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Summit One Vanderbilt-The Best Experience in New York City

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I tried three times to get to New York City this fall just to see Summit One Vanderbilt-New York City’s newest cultural landmark. Summit One Vanderbilt is one of the best views (you will see in some of the Summit One photos of mine) of New York City and one of the best experiences to do while visiting or living in NYC.

I canceled my trip to NYC several times before finally making it. This trip was a 24-hour trip, and I was proud to do so many things in New York City in such a short time.

I specifically flew in just to see Summit One NYC that just opened in October 2021. If you are heading to New York City, I recommend spending the money to come to this observation deck.

I left at 6 am on a Thursday in November, arriving in New York City sweating I wouldn’t make my 3 pm ticket to the tower. I went directly to my hotel in NYC, which I highly recommend. This is the best place to stay in New York City for location, affordability, cleanliness, insanely comfortable beds. Additionally, AMAZING views of the Empire State Building right from your room.

You can also walk to the famous Macys; the subway is around the corner, there is an excellent steakhouse next door, Keens, and I walked to Vanderbilt One, where the Summit is located in seven minutes. Out of the million hotels I have stayed in New York City, this one I will book from now on for its accessibility to everything in the city.

This trip was my first time traveling solo to New York City; I was hesitant at first, but I will travel to NYC many times after this alone. Even though I travel to NYC many times a year, I always have someone or my kids with me. It was the best twenty-four hours. I had the most wonderful time. Summit One made it extra special.

What is Summit One Vanderbilt?

Summit One Vanderbilt is the newest and best experience NYC has to offer. Summit One is essentially an observation tower with three stories (four of you take the Ascent glass elevator) of immersive and interactive rooms. Each level includes mirrored rooms, interactive areas, and transparent skyboxes for unparalleled views of Manhattan.

 If you want to see the best view in New York City, come to Summit One.

One Vanderbilt, where Summit One is located, is an architectural beauty that is now an iconic figure to the Manhattan skyline. Vanderbilt One is the tallest commercial skyscraper in Midtown, measuring 1401 feet tall-among the top thirty tallest buildings in the world.

I will explain each experience at Summit One further in the post.

Summit One Vanderbilt Tickets

  • Summit Experience. This is the general admission ticket of Summit One Vandebilt. It is access to all four floors of Summit One without all the perks such as Ascent, the glass elevator. Online ticket prices start at $39 adults (+13) | youth (6-12) | six and under free with paying adult.

Insider Travel Tip: If you are traveling with a child under six, there is no option to get a timed ticket, but it says the child must have a time and date. You may have to contact customer service to add your child to your ticket. They were accommodating in doing so for me. In addition, no strollers, wagons, etc., are allowed in Summit One Vanderbilt.

  • Summit Ascent. This is a general admission ticket plus the the Ascent glass elevator experience. Online tickets start at $59 adults | $53 youth | six & under free.
  • Ultimate Summit. This Summit One ticket option includes dated and timed entry to all four floors of Summit One. Access to Air, by Kenzo Digital, an interactive art experience. A signature Danny Meyer cocktail at Apres. Admission to levitation, transparent skyboxes 1,000 feet above midtown Manhattan. And the best feature, reach the highest point of Summit One with access to Ascent glass elevators. Online ticket prices start at $73 adults | $67 youth (under 21 years of age will get a mocktail)

The above ticket prices are for daytime admission. Evening ticket prices add an additional $10. If you are active or retired military, Summit One tickets may be discounted or free. Contact Summit One directly for information.

Tip: Purchase your ticket online in advance. This experience is catching on fast and selling out, especially on the weekends. This will make your trip a lot more smooth, and you do not want to miss out on this experience. Book your Summit One Vanderbilt tickets directly here.

Which Summit One Vanderbilt Ticket Should I Choose?

Experiencing Summit One, I would recommend Ultimate Summit if you would like a cocktail. However, if you do not drink or are unsure if you will (you can purchase cocktails when you arrive at Apres), I recommend Summit Ascent. The glass elevator (even though I have nightmares about glass elevators, this was a lifetime experience. Not as scary as I thought it would be. It was amazing, in fact.

