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9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero

Updated: November 16, 2023

In this post, we cover the National September 11th Memorial, also known as the 9/11 Memorial, World Trade Center Memorial, the Ground Zero New York Memorial, or the Twin Towers Memorial.

We cover hours, security, and other planning tips, including tours you can take, and nearby attractions you may want to see.

This post has been written with first-hand experience.

We lead daily walking tours, taking visitors to NYC through Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial.

Most of our tour guides experienced the World Trade Center before the attacks and this has helped us provide valuable perspective


Whether to pay their respects or learn more about the event that changed this country, millions of people visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum each year.

Together they are the country's principal institution of remembrance honoring the victims and memorializing the tragedy of 9/11.

In addition to the memorial itself, there are several monuments and other notable locations nearby that make this one of the most popular sites in NYC.

This section will provide all the details you need to know what to expect, find the memorial, and choose the best time to visit.

Is it Free to Visit the 9/11 Memorial?

The 9/11 Memorial is free to enter. There are no tickets and you do not need to make a reservation.

The only entry cost is for the National September 11th Museum, which is located on the memorial grounds. 

In fact, visiting the 9/11 Memorial is one of the best free things to do in NYC.

How to Get Here

Use this map for specific directions to the 9/11 Memorial.

Directions to the 911 Memorial

The easiest way to get here is via the subway. The following lines will get you within walking distance of the memorial:

By Subway:

• A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers Street
• A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street
• 2 or 3 trains to Park Place
• E train to World Trade Center
• R or 1 train to Rector Street
• R train to Cortlandt Street

Be sure to read our guides on navigating the subway and how to purchase a subway MetroCard.

Visitors who plan on using a hop-on-hop-off bus will be happy to know that most services offer stops very close to the 9/11 Memorial.

Alternatively, you can also take a public bus (lines M5, M20 & M22) to get here. 

Best Times to Visit

The 9/11 Memorial is free to visit, so you won’t require timed tickets or wait in any lines.

You can come anytime during operational hours, with the exception of rare public events.

9/11 Memorial Plaza Hours

  • 10 am - 5 pm
  • 7 days a week

The 9/11 Memorial can get pretty crowded no matter when you come to see it, but there are times when it is easier to get a good look at the site.

If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, you may want to consider coming either as early or late as possible.

Many visitors recommend coming early in the morning, but honestly, crowds never really lessen the experience of a visit.

Best Time to Visit the 911 Memorial

Alternatively, you may also want to consider coming at night in order to see the memorial light up after dark.

In fact, the memorial is one of our top things to do at night in NYC.

Some visitors indicate that seeing the memorial from 7 pm - 9 pm can be a completely different experience.

NOTE: Night hours are currently limited, likely due to the pandemic.

Even if a crowd does gather to see the landmark at night, chances are it won’t be too difficult to manage.

911 Memorial Pools

Additionally, visitors who choose to come on September 11th should keep in mind that the plaza will be closed until later in the day.

The plaza will open up once again at 3 pm and remain open until 12 am.

Once the sun goes down, two spotlights representing the Twin Towers will light up the night sky.

These lights can be seen up to 60 miles away, but it’s an entirely different experience to be there when this event takes place.

Check our guide below for more details about this activity.

What to Expect

No matter when you come to see the 9/11 Memorial, chances are that you’ll run into large crowds.

Thankfully, there is a lot of space in the area, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble seeing the monument. 

How Much Time Do You Need?

Although a quick trip can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, some guests may want to set aside a little more time to experience the memorial.

There are also several additional monuments nearby that are directly related to the events of 9/11, so you may want to ensure that you have at least 1 hour to see everything.

The Sphere 911 Memorial

This is the exact time it will take you to complete our audio walking tour of the memorial and surrounding area. 

The 9/11 Museum is located right between the two monuments and you will require tickets for entry.

This location includes several exhibits covering the history before, during, and after the events of September 11th.

For more information, make sure to read our post about visiting the 9/11 Museum.

Freedom Tower

If you want to take things a step further, you should also consider visiting One World Trade Center.

Located right across the street from the 9/11 Memorial, this is one of the tallest buildings in the world and it has observation decks providing some of the best views in New York City.

Read our post about the Freedom Tower for more details. 

Anyone who is considering a trip to the memorial, the museum, and the One World Observatory should set aside at least 5-6 hours for the entire trip.

You’ll also want to purchase tickets in advance to make sure that you can get in when you want and avoid having to wait in line.

If you’re planning on spending the day in this area, consider dropping into Brookfield Place to grab a bite to eat.

