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Empire State Building Observatory

Indoor $$$
Monuments, Cultural, Touristy
350 5th Ave, New York, NY
URL: Empire State Building Observatory...  Phone: 212-736-3100

Activity Overview

This 102-story skyscraper exudes 1930s-style glamour, starting with its marble-and-gold vaulted lobby. Lines can be long, but it takes less than a minute for the elevator to whisk visitors up to the 86th-floor observation deck for an unforgettable panoramic view of the city that never sleeps.

Things to Do

Though your visit will most likely begin with waiting in line—for a security check, tickets, and the elevator—the wait does allow a chance to check out the lobby’s ceiling murals and enjoy the air-conditioned comfort of the 2nd-floor Visitor Center. The 2nd floor also has restrooms and an attractive new exhibit on the Empire State Building’s efforts to conserve energy.

You’ll agree the wait is worth it the moment you step off the elevator at the 86th floor’s outdoor observation deck. On a clear day, you can see for almost 80 miles. The views of the city and surrounding area are nothing short of breathtaking.

Each side of the building offers a different view, packed with landmarks like Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. A handheld multimedia device, included with every admission ticket, helps visitors identify what they see. Powerful binoculars provide a closer look.

Want to see the views from up higher? For an additional charge, visitors can ascend to a smaller, glass-enclosed deck on the 102nd floor. Be sure to use the restrooms on the 86th floor—there aren’t any up here.

When you’ve snapped your fill of photos, visit the 80th floor to browse the gift shop and learn about the Empire State Building’s history in an exhibit called “Dare to Dream.”

Empire State Building Insider Tips

  • Children under 6 are free. Strollers are allowed, but must be folded on the observation deck.
  • To avoid long lines, visit between 8 and 11 am. Or, skip the ticket line completely; buy tickets online.
  • Food is not sold on either observation deck. There are many places to buy food at the lobby level, such as Au Bon Pain.
  • New York City lights up at night. For a truly magical view, visit the Empire State Building after dark.
  • It’s a splurge, but motion-simulator fans may want to check out the 2nd-floor attraction NY SKYRIDE. Narrated by Kevin Bacon, this 30-minute ride provides the sensation of soaring over New York City.

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