Exterior of the Fraunces Tavern building in Lower Manhattan via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of History: Why You Should Visit Fraunces Tavern in New York City

I don’t know about you, but when I think of early American history, my thoughts naturally migrate to Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington DCーnever New York City. Recently, though, musicals like Broadway’s smash hit, Hamilton, and shows like AMC’s, Turn, have flipped the script on that. As it happens, New York City is a veritable cornucopia of American history, from momentum-changing events to the rise of some of our most enduring national figures.

Bust of George Washington in front of a window at Fraunces Tavern Museum via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Replica of the Clinton Dining Room at Fraunces Tavern Museum via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A preserved journal belonging to Benjamin Tallmadge opened to two pages at Fraunces Tavern Museum via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A commemorative bell located at the Fraunces Tavern Museum via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Of the many historical landmarks in New York City, Fraunces Tavern stands unparalleled in its significance. Since 1762, it has been party to crucial events leading up to, during, and after the Revolutionary War. Of particular note: The Sons of Liberty (often incorrectly reduced solely to their famous Boston chapter of Tea Party fame) held meetings at the tavern in its earliest days; Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton attended a meeting of the The Society of Cincinnati under its roof; and, of course, George Washington used the locale as headquarters during the early days of the American Revolution and famously delivered his farewell address to his troops at the war’s conclusion.

For more of our favorite things to do, check our Local’s Guide to New York City. It’s the guide we send to our friends and family!

Framed portraits of Washington, Lafayette and Koon at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Eight different flags of the union on a brick wall at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The dining room at Fraunces Tavern with wood tables and several diners via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

For those with even the slightest bit of historical curiosity, you won’t be disappointed. There’s an excellent (though not overwhelmingly large) museum on site that incorporates artifacts from it’s permanent collection as well as various exhibitions. Then again, maybe you find all this museum talk stuffy and boring and would prefer to just nibble on a little something and imbibe while you drink in the historic ambiance. Well, it’s not called a tavern for nothing! Fraunces Tavern offers over 140 carefully selected craft beers, over 200 whiskeys from around the world, and sports a full menu, serving brunch through dinner. They even have reservable party rooms focusing on particular spirits, such as Bourbon Lounge, Wine Room, The Porterhouse Bar, and more.

Washington statue in front of Federal Hall and Trinity Church spire via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

If a visit to Fraunces Tavern makes you wish you’d paid more attention in American History, then you can also head over to Federal Hall, which is home to the first Congress and is the birthplace of the Bill of Rights and the Judiciary Act. Oh, and Washington was inaugurated here too.

54 Pearl St

Daily 11am – 2am

Extra Credit:

Since you’re already in the area, wander over to Stone Street, which is rumored to be the first paved street in New York City. While we can’t confirm that it’s the oldest street in the city, we can vouch that it’s one of the most charming. Restaurants and bars line the cobblestone street, which is strictly pedestrian-only. Residents like the Dubliner and Stone Street Tavern lend it a subtle international flair. On warm summer nights, outdoor dining under string lights can make for a magical evening. It’s also a popular photo shoot destination for obvious reasons, so if you run into a model striking a pose, try not to gawk!

Pair it with:

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

The exterior of the Dead Rabbot with two flags flying in the wind via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The bar at the Dead Rabbit with a miniature bronze statue at the edge via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Tables with green leather booths and walls covered in framed photographs at the Dead Rabbit NYC via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Sandwich and fries on a plate and burger and fries on a plate at Dead Rabbit NYC via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Sure, we could have chowed down at Fraunces Tavern. Certainly there would be no shame in that. But when you have an establishment of The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog’s stature just a few steps away, you have a serious decision to make. The accolades tell the tale: Best Bar in North America for 4 straight years and World’s Best Bar in 2016. Now that is a very strong statement. So what makes this place so special?