This shopping center has a huge food court with several different restaurants to choose from. 


There are several options for guided tours and some include admission to the National September 11th Museum and/or One World Observatory as well.

Even if you can’t manage to book a trip with us, there are quite a few affordable options out there, including our anytime audio tour.

Every 9/11 Memorial tour on this list is highly rated and well-received by guests. Most tours are offered daily.

Although these excursions typically include some sensitive historical information, some families really enjoy the experience of visiting this important monument of American history. 

Below is a handy calendar of tour availability.

Free Tours by Foot

We offer several pay-what-you-wish tours as well as anytime GPS tours that include the 911 Memorial as a part of the main focus of the tour.

We are one of the highest-rated tour companies in New York City. Read our reviews.

We offer an anytime GPS audio tour of the memorial recorded by one of our tour guides. Here is a sample of the tour.

We also offer a World Trade Center Tour, which focuses on the Memorial and runs Mondays at 1 pm, ending in time for guests to line up for free Monday admission to the museum.  

We have 4 other tours that include the 911 Memorial and the World Trade Center as a stop on the tour.  We have listed them, with the daily tours listed first.

Experience First Tours

Despite the fairly simple names, this is actually one of the highest-rated tour companies in New York.

They offer a total of 7 different tour packages which include a visit to the 9/11 Memorial.

One of their best deals is the All-Access 9/11 Experience, which includes a guided tour of Ground Zero, a trip to the 9/11 Museum & Memorial, and admission to the One World Observatory.

Prices range from $35 for shorter trips to $109 for their all-day excursions. See their full list of tours.

Ratings and reviews for 9/11 Ground Zero New York Tours and their tour packages are very high, ranging between 4 and 5 stars on average.

Few customers have had enough of a problem with their experience to warrant giving this company a negative review.

9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero New York Walking Tour

  • Depending on which version of this package you purchase, you will also have the option to experience either the One World Observatory or the 9/11 Museum.
  • Ticket Prices: $39 for Adults | $35 for Children
  • Duration: 1 ½ – 2 hours
  • Daily @ 10:30 am and 2:00 pm
  • More info or to book.

9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero New York Walking Tour + Museum Admission

9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero New York Walking Tour + One World Observatory Admission

All-Access 9/11 Experience

  • Visit Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and One World Observatory.
  • Ticket Prices: $109 for Adults | $104 for Children  
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Daily @ 10:30 am and 2:00 pm
  • More info or to book.

Lower Manhattan Tour

  • Discover Wall Street and experience the 9/11 Memorial (does not include museum and observatory tickets)
  • Ticket Prices: $39 for Adults | $35 for Children
  • Daily @ 9 am
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • More info and to book

Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial Tour

  • Visit Lady Liberty and enjoy a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial.
  • Ticket Prices: $59 for Adults | $54 for Children
  • Daily @9 am
  • Duration: 3-5 hours (2-hour narrated tour included)
  • More info or to book.

Full-Day NYC Small-Group Tour

  • Enjoy a guided journey through the entire city and see the 9/11 Memorial.
  • Ticket Prices: $89 for Adults | $85 for Children
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Daily @ 9:30 am.
  • More info or to book.

Take Walks

This tour company offers several outings that cover the 9/11 Memorial and even a few that include the 9/11 Museum.

Whether you're interested in a tour that focuses specifically on 9/11 or you'd also like to see sites like One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty, there are plenty of great options to choose from.

9/11 Memorial Tour & 9/11 Museum Tickets

  • $69/Adults, Students | $55/Children
  • Winter Availability: Thur - Mon at 3 pm
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Daily at 3 pm
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes the 9/11 Memorial Tour.
  • Includes the 9/11 Museum Tickets.

9/11 Memorial Tour & One World Trade Center

  • $79/Adults, Students | $69/Children
  • Winter Availability: Thur - Mon at 3 pm
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Daily at 3 pm
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes the 9/11 Memorial Tour.
  • Includes One World Trade Center Tickets.

9/11 Tour, One World Trade Center & Statue of Liberty

  • $124/Adults, Students | $104/Children
  • Winter Availability: Thur – Mon at 9 am
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Daily at 8:30 am
  • Duration: 8 – 8 ½ hours
  • Includes Statue of Liberty Ferry Tickets.
  • Includes Statue of Liberty Pedestal Tickets.
  • Includes Priority One World Observatory Tickets.
  • Includes the 9/11 Memorial Tour.

