Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with kids

Families with school-aged and teen kids will likely plan to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum during a trip to New York City. Even without small children, however, a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with kids is a heavy, sometimes difficult experience, and it’s good to go prepared. Here’s what you need to know:

9/11 memorial


What to expect at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with kids:

It’s important to prepare your child for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. A thorough visit can take over two hours, so allow time.

The historical exhibition has three parts: the Day of 9/11, Before 9/11 and After 9/11. Families will get the story of what happened on 9/11, including the events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the story of Flight 93. We liked that the exhibition also explores the background leading up to the events and examines their aftermath and even the continuing implications for all Americans and even the entire world.

Note: the In Memoriam section of the museum commemorates the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, and provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died. This part of the exhibit proved to be the most emotionally difficult for our son, age 12.

There are audio guides, and we do recommend using these. Pick up the one dedicated to children specifically for anyone under age 12. It will treat the topics with more sensitivity.

If you go:

The museum is visited via timed ticket. We used our New York Explorer Pass (see information below). We liked the timed ticket option, because it made the experience less hectic and more personal. You enter the 9/11 Memorial at the intersection of Liberty Street and Greenwich Street, at the intersection of Liberty Street and West Street, or the at the intersection of West Street and Fulton Street.

Note: public restrooms are not available. The closest public restrooms are located in Wagner Park or Battery Park. Bathrooms are also available in Federal Hall on Wall Street, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Remember, visitors are NOT permitted to throw or place anything in the memorial pools.

How we visited the memorial and other NYC attractions without hassle:

When we visit cities, we like to use passes bought ahead of time, as they save time at attraction counters and gates as well as help us budget our vacation dollars. For this trip to New York City, we used the 3-Choice New York Explorer Pass from Smart Destinations. You can choose between 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 choices (out of a total of 61 for the NYC pass). Visiting the first attraction activates the pass. In the case of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, advanced reservations are required, so we had to plan ahead. All you need to do is make your timed reservation with a credit card, and then when you show up, the credit card will not be charged.

Using the Explorer Pass saved us a lot of money at each destination we visited (we also went to the Statue of Liberty and Top of the Rock during this trip) and saved us from waiting in any lines except for security lines.

Tip: Want to see the Statue of Liberty on your Explorer Pass, too? There’s a special procedure: Present your New York Explorer Pass at one of the Statue Cruises ticket counters inside Castle Clinton at Battery Park. Then, once you have obtained your Ferry Ticket from Castle Clinton you must wait in the security line before boarding.Your pass provides you access to the island only. Pedestal & crown access requires reservations and space is limited, and is not included with your pass.

Pin it for later:

Have you visited the 9/11 museum and memorial with kids? What are your tips?