Even though I’ve been living in NYC for 20 years the skyline never gets old and there’s no better place to see it than the top of the Empire State Building. When my daughter’s best friend requested to go to the top of the Empire State Building for his 4th birthday it gave us the perfect opportunity to be NYC tourists for the afternoon.While it may not be the world’s tallest building anymore, it once was. I think it’s somewhere around #3 for tallest buildings in NYC right now. Regardless, it’s still a really cool tall building with awe inspiring views.
We made the visit on a Wednesday afternoon, 3:00. There are several experiences to choose from, we decided to do the 86th floor observation deck only. We ended up buying the tickets onsite and to our surprise there was no line at at all! The Empire State Building is known for VERY long lines, in excess of two hours at times, so this was a really nice surprise.
We paid $32/adult, the kids were free since they are under six years old. We boarded a high speed elevator and it zipped us up to the 80th floor in well under a minute. There, we transferred to another elevator which took us up to the observation deck on the 86th floor. You can enjoy views from a large indoor observation area when temperatures are freezing, or step out onto a wrap around deck and really take in the vastness of the whole city. Seeing it from above is so incredible. You can clearly see the grid that makes up Manhattan, point out landmarks and watch traffic which appears like little toys. The kids enjoyed it, unfortunately their competition over who got a longer turn at the binoculars seemed to get the best of them. It’s a toss up between playing with the binoculars and the elevator as to which was their favorite part.
There is an additional fee to go to the 102nd floor, we didn’t do this but I hear it’s incredible. The 102nd Floor Observatory isn’t open air the way the 86th floor is and we heard you’ll get better pictures from the 86th floor.
- There are several different ticket options, click here for information.
The Empire State Building is actually included on the New York Explorer Pass – which is a great way for families to visit the ESB, and a bunch of other popular attractions for a discounted price.
Here is where you can find more info about the New York City Attraction Explorer Pass.
- It tends to be less crowded between 8AM and 11AM.
- Glass is not permitted in the building. Cameras and camcorders are permitted, but tripods are not. There is no coat/luggage check at the Empire State Building so whatever you bring into the building you will have to carry with you throughout your visit.
- Typical visits include a line to pass security to enter the building, a line to purchase tickets and a line for the elevators. There is also often a line to exit the observation decks.
- Kids under six are free. If you’re bringing a stroller, you’ll need to fold it before entering the elevator.
- If needed, use the restrooms on the second floor before getting in line for the elevators.
- Bring quarters to use the binoculars.