New York City has many observation decks that give you spectacular views of the city. There is hardly anything more spectacular than standing far above the city streets and looking down over the expansive concrete jungle. Which observation decks there are, which ones are free, and a few insider tips are all included in our list of best observation platforms in NYC.
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The Best Observation Platforms in New York
One World Observatory
Top of The Rock
Hudson Yards Observation Deck - Edge
Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty Crown
One Vanderbilt - The Summit
Claim to Fame
Highest observation deck in New York
Best view of NYC, Empire State Building & Central Park
Tallest outdoor observation deck in Western Hemisphere. Glass floors
NYC's most famous observation deck
Observation deck in the water
Will overlook Madison Ave and floor to ceiling glass windows
One World Trade Center
The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards
The Empire State Building
The Statue of Liberty
End of 2021 (Tentative)
Observation Deck Height
102nd floor - 1224 ft.
Just over 1000 ft
Floor(s) of observation deck
86th and 102nd floor
57th - 59th floor
Floor(s) with panoramic windows
100th and 102nd floor
67th and 69th floor
57th - 59th floor
Our Insider Guide
Hours of operation:
daily 9 am - midnight
daily 8:30 am - midnight
daily 8 am – midnight
daily 8 am – 2 am
daily 8:30 am (first ferry)
6:45 pm (last ferry)
Included in the New York passes?
Free observation decks in New York
Just like everybody else, we love free things at Loving New York. What’s even better is if you can get something for free that you wouldn’t mind paying for. Free observation decks definitely fit into that category! There are two different ways of enjoying great views of New York for free.
You have a New York pass
The very popular observation decks on top of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) are included in the New York passes. With sightseeing passes, you pay a fixed amount upfront, and can then visit many attractions for free. It is basically a flat rate for NYC attractions. Take a look at the Comparison of New York passes. With a pass, you can save up to 70% compared to the cost of purchasing regular tickets individually!
Get personal tips & tricks, specifically tailored to your trip!
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You go to a rooftop bar
If you want to enjoy New York high above, another option is to go to one of the many rooftop bars and lounges the city has to offer. Our tip: the rooftop bar 230 Fifth or Spyglass – both will give you stunning views of the Empire State Building and are definitely some of our favorite rooftop bars in the city.
You can find the best rooftop bars in New York in my list:
The 35 Best Rooftop Bars in New York
New York’s rooftop bars are one of our personal highlights. Think about it - what could possibly be better than enjoying stunning views of the city while slurping delicious cocktails? For that reason, we created...
Our favorite observation decks in NYC
One World Observatory at One World Trade Center
The observation deck on top of the One World Trade Center is one of the newest attractions in the Big Apple. The so-called One World Observatory opened in May 2015 and offers spectacular views over Manhattan at a height of 381 meters. This makes the One World Observatory the highest observation platform in the city, meaning the views are nothing short of spectacular.
Empire State Building Observation Deck on the 86th and 102nd floor
With its observation deck on the 86th Floor, the Empire State Building offers the highest open observation deck in New York! Due to the fact that it is not encased in glass or covered with a roof, it is one the most popular observation decks of the city and definitely one of the most spectacular. Additionally, the Empire State Building has a second observation platform on the 102nd floor that is enclosed and features large panoramic windows. Tickets to get to the 102nd floor cost an additional $19 (this is not worth it in our opinion – the extra floors do not necessarily give you a better view!).
The observation platform at the New York Rockefeller Center
The observation deck at Rockefeller Center is also known as Top of the Rock. This is definitely our favorite observation deck of the city as it gives you great views of the Empire State Building as well as Central Park. It also allows you to take the typical NYC picture of the Empire State Building standing tall among the other skyscrapers of Central Manhattan, as in the header picture above. Another advantage of the Top of the Rock observation deck compared to the others is that it is much less crowded thanks to the timed entry system. Instead of waiting in line you will receive a time to come back when you purchase your tickets. This time management not only makes the observation deck much less busy but it also allows you to cut down on the time spent in the queue waiting to get to the top!
Observation platform in the crown of the Statue of Liberty
The crown of the Statue of Liberty is very popular with tourists. We have climbed the stairs to the crown ourselves and, to be completely honest, found the experience somewhat overrated. Long wait lines and a small, tight viewing area in the crown did persuade us this was worth the visit. Our tip: if you want to see the Statue of Liberty up close, take a boat cruise around Manhattan or take pictures from the free Staten Island Ferry. The view from the top of the Statue of Liberty is not that great either, due to being quite a distance from Manhattan most of what you see is water.
Hudson Yards Observation Deck – Edge
In March of 2020, Hudson Yards will open up its new observation deck called “Edge”. It will be located inside The Shops at Hudson Yards and will be the tallest outdoor viewing platform in the western hemisphere. The Hudson Yards observation deck will have glass floors so you can see the city streets beneath you which is very similar to the Skydeck in Chicago. It’s another great feature of the always-changing skyline of Manhattan.
End of 2021 – One Vanderbilt’s The Summit
With the Hudson Yards observation deck just about to open, It was most recently announced that One Vanderbilt will also have an observation deck in Midtown. That makes it three observation deck in this part of the city. It will be in Midtown’s soon-to-be tallest office building. The viewing platforms will be located on the 57th-59th floors. Stay tuned as more details emerge!
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On this blog, I want to share everything I have learned and discovered, so you can have the best time in the greatest city in the world!