How To Enjoy Lower Manhattan In Two Days
There’s so much to do in Lower Manhattan, two days here will only begin to scratch the surface. But if that’s all the time you’ve got, you can still pack a lot in — everything from historical sites to essential museums to local haunts should be on the agenda.
A Top Eleven (This List Goes To Eleven) Tour Of Things To See Downtown In Two Days
- Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island (Castle Clinton National Monument)
- Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place)
- Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street)
- World Trade Center Site, 9/11 Museum and One World Observatory
- Charging Bull and Fearless Girl
- City Hall
- African Burial Ground
- Irish Hunger Memorial
- The Seaport District/Pier 17
- Stone Street
- The SeaGlass Carousel
Here’s what to do and see:
Day One: The Classics
First Stop: The Statue Of Liberty And Ellis Island (Castle Clinton National Monument)
Start your trip with a morning visit to Lady Liberty, one of New York’s most iconic landmarks and a global symbol of freedom and democracy. There are only two ways to purchase tickets: online at www.statuecruises.com or in-person at the box office at the ferry terminal at Castle Clinton. (No other ticket seller can get you access to the actual statue, so don’t bother giving them your money.)
Once you’re on the island, wander the grounds, walk up the statue if she’s open, and pop into the newly-opened museum, which features Lady Liberty-related photos and memorabilia including her original torch.
The same ferry will take you to Ellis Island, once the main access point for immigrants entering the Land of Opportunity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Relive their experience at the formidable Immigration Museum, which helps tell the story of how the United States became the cultural melting pot that it is today.
Second Stop: Museum Of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place)
When your ferry drops you back at Castle Clinton, head up to the nearby Museum of Jewish Heritage, which opened in 2007 as a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. The museum contains more than 40,000 objects and hosts permanent and visiting exhibitions, in addition to live and virtual events.
Third Stop: Lunch At Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street)
Post-museum, make your way to Brookfield Place, which boasts a wealth of midday dining options. Food court Hudson Eats features quick bites and to-go meals, or you can opt for a sit-down restaurant with a Hudson River view.
Fourth Stop: World Trade Center Site, 9/11 Museum And One World Observatory
At the World Trade Center site, you’ll find the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The museum requires a two-hour visit, one that will take you through permanent exhibitions commemorating the September 11 attacks.
Next, head to One World Trade for a SkyPodElevator ride up to the One World Observatory, which starts on the 102nd floor. There, you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of the tallest building in the western hemisphere — the panoramic view covers up to 45 miles in all directions, glimpses of New Jersey included.
Fifth Stop: Charging Bull and Fearless Girl (1 Bowling Green, Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place)
Head over to Bowling Green and take a picture in front of the famous Charging Bull. Sculpted by artist Arturo Di’Modica, the bull mysteriously appeared one night in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Later, it was moved to the north point of Bowling Green, and has since become a symbol of Wall Street’s optimism.
Your next photo opp is the Fearless Girl statue, a bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal and a symbol of female empowerment. Initially, she bravely stared down the Bull at Bowling Green, but has since been moved to Broad Street, where she faces the New York Stock Exchange.
Lower Manhattan has hotels for traveler and budget, with options including The Beekman, The Four Seasons and the Marriott Downtown. See our hotel page for more information.
Day Two: Live Like A Local
First Stop: City Hall (City Hall Park between Broadway and Park Row)
Start your day off at the seat of the city’s government: City Hall. Located at the foot of the Brooklyn Brige, construction began on New York City’s current City Hall in 1803, though several City Hall iterations preceded it, including Federal Hall by the Stock Exchange. The building was designed by Joseph-François Mangin and John McComb Jr. — Mangin was also the architect behind St. Patrick’s Ol Cathedral in Soho, and McComb designed Castle Clinton. City Hall’s undergone a number of extensive renovations over the years, and is now home to the Mayor’s office, the elegant, reception-ready Governor’s Room, the Blue Room (for press conferences and publicized bill signings) and a whole lot of portraits and artifacts dating back to New York’s earliest governments.
Second Stop: African Burial Ground (290 Broadway)
At the northern edge of Lower Manhattan is the African Burial Ground National Monument, where both free and enslaved Africans were buried from the 1690s until 1794. The sacred site, which contains more than 419 remains, was discovered during the construction of a federal office building in 1991 and highlights an important and once forgotten part of New York City history. The memorial was dedicated in 2007 to memorialize the role of Africans and Black Americans in New York City’s past.
Third Stop: Irish Hunger Memorial (75 Battery Place)
This elegant memorial pays homage to the 19th century victims of Ireland’s Great Famine, and recalls the Irish countryside, featuring potato fields, flora, stone walls and a stone cottage made with materials from the motherland. Inside, you’ll find famine-related news reports stretching from the Great Famine era to modern times. This striking memorial can be seen in its entirely from the Atrio restaurant inside the world-class Conrad Hotel New York Downtown
Fourth Stop: The Seaport District
If you’re looking for lunch, shopping, or just a nice stroll, this historic neighborhood is a perfect next stop. Although increasingly popular with tourists, these cobblestone streets and old-timey storefronts recall its maritime and mercantile past. Today the Seaport is home to shops, restaurants, the South Street Seaport Museum and Pier 17, an open-air event venue.
Fifth Stop: Stone Street
Make your way to another one of Lower Manhattan’s historic cobblestoned blocks, which is lined with dining establishments catering to a local crowd. The pedestrian-only passage is a popular happy hour spot if you’d like to add a drink to your trip, or you can dine outdoors at one of many restaurants.
Sixth Stop: Sunset Stroll Toward The Seaglass Carousel
Head back to the Battery, where you’ll find the SeaGlass Carousel, a gorgeous merry-go-round featuring big glass fish that recall the Battery’s past life as the original home of the New York Aquarium. The carousel is typically open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and costs $5 to ride. Children 12 months and younger ride for free.
Cap off your trip with a night walk through the neighborhood, and you’ll have made the most of your 48 hours Downtown.