The Empire State Building conjures images of the city's skyline, of family vacations to its stunning top floors, of its storied history stretching back to 1931. For me, it always makes me consider which word gets the emphasis: Empire State Building? Empire State Building? New York is, after all, the Empire State. Anyway, this is not the hill I'm going to die on.
However you want to say it, now is a great time to visit the Empire State Building: they've just opened a brand new observatory on the 80th floor, marking the completion of a $165,000,000 redevelopment plan. The plan has taken four years to complete, and includes total redesigns of a museum on the second floor and another observatory a hundred stories up. Not for those with an aversion to heights, I guess!
I'm always on the lookout for a new reason to explore an NYC classic, but I think the coolest new feature is for visitors to the city. "NYC: Above and Beyond" is an interactive video exhibit that takes guests through a series of questions to determine the length of their stay and what they're interested in seeing, finally providing them with an itinerary of activities and places to visit across all five boroughs. It's playful and ambitious, and exactly the kind of guidance that can be helpful in exploring a city that can sometimes overwhelm.
Tickets for the museum and the 86th-floor observatory are $38 for adults, while exploring the building's pinnacle will cost a bit more at $58. Not something you're going to do every weekend, but worth it for an adventure every few years to remind yourself what makes the city so breathtaking. They don't call it the Empire State for nothing.