You are planning to visit New York City and are especially interested in visiting the Empire State Building? You've come to the right place! 🙌 In this article, you'll learn all about visiting New York City's most iconic monument!
Though no longer the tallest skyscraper in New York (since the construction of the One World Trade Center), visiting the Empire State Building is still a must for any stay in the Big Apple. From the top of the building, you will enjoy an incredible experience – a breathtaking view of Manhattan and all of New York City. You will even be able to take some breathtaking photos! If the activity is relatively expensive, it is nevertheless well worth the price! Let me tell you why right now 😊
Why visit the Empire State Building?
The Empire State Building was designed by John J. Raskob, a former General Motors executive. He commissioned the construction of the Empire State Building following a fierce competition with another major automobile manufacturer, Chrysler. The goal was to build the tallest building in the city as quickly as possible!
The construction of this Art Deco building took just over a year, with an average of four floors built per week! Works began on 17 March 1930 and were completed on 1 May 1931, with the inauguration celebrated by President Hoover from Washington. Here are some impressive figures to give you an idea of the scale of this extraordinary project:
- 3,400 employees were hired,
- 103 floors,
- 73 lifts,
- 1,872 steps,
- 6,514 windows,
- more than 10,000 offices.
Admission tickets to the Empire State Building
Prices and types of tickets
You can buy a ticket directly at the Empire State Building ticket office on the day of your arrival, but the best way is to buy your tickets in advance on the internet. This way you can avoid the long queues on site 👌 When booking online, all you need to do is select a specific day and time slot for your visit.
On D-day, just go directly to the ticket control and then to the lift. You won't have to exchange your reservation for a paper ticket!
Basic admission tickets to the 86th floor
Combined admission tickets to the 86th and 102nd floors
VIP EXPRESS ADMISSION TICKETS
This ticket is convenient if your stay in NY is short and you don't have time to wait in queues. It is also a good idea if you plan to visit the Empire State Building on a holiday. Tourist sites are packed on those days!
Express tickets to the 86th floor are available from £75. You can buy an express ticket to the 86th floor without having to wait in queues. However, this ticket is not really all that interesting in my opinion, as you will only save a few minutes by not having to wait at the ticket office, and again when accessing the lifts for ticket control.There is also an express ticket for the 86th and 102nd floor for about £108. You can book an express ticket for both floors and get on to the 86th floor observatory and the upper deck of the 102nd floor without having to wait in the queue 😀 Please note that these tickets are limited in number, though!
"2-times entry" admission tickets (day & night)
With this ticket, you can visit the Empire State Building twice in one day: once during the day and once in the evening (between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.).
Sunrise experience admission tickets
book a "Sunrise Experience" ticket could be a good solution! 😄 From £117, you will be able to watch the sunrise over New York City – before the building even opens to the public! Only 100 visitors per day can enjoy this experience and it is not available every morning – so it's best to book in advance if you’re interested 👍If you want to visit the Empire State Building without being swamped by hundreds of visitors, deciding to
Guided tour of the Empire State Building
Do you dream of an unforgettable experience when visiting the Empire State Building? Then booking a ticket for a guided tour of this famous building sounds like a great idea! For around £165, on top of avoiding queues and enjoying an unforgettable 360° view of the whole of New York, you'll also be treated like a star! 🤩
You'll get to choose between two tour options: a small group VIP tour or a private all-access tour. With priority access during the whole tour, you'll discover the Art Deco hall, the Walk of Fame and some of the exhibitions within the building, among other things.
If you opt for VIP access, you will have access to the private entrance of the building and will even enjoy snacks and champagne! 🥂 After that, you will go on a guided tour of the entire Empire State Building and discover the magic of this iconic New York landmark!
Also note that with the Empire State Building tickets, you will get access to an audio guide (several languages are available). Remember to ask for yours! This will help you learn more about the history of the building, its construction, and will let you discover some anecdotes about it 😉
Security checks and accessibility
With or without an admission ticket, there is no way to avoid security checks at the entrance to the Empire State Building!
Tripods are not allowed – but don't forget to still take a lot of pictures, especially with the incredible view of the Manhattan Skyline you will have right in front of your eyes 📸
The site is accessible to persons with reduced mobility. Waist-high binoculars have been installed and assistance dogs are allowed.
