The 9 best observation decks in New York

What is the Best Observation Deck in New York?

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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.

Further down you will find all 👉 observatories of New York on a map.

By the way: it’s really nice when you can enjoy  New York already when you wake up. Take a look at my Hotels in New York with a view!

The 9 Best Observation Platforms in New York

These are our favorite observation decks in NYC:

  1. 01

    One World Observatory – New York highest platform

    Building in Financial District
    Our Highlight
    one_world_observatory_171201092112003
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    The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere meaning that is the ultimate place for an observation deck. The One World Observatory offers amazing views over the whole of Manhattan, the Hudson and East Rivers and of course the Statue of Liberty. As one of NYC’s newest attractions the modern building and its observation deck have many amazing features that make this well worth the visit!

  2. 02

    Empire State Building – The iconic observation deck

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
    Empire State Building
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    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.

  3. 03

    The Edge Observation Deck – the one with the glass floor

    Building in Hudson Yards
    Our Highlight
    Edge_Hudson_Yards_200311150024031
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    The Hudson Yards observation deck called Edge is New York’s newest and highest open observation deck. It opened in March 2020 and we were there – the view from up here is just sensational, and through the glass floor you can see over 100 floors straight down!

  4. 04

    One Vanderbilt The Summit – The newest observation deck in New York

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
    Summit One Vanderbilt Observation Deck
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    The New York City skyline is one of the most famous and recognizable skylines in the world. It’s a city filled with skyscrapers and tall buildings. In most recent years, it has been expanding which made way for new observation decks. The newest observation deck coming to the city will be located at the top of the One Vanderbilt Building. This one will be called “The Summit”. This deck will be the second-highest outdoor deck in NYC which follows the Edge and is about to open on October, 21st!

  5. 05

    Top of the Rock – The observation deck with the best view over Central Park

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
    Top of The Rock NYC
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    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!

  6. 06

    The Vessel Hudson Yards

    Building in Hudson Yards
    Vessel-Hudson-Yards-190318151239001
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    The Vessel is the newest attraction in the Hudson Yards – and it’s free! Designed by British Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the “Rolling Bridge and UK Pavilion at Expo 2010), “The Vessel” offers around 2,500 steps to climb up and down. The symmetrical steel structure, connected by 154 interwoven stair segments, attracts tourists from all over the world to climb the vertical distance of about one mile!

  7. 07

    Observation platform in the crown of the Statue of Liberty

    Building in Lower Manhattan
    statue_of_liberty_and_ellis_island_NYC_Sightseeing_Tour_180306111924010
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    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.

  8. 08

    Green-Wood Cemetery

    Other Attraction in Park Slope
    Green_Wood_Cemetery_6_170209111733020
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    The cemetery is located about 10 minutes walking distance from Prospect Park. On an area of 1.9 km² there are about 600,000 graves and on the hill Battle Hill you can enjoy a great view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

  9. 09

    Chrysler Building Observation Deck

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
    Chrysler_Building_Aussichtsplattform
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    It was discussed for a long time and now it has finally become reality: The Chrysler Building is to get an observation deck! This is to be built on the 61st floor and transform the current north and south terrace into an observation deck with a view over Midtown, the East River and One Vanderbilt Summit.

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:

Which observation deck in New York is the best?

That’s a tricky one – each of them is worth visiting. To get a quick overview I have this comparison for you:

Name

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

Image

One World Trade Center NYC

Top of The Rock NYC

The Edge Hudson Yards Observation Deck

Empire State Building

Statue of Liberty

One-Vanderbilt-Observation-Deck

Claim to Fame

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

Location

Location

Downtown

Midtown

Hudson Yards

Midtown

Liberty Island

Midtown

Opened

Opened

2015

1936

2020

1931

1886

October 2021

Observation Deck Height

Observation Deck Height

1250 ft.

840 ft.

1131 ft.

102nd floor - 1224 ft.

305 ft

Just over 1000 ft

Floor(s) of observation deck

Floor(s) of observation deck

n/a

70th floor

100th floor

86th and 102nd floor

n/a

57th - 59th floor

Floor(s) with panoramic windows

Floor(s) with panoramic windows

100th and 102nd floor

67th and 69th floor

100th floor

102nd floor

n/a

57th - 59th floor

Included in the New York passes?

Included in the New York passes?

n/a

Tickets

Tickets

n/a

Our Insider Guide

Our Insider Guide

The Best Observation Platforms in New York on a map

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. By the way: Did you like my article? Then think about becoming a supporter of us on Patreon!

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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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