Empire State Building

#9 in Best Things To Do in New York City
Empire State Building picture1 of 5
Empire State Building2 of 5
Zsolt Hlinka/Getty Images

Key Info

350 Fifth Ave.

Price & Hours

$36-$80 for adults; $31-$47 for kids
8 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

Details

Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

New York City Tourist 101 dictates that you must swing by this landmark structure in midtown Manhattan. And despite the hefty admission fees, the crowds and the long lines, recent visitors insist that you won't be sorry. In fact, taking a trip to the top of the Empire State Building is either the perfect way to begin or end your Big Apple excursion – on a clear day you'll be able to the see the city's major highlights some 1,050 feet beneath you. Pick up the multimedia tour, available in eight languages, which guides visitors through the icon's exhibits and views with additional background on the building's history. The tour is included in the admission price and given to guests to enhance their visit.

Looking up at the art deco skyscraper from the ground is also pretty spectacular, especially in the evenings when there's a little mood lighting. The Empire State Building's tower lights have maintained a tradition of changing color to recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year since 1976. In 2012, its iconic tower lighting system was modernized by replacing its flood lights with a dynamic lighting system unique to the Empire State Building, with more than 16 million colors in limitless combinations and effects. The Empire State Building stages dazzling light shows celebrating holidays and events, often synchronized to music broadcast simultaneously on iHeartMedia's radio stations.   

You really can't miss seeing the Empire State (it's the second-tallest building in New York City only to the recently topped-out One World Trade Center), but in case you do, look toward midtown Manhattan at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street (take the B, D, F, M, N, Q, or R train to 34th Street). The 86th- and 102nd-floor observatories are open every day from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m.; the last elevator is at 1:15 a.m. Tickets to the 86th floor cost $36 for adults, $35 for seniors and $31 for children, or $69 for the Express Pass (where you can bypass the line). Consult the Empire State Building's official website for further details on pricing and to find the lighting schedule.

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More Best Things To Do in New York City

Central Park1 of 31
American Museum of Natural History2 of 31
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Central Park

This part-park, part-museum, part-concert hall swallows central Manhattan, and many of the city's most notable attractions are situated next to it or within its limits (the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, to name a few). But travelers insist that you shouldn't just pass through Central Park on your way to another place. This 843-acre green space is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists; you can come here to exercise, dine, go to the zoo and more.

“Central Park is fantastic year-round, and is a must-see for anyone coming to New York," says Josephine Danielson, head concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel New York. "People may not realize Central Park has several hidden treasures. If you’re looking for something different, I tell guests to visit the Conservatory Garden." 

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