Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial are awe-inspiring, but give you a context to New York's more recent history that will change your view of the event that shocked the world. The 9/11 Museum also explores more deeply its social and political consequences.
In memory of the 9/11 attacks, today you can visit the Museum, the Memorial, Ground Zero and the World Trade Center. Here's how to visit the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum.
Skip the queues at the 9/11 Museum
The most convenient and economical way to access the 9/11 Museum is to purchase these tickets online and in advance.
One thing you should know before you go to Ground Zero is that the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum are different things. The 9/11 Memorial is a memorial located on the foundation of what used to be the Twin Towers, and the 9/11 Museum is an underground facility below Ground Zero that houses an exhibit about the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath.
To visit the 9/11 Museum, you only need to purchase this ticket. When booking your tickets, you will need to select a time slot in which to visit the Museum, which is usually about two and a half hours from opening time.
With the Museum's APP, as well as accessing interactive parts of the exhibition that you cannot see otherwise, you can listen to a complete audio guide in Spanish so that you don't miss anything.
Recommended if... you want to learn in depth about the events of 9/11 that marked the history of the United States and the world, with this combined ticket you won't have to worry about anything and just focus on the experience.
What's included in your ticket to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
With this ticket you will be able to visit both the outside grounds of what is now the Memorial and the 9/11 Museum.
What used to be the World Trade Center is now a park of oak trees in the centre of which are the twin fountains that make up the 9/11 Memorial. In tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the names of those who lost their lives that day are engraved on the outer edges of the fountains.
The fountains and the names of the victims are illuminated at night, giving the place a special atmosphere. If you book your tickets for the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, you can get an in-depth look at the details of what happened on that day.
You can then complete your tour by visiting the National 9/11 Museum at your leisure and spending as much time as you like. If instead you prefer to do it with an expert guide to help you contextualize everything you see, I recommend this 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero Tour
Where the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are and how to get there
To get to Ground Zero, located at 180 Greenwich Street, I recommend taking the underground to the World Trade Center train station, or going to the Chambers Street station.
How to access the 9/11 Museum with the New York Pass and other passes
Remember that admission to the 9/11 Museum is included in all major tourist passes in the city: New York CityPass, New York Explorer Pass, The New York Pass, Sightseeing Pass. If you buy one of these passes, you'll be able to access the museum, but you won't have the depth that a local guide's commentary will add to your visit.
You can also buy this combo tour of the National Museum and 9/11 Memorial with admission to One World Observatory, which will allow you to go up to the best observatory in the area for the most breathtaking views of the financial district and lower Manhattan.
What a visit to the 9/11 Museum is like
You will enter the 9/11 Museum through a pavilion located in the Memorial. You will descend into the underground facility where the first thing you will see is Virgil's quote, "No day shall erase you from the memory of time" in the room known as Memorial Hall.
As you move through the space beneath the World Trade Center, you will pass into Foundation Hall, the main hall of the Museum, the most prominent feature of which is the 'Last Column'. This was the last piece of the Twin Towers rubble to be removed, and is covered with inscriptions and signatures of those involved in the recovery effort at Ground Zero.
What the museum exhibits are like
The museum's two main exhibitions are In Memoriam, which pays tribute to the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and September 11, 2001, a minute-by-minute chronology of what happened that day and a reflection on how the world we live in today has been shaped by the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Throughout the museum, you'll find a collection of 60,000 objects salvaged from the rubble of the Twin Towers that tell the story of 9/11 through various perspectives, including first-person accounts, documents, and belongings.
9/11 Memorial and Museum opening hours
Both the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum are open every day of the week (except on September 11, when they are closed to the public for a memorial service). The 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Museum are open Friday and Saturday from 9:00am to 9:00pm (last admission at 7:00pm), while Thursday through Sunday they are open from 9:00am to 8:00pm (last admission at 6:00pm).
When to go
I recommend that you visit the Museum at opening time to experience the solemnity and intimacy of the exhibition. If there is one criticism of the Museum, it is that its minimalism and the atmosphere it tries to create are not entirely compatible with tourist crowds.
Practical information for your visit
- Try to arrive as early as possible at Ground Zero, to avoid the crowds and have a more personal and peaceful experience. The place deserves it. Alternatively, you can visit the Memorial at night to experience a more secluded atmosphere.
- Visiting the Memorial is always free, but you can also enter the Museum for free on Thursdays from 17:00.
- You can take photos both at the Memorial and in the Museum.
Alex's Traveller Tip
You can take your visit to the 9/11 Museum even deeper with the augmented reality app 'Explore 9/11'.
A bit of history: 11 September 2011
I can hardly forget that Tuesday in September when, having just returned home from school with my brother, we turned on the television as usual to play the video game console, but never got round to changing the channel: we were absorbed in watching the images of the Twin Towers collapsing in a cloud of black smoke, repeated over and over again on the news.
We had not long returned to Madrid after living in New York for nearly seven years, so those images came from the place we still considered home.
Chances are, if you are reading this, you have a story to tell about 9/11 too. If you weren't in New York, you were most likely caught at home, watching the news in complete shock like me. If you lived in New York, your story will be very different, and it is precisely this story that is told at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York.
Where to eat in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum area
Being in the middle of the Financial District, there aren't too many restaurants in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum area, but there are a couple of places worth checking out:
- Delmonico's - A relatively expensive steakhouse but one that scores fairly high on TripAdvisor.
- Leo's Bagels - A place where you'll find the typical New York Bagel that I recommend to everyone I know who travels to New York.
- If you're looking for something quick, The Oculus has plenty of restaurants and fast food chains (like any mall in the US): Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Eataly, Shake Shack....
Speaking of The Oculus, I recommend that you stop by when you visit the World Observatory. It is a building with a very particular design, which houses the World Trade Center train station and a shopping centre where you will find shops, restaurants and cafes.
If you love photography or are looking for the best photos for your Instagram, it's the perfect place to add to your list of New York must-sees. The Oculus is open from 10:00 to 20:00 Monday to Saturday and from 11:00 to 19:00 on Sundays.
Other interesting tours in New York
If you want to learn more about the history, culture and most interesting places in New York, I recommend you take three of its most outstanding tours: Harlem, Contrasts and Upper and Lower Manhattan.
Here are the practical guides I've written for each of them in case you'd like to take a look at them before organising your visit: New York Contrasts Tour, Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour y How to go to a Gospel Mass in Harlem, New York City.