The best observation decks in New York

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Steffen
10. March 2020
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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.

Contents

The Best Observation Platforms in New York

Name

One World Observatory

Top of The Rock

Hudson Yards Observation Deck - Edge

Empire State Building

Statue of Liberty Crown

One Vanderbilt - The Summit

Image

One World Trade Center

Top of the Rock view

Empire State Building 102nd floor

Observation Deck 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

Building

One World Trade Center

Rockefeller Center

The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards

The Empire State Building

The Statue of Liberty

One Vanderbilt

Location

Downtown

Midtown

Hudson Yards

Midtown

Liberty Island

Midtown

Opened

2015

1936

March 2020

1931

1886

End of 2021 (Tentative)

Observation Deck Height

1250 ft.

840 ft.

1131 ft.

102nd floor - 1224 ft.

305 ft

Just over 1000 ft

Floor(s) of observation deck

n/a

70th floor

n/a

86th and 102nd floor

n/a

57th - 59th floor

Floor(s) with panoramic windows

100th and 102nd floor

67th and 69th floor

n/a

102nd floor

n/a

57th - 59th floor

Our Insider Guide

n/a

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)

n/a

Last Elevator

11:15 pm

11 pm

n/a

1:15 am

6:45 pm (last ferry)

n/a

Included in the New York passes?

n/a

Tickets

n/a

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!

  • 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:


Our favorite observation decks in NYC

One World Observatory at One World Trade Center

One World ObservatoryThe 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

Empire State Building 102nd floorWith 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

Top Of The Rock Observation DeckThe 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

Statue of Liberty NYCThe 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

Edge Observation DeckSince March 11, Hudson Yards will have opened 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.

There are two different types of tickets available. You can purchase a regular admission ticket, where you have to enter Edge at a specific date and time, or you can purchase flex tickets to be able to go at a specific date but are flexible with the time. 

EDGE FLEX TICKETS Edge Tickets

COMING SOON: 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!

About the author
Steffen

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!

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Kat

Is it possible to include the newest observatory that’s supposed to be unveiled March 2020? (Edge NYC)? Otherwise, great info and great website, thank you! 😀

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