9/11 Museum & Memorial Tour, Statue of Liberty

  • $115/Adults, Students | $95/Children
  • Winter Availability: Thur – Mon at 9 am
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Daily at 8:30 am
  • Duration: 8 – 8 ½ hours
  • Includes Statue of Liberty Ferry Tickets.
  • Includes Statue of Liberty Pedestal Tickets.
  • Includes Priority 9/11 Museum Tickets.
  • Includes the 9/11 Memorial Tour.

Tourist Pass Options

While we think the options listed above are great, the truth is you might save more money on the attractions and activities included with the combo tours in this section by using a tourist pass instead.

We'll use the New York Sightseeing Flex Pass and the Go City New York Explorer Pass as examples of how each service could actually be more affordable.

New York Sightseeing Flex Pass

Both of the tour operators we have listed above offer outings that include a tour of the 9/11 Memorial, admission to the museum, and either One World Observatory or the Statue of Liberty.

This pass includes the following services for one low price.

If you get the 3 choices pass for $99, you'll save $10-$15 over the most comparable combo packages above.

  • Experience First Lower Manhattan Walking Tour
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • One World Observatory

If you wanted to visit the 9/11 Tribute Museum and the 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop as well, this pass also includes access to those attractions.

However, you'll need at least a 5 choice pass ($144) or the all-inclusive version of the pass ($129) to visit all of these locations.

Learn more about the New York Sightseeing Flex Pass.

Go City New York Explorer Pass

Much like their competitors, this tourist pass also includes admission to several attractions you'll find on the combo tour packages listed earlier.

Their 3-choice pass is $94, which means you can actually save $15-$20 over other options. Here are just a few of the activities included with this service:

  • 9/11 Tribute Museum & Guided 9/11 Memorial Tour
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • One World Observatory
  • Statue of Liberty

If you were to get a 4-choice pass for $117, you'd save $7 over the most comparable tour package on our list and get access to the 9/11 Tribute Museum as well!

Learn more about the Go City New York Explorer Pass.


The 9/11 Memorial is inside a large public plaza and can be easily accessed from the surrounding streets.

It is open to the public daily from 10 am - 5 pm. There is no cost to visit Ground Zero.

The plaza is sparse and serene. Its openness helps emphasize the focal point of the Memorial which is the Reflecting Pools.  

You could also download a more extensive version of this tour as a GPS-enabled audio tour, that was researched, written and recorded by one of our tour guides.

Click on the map for a larger interactive version

Zuccotti Park

Our self-guided tour begins at Zuccotti Park.  Prior to September 11th, 2001, this park was named Liberty Plaza Park (not to be confused with the new Liberty Park in the memorial).  

This was a popular area for workers from the World Trade Center to sit and have lunch or just relax.  

The park was damaged by debris from the fallen office towers and was subsequently used as a staging area for the recovery efforts and then later as a place for ceremonies commemorating the events of 9/11 as well as dedications of statues and sculptures.   

In the northwest corner (closest to the WTC) sits an everyday man.  

The sculpture is called Double Check, and despite the destruction around him, he would survive, a seeming metaphor for the people of NYC and the country.  

On a side note, Zuccotti Park would later serve as the center of the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.

The FDNY Memorial Wall

Located on Greenwich Street at the corner of Liberty Street, just southeast of the 9/11 Memorial hangs the FDNY Memorial Wall by artist Joe Petrovics.

This 7000-pound (3200 kg) bronze wall is attached to the wall of Engine and Ladder Company 10, the local fire station.

It is a memorial to the 343 active NYC firefighters who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 + 1 local attorney who was a volunteer firefighter outside of the city.  

FDNY Memorial Wall

The 56-foot (17 m) long bas-relief sculpture depicts the World Trade Center towers in flames and scenes of firefighters executing their duties.  

For more information on the memorial, please visit  

Listen to firefighter Lt. Mickey Kross tell his story of surviving the tower collapse (audio).

The Sphere

Standing 25’ (8m) tall and comprised of 52 pieces of bronze, weighing 45k lbs (21k kgs), set on a base originally designed to rotate once every 24 hours, the Sphere is certainly an eye-catching sculpture.

Designed by German artist Fritz Koenig to represent world peace through world trade, the Sphere was originally installed in a plaza between the two World Trade Center towers. 

Considering its location at Ground Zero during the time of the terrorist attacks of 2001, it survived the devastation battered and bruised but standing.  

Sphere World Trade Center

Today, with its eternal flame, it stands as a memorial to the lives lost on that fateful day.

Koenig at first resisted the idea of turning the sculpture into a memorial but later had a change of heart, stating “It was a sculpture, now it’s a monument... it now has a different beauty, one I could never imagine.  

