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Observation Decks in New York City

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There’s something special about observation decks in New York City. Maybe it’s the way they give you a bird’s eye view of the city or the way they make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Either way, there’s no denying that they offer some of the best views in town.

Observation decks in New York City

Photo @ Getty Images, Extreme Photographer
Photo @ Getty Images, Extreme Photographer

New York City is famous for its skyline, and no visit to the Big Apple is complete without spending some time admiring the breathtaking views. Luckily, there are plenty of observation decks scattered around the city, each offering a unique perspective on the world-famous skyline.

I have broken down the observation decks in New York City by the classic and modern.

The classic observation decks NYC, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Building.

The new, modern, observatories in NYC, are The Edge at Hudson Yards, Summit One NYC, and One World Observatory.

All decks are worth visiting to see the most magnificent New York views, but one may spark your interest more.

Observation Decks in New York City-The Classics

These classic, historic observation decks in NYC are famous all around the world. Tourists flock to these spots likely because it’s the very top thing to do in New York City.

The Empire State Building offers stunning panoramics of the cityscape, and the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center provides a unique perspective on the bustling streets below. Each has unique characteristics, and pros and cons.

Empire State Building Observatory

If you are looking for classic, iconic New York views, heading to the top of the Empire State Building is the thing to do in NYC

Photo Getty Images Rabbit 75_ist
Photo Getty Images Rabbit 75_ist

The Empire State Building is one of the most popular and iconic tourist destinations in New York City, if not the most popular in the world. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the 102-story skyscraper offers breathtaking New York City views from the observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors.

The Empire State Building is also one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, thanks to its Art Deco design and its appearances in countless movies and TV shows.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy some of the best views in the city or simply marvel at one of the world’s most iconic buildings, the Empire State Building is definitely worth a visit.

Empire State Building Hours: 9 AM-12 AM daily; The Empire State is open 365 days a year, rain or shine.

Best Time To Visit: It is recommended to arrive early morning to beat the daily rush. The last elevator up is 11:15 PM. Depending on if you like to see New York views during the day such as Central Park or Brooklyn Bridge, or the lights of New York at night. A sunset ticket it $10 extra and you can see both during the day and into the evening.

Pros and Cons: Visting the Empire State Building is an iconic thing to do in New York City. The views are fabulous. Cons: this New York City observation deck is busy and crowded. Tourists flock to this deck day and night. If you do not purchase skip-the-line, it may take a couple of hours to reach the top. If the day or night is cloudy or rainy, you may miss out on seeing any views at all.

Empire State Building View: The main deck of the Empire State is on the 86th floor. This open-air observatory has 360-degree views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty.

The Top Deck of the Empire State Observatory is on the 102nd floor. This is a new observatory recently added This is an indoor deck with 360-degree floor-to-ceiling views of New York. You will be able to see eighty miles on a clear, sunny day.

Fun Facts About the Empire State Building: The Empire State is the world’s most photographed building. It is the top ten tallest and one of the oldest buildings in New York City. To the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 1872 steps. Luckily, there are 73 elevators in the Empire State Building to whisk you to the top.

How Tall is the Empire State Building? The Empire State Building is 1250 feet tall. The seventh tallest in New York City.

Empire State Building Address: 20 W 34thth Street, New York, New York 10001

Empire State Building Tickets:

  • Main deck to 82nd floor, adult $44 | child $38 | senior $42 | Skip the line express, here.
  • Top deck + main deck, adult $77 | child $71 | senior $75
  • Sunrise Experience Ticket $136
  • Night & day general admission, skip-the-line ticket, experience the Empire State decks both morning and night (2 tickets, valid same day)

Top of the Rock- Rockefeller Center Observation Deck

Top of the Rock is one of the best observatories in NYC, three decks high

Photo @ Frimufilms
Photo @ Frimufilms

If you’re looking for the best views of New York City, there’s no better place to go than Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Though the Rockefeller Center building is of modern design, this is a classic observation deck in New York City. It’s iconic.

The observatory deck sits 70 stories floors atop one of the city’s most famous landmarks-Rockefeller Center. There are three indoor and outdoor observation decks offering 360-degree unobstructed views of the New York skyline.

Whether you’re looking to take in the sights of Central Park, an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building, or get a bird’s eye view of Hudson Yards, Top of the Rock is the perfect place to do it. Not only that, but when you get done, Rockefeller Center is full of restaurants, ice skating, and shopping.

Top of the Rock Hours: 9 AM- 11 PM with the last entry at 10:10 PM

Best Time to Visit: Anytime is a great time to visit the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Sunset is a beautiful time, however, early morning will be less crowded. At night, you will be able to see the lighting of the Empire State Building. The lights change each night and you can find the calendar here.

Pros: Top of the Rock is one of the best observatories in NYC because of its unobstructed views, north, east, south, and west. Additionally, there is a weather guarantee if there is poor weather or visibility, a ticket will be reissued for a later time or date.

The decks at Top of the Rock also are made of glass as a barrier, therefore photographs are not affected.

Top of the Rock Views: All three floors of this NYC observation deck offer unobstructed, clear views around the city. You will be able to see:

  • the most iconic building in the world-the Empire State Building
  • The Chrysler Building
  • Central Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Flatiron Building
  • Bank of America Tower
  • East and Hudson Rivers
  • Hudson Yards and the Edge NYC

Rockefeller Center Height: 850 feet high.

Top of the Rock Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York 10111

Top of the Rock Tickets: Tickets are timed and advanced purchase is recommended.

Observation Decks in New York City-The Modern

If you’re looking for jaw-dropping views of New York City, then you’ll want to check out one of the city’s newest observation decks.