How to Get to Summit One Vanderbilt

Summit One Vanderbilt is located in Midtown Manhattan. If this is your first time traveling to New York City, I recommend staying in Midtown. Midtown is centered around everything and a quick subway ride to all the things to do in NYC.

Address: 1 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, New York

Summit One is located in Midtown Manhattan next to Grand Central Station and a couple of blocks from Bryant Park. The subway lines to Grand Central are 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines. When you reach Grand Central Station, you can find the “Subway 42nd St” hallway, and it will take you directly into One Vanderbilt.

If you take the bus, M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, and M42.

The main entrance to Vanderbilt One is on Vanderbilt Ave. However, the access to Summit One is located on East 42nd Street. There are guards to help guide the way.

Insider Travel Tip: If you are new to New York City, use Google Maps. It has been a lifesaver for me when NYC transportation can get overwhelming. You simply type in the address, and it will walk you through precisely what train, bus, or subway to catch, where to get on and off, etc. Step-by-step.

Arriving at Summit One Vanderbilt

When you arrive, you will have a timed entry on your ticket but allow for time to stand in line to get up to the actual experience. I waited about thirty minutes to get in the elevator up. Be prepared to show your ID and your vaccination card.

You will receive a wristband with a QR code to get your photos at the end, separated into groups to go up the elevators and you will receive booties for your shoes so the mirrored surfaces of Summit One are not damaged. Stiletto heels and steel-toed shoes are not permitted.

If you are sensitive to light or going during the day, bring a pair of sunglasses or they will provide you with disposable ones. All the mirrors in the experiences gleam brightly and it gets toasty.

Before your elevator ride, you will do an odd face scan for the Unity Air exhibit. Once in the elevator, you are whisked 91 floors in mere seconds to Transcendence 1, the first floor of the Summit One experience.

Insider Travel Tip: I got a ticket for 3 pm on a Friday. I believe this is probably the best time to get a ticket. I got to see Summit One during the light hours, then sunset which is absolutely beautiful, and by the time I got to Apres the Manhattan skyline was dark and lit up by all the amazing lights. Manhattan at night with this view is a sight to see. The Empire State Building often does light show, too.

Transcendence 1- First Level of Your Experience

I am going to lead with a tip. Do not wear anything to Summit One that is a dress or skirt. If you do, wear something underneath. The entire floor of Transcendence 1 and 2 are mirrors, top to bottom. With that said, when you look down, you can see everything above.

Transcendence 1 of Summit One NYC. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors create a transforming experience. You will not find a view or experience in NYC that is comparable.

Once you leave this floor, you cannot come back therefore get all your photos, Instagram videos, etc. before going up to the next level.

When you walk into Transcendence 1, you emerge into a structureless world of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. There are mirrors on the floors and walls. If you get dizzy easily, take your time to get adjusted. It feels a bit odd and I actually lost my balance a bit.

Here you will find the most amazing views of New York City and endless Instagram-worthy photo opportunities. Take your time here. Take the time to be creative with your photos. It is a lot of fun.

Not only that, the views of the Empire State building, Hudson River, Chrysler Building are unparalleled. This is the main room of this floor but as you head around the corner, you will experience Reflect and Affinity.

This was a Summit One Photo of the Chrysler Building at Sunset on the Transcendence 1 floor. The top turned a light pink with views of Brooklyn :)
The Chrysler Building at Sunset

Tip: Summit One actually has 360-degree views of Manhattan, you just have to go in the restroom to see the rest! The views are spectacular in the bathrooms!

Reflect and Affinty

  • Reflect. Summit One is a one-way tour. After spending time in Transecendence 1, you will head into Reflect. A smaller room with the art installation by Yayoi Kausama called “Clouds.” This room faces New Jersey, with more spactacular views of the Edge on the west side of Manhattan.
  • Affinity. Next you enter Affinty, a room of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and floating weightless, silver balloons. This room makes for some fun videos and pictures. It was crowded, I was unable to get photos. If you are hoping for a Instagram-worthy photo in this room, it will be hard. Its very popular. There is a great spot to get photos of Central Park and upper Manhattan.
Summit One Vanderbilt views from the Affinity room filled with silver, weightless balloons
View from Affinity. Upper Manhattan, Central Park

You will then take an elevator up to Transcendence 2. Remember, once you go up, you can not go back down.

