New York’s verticality is amazing, and the two best ways to experience the heights is from The Empire State Building. Your regular admission ticket gets you to the outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor. An upgraded ticket will add the enclosed 102nd floor’s deck to your experience. You also have the option to pay for an express ticket to bypass the lines. The wait can be long, with hundreds of people lining up to get into the elevators, and you should be prepared for a lot of suggestive selling (photos, gifts, extras). On your way up, your first stop is the 80th floor, where exhibits and displays showcase the building’s history, with a lot of compelling photos. Included with the cost of your ticket is a multi-media handheld device that looks like a cell phone, accompanied by earphones. From the touch screen you can take a self-guided audio tour by matching the numbers on the displays to the number on the phone display. There are also other categories, like nearby restaurants and fun facts, such as the Empire State Building is 75 times taller than the world’s tallest giraffe! From the 80th floor, you can either take an elevator, or walk six flights up to the 86th floor observatory. While you can see the views from inside, it’s worth it to go outside, around the deck that circles the building, so you can view the city from all directions.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
– Save time by purchasing and printing out your tickets online in advance. Kids ages 6 and under are free, too! Tickets can be used any day, which is good because you may want to change plans at the last minute depending on the weather. Tickets start from $32 for adults and teens ages 13 and older and from $26 for children ages 6 to 12.
– The best times to go to avoid crowds are from 8 to 11 a.m.
– Go on a clear, sunny day for the best views. It’s not as pleasant when it’s drizzling and windy out on the observation deck–though as long as there isn’t any fog, so the views of New York City will still be good.
– You will have to go through the security checkpoint, which is a lot like an airport, with an x-ray machine for bags and a separate one for people to walk through.