Heading to NYC and thinking of visiting 9/11 Memorial Museum? You totally should. Read on to find all the info you need to plan your visit- including on 9/11 Memorial Museum tickets and tours.
I remember very clearly that September 11 2001. I remember me, as a then 12 years old living in Italy, glued to the TV while images of the attacks were getting replayed over and over, and people crying and people screaming, and all that dust. It seemed something very far away, something that was happening in another continent, yet I couldn’t stop watching. And I certainly didn’t expect that day would change the world the way we knew it.
When I started planning my trip to Los Angeles, Palm Springs and New York two years ago, I knew I had to include the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to my itinerary – and I was really glad I did. The visit was definitely heavy and emotional, yet it made me learn and reflect a lot. If you’re on the fence, go. It’s worth it.
I’ve put together a very comprehensive guide with everything you need to know to plan your visit to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.
Before Visiting 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC
Before visiting 9/11 Museum and Memorial, here it’s some practical information to help you plan your trip.
9/11 Memorial Museum Hours of Operation
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the current situation, the NYC 9/11 Museum is currently closed. The Memorial is open from 1 PM to 8 PM.
First of all, let’s clarify that the 911 Memorial & Museum is officially called National September 11 Memorial & Museum – however, it’s commonly referred to as 9/11 Memorial Museum.
9/11 Memorial Hours: The 9/11 Memorial in New York City is open every day from 7.30 AM to 9 PM.
9/11 Museum Hours: The 9/11 Museum is open from 9 AM to 8 PM from Sunday to Thursday, and from 9 AM to 9 PM on Friday and Saturday.
Visiting 9/11 Museum usually takes a couple of hours – I recommend not to rush your visit and allow plenty of times for possible queues at the entrance.
How to Get to the 9/11 Memorial in New York
The Memorial and the Museum are located at 180 Greenwich Street in lower Manhattan. You can easily use Uber to get here if you prefer, but the best option in my opinion is using the subway – it’s cheaper, most sustainable, and in most cases faster.
➤ You can take the A, C, 1, 2, or 3 trains and get off at Chambers Street, or the A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street, or the E train straight to the World Trade Center.
9/11 Memorial Museum Tickets
The 9/11 Memorial and the Museum are right next to each other, but while the memorial can be accessed free of charge (you do NOT need to get tickets to 9/11 Memorial), you need to buy a ticket to access the 9/11 museum in New York (and if you’re wondering if you should, yes, you should).
A limited amount of people can visit the museum at the same time, so all 9/11 Museum tickets, no matter if bought online, at the windows, or as part of a tour, are timed. You need to get to the museum 15 minutes before the time indicated on your ticket.
➤ The only exception is on Tuesday evenings, when admission to the museum is free between 5 PM and 8 PM (with last entry at 7 PM). If you’re visiting the city at this time, of course this is a good way to save some money, but you need to plan your visit in advance.
You can try and reserve your 9/11 Museum free tickets online – these tickets are sold two weeks in advance starting at 9 AM. Remember that the quantity is limited. If you don’t manage to reserve the free tickets for the 9/11 Museum online, you can also try at the ticket windows on the same day you want to visit, where they give away tickets starting at 4 PM. You can only reserve 4 tickets per person.
How To Skip the Line at 9/11 Memorial & Museum
I’m a pretty DIY traveler most of the time, but this is one of those cases where booking a tour or at least a regular ticket online can make a huge difference.
If you don’t book your ticket to 9/11 Memorial Museum in advance, you might have to spend a long time queuing at the ticket windows – as in, possibly up to a couple of hours, especially if you are visiting during high season. And no, I’m not exaggerating! Remember that tickets are timed. It’s a no brainer to buy your tickets online in advance.
As for the 9/11 Memorial, as I said before access is free. Your best bet if you want to avoid the crowds at the 9/11 Memorial is to visit in the early morning.
If you have time though, I really suggest booking a 9/11 Museum and Memorial guided tour. You’ll learn a lot more this way.
