Seeing the city from above is always magical! She looks even more gorgeous from the clouds. Taxi’s look like ants and even the skyscrapers look smaller from here.
No matter how many times I’ve admired her, she never gets old! No idea what I’m talking about? Read this article on the 5 observatories first.
Here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of your visit. Whether you are visiting Empire State Building or One World Observatory. These tips can be applied to every single observatory.
1/ Choose the correct ticket
All 5 observatories offer different ticket options.
From basic entrance fee to extra experience options (eg. the glass elevator ride in the Summit OV) to an exclusive private tour at the Empire State Building. Go wild! (Check out this article to get an overview in a nutshell.)
Most will also offer ‘VIP’ tickets so you don’t have to wait in line*. Even when you have a time slot on your ticket, you do have to wait in line. When I visited the Summit OV for the first time it took me about 40 minutes before I got through security. Calculate this time in your itinerary so you don’t miss the sunset!
Note that some will charge extra for sunset times. (We see you summit OV)
But I’ll let you in on a secret: No need to pay extra for this time frame. You can stay as long as you want so make sure you enter the observatory before sunset time and enjoy it from above. No extra charge!
Save your money for other options, like an extra audio tour. Or the overpriced tourist picture (which I love! I know they are crap, but I love them. Don’t judge me. It’s my thing).
*Nothing as frustrating as arriving at the entrance with your VIP ticket to notice there is no line. Like no one is there! You can kick yourself for paying extra for nothing. Or pretending you are a real VIP and you get a private entrance ;).
2/ Check the weather app
Oh that perfect blue sky! The best photo prop you can get. A view as far as the eye can see. Manhattan Streets and Brooklyn Bridge. Take it all in.
On days with low clouds and rain cleaning the city streets views are limited. Although clouds can make a beautiful view too…
Best days? Rain all day till about two hours before sunset. Clouds disappearing while the sun gets ready to set. No lines at the entrance and you ride up to an empty sky platform. VIP treatment without paying the price ;).
3/ Do you need to book upfront?
I’m the Master Plan. What do you think I’ll say?
Book up front!
Have a strict schedule? Book upfront!
Want to make sure you can have tickets for the Summit OV? Book upfront!
Do you want to add a special something to your visit? Book upfront!
Are you proposing? Book upfront! And check out the specials for each observatory! Oh…and send me pictures!!
Traveling during bad weather? Wait till the sky clears and book last minute when the clouds disappear.
Is the observatory a nice to have on your trip? Get in line when you pass by or have some extra time on your hands.
Not into planning? You wild thing! Why are you even reading my blog ;)? No just kidding. I get it, don’t book upfront :).
4/ How much time do you need?
Depends on the observatory you are visiting. And (if you are anything like me) the amount of pictures you’ll take.
For The Empire State Building & Top of the Rocks you’ll need about one to two hours.
The Edge can be done in like 30 minutes. Flat. It’s really not that big. Unless you want to have their famous Eastern Point picture. Cause that might set you back another 30 minutes depending on the crowd.
But for the Summit One Vanderbilt, my Loves, you’ll need 3 to 4 hours. Like easily! There are several rooms to explore all with a different experience. All that beauty to see! Not one. Not two. But THREE floors to explore.
She is the only one showing you all the other Beauties; Empire, Rockefeller, Chrysler and so so so much more. Take out your camera and snap your heart out!!
I’m not picking favorites, but if I would, Summit OV would easily be in my top 3!
One World Observatory is a gem you have to experience! I visit her every single time and I still get goosebumps. Pure magic if you ask me.
Foresee 2 hours to experience her and maybe have a drink at the bar. Or is it just because I had a nice afternoon there with my besties that I love that bar so much?
5/ When to visit
Try to schedule a visit on your first or second evening. This will help you to get a clear overview of how the city is structured. Easier to see from above than from the metro. A bird view will help you orientate yourself during your visit.
Did you note I wrote evening? Or more specific right before sunset. This will give you New York in daylight and the transition towards the night. The lights that pop up. Evening traffic down there. The lights on the ESB. The sun setting behind the Hudson.
The city really never sleeps!
But note, sunset hours are different throughout the year (I know obvious, but you are warned) and don’t forget to calculate extra time to get up there. If the sun sets at 6 PM don’t arrive at 5.30 cause I guarantee you’ll miss it.
I’ll repeat for the cheap seats at the back (extra bonus points if you know where I’m referring too): No need to pay more for sunset tickets. You can stay as long as you want!
Now tell me in the comments any other questions you have concerning the observatories and I’ll answer them in my next article.
Always in an Empire State of Mind,
PS: This post is part of a bigger series regarding the observatories. Make sure to catch the rest of them too! Cause I love it here high in the sky where dreams are made.