The Empire State Building: Is it worth going up to the 102nd floor?

By Steffen, 10. March 2017
4 ratings

On our last trip to New York City we again visited the building that, at least to us, is the most impressive building in New York: the Empire State Building. We wanted to find out for you if buying a ticket to the regular observation platform on the 86th floor was sufficient or whether the second observation platform was worth the extra money.  Is spending an additional $17 and waiting in yet another line to get to the 102nd floor, just to admire Manhattan from even higher truly worth it?

From the 86th floor to the 102nd … is it worth it? We think NOT!

The Empire State Building is one of the most visited sights in New York City. It’s a great moment when the doors of the elevator open up on the 86th floor and you can admire the maze of buildings that is Manhattan. This time however, I wanted more. I wanted to go higher… even higher than the 320 meter platform I was standing on. The 102nd floor soars a total of 373 meters over the Big Apple. Oh boy … and the tiny elevator on my way did not do anything to reduce my anxiety. Only a few people can fit into the old and cramped elevator that, after waiting in yet another line, takes you to the 102nd floor. You can check out our video of the 86th floor below!

The observation platform on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building

When you finally reach the top, you unfortunately find yourself (as opposed to the fresh air of the 86th floor), in a much smaller room enclosed by glass. This is due to the building narrowing to a sharp tip. Given my jittery nerves, I did not mind the glass enclosure too much — but was it worth paying an extra $17? Not really… Not as many people can fit on the 102nd floor an it is certainly not as crowded as it is 16 floors below, but the views are very similar. I soon made my way back to the 86th floor, where I spent a lot more time enjoying the views as well as the fresh air. You can check out our video below to see what its like on the 86th floor!


Pictures from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building

Bottom line: $17 for a difference of 16 floors is not worth it

The view is largely same. Taking photos is also virtually impossible due to the thick glass you are stuck behind. Additionally, in order to get to the 102nd floor, you have to wait in another, slow-moving line due to the small elevator that can only hold very few people. You can make better use of this time by taking stunning pictures from the 86th floor. Personally, I would not recommend the upgrade!

Buy Skip-the-line Tickets

Find more info on how to buy tickets you can read our article about the Empire State Building here.

My budget tip: The tickets for the Empire State Building are included in the New York passes!

Up to 80 attractions and tours are included in the price of a New York sightseeing pass. Learn more about the passes here:

New York Pass     Explorer Pass  New-York-CityPASS

View New York Pass Comparison


The Empire State Building: Is it worth going up to the 102nd floor?
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