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Last updated: 01 May, 2023

This art deco icon, built 1929-31, was New York’s tallest building for decades until the twin towers were built at the World Trade Centre – now replaced of course by the One World Trade skyscraper at the same site.

It’s one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world – and gets ridiculously busy – but it’s worth it for the unrivalled views of the city from the observation deck.

Price from: £32
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The closest subway stops are 34th Street on the 1,2, or 3 lines (Penn Station), or the B, D, F, N, Q, R to 34th Street (Avenue of the Americas).

To avoid the ticket-window queue, buy tickets online in advance or a City Pass (see below). The only way to avoid often-enormous queues for the lifts inside is stealthy timing or to pay double for an Express ticket.

The City Pass

The mobile-delivered City Pass gives you entry to 6 top New York attractions at a 40% discount: the Empire State Building’s 86th-floor observatory, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

When to do it

The building is open all year round, seven days a week. Dawn (8am) and late afternoon (around 3pm) are best for queues. Avoid mid-morning to mid-afternoon when the queues are largest and the light is flattest.

Grey and wet days are obviously likely to be disappointing. Just after a giant rainstorm is genius – tiny queues and sharp light.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Empire State Building Ticket

New York City

Empire State Building Ticket
Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan from base to antenna, the Empire State Building (ESB) is the World’s Most Famous Building. Our 86th Floor Observation Deck, open daily, offers the highest 360 degree open-air vantage point in New York City and on a clear day, you can see up to six states–New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Immerse yourself in the Empire State Building story on your way to the top. Located on the 2nd and 80th floors, exhibits are open to all ticket holders. Choose to upgrade to the Express ticket to make your way down the red carpet and skip all the lines on your way to the Main Deck. Experience the convenience of an expedited journey to the top of the building. For the ultimate experience, upgrade to include the observatory on the 102nd Floor. Take your New York City experience higher. Our reimagined 102nd floor offers unmatched, floor-to-ceiling views stretching up to 80 miles on a clear day.

Price: $48

Min age: 6

Rating 4.30 / 5 [4462 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Empire State Building VIP Guided Tour with 86th and 102nd Floor Access

New York City

Empire State Building VIP Guided Tour with 86th and 102nd Floor Access
Experience the Empire State Building like a VIP! This exclusive, 90-minute guided tour with an Empire State Building Observatory Ambassador includes VIP priority access throughout the visit and a commemorative souvenir photo. This is an intimate experience with a maximum of seven people per tour. Starting with the spectacular new entrance, the second floor galleries allow guests to walk through a museum experience and enjoy a journey into The Empire State Building history and mystique. The multiple hands-on exhibits take visitors of all ages back in time through storytelling that begins from the inspiration, to the construction, and to its current place in pop culture.

Price: $190

Min age: 0

Rating 4.70 / 5 [113 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New York City

New York, United States of America (USA)

New York City

The ‘city that never sleeps’ is a 24/7 thrill of soaring skyscrapers, jaw-dropping architecture, dynamic culture and world-class art, dining and performing arts scenes.