Best 9/11 Memorial Tours (with optional entrance to 9/11 Museum)
I personally use GetYourGuide whenever I want to book a tour anywhere in the world. This platform not only lists very high-quality tours and activities, but offers a 24-hour cancellation policy (you can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour). With the current situation this is more important than ever, and it allows you to plan your trip without worries.
➤ The New York: 9/11 Memorial, Ground Zero, and optional 9/11 Museum entry is the highest rated 9/11 Memorial tour on the platform, so it’s a safe choice. You’ll get to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero with a guide with a personal connection to 9/11. Choose the option with 9/11 Museum entry to visit the museum as well with a skip-the-line ticket. Highly recommended.
If you’re in New York just for a couple of days, you’ll need to make the most out of your time. You might want to check out these combo tickets.
• The Early Access 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island gives you early access to the 9/11 Memorial before the crowds arrive. After this, you’ll be visiting 5 of New York’s famous landmarks, including Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
• The New York “Must See” Full Day Tour with Observatory Entry is an even more comprehensive tour ideal for people who have limited time. You’ll get to see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street and more. Included in the visit is the 9/11 Memorial and entry to the One World Observatory from which you’ll enjoy some incredible views.
How to Save Money with the New York Passes
If you’re spending a few days in New York, you might want to look into one of the New York passes: the New York City Explorer Pass, the New York Pass, and the New York CityPASS. These passes include access to a multitude of attractions and activities for a one-time fee, and if you plan your visit well and take advantage of the pass as much as you can, you can absolutely save hundreds of dollars.
➤ The New York City Explorer Pass, the New York Pass and the New York CityPASS all include access to the Museum of 9/11, so I suggest checking them out and see if you can save money on your New York trip.
All about New York City 9/11 Museum and Memorial & 9/11 Tribute Museum
There is a little bit of confusion regarding the 9/11 memorial and the museums, so here I’ll try to clarify any confusion and explain what you’ll get to experience in each of them.
9/11 Memorial & Ground Zero
Some people wonder is: Ground Zero is the same thing than the 9/11 memorial? Sort of, but not really. Ground Zero is the physical space where the the Twin Towers were located, and the 9/11 Memorial is what you find today. That’s why sometimes you can hear people refer to the museum as the World Trade Center Memorial Museum, or the Ground Zero Museum – they all refer to teh same thing: the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The 9/11 Memorial is a tribute to the past, and over 51 million visitors a year here pay their respects to the 2977 people who lost their lives on 9/11 and the people who dies on the attack of and February 26th, 1993.
The 9/11 Memorial is located where the World Trade Center complex used to be before the attacks. The memorial is constituted by a forest of swamp white oak trees with two reflecting pools in the middle, which are located exactly where the two towers stood. On the bronze parapets around the memorial pools, you’ll find the names of all the victims. A man-made waterfall cascades down the sides of the pools, and it creates a very peaceful sensation that is perfect for some quiet time.
Here you’ll also find the “Survivor Tree”, a pear tree that was called this way because it miraculously survived the attacks of 9/11.
The project was made by M. Arad, an architect of Handel Architects. Construction started in 2006; I remember visiting New York in August 2006 and all that there was at the time was a gigantic hole in the middle of the city. The memorial was inaugurated the 12th of September 2011, exactly 10 years and one day after the attacks.
9/11 Museum: What You’ll Find Here
Opened to the public in 2014, the September 11 Museum is located 70 feet (21 m) above ground. Here you’ll find artifacts from the tragic events of 9/11, including recordings of 911 calls and survivors’ stories, objects that were found in the ruins, pieces from the buildings and more.
The museum features 2 core exhibitions and other rotating, time-limited exhibitions, plus a couple of other activities. Let’s see them in detail.
• The Historical Exhibition: September 11, 2001 tells the story of 9/11. It’s divided in three parts: Events of the Day, where you’ll learn about the Twin Towers and the attacks to the pentagon and Flight 93, Before 9/11 that talks about the events that led to the attacks, and After 9/11.
