Downtown NYC may be best known for skyscrapers, suits, and the iconic Charging Bull, but there’s a rich history to the area not to be overlooked—including several haunts of the Founding Fathers and deep ties to the Revolutionary War. Check out our tips for exploring some of the oldest sites in America’s first capital.
Climb aboard merchant ships of yore at the South Street Seaport & Museum.
Located along the bank of the East River, the Seaport District features some of the oldest architecture in Manhattan and was once a major trading destination for merchants from around the globe. Visit the museum to tour the 19th century ships docked at the port or take a harbor cruise on the Pioneer, a schooner from 1885.
Shop, eat, and explore the scene of South Street and Pier 17.
After years of cleanup from Superstorm Sandy the Seaport is back and better than ever. Spend the afternoon shopping for treasures on Fulton Street, where you’ll find both boutique shops and major retailers. And be sure to visit Water Street’s Bowne & Co., a traditional stationer and print shop and NYC’s oldest operating business. Founded in 1775, it predates the Declaration of Independence!
Adjacent to this charming historical center is the brand-new, highly-anticipated Pier 17, a performance venue/art gallery/dining destination has a little something for everyone. Have dinner, take in a concert, or relax and soak up views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the rooftop terrace.
Have a pint at Stone Street
Dating back to the 1600s, this stretch of cobblestone was once home to North America’s first commercial brewery. Today the tradition lives on with the stretch of bars and restaurants that line the pedestrian alleyway, a favorite watering hole for the Wall Street crowd.
Ride ‘round the SeaGlass Carousel at The Battery
A recent addition to the not-so-recent Battery (Fort Amsterdam was built in the 1620s), this carousel is something out of a dream. Designed to resemble an underwater garden, both kids and adults will enjoy a ride on shimmering bioluminescent fish; a nod to the Battery’s history as the home of the New York Aquarium in the early 20th century. Afterward, take a stroll around the conservancy, a lovely park with breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Indulge in craft beer and plots of rebellion at Fraunces Tavern.
An NYC landmark, museum and working bar and restaurant, this was George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution. Drink like a general at the bar, where you can catch weekday happy hours and live music on weekends. Or visit the museum for unique exhibits like “Confidential: The American Revolution’s Agents of Espionage,” a showcase of rare historical artifacts that tell the story of regular New Yorkers working as double agents for the Patriot cause.
Take the Oath at Federal Hall.
Home to the first congress, supreme court, and executive branch of government, Federal Hall is a U.S. National Monument steeped in American history. Go on a guided tour to get the full experience and see where George Washington took the Oath of Office on April 30, 1789.
Hit the High Notes on Alexander Hamilton.
The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton was a Founding Father, Federalist and all-around fascinating New Yorker. You can visit his gravesite on your own at Trinity Church, but we recommend Urban Adventure’s highly informative “Hamilton Happy Hour,” a walking tour which wraps up at Fraunce’s Tavern—just in time for that aforementioned happy hour.
Ready to go?
Millennium Hilton New York Downtown is located within walking distance of each of these attractions. Guests receive exclusive discounts for the South Street Seaport Museum and 25% off Hamilton Happy Hour tickets.