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Empire State Building

20 West 34th St., New York City, New York

The Empire State Building has long been one of New York City’s best-known attractions. It was the world’s tallest building from the 1930s until the 1970s, surpassing the slightly older Chrysler building by a mere 20 feet (6 meters). The Empire State Building is among the taller buildings in Manhattan to this day (One World Trade Center is the tallest). A stepped Art Deco pinnacle at the top of the building is floodlit at night and displays holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year.

The 102-story skyscraper is a must for any first-time visitor to New York City. While it’s easy to catch a glimpse of the tower around the city, this attraction is best enjoyed from one of its two observation decks, where the panoramic views over the Big Apple are legendary. After admiring the mosaics in the Art Deco lobby, take an elevator to the observation decks for 360-degree views of New York.

Empire State Building tours are part of many New York City guided tours, which often also include stops at Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. If you plan to visit on your own during peak times, it’s a good idea to buy an Express Pass to skip the long lines and head straight to the 86th-floor or top-floor observation decks.

  • Choose a general admission ticket for standard entrance or a VIP Express Pass to skip the lines.

  • The Empire State Building is fully ADA-compliant and stroller accessible. There are accessible restrooms on the 86th floor.

  • You won’t be able to bring glass bottles, cans, or tripods into the building.

  • Lines for the elevator can get long, particularly during peak hours. Be sure to use the restrooms on the second floor before getting in line.

  • STATE Grill and Bar is the building’s street-level, signature restaurant. You’ll also find five other dining options, plus Starbucks.

The Empire State Building is in Midtown Manhattan, about a 15-minute walk from Grand Central Terminal. It’s easy to arrive on foot from many other popular Midtown attractions, or by taking the subway to Penn Station/34th Street or 34th Street/Herald Square. The building is also a stop on hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tours.

The best time to visit the Empire State Building is in the morning just after opening or late at night, when the lines are shortest. Expect longer lines for tickets, security, and elevators on weekends, holidays, and just before sunset.

The 86th-floor observatory, known as the Main Deck, is the highest open-air observatory in New York. Its wraparound deck has with high-power binoculars, making it possible to see Central Park, the Hudson River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty from above. From the indoor Top Deck on the 102nd floor, visitors enjoy even more views (like Central Park in its entirety) and the chance to ride a manually operated Otis elevator. On the second floor, galleries house multiple hands-on exhibits.

Yes, it’s worth buying tickets to the Empire State Building in advance. Not only will you guarantee your admission, but you’ll also avoid needing to wait in the separate ticket line. That said, you can also visit the landmark’s on-site kiosks to enquire about last-minute ticket availability.

First-time visitors to the Empire State Building should start with standard admission tickets to the 86th Floor Observatory or visit the 102nd Floor Top Deck for an added cost. Other options such as premium skip-the-line admission, sunrise experiences, and all-access tickets can cost US$500 per person.

Yes, you can visit the Empire State Building’s ground-floor dining and shopping areas for free. Children five and under and military veterans can enter the building for free. Everyone else will need to purchase a ticket to visit the Empire State Building’s observation decks.

That depends. The Empire State Building’s 86th Floor Observation Deck offers spectacular New York City skyline views. However, the 102nd Floor Top Deck is 16 stories higher, and with its 360-degree floor-to-ceiling windows, visitors can enjoy even more striking—and unimpeded—views of the city.

Yes, you need a ticket to reach the top of the Empire State Building, including both the 86th Floor Observation Deck and the 102nd Floor Top Deck. Guarantee your admission by booking tickets online in advance. However, you can also try your luck at the on-site ticket kiosks.

To reserve a time slot for the Empire State Building, purchase advance tickets on its website—a variety of visiting packages are available, so you can choose the best option for you. You can also book tickets at kiosks on the second floor.


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