• The Memorial Exhibition: In Memoriam‘s goal is to honor all the people who lost their lives. Visitors can learn about each victim’s life by using some touchscreen tables, and you’ll also find some personal objects that described the victims’ lives. This part of the museum really helps giving the victims a face, and it makes it more personal.
• The temporary exhibitions change every few months. Currently at the time of writing this post, the two exhibitions you can see are Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden, an exhibition about the intelligence work that led to finding Osama Bin Laden, and K-9 Courage, that tells the story of the hundreds of dogs that helped after the attacks.
• There’s also a space called Reflecting on 9/11 where visitors can tell their stories and memories related to 9/11, and some of them are featured on a gellery where visitors can listen to previously recorded videos.
• Rebirth at Ground Zero is a media installation that relives the construction of the memorial and the museum from the ground.
• The Memorial Hall is where you find a beautiful art piece in honor of the victims. The quote from T. Joyce “No day shall erase you from the memory of time” is surrounded by a mosaic made of 2,983 pieces. Each of them is in remembrance of the life of the 2,983 victims of 9/11 and of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
• Lastly, the Foundation Hall is where the massive space makes you understand the enormity of it all. Here is where you find part of the original foundation wall of the World Trade Center and the Last Column, a 36-foot steel column which was was the last piece of the World Trade Center left standing.
Beware: it’s going to be an emotional visit. As soon as you enter, you can feel the hush descending over the crowd, the somber vibe of the place.
Even I, a non-American who lived the events from very far away, felt emotional and cried during the visit. Hearing the calls of people who were trapped in the buildings, the stories of the survivors… it’s heavy. And necessary at the same time to remember what happened and to honor all the people who lost their lives.
9/11 Tribute Museum – Another Option
There is a third place you can visit if you want to learn more about the history of 9/11: the 9/11 Tribute Museum. While the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum is the official one, the 9/11 Tribute Museum (which was previously known as the 9/11 Tribute Center) is run by by the September 11th Families’ Association.
The main difference is that here you have the chance to join a guided tour led by someone who was there in that tragic day – a family member, a first responder, or a survivor. It’s a more intimate experience, and it’s way less crowded than the official museum.
My recommendation would be to visit the official museum first, and coming here afterwards to hear about the events in a more personal way. You can either visit the museum on your own (the visit takes about 30 minutes), or join a guided tour that lasts approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
➤ I suggest getting in advance your 9/11 Tribute Museum ticket to skip the lines. If you prefer to go more in depth and join a tour led by a survivor or family member (highly recommended!), you can see here the 9/11 Tribute Museum & Memorial Walking Tour.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum is located right across the street from the 9/11 National Memorial & Museum, and it’s open from 10 AM to 6 PM (on Sundays it closes at 5 PM).
One World Observatory at One World Trade Center
If after having looked back and reflected over the tragic past you want to look forward, head to the Observatory at the One World Trade Center. This building, also known as Freedom Tower, is the symbol of the resilience of New York City, and going up to the One World Observatory is the best way to finish your day honoring and remembering the events of 9/11.
The rooftop parapet of the building is exactly the same height as the original One World Trade Center. From up there (the observatory is on the 102nd floor!), you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of the city and the skyline. You can also extend your visit and enjoy a meal at the ONE Dine restaurant, or have a coffee at the cafe.
PLEASE NOTE: One World Observatory is open. There are a few safety protocols in place (read more here).
They’re recommending visitors to buy their tickets in advance in order to reduce personal contact.
One World Observatory is open from 8 AM to 10 PM in the summer. Hours of operation change throughout the year, you can see them here.
However, the best time to go up the deck at the One World Trade Center if you want to avoid the crowds is between 8 AM and 10 AM.
Tickets for World Trade Center Observatory can be bought on the spot or online. The One World Observatory is one of New York’s most popular attractions, and lines can be expected.
➤ You can plan in advance and buy a Skip-the-Line ticket that allows you to skip the line at the ticket windows, or even upgrade it to a Skip-All-the-Lines ticket that lets you skip every single line (skip the line at the windows, security, elevators and priority exit from the observatory level). It’ll save you so much time!
