There are several observation decks in New York City that are among the most popular attractions in the United States. These are highlights of every New York visit. Everywhere in New York City there are views of Manhattan and its attractions. Best for a view of New York however, are the observatories in some of New York's skyscrapers. Their selection is growing. The best thing to do before your visit is to choose the view that interests you the most. Or even better: You drive up several skyscrapers and experience New York from above every time. With these photos and tips, the decision will be easier.
Observation Decks in New York City
You can currently choose from these viewing platforms in New York:
Empire State Building
The observation deck on the Empire State Building is certainly the most famous that New York has to offer. The view from the Empire State Building Observatory has been enjoyed since 1931. No wonder it's one of New York's most popular attractions. Not only "King Kong" was filmed here. The Empire State Building was also used as a backdrop in many other films such as "Independence Day" or "Sleepless in Seattle". The building is located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th St. in the center of Manhattan.
The best way to experience the view from the Empire State Building is to drive up in the late afternoon just before sunset. Take your time and wait for the sun to go down. Then you will experience Manhattan from above day and night. One of my best impressions from the Big Apple is watching the lights come on in New York and the sun go down in the west.
There are two New York Observation Decks in the Empire State Building. On the 86th floor you can walk around the entire top of the tower and see Manhattan from all directions. You can also see the view from the 102nd floor. From there you also have a good view of the Freedom Tower in southern Manhattan and Times Square.
Empire State Building
20W 34th St.
New York, NY 10001
You have three options to buy your ticket online:
- Ticket for the 86th floor*
- 86th Floor Fast Track Ticket* (this is especially recommended in the late afternoon to avoid the rush that often prevails)
- 86th floor ticket for XNUMX day and XNUMX night ascent on the same day*
Top of the Rock
Further north and also near 5th Avenue is Rockefeller Center with the Top of the Rock observation deck. The view from here has the advantage that you can see the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center in southern Manhattan. To the north you have a good view of Central Park, which you are closer to here than from the Empire State Building's observation deck.
Top of the Rock
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
A note for photographers: A tripod is not permitted on the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
Visit New York's Top of the Rock Observation Deck for free with a City Pass
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Alternatively, you can Ticket for the Top of the Rock* Order Observation Deck in New York online.
One World Observatory with the highest observation deck in New York
I have a personal history with the World Trade Center. On the one hand, there were numerous visits that I completed as a tour guide on the viewing platform of the Twin Towers. On the other hand, my memory of September 11, 2001 plays a role. That's why I always look at the new World Trade Center with mixed feelings. Because if I hadn't caught a cold in 2001, I would have been in New York myself with a tour group on September 11th. Instead, I followed the fate of the twin towers spellbound on television and feared for my tour guide colleague who represented me at the time. I will never forget the hours until I found out that nothing had happened to him and his tour group. I'm all the happier when I see what emerged from the rubble. The World Trade Center and the new buildings at Ground Zero seem to me like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
At 541,3 meters, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in New York today. That's exactly 1776 feet. The height commemorates the year the United States gained independence. One World Observatory is now the highest observation deck in New York.
One World Observatory
117 West St
New York, NY 10006
Note for the photographers: Tripods are not allowed in One World Observatory. Because the observation deck is behind glass, it's difficult to avoid reflections when taking photos.
There are two ticket options for the highest observation deck in New York
- standard ticket*: with general access to the Observatory, access to all 3 floors of One World Observatory (levels 100, 101, 102), access to select restaurants, the Sky Pod elevators, which are among the fastest in the world, and features such as City Pulse and Sky portal
- Priority Access* with priority entry to One World Observatory, priority entry to the Skypod elevators, priority exit from the observation deck, One World Explorer – Virtual Guide with iPad (with this ticket you save a lot of waiting time)
The Edge - New Observation Deck in New York City
This new observation deck in New York is located in the Hudson Yards skyscraper near the High Line, which is also one of the new and extraordinary sights is in the Big Apple. In 2020 this attraction was opened to visitors.
The Edge is New York's highest open observation deck. However, you should have a head for heights, because you can look down 100 meters from this platform on the 300th floor. The glass floor also requires courage and overcoming the fear of heights.
30 Hudson yards
New York, NY 10001
You have two options to see The Edge
- With a standard ticket*
- or free as an attraction on the Go City Explorer Pass, Go City New York City Pass or Go City Sightseeing Pass (see links at Top of the Rock above).
The SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Ultimately, the experience at the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Observation Deck in New York is simply breathtaking. From Grand Central Station, the elevator takes you directly to the 91st floor, where you enter the first floor of The SUMMIT at a height of 300 meters. Transcendence 1 takes your breath away, because you have the feeling of falling into the depths. This is created through the skillful use of mirrors.
Once you get used to this impression, the perfect view of the Hudson River, Bryant Park, East River, Central Park, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Downtown Manhattan and One World Trade Center awaits you.
One floor up you reach the Transcendence 2 floor, from which you have a view down to Transcendence 1. There are also glass stems on which you also have to overcome your weaker self, because you are also standing on a glass floor. If you have conquered your fear of heights, you can take the Ascent elevator – also with a glass floor – to the highest viewpoint at 427 meters.
If you get hungry or thirsty from all the excitement, you can quench it in the après lounge. On the bulletproof glass terrace you have a view to the south and west.
The SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
45 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017
Reserve your ticket for The SUMMIT early
- Secure yours Ticket for The SUMMIT* early. It's difficult to get hold of one locally.
The viewing platforms in New York are absolute highlights of every visit to the Big Apple and the USA. Let yourself be overwhelmed by the great views of the skyscraper backdrop of Manhattan, Central Park, the East and the Hudson River.
Questions and answers about the New York Observation Decks
Which observation deck is the best in New York?
In my opinion, the best observation deck is Top of the Rock because you are in the center of Manhattan. You look south towards the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. To the north you have a good view of Central Park. If you're looking for the most spectacular viewing platform in New York, then The SUMMIT is sure to be, with its breathtaking special effects, many of which have nothing to do with the view, but with the effect it has on visitors.
Which is better Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center?
In my view, it's Rockefeller Center. For one thing, it's not as well known and therefore less crowded. On the other hand, you can also see the Empire State Building and other viewing platforms from there and have a better view of Central Park.
What you need to visit New York
- Comfortable shoes are essential for a New York trip, You will walk a lot. The streets of New York are exhausting. The more comfortable your shoes, the more pleasant your city trip.
- If you want to go to a restaurant or a concert in the evening, you need elegant pumps.
- A backpack is very handy for a New York visit. You can store your utensils in it that you need for a day and still have your hands free.
- A waterproof windbreaker is good for sightseeing in New York. It not only wards off rain, but also protects against wind. The wind often blows heavily between New York skyscrapers. A jacket like that comes in handy at moments like this. And when it's raining, you have your hands free.
- A New York Travel Guide * of course also belongs in the backpack.
- Download an app for subways, buses and trains with maps and timetables * .
Arrival by plane, bus or train*. NNew York City can be reached on the one hand with airlines such as United, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines but also with others.
The best tours and activities in New York
You can do this Book with our partner Get Your Guide*. This also saves you long waiting times on site.
Hotels in Manhattan* you can book here.
New York Travel Guide * you can also buy at Amazon
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Source: own research
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline