For Americans, and indeed all visitors to New York, a solemn pilgrimage to the harrowing Ground Zero site is an essential way to pay your respects to those who tragically lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a deeply moving and fitting tribute to the pain and suffering caused by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The site is located exactly where the Twin Towers once stood, the foundations now replaced with square reflecting pools amid clusters of swamp white oak trees and one Callery pear tree, known as the Survivor Tree; the only one to emerge from the rubble alive. The memorial opened in 2011, in remembrance of the tenth anniversary of the attacks.
Taking a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero is a great way to gain more insight and perspective. Alternatively, it’s simply a way to get queue-jump tickets for the museum so that you can spend more time with the exhibits. Of the many Ground Zero tours available, some include the site as part of a larger itinerary, so it can be tricky to know which is the right tour for you. We have sifted through the various options to bring you the best and most moving tours based on factors like itinerary, tour content, value for money and the reviews of previous customers.
FROM: $18/per person
One of the best ways to pay tribute to New York’s fallen is simply to wander around the Ground Zero site and absorb the atmosphere. To really feel the emotional impact however, you can take this hour-long walking tour of the site to hear first-hand accounts of that fateful day, while visiting a number of buildings that hold great significance to Ground Zero, such as St. Paul’s Chapel, which became an important refuge for rescue workers here. Other stops on the tour include details that sometimes get overlooked, or whose relevance is often missed without explanations, such as the Eleven Tears Memorial, dedicated to Amex employees who died in the attack. As with all tours on this list, departures and availability are on a daily basis.
From $28/ per person
Beyond the 9/11 Ground Zero site, which is freely accessible to all, there is also an invaluable museum, which tells the story of the day in much more detail. It really complements the personal stories you will hear about on this three-hour tour of the site, which includes skip-the-line tickets so that you can waste no time waiting to gain access to the thousands of 9/11 artifacts ranged over the three exhibitions within. You can learn all about the events as they unfolded from September 10th to 12th, 2001, not only in New York, but also at the Pentagon and Flight 93. The Memorial Exhibition is a testament to the lives lost on that day, as well as those killed on February 26th, 1993 in a separate attack on the World Trade Center. The museum entry fee and a downloadable audio guide are included in the price.
From $35/ per person
If you’d like to combine a museum visit with a tour of Ground Zero, then this 75-minute walking tour, followed by access to the 9/11 Tribute Museum is a great option. The walking tour is led by a member of the 9/11 community, whose first-hand accounts really help shed light on the events as they unfolded. The 9/11 Tribute Museum is separate from the official 9/11 Memorial Museum and offers a different perspective on the day as it’s run by the September 11th Families’ Association. Using personal objects and other interactive exhibits, it tells a more personal story that really complements the official museum a few blocks away.
From $35/ per person
For anybody who’d like to incorporate Ground Zero into a wider tour exploring the southern end of Lower Manhattan, here’s a popular two-hour walking tour. Combining both the 9/11 sites and Wall Street, you’ll learn of how this little region of the city played (and still plays) a significant role in global history. From politics and economics to the immigration history that shaped New York into what it is today, you’ll learn all about Manhattan history via landmarks like the Charging Bull, New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall. See the resting places of great Americans like Alexander Hamilton at Trinity Church, before heading to the 9/11 Memorial, where you’ll gain insight on the symbolism behind its design, as well as that of newer buildings nearby, like the One World Trade Center.
From $66/ per person
If you’d like to be more thorough in your exploration of the 9/11 Memorial site, there’s an option that combines the best of both types of tours, offering skip-the-line tickets to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and a guided tour. The two-hour duration allows time to paint a more detailed picture of the many stories that unfurled subsequent to the attacks, such as that of the firefighters, or Operation Aegis, in which half a million people were evacuated from Lower Manhattan by boat. Following that, skip the line for access to the official 9/11 Memorial Museum. Don’t miss the huge Foundation Hall within, where you’ll see the vast remaining column and slurry wall from one of the Twin Towers.