➤ If you’re in a time crunch and want to visit both the memorial with a guide and go up to the One World Observatory, check out this combo ticket as well (it doesn’t include the 9/11 Museum).
Visiting the 9/11 Museum with Children
If you’re wondering if the 9/11 Museum is appropriate for kids, well that’s a totally legit question. The museum recommends the historical part of the exhibition only to children over 10 years old, for the emotional impact that the exhibition can have. I mean, it’s heavy.
When I visited, there were a few older children (and a couple of babies). I personally feel like children over 10 can learn a lot from visiting the museum, and you’ll be fine bringing them, but it’d be better if you talked to them about the events of 9/11 before visiting the museum, so it won’t be shocking for them. Here you’ll find some tips from the museum on how to talk to kids about terrorism and 9/11.
➤ If you download the “Explore 9/11” app, you’ll find on there a specific childrens’ tour, where the events are narrated from another child in very simple and appropriate terms.
➤ The museum also features some activity stations for children, where kids can play and learn from the educators at the same time. Activity stations are offered every Saturday during the school year. They take place in the Museum Education Center from 10 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 to 4 PM.
➤ You can also book a 2-hour, kid-friendly workshop where kids will go through the exhibitions and learn in an interactive and non-shocking way about the events of 9/11. This activity is affordable and loved by kids, so a very good choice if you’re visiting the museum with children.
A Few Tips for Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
➤ Security: Security is (understandably) tight at the 9/11 Museum. Expect airport-like security checks at the entrance, which might mean longer queues during high season. Allow some extra time to go through security.
➤ Download the “Explore 9/11” app before your visit. This free app will guide you through the space, and also features extra content and stories told by first responders and residents.
➤ Skip the Lines If you don’t buy an online ticket prior to your visit, you’ll have to queue to buy the ticket, queue to enter the museum, and queue for security. Depending on when you visit, queues can get very long (30 minutes to over 2 hours – no kidding).
I strongly suggest buying your tickets online to avoid wasting time – when I did, I saved at least 20 minutes by avoiding the queue at the ticket counter. You can buy your skip the line tickets here.
➤ Accessibility: The 9/11 Museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
➤ Fdny Memorial Wall: If you still have time, take a 10 minutes to check out the FDNY Memorial Wall that is dedicated to the 343 firefighters and volunteer firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. You can find this wall at the FDNY Engine 10 Ladder 10 station, located across the street from the World Trade Center.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ground Zero refers to the physical space where the World Trade Center was located before the attacks. 9/11 Memorial is the memorial taht was built on it and that can be seen today.
Yes. The National September 11th Memorial and Museum (often referred to as 9/11 Memorial and Museum), and the 9/11 Tribute Museum.
The National September 11th memorial and Museum (often referred to as 9/11 Memorial and Museum) is the official one. The 9/11 Tribute Museum is run a by non-profit formed by the families of victims of 9/11. You can easily visit both as they located across the street one from the other.
Yes, absolutely. No matter if you’re American or lived the events from far away, a visit to the museum at Ground Zero is an emotional learning experience that should definitely be on your itinerary.
No, although it’s highly recommended as the queues can get very long (the tickets are timed and there’s a maximum number of people who can access the museum at one time).
Two hours, but you might want to allow 3 hours for the possible queues at security and at the entrance.
The highest rated 9/11 Memorial & Museum on GetYourGuide is this one, but there are other combo tickets that are also interesting. Check out the “Best 9/11 Memorial & Museum Tours” paragraph.
Tuesday evenings from 5 PM to 8 PM.
The 9/11 Memorial can be accessed for free, but you’ll need to buy a ticket to visit the 9/11 Museum.
You do NOT need to get any tickets to see the 9/11 Memorial (although you can visit 911 Memorial in NYC with a guided tour if you prefer, and that would have to be booked in advance).
9/11 Museum tickets can be bought at the entrance or online in advance.
The 9/11 Museum location is at 180 Greenwich St.