One World Observatory, located at One World Trade Center, is currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Edge NYC, situated atop the famous 30 Hudson Yards building, offers incredible views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. And finally, Summit One, located atop One Vanderbilt, provides the ultimate experience and 360-degree views of the city.

Be warned: these decks are so popular that you’ll likely need to book your tickets well in advance.

Summit One Vanderbilt

Summit One Vanderbilt is one of the coolest observatories in New York City

Summit One Vanderbilt is the newest observation deck in New York City. Not only is this an NYC observation deck, but it’s also an immersive experience of the senses. This is an installation of art and technology, it’s a transformational experience.

Soaring 1454 feet above the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Summit One Vanderbilt NYC gives its visitors a whole new way of seeing New York City. As you take a 45-second elevator ride up the fourth tallest building in New York City, the second-highest observatory in NYC, you are transported to the 91st floor to the first of three floors and experiences.

From there you are released into a massive room with head-to-toe reflective mirrors and glass. You will be able to see some incredible views of the Empire State Building, a direct view of the Chrysler Building, the Manhattan Bridge, and all of New York City.

As you head to the next experience, you will be able to stand in a glass box hovering over the city streets, wave to the patrons at Edge NYC and then you will head to a room filled with weightless silver balls and see Central Park like never before.

You will then take your next experience upstairs where you can grab a spicy margarita and take in the views, then head to the outdoor terrace. From there, if you chose, you may take a two-minute ride up an all-glass elevator up to the top of Summit One for the ultimate experience.

Read More: Summit One NYC, New York’s Newest Experience

Summit One Hours: Closed Tuesday. Monday, Wednesday & Thursday Open: 9AM | Doors close: 9:30PM | SUMMIT closes: 10:30PM | Friday & Saturday Open: 9AM | Doors close: 11PM | SUMMIT closes: 12AM

Best Time to Visit: From experience, depending on the time of year, the afternoon ticket between 4 pm-6 pm is best. You are able to see all of the day New York views, as well as sunset and nighttime. You are able to stay in Summit One as long as you want.

Pros: Not only is the one of the best New York City observation decks, but it’s also an experience. You are able to see the city like you never have before. Summit One is also home to the world’s largest exterior glass-floor elevators for the highest panoramic viewing point in Midtown

Summit One Height: The height of the Summit One Vanderbilt building is 1401 feet tall. The Summit observation deck is 1000 feet above ground level and if you take the glass elevator, you will reach 1200 feet above the city below.

Summit One Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017 | Entrance located on the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal

Summit One Vanderbilt Tickets: Summit One prices start at $39 for adults (+13) | youth (6-12) | six and under free with paying adults.

The Edge Observation Deck

The Edge observation deck is one of the most unique and best observation decks NYC

Photo, The EDGE NYC, Parry, Eli, Courtesy of Related-Oxford
Photo, The EDGE NYC, Parry, Eli, Courtesy of Related-Oxford

The Edge NYC is the highest outdoor skydeck in the Western Hemisphere. This NYC observation deck is 1131 square feet up and shoots 80 feet out over the city. It is one of the most interesting and unique architectural designs of any observation decks in New York City.

The Edge observation deck is made of seamless angled glass panels so you can lean slightly over the city and there is a portion of glass flooring to look 100 stories down below.

At the tip of the Eastern side of the skydeck, one person is able to stand alone and feel surrounded by glass, air, and sky for the ultimate view of NYC.

The Edge New York Hours: 8:00 AM – Midnight daily | Last elevator ride is 50 minutes before closing

The Edge Height: The Edge observation deck is 1131 feet above midtown Manhattan, the building, 30 Hudson Yards is the third tallest building in New York City at 1,296 feet and as of 2022, it’s the sixth tallest building in New York City.

Fun Facts about The Edge NYC: The Edge offers “City Climb” allowing you to scale and climb the crown of 30 Hudson Yards and lean over the side of Manhattan. City Climb is the highest open-air building ascent in the world.

The Edge NYC Address: 30 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001

The Edge NYC Tickets: General admission (requires to book a date and time) starts at $38 adult | $33 child 6+ | $36 senior

Edge NYC Flex Pass tickets: (visit any day and time) starts at $58 adult | $53 child | $56 senior

One World Observatory

One World Trade Center is a sight to behold. At 1,776 feet tall, it’s the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and a powerful symbol of strength and resilience. The height of One World Trade Center reflects the year the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, But what many people don’t know is that One World Trade Center is also home to some pretty amazing feats of engineering.

At the One World Observatory, you can see the skyline by taking the Skypod elevators in 47 seconds over 100 stories above the streets. It’s the highest point in the city, and the views are absolutely breathtaking. Not only can you see some amazing New York views, One World Observatory is an interactive experience.

You will experience the Global Welcome Center and see which number you are of 10 million visitors, all on the largest curved indoor LED in the world! additionally, Forever® Theater, the Horizon Grid-a multimedia screen highlighting the spectacular moments, famous faces, and iconic places viewable from One World Observatory.

One World Observatory Hours: 9 AM- 9 PM

Facts About World One: Sometimes called the “Freedom Tower” this tower is a symbol of American resilience. One World is the exact dimensions of the original twin towers and its concrete center is the strongest ever poured in New York. The observation deck was constructed with the memory of the Twin Towers. The deck and glass are the same exact height as the South and North towers.

One World Address: 117 West Street New York, New York 10007

One World Tickets: Standard starting at $43 | All-inclusive starting at $63 which includes priority lane: security, elevator, digital guide, flexible arrival, and $15 to drink or shop.

Observatories in New York City, conclusion

New York City is home to some of the most iconic views in the world. From the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty, there are countless ways to experience the city’s unique skyline. However, one of the best ways to take in New York views from many observation decks. Whether you’re looking for a birds-eye view of Central Park or a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown, New York City’s observation decks are the way to do it.

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