Well, for starters, it’s situated top to bottom (The Occasional, The Parlor, and The Taproom, respectively) on three separate floors, each with their own individual charms but with a cohesive vision throughout. You’ll find lots of photographs and memorabilia on the walls and ceilings. You’ll find lots of gorgeous wood and plush leather seat cushions. And you’ll find pretty much any drink you desire, whether it’s beer, wine, champagne, Irish Whiskey or the dazzling array of creative mixed drinks. (Oh, and the menu for those drinks is a comic book, I kid you not!) You’ll also find, as we did, hearty and eclectic pub fare on the menu. You’ll even find sawdust on The Taproom floor, if you’re into that sort of thing. In short, you will find your bar—one that speaks to you—among those levels. Go there as we did. Make it yours.

30 Water St

The Taproom
Monday – Sunday, 11AM – 4AM
The Parlor
Monday – Saturday, 5PM – 2AM & Sunday, 5PM – 12AM
The Occasional
By reservation

Like it? Pin it!

Early Revolutionary Flags on a wall, Commemorative Bell, Replica of Dining Room and Historical Journal with text overlay History is at the Heart of NYC

– J.

I’m done – take me back to the top!

18 thoughts on “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of History: Why You Should Visit Fraunces Tavern in New York City”

  1. Cool. Daughter and I are coming to NYC in June and she’ll love all of this. Except the alcohol. (Though she’ll read the menu if it’s a comic book).

    1. Hey, Polly! Lovely to hear from you. You should definitely reach out when your trip approaches. Would love to meet up. As for the comic book, I don’t know if it’s just on a their website or in paper form on location as well. Either way, it’s more of an adult comic book (just so you know) with some language and a bit of violence. Appears to be produced by volume and chapter as well.

  2. Now I really feel bad for never seeing the museum – next time! But chances are, I’ll pair it with treats and espresso at Fika – just a few steps away. Those froes look awfully good right now, though!

  3. Loved your take on the Fraunces. We were there a while back and we could just picture Johnny Tremaine and the Sons of Liberty planning their revolution and the original POTUS saying farewell to his staff in the banquet hall. Your calls on places to eat are always good calls. We’re going to have to go back down there and try one of them!

    1. No doubt, Tip! I’ve visited many “historic” locales, and some don’t give off that vibe I’m craving. Fraunces Tavern wasn’t one of them. It really feels the way it should…the way you imagine it was. And Dead Rabbit is just a cool place with exactly what you want: pub-style comfort food.

  4. It’s funny, I tend to overlook NYC as a “historical” place as well – or rather, I see it as lacking any sort of history prior to the immigration boom of the 19th century, which is entirely untrue. This sounds like a great museum, less onerous than some of the city’s larger ones and perfect for a low-key day out in the city. Will definitely be checking out Dead Rabbit – it’s been on my list for a while but I always assumed there would be a massive wait/no seating! 🙂

    1. Hey Lauren! Your comment pretty much sums up our approach to the whole thing. We, too, feel that massive museums can be onerous, so it’s nice to see something more in line with an appetizer than a main course in terms of substance. As for Dead Rabbit, you can cheat the way we do and avoid the fuss by going for an early brunch. Oh, and early by NY standards isn’t really early.

  5. So we might follow in your footsteps to the museum and The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog (what a curious name we have there) this very weekend. Have you read New York by Edward Rutherford? It is a suitably bulky tome but fascinating if you plow through it.

    1. Hi Dippy. I hope you enjoy the museum and Dead Rabbit as much as we did when you visit. To be honest, I was drawn to it because of the peculiar name as well. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to read Mr. Rutherford’s New York. I don’t mind bulky, so I’ll add it to my list.

  6. I agree! I never thought of American History and NYC, either! But if you dig, as we all do, we find fun things to do. 🙂
    I hadn’t heard about Fraunces Tavern, until I read your post!! Reading about it, makes me want to go. I love how much is done to preserve historic sites and teach American History.
    Next time I am downtown definitely carving time out to do this.
    Also– you guys might really enjoy Merchant House Museum, if you have not already been.

    1. Hi Tara! So glad you enjoyed this post and that it has inspired you to pay Fraunces Tavern a visit. We have not been to the Merchant House Museum, but upon your recommendation, we’ll definitely look into it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *