While The National September 11 Memorial & Museum charges admission, it is free to visit just the memorial.
The minimalist design took a cue from the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC; it has every victim’s name etched in stone, and some visitors do rubbings of the names of their loved ones.
Two pools, one representing the North Tower, and one the South, have water cascading down 30 feet, and disappearing down a black hole. They seemed to represent the way the towers themselves collapsed.
You can search for a name online, or at a kiosk at the site; you will get the victim’s location, and a brief description of the person. If you want to bring your children, prepare them for the site, where they might see people sobbing, especially their own parents. Anyone even remotely affected by 9/11 will surely be moved to tears.
The memorial has stone benches where you can sit and reflect; let small kids know that they cannot run around and play on the grass. You also can’t throw anything into the pools. My teens, who were in elementary and preschool on 9/11, found the memorial incredibly moving, and soothing.
You have to go through an airport-style screening (though you don’t have to remove your shoes) and show your passes 4 or 5 times before you enter the memorial.
The museum, which opened in spring of 2014, offers free admission on Tuesdays, from 5-7pm. The museum has three parts: the Day of 9/11, Before 9/11 and After 9/11. The exhibits are below ground and you can see the “Survivors’ Stairs” that many used to escape on 9/11.