1. Tenement Museum
103 Orchard St.
This amazing museum is located on the Lower East Side, in what was once an actual tenement building. Kids will get a clear idea of what life was like for hundreds of thousands of immigrants not only by touring restored and furnished tenement apartments, but also from talking to one of the "residents," a costumed interpreter who describes the challenges of early 20th century tenement life. There is also a huge Visitor Center.
2. City Hall Park
Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Sts.
Because it is one of the most history-rich spots in the city, a stroll through the park and around its perimeter offers a terrific do-it-yourself glimpse of New York's past. City Hall Park has several historical markers denoting the sites of Revolutionary-era events and buildings. The gorgeous City Hall (built 1811) and a circa 1872 fountain lie within the park, the famous Tweed Courthouse (1872) is on the northern edge and, just to the north is the African Burial Ground National Monument (also worth a visit). To the east on Park Row are a couple of the city's earliest skyscrapers, and on the west side is the towering Woolworth Building (1913), once the tallest building in the world.
3. Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terr.
George Washington used it as his Revolutionary War headquarters, Aaron Burr lived here and famous visitors included Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Built in 1765, the Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest home still standing in Manhattan. The stately house features rooms with period furnishings, including an octagonal parlor and a colonial kitchen, and offers an incredible glimpse of the city's 18th and 19th century past. The home is surrounded by landscaped gardens.
4. Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Ave., Staten Island,
This quaint village is comprised of 27 historic buildings dating from the late 17th to early 20th centuries. They were rescued from various parts of Staten Island, and many have been restored and decorated with period furnishings. It offers a fun glimpse at many aspects of Staten Island life over the years.