Transcendence 2-Second Level of Your Experience

Next, you head up the elevator to Transcendence 2 of the Summit One experience. Here, you will overlook Transcendence 1, and see circular, mirrored openings to the floor below. It looks like there are thousands of people below and above you.

The circular mirrored openings look like you are falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. Again, these make for some fantastic photo opportunities. Do not be afraid to lay down to take photos. My photo below, I do not remember if I was looking down or looking up 🙂

Summit One Photos

After you enjoy the main room of Transcendence 2, you will enter Levitation and Unity.

Levitation and Unity

  • Levitation. If you did not buy the Asent glass elevator ticket, here is your chance to look at Manhattan below. Two clear skyboxes hover over the side Vanderbilt One to Manhattan below. You step onto the clear floor below 1,063 feet above the bustling streets below. If you have a fear of heights, this expereince may not be for you 😉 and thats ok.
  • Unity. This is where your scanned face is used. If you scan your wristband, your face will appear in the clouds. Usually my head is in the clouds but this will work. This immersive experience allows you to see your reflection and take some incredible photos.

Next, you are going to head up to Apres for a spicy margarita and small bites with more incredible views.

Apres-Third Floor of Your Experience

Head on up to Apres for a Danny Meyer signature cocktail (or mocktail), small bites, and sweeping views of New York City. Apres has an open-air terrace and an indoor lounge to settle your senses from your last two experiences.

As you arrive up the escalator, if you are going to Ascent, make sure you check in with the attendant at the very top when you arrive. He or she will take your name and text you when your Ascend ride is ready for check-in. I went at a busy time and it took about an hour for my elevator ride.

Ascend Glass Elevator-Top Off Your Experience

There are two elevators at Summit One Vanderbilt made of all glass. Each at ninety square feet each hovering over the side of Vanderbilt One. Summit One’s glass elevators are the largest in the world and quite the experience.

How tall is Vanderbilt One? Vanderbilt One is 93 stories high, the very top is 1,401 feet high, the roof is 1,301 feet high above the ground. It is fourth tallest building in Manhattan. One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower and 111 West 57th Street are the tallest.

The elevators top 1,210 feet above street level for magnificent views of lower Manhattan and the Empire State Building. The ride is only two minutes, and depending on the attendant; you will have a few minutes to take pictures at the top.

I went on the glass elevator at night, which was terrific, but if I could change one thing, I would do the glass elevators during the day. The elevator goes slow on its way up, it was way less scary than I thought.

Insider Travel Tip: You will get the same view as the open door terrace at Apres, so if you want the extra experience of a glass elevator climbing the side of a building, I say pay the extra.

Summit One Vanderbilt Review

When I was standing in line at Summit One to start my experience I was standing behind this group of gentlemen. We entered the tunnel to head to the floors and I followed behind them because I couldn’t see in the dark. I wasn’t supposed to follow them, whoops. I followed along and realized on the elevator ride up I was on their private tour. They were more than accommodating to my lost soul, haha.

I told the guide I had bought three Summit One tickets (they are nonrefundable, plan accordingly), and I finally made it. He was so nice and told me not to move on to the next level just yet, so I did.

He came back with a very nice employee which handed me tickets to Ascend and a cocktail and told me to have a blast, thank you for coming. I had bought the general admission ticket and they made my experience extra special, I even rode the glass elevator with the mayor of New York.

This is a must-do in New York City. If you are traveling to New York City and looking for one of the best experiences, this is it. The views are amazing, the photos are incredible and the experience is like no other. Get a spicy margarita and take in the best city in the world. You will not regret it. Promise.

If you are looking for another experience, I recommend the Friends Experience, It was really fun, see below!

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