Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building soars well above any other building around, making it a famous landmark in New York City and one of the city's top tourist attractions.
The observation deck on the 86th floor gives an unparalleled view of the city. From 1050 feet in the air, the streets of New York are surprisingly serene. The taxi cabs and people below look like tiny pieces on a game board. On a clear day, you will see all of the NYC metro area and beyond.
View from the 86th Floor Observation Deck
You can take in the view from behind glass windows in a temperature-controlled environment, but you’ll probably want to walk around the outdoor promenade that goes around the entire building. It might be windy, but it’s a view that is worth messing up your hairstyle for. There is no time limit for how long you can stay.
Essential New York City Guide Tips
1. As it is with many things in New York that are great to see, the lines can get extremely long. Expect a total time commitment of 3-4 hours and consider visiting early in the day to avoid the biggest crowds.
2. You will have to go through an airport-style security check. There is no coat check or storage facility so don’t bring large bags.
3. Aim for a clear day so you’ll be able to see for miles in every direction.
4. It is much windier and cooler on the 86th floor than at street level. Dress appropriately during the colder months.
5. Once on the 86th floor, you can choose to purchase tickets to the 102nd floor observatory. Most will find the view from the 86th floor spectacular enough, but going up even higher is an option.
The lights at the top of the Empire State Building illuminate the skyscraper against the dark sky every night. The colors change constantly to recognize holidays and other important occasions.
To view the full lighting schedule, visit
ESB Lighting Schedule. The standard lighting is all white lights. The lights go off at 2 am every night.
Learn more about the ESB at
Empire State Building Facts.
The Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock are both great options for seeing the city from above. If you're torn with indecision about which one to visit, read Empire State vs. The Rock to help yourself decide.
Ticket Prices (Main Deck - 86th Floor)
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online ahead of time.
You can purchase tickets online for the ESB Observatory.
If you arrive without a ticket, you will have to stand in three lines (security, ticket, then an elevator line) to get to the main observation deck. Online ticket buyers can skip the ticket line, which is very helpful.
Interested in combo tickets? Here are some options worth looking into:
Location and Directions
The visitor entrance to ESB is located on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets.
The ESB is centrally located, so many subway lines will get you close. Take the 1, 2, 3, A, C, or E to 34th Street/Penn Station or the B, D, F, N, Q, or R to 34th Street/Herald Square Station.