It has its own life - different from the one I gave to it.”  If you look off to the north, you can see the new towers of the World Trade Center rising day by day. 

America's Response Monument 

Popularly known as the Horse Soldier Statue, this monument stands on the west end of Liberty Park, just south of the 911 Memorial.

Officially titled America's Response Monument, and subtitled "De Oppresso Libor" (liberate from oppressor), this 18-foot (5.5 m) tall commemorates Task Force Dagger of the Green Berets, U.S. Army Special Forces, who were the vanguard of the American military forces to enter Afghanistan to target Taliban forces just weeks following the 911 attacks.  

Americas Response Monument 911 Memorial

Due to the difficult terrain where they started, U.S. soldiers were required to operate on horseback.

The statue commemorates all of those beyond first responders who answered the call of duty. 

The Waterfalls and Reflecting Pools    

These 2 enormous pools with cascading waterfalls, were designed by architect Michael Arad, and titled "Reflecting Absence".

They are set at Ground Zero in the exact footprints of the original North and South World Trade Center Towers, which were destroyed on September 11, 2001.  

At 1 acre (4000 m2) in surface area and 32 feet (10 m) deep, these are the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. 

The pools are one of the most moving memorials in the world.

These pools represent the void left in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, both with the loss of life as well as in the soul of the city and the country.

It is nearly impossible to view the pools without experiencing some sort of emotions. We recommend visiting at twilight or night to see the pools illuminated.  

911 Memorial Pools

The 911 Memorial honors those who died on 9/11, including those who perished at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and the victims of hijacked Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Also included are the oft-forgotten six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The victims' names are inscribed around the bronze edges of the pools. Instead of being arranged alphabetically, the names are organized by “meaningful adjacencies."  

Names are grouped together based on their relationships with other victims, such as co-workers, family members, friends, and even those who commuted together.  

As with the voids represented by the pools and waterfalls, so are the names indented.

To find specific names, you can access kiosks in the plaza or download an official 911 Memorial app.  

When you are at the pools, you may notice small white roses.  

These roses are placed by 911 Memorial staff members at the names of victims who would have celebrated their birthdays today.  

One particularly sad statistic is that 13 victims died on their birthday, September 11th. 

Swamp White Oaks and The Survivor Tree

Throughout the memorial are several hundred swamp white oak trees, which, according to the 911 Memorial website, were chosen for their durability as well as their variety of heights and leaf colors.

However, there is one particular tree that stands out. Among the rubble of the fallen towers, an 8-foot (2.5 m) Callery pear tree was found alive, but just barely.

Removed from the rubble, the tree was nursed back to health and replanted in the plaza. It has since flourished and has grown to 30 feet in height.  

The tree embodies the story of survival and resilience important to the history of the World Trade Center and 9/11.  

Download a free Survivor Tree e-book on iTunes.  

From the Survivor Tree, walk towards the glass atrium of the museum where you can view the Tridents.

The National September 11th Museum

Read more about the museum here.

Placed inside the Museum, but visible from the Memorial Plaza, are two 70-foot (21 m) high, 50-ton (45 mt) steel beams that were part of the base of the North Tower.  

These beams, salvaged from the wreckage of the fallen towers, are known as “tridents” because of their three-pronged tops (from the God Neptune).

The Oculus

The Oculus, designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, is a transportation hub that connects the New Jersey PATH Trains to the NYC Subway.

At 800,000 sq. ft (75,000 sq. m), it is the 3rd largest hub in the city and a rival of both Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, and like those two stations, this structure also houses numerous retail shopping stores. 

Oculus Inside

Originally envisioned as a smaller station, changes to the original plan brought into existence the structure that you see today, which according to Calatrava, was inspired by an image of a girl releasing a bird.

The original plan for this location was to be an area that allowed the morning light of an early rising sun to shine down directly into the memorial pools at approximately the time the planes crashed into the old towers.  

Read more about The Oculus here.

The World Trade Center Cross

Just days after the towers' collapse, recovery workers discovered a 17 ft (5 m) tall intersecting beam among the wreckage of Ground Zero that unmistakably resembled a Christian cross.  

This cross was installed here on the side of St. Peter's Church as a temporary holding spot before being transferred to the National September 11th Museum.  

World Trade Center Cross

This transfer was not without controversy, as a national Atheists Association opposed the use of government funds to accommodate the transfer, but they lost.  

The court ruled that the cross did not violate constitutional restrictions on church and state.  

The current cross was installed in 2011 and was designed by Jon Krawczyk. Its polish is intended to reflect the sky, crowds, and the emerging World Trade Center.  

