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Visit The Empire State Building for An Amazing View!

January 29, 2024 By CityPASS

It’s hard to imagine New York City without the Empire State Building. Countless movies like "Sleepless in Seattle", "King Kong", An "Affair to Remember," "Elf," and more have used the iconic edifice as a significant plot vehicle, and it’s one of the most widely recognized buildings in the world.

If you’re planning a trip to New York City, the Empire State Building is a must-visit attraction. From history to ticket prices and inside information, we’ll help you prepare for your visit to this iconic landmark.

Empire State Building History

Construction started in 1930. Growing by an average of four and a half stories per week and topping out at 102 floors, the Empire State Building officially opened to the public just 15 months later, in May 1931. Since then, millions upon millions of eager tourists have relished the unforgettable view from the 86th and 102nd floor observatories. And it’s easy to see why: you’re able to see Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Hudson and East Rivers, Times Square, and more quintessential New York City landmarks from the 360-degree view in the building’s spire on the 86th floor.

On a clear day you’ll be able to see up to 80 miles out!

Empire State Building Floors

The 102nd floor is known as the Top Deck and provides an enclosed view of the city, while the Main Deck on the 86th floor is a world famous open-air observatory. The fun at the Empire State Building doesn’t end with the view, however; there are also exhibits for you to explore. Immerse yourself in the brand-new interactive museum on the 2nd floor; the 10,000 sq. ft. galleries invite guests on a journey from the building’s construction to its current place in pop culture. Don’t forget to snap a photo with King Kong!

Empire State Building Tower Lights

Since 1976, the Empire State Building’s colorful and ever-changing tower lights have represented various organizations and occasions throughout the year, but new technology installed in 2012 brought them up to a whole new level. Now you can watch dazzling light shows synchronized with music playing on iHeartMedia radio during the winter holidays and other special occasions. It’s an impressive spectacle you don’t want to miss!

The Best Time to Visit the Empire State Building

The best time to visit the Empire State Building depends on your plans. Families are encouraged to come early, before 11 am, so they can take advantage of smaller crowds. Couples looking for a romantic evening activity may want to consider going after dark when the city becomes a twinkling, luminescent landscape.

For extra privacy, try going at midnight when the crowds are few and far between. There’s even a saxophonist turning out sultry tunes every night from Thursday through Saturday – check the official website for hours.

Empire State Building Tours

While you can visit this New York City landmark on your own, there are also various tour options where you’ll learn even more about the building’s rich history. The most expensive option is the All-Access Tour, where you’ll be treated like a celebrity (complete with a personal guided tour and the option for champagne in your private waiting room). For those looking for an Empire State Building tour that won’t break the bank, try the 90-minute version led by an ESB Observatory Ambassador, available for purchase on the official site. Crunched for time? You can also snag Empire State Building Express Tickets online, which will allow you to skip the line and head straight to the Empire State Building Observatory’s 86th floor.

Empire State Building Tickets and Hours

Besides tour options, Empire State Building ticket prices vary by the option you choose. Check the official website for the most up-to-date information on ticket prices.

While you may want to plan your visit based on the view and the crowds, in the "city that never sleeps," ESB opens its doors in the early morning and doesn’t close until late. Official operating hours are listed on the Empire State Building website, so be sure to check before you plan your trip.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in New York City, we recommend finding lodging near New York City's top attractions like the Empire State Building. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Visit the Empire State Building for Less With CityPASS® Tickets

You can purchase Empire State Building tickets from the official website; however, ticket prices vary by the package you choose. If you’re looking to save some serious dough, you can find great deals with New York CityPASS® tickets. Check out the Empire State Building as well as other top NYC attractions with CityPASS® tickets, including the Guggenheim Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and more, all at a significant savings off individual ticket prices.

Whether you’re a die-hard Sleepless in Seattle fan, a New Yorker looking to get a birds-eye view of your home city, or a visitor looking to soak up the best sights and sounds of the Big Apple, make sure that you put a visit to the Empire State Building at the top of your list!

Header image Courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

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