The Financial District is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods for families in NYC. Office buildings have been converted into condos and new buildings are sprouting up faster than Whac-A-Moles in Coney Island. Three excellent new elementary schools have been created in the area to accommodate the influx of children, and the blog Fidi Families keeps local parents up-to-date on the goings-on in the neighborhood. Although you still have to go to Tribeca or Battery Park City for most of the kid-friendly venues, the Financial District is rich in off-the-beaten-track museums, parks and a small but growing number of businesses that cater to families.
It’s hard to tell now with all the modern skyscrapers, but the Financial District is the oldest settled part of NYC and a great place to learn about our history. Every NYC kid should see where our first President was inaugurated, went to church and disbanded his troops, and realize that once upon a time the city ended at Wall Street. Even tourist hot spot the South Street Seaport is worth exploring thanks to its FREE family programs and Imagination Playground.
Almost every subway line goes to the Financial District, which makes it a super-convenient place to live or visit. This month, we're offering an in-depth look at everything the neighborhood has to offer families, including our favorite places to play, explore and experience with kids. For the purposes of our posts, our geographical boundaries are Barclay and Frankfort Streets to the north, West Street to the west, and the East River to the east and south. We kick off our coverage with the top 30 spots to enjoy with kids in the Financial District.
- Sit on a couch made of coins at the Museum of American Finance
- Learn about our country's original residents with family programs and festivals at the always-FREE National Museum of American Indian
- Stand on the site where George Washington was inaugurated and learn about the first POTUS at the Federal Hall National Memorial
- Gawk at the New York Stock Exchange—tours are no longer allowed but you can gaze at the center of the financial universe from afar
- Pose for a pic with the iconic Charging Bull sculpture, an image we all equate with Wall Street. Many visitors think it's good luck to rub it—I won't say where, but you'll know it when you see it
- Fill up on Colonial history at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, where George Washington discharged his troops
- Visit Castle Clinton, romp in a fountain or hop on the brand-new SeaGlass Carousel in the Battery
- Or volunteer at the Battery Urban Farm, where you'll find more than 100 varieties of organically-grown veggies, fruits, flowers, grains and plants, plus a wild turkey named Zelda
- Stumble upon dance, theater and eclectic performances during River to River, a multidisciplinary summer arts fest where kids can delight in fortuitous street culture encounters
- Build something amazing out of the signature blue foam blocks in South Street Seaport's Imagination Playground. If it's too busy, the traditional Pearl Street Playground is just a few blocks away
- Hit South Street Seaport to catch FREE kids' bands and family films, and eat from the food trucks in summer, or check out the huge Christmas tree and carolers during the holidays
- Romp in Hanover Square, Bowling Green, Zuccotti Park or one of the other public plazas in the area—some have great artworks, like the Jean Dubuffet sculpture at One Chase Manhattan Plaza
- Speaking of public art, the nine-acre City Hall Park frequently hosts offbeat installations alongside its lovely fountain and gardens
- Eat outdoors at Adrienne's Pizza or one of the other restaurants on quaint Stone Street, one of NYC's oldest paved lanes
- Learn about New York's Finest at the New York City Police Museum (it's currently closed due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, but should reopen eventually)
- Reflect on NYC's most tragic day at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
- Shake your booty at monthly Little Club Heads dance parties
- Drop in for music classes with Lavender Blues at The Learning Experience
- Grab coffee for you and a FREE madeleine for your kiddo at Financier Patisserie
- Get a day pass to swim in the often empty pool or hot tub at the Russian Wall Street Bath and Spa
- Or take swimming lessons with Physique Swim at Léman
- Put on an apron and get creative at The Crafty Kids
- Shop for discounted toys, children's shoes, clothing and more at Century 21
- Walk, bike or scooter on the newly revamped East River Waterfront Esplanade or relax on Pier 15’s bi-level park featuring a lawn, concessions and stunning views
- Catch FREE (or cheap) ferries to Red Hook, Governors Island or Staten Island
- Try to pick a favorite building from some of the city’s most gorgeous architectural gems like the ornate Woolworth Building, which offers guided tours of the lobby
- Stop by Petland Discounts to see the bunnies, birds and fish
- Grab fast food of every stripe all over the Financial District like Kortako (Korean Tacos), Ruben's Empanadas, Sophie's Cuban and Go! Go! Curry! to name a few
- Discover the Dine at two family-friendly favorites: Cowgirl Sea-Horse or Harry’s Italian
Read all of our posts about exploring the Financial District with kids.