The new cross is filled with notes, letters, and other symbols of loss.  

The image on the left - By James Tourtellotte, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ( Gallery, Page) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. 

St. Paul's Chapel

This is the only colonial-era house of worship still standing in New York City and it is also the oldest public building that has been in continuous use since it was built.

It served as an extension of Trinity Church located a few blocks south and included in this tour.

St. Paul's has a sacred and inspirational place in history. George Washington prayed here after his presidential inauguration at the nearby Federal Hall in 1789.

St. Paul's also served as a place of comfort and solace for the rescue workers at the World Trade Center in the days following 9/11.

Despite being located directly across the street from the Twin Towers, St. Paul's survived the tragic events of 9/11 without even a broken window.

The back of the chapel that faced the Towers was shielded by a huge sycamore tree that stood between the chapel and the collapsing buildings.

The tree caught large amounts of falling debris and was uprooted.

The tree's heroic roots have been memorialized by a two-ton bronze sculpture that stands in the courtyard of Trinity Church.  

Spend some time inside, as they have small displays commemorating the heroes of September 11th.


Unlike the 911 Memorial, you must purchase tickets to enter the Museum.

Through interactive technology, archives, narratives, and a collection of artifacts, the Museum recounts the events of 9/11.

To see a preview of what your visit will be like, here is a virtual tour of the museum.

Hours:  Daily from 9 am to 8 pm.  The last entry time is at 7 pm.

Tickets:  Tickets are "timed-entry" meaning you must select a specific date and time when you make your purchase. Tickets can be purchased up to three months in advance. 

You can purchase tickets by clicking here.  

Several tour companies combine a walking tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero with tickets to the 9/11 Museum. Learn more.

TIP: Admission to the museum is included for free with the purchase of either the New York Pass, the Explorer Pass, or the CityPass booklet. Read our post comparing the different tourist attractions passes in NYC.

Prices:  (Prices below do not reflect the $2 service fee per ticket)

  • $28 | Adults
  • $22 | Seniors (65 and over)
  • $22 | Students (with valid ID)
  • $20 | Young Adult (ages 13-17)
  • $17 | Youth  (Ages 7-12)
  • Free Children (Under 6)
  • $18 | U.S. Veterans
  • Family members of 9/11 victims, 9/11 Rescue and Recovery Workers, and Museum Members receive free entry.
  • More info and to book.

Free Mondays

Free admission will be available for all visitors every Monday, from 3:30 pm to 5 pm.  

A limited number of advance tickets for these free Mondays will be available online, starting two weeks in advance of each Monday.  

A limited number of tickets are available every Monday on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Get more detail on this cost-saving opportunity at our post, Free Admission 911 Museum.  

Join us for our Monday World Trade Center and 911 Memorial Tour from 1 pm to 3 pm, after which you can pick up tickets for free entry.


One World Trade Center, nicknamed the “Freedom Tower” is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere and, as of 2016, is the 6th tallest in the world.

It’s no coincidence that its height is 1,776 feet.

World Trade Center

That number has great significance in American history as it was the year America declared its independence from Great Britain.   

The Observatory on the 100th and 101st floors is open and is quite an amazing experience. For information on visiting click on this link: One World Observatory ("Freedom Tower").

Floors 1-19 are the base of the building with a 65-foot-high (20 meters) public lobby.

Rented office space begins on the 20th Floor and continues to the 64th Floor.

On Floor 65 is a sky lobby and then office floors resume on Floor 65 to Floor 90. Floors 91–99 and 103–104 are mechanical floors.

2 World Trade Center is - after 15 years - still not complete due to many delays in design. The currently agreed-upon design is a 90-story tower standing 1,270 feet tall encompassing 2.8 million square feet.  

3 World Trade Center is near completion and will be 80 stories tall rising to 1,079 feet.

The completed and opened 4 World Trade Center is a light, ephemeral vision, facing directly onto the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza.

Rising 977 feet, by Maki and Associates, the 72-story tower is intended to assume a quiet but dignified presence at the site.

7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006 and was the first tower rebuilt after the attacks.  

Standing 741 feet and 52 stories tall it sits on the same site as the original 7 World Trade Center.


The 9/11 Tribute Museum (permanently closed) at 120 Liberty Street offered visitors a historical timeline and honors the aftermath of rescue and recovery, and shares a personal memorial tribute from 9/11 families.  

The Museum was founded by the September 11th Families Association and was not part of the 9/11 Memorial or the National September 11th Museum.  

The Museum galleries allowed for an intimate look at the event through films, artifacts, and photos.  

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: November 16th, 2023
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