Discover the ESB in a different way! 🌆
If you want to discover the Empire State Building from a whole new perspective, why not head up to the Top of the Rock Observatory? 😀 From the Top of the Rock, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of all of Manhattan and explore 900 m2 of outdoor observation space!
Up on the open air platform on the 70th floor, you’ll get an amazing view of Central Park, the Empire State Building, downtown Manhattan, the One World Trade Center as well as many bridges. Remember to book your tickets in advance though, so that you don't have to wait in line 😅
Good plan: the New York CityPass to visit the Empire State Building!
First of all, you should know that both a ticket booked online or a citypass grant access to the Empire State Building's observatories without going through the building's ticket office (and the long line of people queuing there). So that’s a great way to save time! With a pass, skip the ticket office and go straight to the Gray Line – Citysightseeing desk in the building’s lobby. There, you can pick up your physical ticket and go behind the ticket office to avoid the queue.
These passes will allow you to discover many of the must-see sites while saving a lot on the ticket prices 😊 Personally, I recommend the New York CityPass. For £107 per adult and £94 per child, you can visit the ESB twice on the same day!
On top of this awesome double admission, the pass also gives access to 5 activities during a 9 days period:
The building's observatories
There are in fact two observation platforms at the Empire State Building – two terraces, both open to the public.
- The Main Deck is the main terrace, located on the 86th floor. At a height of over 320 metres high, you will see the whole city from there as the platform offers a 360° view! 🤩 Binoculars are even provided to spot the city's most famous buildings. Note, however, that the observatory is located outside – very nice for taking photos without the reflection of the windows, but a little less nice when it's cold! My advice, don several layers of clothing before venturing up there – especially if you decide to visit New York in winter! 😉
- The Top Deck is the second observatory of the ESB. It is located on the 102nd floor and also offers a superb 360° view of New York City! Unlike the one on the 86th floor, this platform is a bit smaller but is indoors. Moreover, it is entirely glazed: you will not suffer from the frequent icy wind in the city! The view from the 102nd floor is really exceptional – you can see up to 5 of New York City’s boroughs! 😀
When is the best time to visit the ESB's observatories?
No matter what time slot you select, I'm sure you'll never be disappointed with your visit to the Empire State Building! However, there are certain timeslots you should prioritise if you want a truly unforgettable experience 😊
- In the morning before 11 am, when the weather is clear
If you have the opportunity to go up to the ESB in the morning on a clear day, you will definitely have an incredible view of Manhattan and its southern tip. You will also be able to see different parts of the city such as Lower Manhattan, Downtown, SoHo, Greenwich Village or the famous One World Trade Center. You will also have a beautiful view of Central Park, the Hudson River, the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square 🤩
For the ones who really want a breathtaking sight, you can even book a "Sunrise Experience" ticket to access the building as early as 6:30 am, before the other tourists arrive and just in time to see the sun rise on the horizon and bathe the city with light 😉
- In the afternoon, around 2 pm - 3 pm
- At sunset
The view is simply breathtaking at sunset – the sky turns all shades of red, pink and golden! Moreover, the view at night is just as beautiful: the magnificent colours on the horizon, New York City twinkling with a thousand lights... enough to engrave the sight on your memories 🤗
In addition, there are usually far fewer people from 10-11 pm, once the sun goes down. Which means that once on the platform, you won't have to elbow your way around the platform and take amazing pictures! 📸 Also note that from Thursday to Saturday nights, jazz bands perform at the Empire State Building. Now that’s a great way to spend an evening!
No matter the time of your visit, the Empire State Building will always be crowded. If you want to be sure to be able to have an admission ticket for the day you want, and if you want to limit your waiting time on site, I can only recommend booking your tickets to the Empire State Building in advance 🙂
PS: if you are visiting New York City with your lover during Valentine's Day and feel ready to pop the question, why not use this special occasion to try a visit on February 14th and propose? It will make for a magical memory – one that you can even revisit every year even, for you'll get free entry for all the following Valentine’s Days! 😁
Looking for a room with a view of the ESB? 🛏️
You are planning a trip to the City That Never Sleeps and are still wondering where to stay in New York City? Never you fear, the city is full of accommodation of all kinds and for all budgets 😀 The Hyatt House New York/Chelsea offers studios and suites equipped with a kitchenette. You can also enjoy a 24-hour gym and, most importantly, a great view of the Empire State Building from the hotel's rooftop and some of the rooms. For one night, you can expect to pay from £182.
