Downtown NYC in a Day

Photo by Jeffrey Tanenhaus

Where NYC began

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Manhattan narrows to a compact tip packed with history and attractions. Follow this itinerary to see Liberty and Ellis Islands without time reserved tickets. Doing it all in a day depends on obedience to an early-set alarm clock and sightseeing stamina thereafter.

By subway, take the downtown-bound R to Whitehall, 4/5 to Bowling Green or 1 to South Ferry. Walk through Battery Park to Castle Clinton to buy Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferry tickets and ask if any monument passes are available. Crown tickets must be reserved months in advance due to limited capacity. Waiting time is a wild card, so an early start is essential to touring both islands and then seeing something else after, especially during busy spring and summer months.

The ferry docks first at Liberty Island. A later ferry will take you to Ellis Island and then back to Manhattan. Both islands have concession stands for lunch and snacks.

Back in Battery Park, walk up Broadway for a photo op with Charging Bull.

A few blocks north on Broadway at Wall St is Trinity Church, which is worth a look for its beautiful stained glass windows.

Follow Wall Street to see the outside of the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall. The NYSE is not open to the public, but Federal Hall is on weekdays and it’s free. Strike a pose with the statue of George Washington and retrace your steps back to Broadway.

Continue north to the new World Trade Center and National 9/11 Memorial to view the reflecting pools that mark the footprints of the bygone Twin Towers. The 9/11 Museum, located underground, takes hours to see yet is worth the time.

Between Church St and Broadway is historic St. Paul’s Chapel, also known as “the Little Chapel that Stood,” for surviving fires during the Revolutionary War and centuries later the attacks on the WTC. Stop inside for a quick visit to learn about the church’s role in aftermath of 9/11 during the rescue phase.

Conclude with retail therapy at the discount department store Century 21 or rest in City Hall Park and admire the Woolworth Building. If you’ve got a little more fuel in the sightseeing tank, try walking halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge and back.

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