When it comes to iconic New York landmarks, the Empire State Building can’t be beat for two good reasons: not only is it the city’s most stunning and recognizable example of Art Deco architecture and one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World,” but as the tallest building in New York City, it also affords the best 360-degree views of Manhattan and beyond.
So when you’re planning a trip to NYC, consider how you want to see this 1,454-foot-tall marvel in Manhattan; there’s more than one way to enjoy the Empire State Building — both inside and out.
Of course, visiting the Empire State Building’s 86th floor observatory is an experience you don’t want to miss. (And if the line-up is any indication, neither does anyone else! That’s why we recommend buying your tickets in advance: you’ll save yourself the trouble of waiting in one more line. Of course, you can’t avoid the security check at the Empire State Building, but planning your trip to the top around the slowest hours for tourist traffic can help cut back on the wait).
Located high above Midtown Manhattan on 34th Street, the Empire State Building’s observation deck offers panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even New Jersey. From Uptown to Central Park to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, you can see it all from the Empire State Building’s 86th-floor observation deck. In fact, on a clear, sunny day, you can see as far as 80 miles in any direction with five states within view from up high on the Empire State Building! And if romance is on your itinerary, there’s no better place to set the mood than up on the observation deck at night, with the twinkling lights of the NYC skyline as a glamorous backdrop for your sky-high rendezvous.
And in your rush to the top, don’t discount the appeal of incredible Art Deco details in the Empire State Building’s lobby, elevator, and indoor waiting areas. Design aficionados will love the aluminum relief of the skyscraper in the lobby, as well as the original elevators and an ornate mural on the entryway’s three-storey ceiling.
Another popular attraction located right in the Empire State Building gives visitors a view of the landmark you can’t get anywhere else. NYSkyride uses special effects and high-definition video to take “passengers” on a ride they will never forget, flying over 30 famous city sights, including the Empire State Building. NYSkyride is New York City’s only tour by aerial simulator, and is a great introduction to the city for newcomers, who will enjoy circling the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and Central Park. The NYSkyride Combo lets you explore both the Empire State Building Observatory and the NYSkyride.
The Empire State Building is the most photographed landmark in the world, and it may surprise you to learn that some of the best pictures can be had from afar — on a boat. Many of the boat cruises you can book focus on New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan and Statue of Liberty views. But Circle Line Sightseeing’s Three-Hour Full Island Tour circumnavigates the entire island of Manhattan, so you will have two chances to enjoy great views (and photo opps!) of the Empire State Building as the boat makes its way up the East River past 34th Street, around the northern tip of Manhattan and back down the Hudson River, past the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan for a second time. As you pass by this historic landmark on a boat you will gain a true appreciation for its dramatic place in the New York City skyline.
Once you see the Empire State Building in person you will understand why it has inspired so many artists to render this iconic skyscraper in an array of mediums. At the New York Historical Society you can see some of the best works inspired by New York’s most famous landmark, including Victor Perelli’s “Empire State Building, N.Y.C.,” a stately depiction of the Empire State Building standing against turbulent skies. The New York Historical Society exhibit “Portraits of the City” offers visitors a selection of city views, from the historic engraving “A Southeast Prospect of the City of New York,” circa 1756-1761, to Jacquette’s “From World Trade Center, 1998.” Also included in this artistic tribute to NYC are portraits of political and cultural figures, as well as artwork depicting the lives of typical New Yorkers.
However you choose to enjoy New York City’s most iconic landmark, we know it will put you in an Empire State of Mind.