Want to SAVE, EMAIL, and PRINT your picks? Sign up for a Purple Passport account to get started.
Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave., nr. 34th St. (Midtown East)
New York, NY
(1) 212-736-3100 | www.esbnyc.com
HOURS/TIMESDaily: 8:00am-2:00am (last elevator at 1:15am)
PRICE86th Floor: Adults: $25; Seniors (Over 62): $22; Children (6-12): $19; 86th Floor Express: $47.50; 86th and 102nd Floor Combo: Adults: $42; Seniors (Over 62): $39; Children (6-12): $36; 86th and 102nd Floor Express: $64.50
POPULAR TIMESWeekends; school vacations
RESERVE IN ADVANCEYes - book online
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATION1-3 hours
HIGHLIGHTSViews of Manhattan; Art Deco architecture
SUBWAY34th St.-Herald Sq. (N, Q, R, B, D, F, M); 33rd St. (6); 28th St. (N, R)
This striking Art Deco skyscraper is the king of the New York skyline. It was born during the Machine Age’s race for the skies, when skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street shot upwards in an attempt to grab the title of “World’s Tallest,” but at 103 stories (which translates into a whopping 1,050 feet tall), the Empire State Building trumped them all and managed to hold onto its crown for close to four decades. Even more impressive, this limestone behemoth was completed in a mere 13 months–that’s 4.5 stories a week! Today you can take one of the building’s 73 high-speed elevators to the same 86th floor observation deck that’s been welcoming visitors since 1931. And if you’re feeling particularly flash with the cash, you can even go all the way up to the more exclusive 102nd story, where you’ll unquestionably be at the top of the town.
GO HERE WITH
Architecture buffs; photography enthusiasts; a date; friends; family; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
The views are phenomenal, especially at sunset. We know it’s cheesy, but this is definitely a great place to come for a romantic date. Buy an express ticket (because the lines are a total buzzkill), and take in the city views (or city lights) with your beau du jour. (A word of caution though–there’s so much static at the top of the Empire State Building that kissing couples often give each other electric shocks!). If you’re into architecture spotting, definitely bring a couple of quarters for the high-powered binoculars; on clear days, it’s rumored that you can see out almost 80 miles.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
The lines are insane. What with security checks, ticket purchasing, and waits for the elevators, it can take over three hours to get to the top during peak season.
GOOD TO KNOW
There are a few strategies for getting around the terrible, terrible lines. First of all, always book your ticket online, because that at least eliminates waiting in the ticket line. Also, come midweek, either at opening time (8:00am) or late afternoon (3:00pm-5:00pm), because the lines are substantially shorter then. Finally, if you just need to be at the top ASAP, spring for an Express Pass–you’ll be able to zip straight to the front of the elevator line. Due to security concerns, large bags are not allowed through the security checkpoint, and there’s no place to check oversized bags. (Also not allowed through security are glass bottles and camera tripods.) On a lighter note, one for the zephyr buffs: the base of the building’s rooftop TV tower was originally intended as a mooring mast for dirigibles, but that idea never really “took off.” And one for the romantics: the only day you can get married at the top of the Empire State Building is Valentine’s Day. You’ll have to apply and be chosen, plus there’s the aforementioned static kisses, but hey–congratulations!
Chrysler Building (New York); Sears Building (Chicago)
All information within this website was checked for accuracy at the time of publication. But since the world moves quickly, things may have changed. Pardon us for any errors as we strive to give you the most up-to-the-minute details!