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Empire State Building

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A world-famous landmark in Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building has starred in dozens of movies and TV shows, and now it can star in your vacation plans! Visit the observation decks on the 86th or 102nd floor to get an awesome panoramic view over the Big Apple, and visit various exhibitions to learn more about the building’s history and construction.
Maurizio MassaroBy Maurizio Massaro
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Lines for tickets and elevators can be long, especially on holidays and just before sunset, so book a skip-the-line ticket for a smoother experience.
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Empire State Building
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Empire State Building: Express Entry
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Empire State Building: Day and Night Entry
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NYC: Empire State Building Sunrise Experience Ticket
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Guided Tours

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The New York Pass: 100+ Attractions including Empire State Building
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Empire State Building VIP Premium tour
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New York City 1-Day Hop-on Hop-off with Empire State and Statue of Liberty
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Discover more tours which include the Empire State Building and find the right product for you.
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NYC Tour with Statue of Liberty Pedestal Access
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NYC: Statue of Liberty, Edge & Ground Zero VIP Tour
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One Day NYC Highlights Walking Tour with optional Empire State Building Tickets
 
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4 Tips for Visiting the Empire State Building

Observation Deck | Flickr: Štěpán Roh CC-BY 2.0
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Best ViewThe best views can be found on the outside observation deck on the 86th floor. It’s cooler out there, even on sunny days, so make sure you wrap up warm or bring a sweater, and in summer make sure you have sunglasses with you.
Lights from Top of the Rock | Flickr: Phil Dolby CC-BY 2.0
2
Take note of special lightingWhether you’re inside or outside the building after dark, make sure to check out the lighting calendar. If the building’s lit up in colors that aren’t its signature white you can be sure there’s an event being celebrated: from the Lunar New Year to Presidents’ Day, and even the annual Westminster Dog Show.
3
Best time to goIf you want to avoid the crowds it’s best to go early in the morning or late at night. The shortest lines are between 8 am and 10 am, or after 10.30 pm. Plus you’ll get crisp early morning or stunning late night views!
4
ExhibitionsMake sure not to skip the exhibits on the 2nd and 80th floors! The Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor tells the story of the planning and construction of the building, including original documents and mementos from some of the 3,400 people who built the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building: A Must-Do in New York City

The building is one of the most famous in New York and attracts more than four million visitors every year.
Observation terrace of the ESB | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

A Comparison of the Viewing Platforms of the Empire State Building

There are two different observation decks in the skyscraper. Each of the platforms is accessible with a corresponding ticket. The ticket for the 102th floor can be bought during the visit as upgrade directly on the 82nd floor.

86th Floor

On a clear day, the view from the 1,050 feet (320 meters) high observation deck on the 86th floor extends as far as six surrounding U.S. states. Use of the binoculars is included in the admission price. For all who only want to queue for as short a time as necessary a VIP-Express Pass is offered as online pre-book ticket option.

102nd Floor

Some locals would say the 102nd floor at 1,224 feet (373 meters) is overrated. It's a rather small room with glass windows and no outdoor terrace, so photos succeed better on the 86th floor. You also have to wait in line for another elevator, but you can see the Central Park and the bridges more clearly from the higher observation deck. The 102nd floor was completely renovated in 2019.
The 2nd and 80th floors are home to exhibition areas that examine the building's design, construction and use from different angles. Art is also on display in the Empire State Building. We have compiled a selection of the many pieces here:

Historical Areas

Here you will find multimedia installations and original documents, as well as memorabilia from the 3,400 people who built the skyscraper.

Modern Marvel

Sustainability and energy efficiency in this historic building is the focus of this exhibition. You will learn how the Empire State Building acts as pioneer in climate protection.

NYC: ABOVE AND BEYOND

In this section of the Empire State Building an algorithm puts together a personal program of sights from the Big Apple after asking a few questions. This special offer can be useful when visitors lose the overview in the big city.

Artistry in Light

This exhibition provides insights into the work of the people responsible for lighting the facade of the Empire State Building.
View from the Empire State Building | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Admission Tickets for the Empire State Building

Tickets for the Empire State Building with time slots can be purchased online in advance, which is highly recommended due to the high number of visitors throughout the year. Here is an overview of the different options (Updated in 2021).

Standard Ticket (86th Floor)

This ticket provides access to the 86th floor observation deck with a fixed booked time slot. Admission to the various exhibitions is also included.

Express Pass (86th Floor)

The Express Pass costs more and offers faster entry past the often long queues, as you only have to queue for the security checks (annoying, but necessary).

