The World Trade Center has been a symbol of both American and world-wide commerce since its construction in the 1970s. Today, the new One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower), the 9/11 Memorial, and the 9/11 Museum both memorialize those who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks and search for a meaning of hope in the future. Find out why you should visit, how much time to budget, and the best ways to see these important structures.
Why You Should Visit the World Trade Center, 9/11 Museum, and 9/11 Memorial
Iconic: Dominating the NYC skyline, the One World Trade is a symbol of freedom and rebirth.
Photographic: There are plenty of photo opportunities from the viewing platform at Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial down below. At night, the memorial is illuminated, and the groves of 500 white oaks. Please remember that the memorial is just that–a living memorial. Not a tourist attraction. So please take photos and selfies responsibly.
Architectural: David Childs’s One World Trade Center, Michael Arad’s 9/11 Memorial, and Michael Arad’s and Peter Walker’s 9/11 Museum are considered contemporary architecture marvels. One World Trade is currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776-feet tall.
Historic: The World Trade Center was conceived at the 1939 World’s Fair. Ground broke for the original WTC in 1959. Visitors can learn about the history of the WTC as well, the story of the terrorist attack in 2001, and the revitalization of the neighborhood at the three sites.
Kid Friendly: Kids are more than welcome to visit the museum, memorial, and WTC viewing platform. The viewing platform strictly focuses on the future of the WTC and is the most kid friendly of the three sites. Educators are on hand in the museum to help kids understand the 2001 terrorist attack. Parents can feel free to bring their kids to the memorial but will need to explain the memorial to young children without the help of museum educators.
Shopping/Fashion: The Oculus, another memorial structure, also doubles as a mall with high-end shopping. Please note that the mall closes on September 11th in observance. Nearby Brookfield Place also has a shopping mall and food court.
Artsy: Brookfield Place showcases different art exhibits each month. The Eleven Tears Memorial is a permanent art installation in Brookfield Place to memorialize the eleven American Express employees who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
Foodie: Foodies rejoiced when Mario Batali opened an outpost of his famed Italian market and restaurant Eataly in Lower Manhattan. Brookfield Place’s Hudson Eats is a high-end food hall that features some of NYC’s most popular eateries.
Cinematic: Movies such as AI, Armageddon, Being John Malkovich, and Big Daddy filmed at the WTC.
Outdoorsy: Though you won’t feel like you’re in the Great Outdoors here, the sounds of rushing water from the memorial fountains and the grove of 500 white oaks will make you feel a little closer to nature.
Like a Local: You’ll see many locals paying their respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Please respect those who visit the memorial to grieve.
How Much Does the World Trade Center Cost?/Money Savers:
Free to visit!
Hot Tip!: Visit the 9/11 Museum on Tuesdays after 4 PM for free entry (arrive early as tickets are limited).
How Much Time Should I Spend at the World Trade Center?/Time Savers:
Memorial: 15 min
One World Trade observatory: 30 minutes
9/11 Museum: 45 minutes
Memorial: 45 min
One World Trade observatory: 60 minutes
9/11 Museum: 120 minutes
- Visit the 9/11 Museum first thing in the morning to avoid crowds.
- The 9/11 Museum and One World Observatory have timed entrances to reduce crowd sizes.
- Take the 9/11 Museum tour; you won’t regret this. A museum educator (who has a connection to the terrorist attack) will take you on a tour of the museum highlights.
- Visit the 9/11 Memorial at night for ethereal views of the memorial after dark and fewer crowds.
- Buy VIP tickets to gain access to the museum before it opens to the general public.
Need to Know:
While kids are encouraged to visit, please remember that these sites are living memorials; you might also want to prep your kids about the history of the World Trade Center, so they’ll know what to expect on the day you visit.
Why You Should Skip:
I don’t recommend skipping the memorial or the museum if you haven’t visited them yet. You might want to skip the One World Observatory if you plan on visiting another viewing platform on your trip.
When to Go to the World Trade Center:
First thing in the morning or last entry at night.
How to Get to the World Trade Center:
Walking: The memorial, WTC, and 9/11 Museum are located on Greenwich and Vesey. You can walk south down Broadway and take a right on Vesey. Follow the One World Trade Center to reach all three.
Subway: Take the A, C, 4, 5, J, or Z trains to Fulton, the E to World Trade Center, the R to Cortland, or the 1, 2, or 3 to Chambers. Pretty much all subways except the orange line, the Q, and the N trains end up near the WTC.
Taxi/Car: Try not to take a taxi to or from the WTC unless it’s late at night. Traffic in this part of the city is pretty horrendous.
Bus: Take the M9 or M20 to the World Trade Center. Note: Please, pleasssse take the subway if you plan on arriving between 7 AM and 7 PM. Rush hour traffic down here can slow down your ride seriously.
Related Attractions/Other Ways to See:
- Take a tour of the 9/11 Memorial to get behind the scenes of some of the design features.
- Take a tour of the 9/11 Museum to get a deeper understanding of the tourist attack in 2001.
- If you plan on heading to Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building observation decks, you can probably skip the One World Observatory.
- Stop at the Eleven Tears Memorial to see the memorial for the eleven American Express employees that passed in 9/11.
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!