Bonnie and I actually enjoyed our visit to the Empire State Building. Observing the Big Apple from atop the 86th floor observatory at the Empire State Building is awe-inspiring.
But, you will not be alone. Quite a few people are interested in enjoying this classic NYC tourist stop. The line(s) to purchase tickets can be astronomically long. We were LUCKY to only be in line some 90 minutes to GET tickets. (Remember, there are two steps leading to the 86th floor....getting tickets and then getting to the elevator.) There is, happily, a way to speed the process.
BUY YOUR EMPIRE STATE BUILDING ADMISSION TICKETS ONLINE! This can be accomplished easily at
They will either send your tickets to your doorstep, or you can print them out yourself, assuming you don't have a Canon printer. (Sorry, just me attacking Canon....I had a bad experience with my former printer)
Fondest memory: Actually, it isn't really a FOND memory. We stood in line for almost 90 minutes just buying our tickets for the ESB observatory. It was stuffy and uncomfortable for most of the time. If we hadn't been in line with some very funny people (who enjoyed making fun of the audio tour sales goons as much as we did), it might have been insufferable.
Save your time. Get tickets online.
Dominating the skyline of Manhattan, the Empire State Building rises to a height of 1454 feet. The 86th floor observatory offers incredible views of NYC and the adjacent areas. High speed elevators take you quickly (once you've managed to procure a ticket...see my tip concering buying your tickets online) to the 86th floor, where there are glass-enclosed viewing areas AND outdoor promenades. (Sadly, I read where a few days ago, some fellow chose to do a high dive from the 86th floor, which came to an abrupt, and I suppose messy, end on the 6th floor)
On a clear day, you can see up to 60 miles in almost any direction. I'm told the nighttime view is quite spectacular as well, if you get a clear evening.
The cost of a trip to the 86th floor observatory is $11 for adults and $6 for children. Seniors are $10. If you get a Smartmap, you'll receive a discount of 20% on two admissions to the observatory. (See my Smartmap tip)
The Empire State Building observatory is open 7 days a week, with some variation around public holidays, from 9:30 am until midnight. The last admission to the observatory occurs at 11:20 pm each evening.
There is a gift shop on the observatory floor, and it's full of what you'd expect. Nothing, in my opinion, that one couldn't live without. : )
For more information, or for online tickets, visit the Empire State Building website at
Fondest memory: It actually took us a little less time to get to the 86th floor observatory that I'd thought. AND, I didn't expect to get a nice fresh-air outdoor peek from the top.
The feeling of being above it all is surreal, and it's often easy to forget that you're in a man-made structure that is nearly 70 years old. Truly an engineering marvel.
WARNING...all during your time in line at the Empire State Building, you are harassed by some outfit calling itself Tony's Audio Tours. You are constantly haranged about buying this joker's taped commentary of the view from the Empire State Building, and it is inferred that you'll be wasting your time without Tony's input. Baloney. We had little difficulty finding all sorts of landmarks as we peered over the Big Apple. If listening to audio tape tours makes you happy, buy one. You'll have plenty of opportunities, believe me. But, do not be chided into purchasing this business believing that your experience will somehow be substandard without it. A classic HARD sell, folks. In some ways, the dogmatic pounding you get while in line from Tony and his goons is kind of comical. We had a good time making fun of them, actually.
Favorite thing: The Empire State Building has always been a favorite of the movies...where else would KingKong climb up to? The movie "Sleepless in Seattle" and the oldie, "An Affair to Remember" both chose the top of the Empire State to have that romantic rendezvous. Most of all, it affords you a remarkable view of NYC. As of my last visit, the observation deck was open 7 days/wk from 8am-2am so you may want to check to be sure this is still the case. There are two kinds of fees depending on how you want to go up the observation deck. For observation on the 86th floor, it's $20 for Adults (Ages 18-up) and below $20 for those under 18. Toddlers up to 5 years old are free. The Express Pass is $48 for everyone (Toddlers up to 5 years old are still free). Basically, this ticket let you get in front of the line. The lines for tickets are quite insane so you may want to consider buying your tickets online or ahead of time. Also there's a security check line so everyone's stuff gets inspected and of course there's a line for the elevators to go up the observatory. This is a great experience but you may want to do this when you have enough time to spend here and not in a hurry to be elsewhere.
Here are some must-see's and must-do's in New York:
1.) Empire State Building (the queue here tends to be longer than at "Top of the Rock")
2.) Top of the Rock (shorter queue means less wait & designated admission time in ticket)
3.) Fifth Ave. (window-shopping or real shopping possibilities)
4.) Broadway Musicals/Off-Broadway musicals & plays (there are many shows to choose from)
5.) Times Square at night is supremely stupendous
6.) New York museums (e.g., Metropolitan, MOMA, Guggenheim, etc.)
7.) Chelsea/Greenwich Village neighborhoods for a walking tour and shopping/eating opportunities, etc.
8.) Soho for shopping
9.) Financial district to get a feel for life in this environment during a work week
10.) Bridges of New York have a dramatic effect
11.) Rockefeller Center (for "Top of the Rock," shopping/dining, skating in winter, people-watching, etc.)
