Little from Manhattan's colonial era is left in Lower Manhattan (apart from a precious few structures built in the 1700s), but you can still sense history in the South Street Seaport’s 19th-century brick facades and in pedestrianized Stone Street's picnic tables. There’s life to be found within the skyscraper canyons of Wall Street and lower Broadway, as locals move into the neighborhood and fill the barstools in candlelit watering holes. Bounded by the East and Hudson rivers to the east and west, respectively, and by Chambers Street and Battery Park to the north and south, the Financial District is best appreciated by getting lost in its streets.

You'll want to see what's here, but above all you'll want to see what's not, most notably in that empty gulf among skyscrapers: the World Trade Center site where two 1-acre pools represent the footprints of the fallen Twin Towers.