A Guide To Visiting Ground Zero

** We visited the 9/11 Memorial for the first time in August 2014 and again in June 2019. This post was updated in August 2019 to reflect accurate information. 

September 11, 2001 was one of the most devastating and heartbreaking days in history. No matter where you were in the world, everyone knows where they were when those two planes flew into the some of the worlds most recognisable buildings – the Twin Towers in New York City.

I was in grade 4 in primary school, and I remember coming out of my bedroom in the morning to see my Mum crying while she was watching the news on TV. The TV was never on before school in our house, so even at 10 years old, I knew whatever was going on must have been very important.

It will forever be considered a day that changed history, left families broken and people scared all over the world. It changed the way we thought about security, air travel and left a traumatic stigma on the Middle East. All because a group of a group of extremist terrorists.

These days, the site of this devastating day has been transformed into a place of reflection and paying your respects. The sites where the original towers stood have been transformed into reflection pools, surrounded by the names of all the men and women who lost their lives in the tragedy. Close by, a new World Trade Centre has been built, bigger and taller than ever, overlooking the original site. Known as Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial Site is a can’t miss on any visit to New York City.

ground zero memorialthe oculus ground zero

About Ground Zero

Ground Zero is generally defined as the site of the former World Trade Centre Twin Towers and the area surrounding it. Within Ground Zero you will also find –

The 9/11 Memorial – the site of the former Twin Towers have been rebuilt to commemorate the attacks, with two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size. They sit in the footprints of the original towers to convey a spirit of hope and renewal right in the middle of one of the worlds biggest cities.

The 9/11 Museum – located inside the Memorial, the museum includes more than 23,000 images, 10,300 artefacts and nearly 2,000 histories of the lost, provided by friends and loved ones, as well as more than 500 hours of video.

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The Oculus – the outside structure of the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub, it’s a unique shape that is actually the entrance to the subway, as well as a large shopping centre.

One World Trade Centre – also known as the Freedom Tower, this is America’s tallest building and was built to remind all countries that there is no fear here, and that USA are still a powerhouse to be reckoned with. Inside the Skypod elevators will take you up 1,250 feet to the observatory, which offers stunning views of the city as we all as the memorial below.

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ground zeroground zero

Experiencing Ground Zero

The ultimate way to experience Ground Zero and the whole 9/11 Memorial is to jump on a guided tour of the area, to learn more about this tragedy, the aftermath and everything that’s happened in the years that followed.

Every tour guide at the 9/11 Memorial has a personal connection to the tragedy and are open to sharing their experiences with you, as well as a recount of how that day played out for them.

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There are a few different options to book depending on what you want to see –

The main choice is the 90 minute guided tour of Ground Zero which costs $35 USD per person and operate at 9:30am, 10:30am and 2pm each day.

If you’re looking for a little bit more you can upgrade your ticket to include either admission to the 9/11 Museum or Freedom Tower for $69 USD, or you can visit both for $109 USD.

Any admission that is included to either the Freedom Tower or the 9/11 Museum includes Skip The Line access, so you won’t be stuck waiting in line for hours. Private tours are also available.

For more information about all the tours check out the 9/11 Memorial website.

the freedom tower

The Ground Zero Memorial is a must visit for anyone visiting New York City. If you haven’t been before we can’t recommend it enough to pay your respects to the men and women who lost their lives in this tragic attack and to gain some understanding into the enormity of this world changing event.

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Emma is a travel writer, photographer and blogger, chasing the sun around Australia. Travelling in her recently renovated vintage Viscount caravan, along with her husband Thom and daughter Macey, she's sharing the very best experiences from around her beloved sunburnt country.

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