out our Manhattan City Guide, what to do on a rainy day, holiday activities throughout New York City, and our index of individual features. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and X

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5 Comments

  1. What a fantastic way to spend quality family time in NYC! I love that they got to make pizza and all the museums and attractions you found sound really interesting! I bet you’ll all remember this trip forever! 🙂

  2. Interesting to read that 12 million people descended on NYC in 60 years. Looks like your children had a fun time trying their hand at Italian cooking.

  3. NYC looks so fun – for all ages! I bet the pizzas tasted amazing baked with the fun and energy of trying new things together as a family. Such a great resource for families!

  4. Besides the kids, I would really love to visit many of these sites. I like how you specified what part the kids would like. That’s very helpful to families.

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