Everything you need to know about visiting the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Ave, NY 10118).
Although it’s no longer the tallest building in New York City, this world-famous landmark remains a Manhattan icon for good reason. The main deck on the 86th floor is the highest open-air observatory in NYC, offering stunning 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and more ($34, seniors $31, children $27). Famous faces such as Chrissy Teigen, Celine Dion and Neil Patrick Harris have all been spotted enjoying the views from the top, which you’ll recognize from countless movies and TV shows. If you can’t get high enough, head to the 102nd floor's indoor observation deck for a full view of Central Park ($54, seniors $51, children $47). The Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor honors the 3,400 people who built the 1,454-foot skyscraper and features original photographs, architectural sketches and construction notes. Before visiting, download the ESB app on iTunes or Google Play for exclusive content and access to a free audio tour.
The best time to visit with shorter lines is between 8 and 11am. If you’ve got no time at all for lines, nab an Express Pass ($60 for main deck, $80 for both decks), which will allow you to skip past everyone. But take note: The Express Pass is strictly sold online, so don’t be fooled by any people peddling them on the street.
Be an early bird and night owl
What better place to catch a sunrise than the Empire State Building? For $100, you can watch the sun come up over the entire city, and yes, it's stunning. This experience is limited to only 100 guests each day, so be sure to book yours well in advance. The views are just as spectacular at night, which you can enjoy if you opt for the AM/PM Experience ($49, $39 for children). The night ticket is redeemable after 9pm.
See all of the lights
Since 1976, the tower’s lights have been changing colors to honor holidays, special occasions and different organizations. But in 2012, an LED light system was installed, giving off dazzling displays of 16 million colors. Check the lighting calendar to find out what the colors signify every day. Also, light shows are now staged to simultaneous music on iHeartMedia stations. Want to watch? Search “Empire State Building Light Shows” on YouTube and prepare to be amazed.
Our New York editorial team is constantly updating and reviewing the best attractions, activities and venues across the city, so that you're always in the know, with the best of NYC. at your fingertips. Empire State Building was most recently updated with new tips on June 21, 2017.
|Venue name:||Empire State Building | Manhattan, NY|
350 Fifth Ave
|Cross street:||between 33rd and 34th Sts|
|Opening hours:||Daily 8am–2am|
|Transport:||Subway: B, D, F, M, N, Q, R to 34th St–Herald Sq; 6 to 33rd St|
|Price:||$32, seniors and military personnel with ID $29, children 6–12 $26, children under 6 and military personnel in uniform free.|
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Average User Rating
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A tourist favorite located on 33rd street, I still enjoy bringing visitors to see this iconic building. From the art deco interior to the excitement of flying up the elevators. The views are naturally amazing on clear weather days. I have been there on overcast days and its quite unique as clouds will hover below you and you look down. Tons of history of the building and the city can be found throughout. The lights that surround the top of the building have been more complex over the last few years and there have been images projected on the building on some evenings as well. Tours are given and there are headsets for multiple languages as well, with the exception of German, for whatever reason.
One of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Empire State Building is the emblem of New York City. Built in an amazing 18 months during the depths of the Great Depression, it is the epitome of the skyscraper. The views from the top are spectacular, although as many have noted, ESB isn't part of the view! No matter; you can also climb to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Both are time-consuming and pricey, but well worth it. The Art Deco lobbies of ESB are less impressive than Rock Center, but are still awesome. Interesting trivia: ESB was originally designed with a flat roof, like Rock Center; the glorious stainless-steel apex we see was added to provide a landing platform for a dirigible, which proved to be an impossible idea, and the finial spire was added for television transmission before most people had TVs.
This is probably blasphemous, but I find the Empire State Building a little overrated. It is expensive and overcrowded, and at the top, you miss seeing the Empire State Building as part of the skyline because you’re standing on it! The trick is to go to Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center to see the view – then you get the iconic Empire State Building in view.
The Empire State Building is a must visit when coming to New York but to be honest, the view from Top of the Rock is better because you can see ESB. Like any tourist attraction, the lines are longer during peak tourist season and there isn't much to keep you entertained as you go up (like One World). If you are having to choose between the two, I would recommend Top of the Rock but if you are wanting that "iconic movie" moment in New York, choose ESB.
Go to the top! You won't regret it! this may be cliche, but viewing New York City from this height is just something you must do. It's a perspective of NYC that you just have to see. Also, I recommend going just before sunset so that you can see the city go from day to night. It's gorgeous. Also, I paid extra for a ticket that allowed me to skip all the lines during rush hour, which I thought was worth it. But I bet there's a time you can go when it's not as crowded and you needn't spend so much.