12.) The restaurants of New York offer a wonderful array of cuisines from around the world
13.) Visit the various buroughs to get a full picture of New York
14.) Visit Central Park
15.) Visit the United Nations
16.) Visit Chinatown & Little Italy
17.) Visit South Seaport District
18.) Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral
19.) Get a glimpse of the Grand Central Station
20.) Have a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity
There are so many more to see & do! Enjoy New York!
Fondest memory: Strolling along Times Square at night and being lost in the sea of humanity
The Empire State Building is 1,453 feet 8 9/16 inches (443.2 meters) tall, was built in one year and 45 days (1930-1931) and has 102 floors. On clear days visitors can see the surrounding countryside for distances up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as New York. Anything this good is worth the wait! What more can be said about a feeling, a thrill and a memory that stays with you for the rest of your life. A person once said, "You can live in New York all your life, but until you see it from the top of the Empire State Building, you haven't seen the city."
Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
9:30am to Midnight daily. Last elevators go up at 11:15pm. Open daily 365 days a year.
Adults (18-61) $11
Go to the top of the Empire State Building!
Fondest memory: At first, I thought this was a pathetically touristy thing to do, but I'm glad we did it anyway. Despite an approximately three-hour wait in line to actually get on the elevator to the observation deck, it was an amazing view and worth every minute. You can see for miles! This is one of the many views from the top--the sheer size of NYC is overwhelming--even to me, and I'm used to the immenseness of Chicago!
To see New York City...
was always a dream for me. Feel the power of a city that really never sleeps. Offcourse we wanted to see the big landmarks like the Empire State building , Twin towers and the chrysler building.
The first year we went to the US we only drove through it with Niki's Niece and stopped for a visit to the Empire Stat building.
When we went there all by ourself the next year the town gave me some fear, this faded away quickly but the feeling of being small stayed.
Fondest memory: Walking through this city in our own pace, take the Subway and walk through Battery Park.
Maybe it was different at that time, but the Twin towers have gotten a special place in our hearts.
Picture taken June 1998
Favorite thing: Whisked yourself up to the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING naturally. Who could have resisted this after 'SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE'? Not me, of course! Well, I'm Meg Ryan's & Tom Hank's fan, so here I went right up to the top. Well, not quite, more like to the 86th Floor Observatory with hundreds of others. So much for romance, lol... Be warned that you'd have to wait for about an hour to get to the ticket box office & then another 30 minutes minimum to get down! Although visitors reach the 86th floor in less than a minute & the panoramic views are spectacular, time yourself well so that you reach there at the time you wish to be at the top. I intended to get up there for sunset views but ended up with night views instead!
Facts about THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING:
Height = 443 m (1454 ft).
Architect: William Lamb.
Completed in 410 days (at the rate of 4 1/2 stories per week). 7 million man-hours, employing as many as 4000 men per day.
Officially opened by Alfred E. Smith on May 1, 1931 to the public.
Initially estimated total cost: US$50 million.
Actual final cost: US$41 million.
Area of site: Approximately 2.66 acres (1.076 hectares).
Structural composition: 60,000 tons of steel, 10 million bricks, 6,500 windows, 1,860 steps, 73 elevators operating at speeds of up to 427 m (1,400 ft) per minute.
climb to the top of the Empire State Building at the corner of 5th Av & 34th St. (Station : 33th St)
Open from 9:30AM to Midnight. The lift goes to the 80° floor, an other lift brings you to the 86th and a third one is necessary to reach the 102°. An other way is to climb on the frontage as King Kong.
The sight seeing is marvellous especially the Sunday in Spring ans Summer (less fog).
15.000 people work here but when it was built, in 1929, there were difficult to find tenants and the first nick name of the tower was The Empty State Building.
The photo was made during a visit in 1971. At this date the Empire was the highest building in the world ; the twin towers of the World Trade Center were under construction.
Fondest memory: MORE : SEE THE TRAVELOGUE
My dear ritual...as soon as I've arrived and settled in my hotel...off I go up to admire the view from the 86th floor observatory, 1,050 feet (320 meters), shown on the picture above!
Since the Observatory opened to the public in 1931, almost 100 million visitors have thrilled to the awe-inspiring vision of the City beneath them. Each year over 3.5 million people are whisked to the 86 th floor to be where Cary Grant waited in vain for Deborah Kerr in an 'Affair to Remember', while Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had their fateful meeting in the movie 'Sleepless in Seattle'.
To find out more about lights that colors the Empire State Building CLICK HERE
Fondest memory: The top of the cool Empire State Bldg glows with the colors of the season, maybe you know the holidays and special events being celebrated, maybe you don't, but it's always nice to see the different colors against the night sky...
They have installed a webcam way up on the Empire State Building from which you can view miles around. The controls are intuitive and there is no software to install. Just point, click, pan and enjoy.
Favorite thing: I took in the view of New York from the Empire State Building for this picture - I have fond memories of this view of the World Trade Centre, which I also visited. I have no doubts that the Financial District, at the far end of this view, will rise again...
Favorite thing: Visit the lobby of the Empire State building. Incidentally, the Empire State has an excellent website at www.esbnyc.com, which has lots of information on this wonderful skyscraper.