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Empire State Building, New York, Views on Top Guide

Guest blogger Holly O’Sullivan spent a couple of months exploring North America last year, hitting New York in the height of Summer. Here are her tips for visiting the Empire State Building – one her bucket-list destinations.

The Empire State Building was a must-see as far as I was concerned when I got to New York, not only for the incredible views, but also for its unique architecture that has inspired so many movies.

In the lobby I found plenty of evidence of its fame and popularity: a collection of newspaper and magazine articles, models and posters throughout the halls. Everything you need to know about the building is here, from detail on how it was constructed all those years ago, its real-life history and it’s cinematic history; (not forgetting King Kong).

Getting there:

The best way to get to The Empire State Building is by train. There are two stations nearby, 34 St Herald Square and 33 St. You can access these stations from the various train routes:

34 Street – Herald Square is the closest station, and from here it is just a short walk down the street. Despite what you might hear, New York train lines are incredibly easy to navigate.

New York, Empire State Building, The Views On Top Guide

Getting in with a CityPass:

The CityPass provides quicker entry up to the observation deck by skipping a few lines, however all visitors must start by getting their bags checked with the classic airport style metal detector and bag checks.

From there, there is a short line here you can get free audio tours, (not compulsory).

The first elevator ride brings you up a few floors to the gift shop level and then you wait for another elevator, which takes you to the top. After the second elevator ride, you can of course get the now obligatory green screen photo with your family that is available for purchase on your way out.

New York, Viewing Platform, Empire State Building, Views On Top Guide

Getting in without a CityPass:

If you do not have a CityPass, you can buy tickets at the gate.

  • Adult: $27
  • Senior: $24
  • Child: $21

You can also purchase tickets here which include access to Top Of The Rock near the Rockefeller Center, or Main Deck Express tickets for $50, which let you skip all of the lines just like the CityPass does.

The Observation Deck:

The outlook from the observation is just how you see it in the movies, coin operated binoculars and all. The sweeping views go beyond Central Park, and the Statue Of Liberty.

It is definitely worth walking the entire rotation of the building, and that way you are able to get a look at the Brooklyn and Jersey skylines.

Getting out:

Exiting the building works generally the same way as getting in – one elevator to the gift shop level and then after passing through the shop, you take some escalators back down to the ground level.