Upgrade for the 102th Floor

Between $20 and $30 extra is charged for what is currently the third highest observation deck in New York City at 1,224 feet (373 meters).

Day & Night Ticket

This ticket provides access to the 86th floor twice on the same day: once during the day and once in the evening from 21:00.

Free admission with City Passes

Most city tickets and city passes for NYC include standard entrance to the Empire State Building. However, two are particularly worth mentioning in relation to the ESB: the Go New York Explorer Pass comes up with express admission without queuing and the New York CityPASS includes the Day & Night ticket.
Empire State Building by night | Pixabay

Empire State Building: Historic and Symbolic

Between 1931 and 1972 the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world and the first skyscraper with over 100 floors. To the top, the skyscraper measures 1,454 feet (443 meters). The observation deck on the 86th floor is at 1,050 feet (320 meters) and the platform on the 102nd floor is at 1,224 feet (373 meters).

The Attraction for Lovers

The Empire State Building is the right address for romantic dates like in a love movie: From Thursday to Saturday, a saxophonist plays on the 86th floor observation terrace, song requests are possible. The music always starts at 21:00 from September to May and lasts until midnight, in summer from 22:00 to 01:00. On Valentine's Day, a few lucky couples are even allowed to get married in the Empire State Building, but for this an annual raffle must be won.

Fun Fact About the Empire State Building

Unfortunately, the stairwell is closed to guests and the observation decks of the Empire State Building are only accessible by elevator. In the annual Empire State Building Stair Run competition, professional athletes, celebrities and other participants selected by lottery cover the 1,576 steps to the 86th floor as quickly as possible.

The men's record is 9 minutes and 33 seconds by Australian Paul Crake in 2003, and the women's record is 11 minutes and 23 seconds by Austrian Andrea Mayr (2006). The event raises money for disabled sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I plan for my visit?

It’s recommended that guests plan at least 2 hours for their visit, which includes lines for security and elevators. During the afternoons, ahead of sunset, and during major holidays you may want to plan 3 hours for your trip due to crowds. Read more.

Is it a good site to visit with kids?

Long lines means you might want to pick an express ticket. Or bring some games to play in the line. Strollers are allowed but need to be folded on the observation decks, so bear that in mind when visiting with very young children. Use the restrooms on the 2nd floor before going up in the elevator. Read more.

New York's Highest Observation Decks

Photo
Building
Total Height
Height of Observation Deck
Open Since
New York
Empire State BuildingNew York | USA
443m#2 in New York#3 in USA#17 worldwide
373m#2 in New York#3 in USA#14 worldwide
1931
One World Trade CenterNew York | USA
546m#1 in New York#1 in USA#8 worldwide
387m#2 in USA#13 worldwide
2014
30 Hudson YardsNew York | USA
387m#3 in New York#5 in USA#26 worldwide
342m#4 in USA#17 worldwide
2019
worldwide
Burj KhalifaDubai | UAE
828m#1 in UAE#1 worldwide
585m#1 in UAE#1 worldwide
2010
Eiffel TowerParis | France
324m#1 in France#42 worldwide
276m#1 in France#36 worldwide
1889
The ShardLondon | UK
310m#1 in UK#46 worldwide
244m#1 in UK#52 worldwide
2013
Empire State Building is number 2 in New York and number 14 on the worldwide list of the tallest buildings with an observation deck.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Empire State Building is open every day of the year (including all holidays) from 8 am to 2 am. The last elevator up is at 1.15 am.

Address:

9 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001
USA

COVID-19

It is obligatory to cover mouth and nose during the entire duration of the visit.

Tickets:

Tickets for the 86th floor start from $42 for adults, $40 for visitors aged 62 and over, and $36 for children aged between 6 and 12. Children under the age of 6 can enter free of charge. Express passes for the 86th floor only cost approx. $78. An upgrade to the 102nd floor bought on the 86th floor costs an extra $20-$30. Prices may vary depending on the season.

How to get there:

The entrance is on Fifth Avenue, and it’s easy to find your way there on foot from other destinations in Midtown Manhattan. You can also take the subway to Penn Station/34th Street (trains 1, 2, and 3) or to 34th Street/ Herald Square (trains B, D, F, M, N, Q, and R). If you’re intending to book a Hop-On Hop-Off tour while in New York, the building is usually a popular stop.
Maurizio Massaro
Written byMaurizio MassaroMaurizio is a cosmopolitan, a musician and comes around. In his role as a content manager at TicketLens, he is always striving to find new offers as well as writing about sights all over the world.
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