Remember to book well in advance to be sure to get the best price – the closer your reservation is made to the dates of your stay, the higher the price!
The Empire State Building's lights
The building is also impressive to see from the outside at night, especially when floodlit by LED floodlights (16 million colours).
The top 30 floors of the ESB are illuminated every night. Each day has its own theme, often based on holidays throughout the year and current events in the US and around the world. Sometimes brands even privatise these lights!
On a normal night, the lights are white, but the Empire State Building gets coloured up in blue, white and red for National Day, pink and red for Valentine's Day, red and green for Christmas... If you would like to understand the meaning of the colours, visit the official website of the Empire State Building!
Other activities at the Empire State Building
Access to the permanent exhibition on the construction of the Empire State Building is included in the admission ticket to the observatory. So don't hesitate to take a look around! 😉
As of 2019, this nearly 1,000 square metre museum is located on the 2nd floor of the building. It is open every day from 9 am or 10 am (depending on the day of the week) until 10 pm and is composed of 9 galleries:
- The Site in the 20′: black and white vintage photographs of the site and the streets of New York in 1920;
- Construction: interaction with the construction workers (with audio!);
- Opening Day: to recapture the emotion of the little boy selling his newspapers on the street;
- Modern Marvel: an exhibition on the building's fittings and technological advances;
- Otis Elevators: to discover the secrets of the building’s Otis lifts, with an original copy of the ESB’s very first lift as well as its new generation version;
- Urban Campus: to see the view from the offices of the companies located there, as well as a glimpse of the parts that are not open to visitors;
- World’s Most Famous Building: more than 70 screens showing the Empire State Building's appearances in pop culture, from the 1930s to today (films, posters, cartoons, commercials, etc.);
- King Kong: to visit an office from the 1930s and find yourself in the hands of the legendary King Kong (the Empire State Building has appeared in many films and series, but it was the film King Kong that really made it famous!)
- Celebrity: a gallery with portraits of the many celebrities who have visited the Empire State Building.
Don't forget to go to the 80th floor, where you can enter the official ESB shop: The Store. Open every day of the week, from 8-9 a.m. (depending, again, on the day of the week) to 10 p.m., there you can buy exclusive Empire State Building items (glassware, toys, ready-to-wear, books...) as well as high-end gifts.
Finally, in the lobby of the building, many shops and restaurants await you: Tacombi, Sushi-Teria, Starbucks, Juice Press, Walgreens, Strawberry, Bank of America...
How to get to the Empire State Building?
The Empire State Building is located in Manhattan, in Midtown to be precise, on 5th Avenue – near 33rd and 34th Streets. To get around the city more easily and locate the important tourist places, you can consult my article on the map of Manhattan!
The ESB’s full address is: Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue - New York, New York 10118.
You can get there in different ways:
- By taking the New York underground:
lines B, D, F, M, N, Q, R and W: stop at 34 Street Herald Square station,
lines 4 and 6: stop at 33rd Street Lexington station,
lines 1, 2 and 3: stop at 34th St. Penn station.
- By bus:
Using the M2, M3, M4, M5, M16 or M34.
- By Big Bus route:
Downtown Tour: stop n°4 (Empire State Building 1),
Downtown Tour: stop n°5 (Empire State Building 2),
For approximately £47 per person, you can book your Big Bus tour ticket directly online before leaving for New York City 🙂
The Empire State Building is open every day of the year, from 8 am or 9 am until 2 am, including public holidays. Note however that the last lift to the observation deck goes up 45 minutes before closing time, so give yourself at least 2 hours to fully enjoy the visit!
Here we are at the end of this article! I hope you enjoyed it and found the information you were looking for. The Empire State Building is a legendary monument, and it would be more than a shame to spend a few days in New York City without even visiting it! 😉
Anyway, if you've already been there, don't hesitate to leave me your impression on the visit as well as your remarks in the comments! And if it's your first time in the city, do check out my article on how to organise your trip to New York City – you’ll find all the info you need to know before your departure! 😊