The New York City skyline
The New York City skyline


What to Know Before You Visit the Empire State Building Observatory

Whether you’re a born and bred New Yorker or a visitor excited to explore, the Empire State Building is a must-see attraction in New York City. From ticket offers to the optimal times to visit, we compiled a complete guide of useful tips and insights for your trip to the “World’s Most Famous Building.” 

Learn more about the reimagined Empire State Building Observatory below!


A visit to the Empire State Building – voted the number one attraction in the U.S. by Tripadvisor travelers for two consecutive years – is best when planned. Consider factors like ticket purchase, the optimal time to visit, and the length of your visit to make the most of your time at this historic landmark. 

The entrance to the ESB Observatory

Buying Tickets

You can purchase tickets for the Empire State Building Observatory online through the official website,, or at the building’s onsite ticket kiosks. Online ticket purchases are the easiest way to explore ESB’s ticket options – like the Premium Experience or ESB All Access Tour – and choose your visitor timeslot to guarantee a seamless entry.

Best Times to Visit

The “World’s Most Famous Building” offers plenty of time for exploration. Whether you visit early in the morning or after the sun sets, you will find that each time of day is enchanting in its own way.  

Want to visit the Empire State Building in the winter months? No problem! The iconic 86th Floor Observatory stays warm with wraparound outdoor heaters and the 102nd Floor Observatory is indoor and temperature controlled.

How Long to Stay

The length of your visit at the Empire State Building depends on how much time you want to spend on its world-famous Observatories and throughout the immersive museum. The average visit lasts between one and two hours but stay longer to identify all of New York City’s famous landmarks within the 360-degree views and see six states from the 102nd Floor Observatory. 

The Empire State Building


The Empire State Building, an authentic symbol of New York City, draws millions of visitors each year. Understand its history, architecture, and significance to enrich your visit. 

Built during the Great Depression and designed by William F. Lamb, the Empire State Building was the world's tallest building upon its completion in 1931. The building’s distinctive Art Deco style and limestone and granite facade give it a timeless elegance. Today, it's a powerful symbol of New York City and human innovation. 

The “World’s Most Famous Building” is more than just an architectural marvel; it's a symbol of American resilience and ambition. It's been featured in numerous films, television shows, and other media, and symbolizes New York City's status as a global center of commerce, culture, and innovation. The building hosts scores of celebrities, athletes, and dignitaries to tour its world-famous Observatory and flip the switch for its iconic tower lights.


To make the most of your visit to the Empire State Building, here are some valuable tips:

Observation Decks

The Empire State Building has two observation decks: the iconic outdoor 86th Floor Observatory and the exclusive 102nd Floor Observatory. Both decks offer panoramic views of the city, but the 102nd Floor Observatory features unparalleled sights that stretch up to 80 miles through the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Immersive Exhibits

Allow plenty of time for your visit to explore the Empire State Building's digital and tactile exhibits. From the Kong exhibit – that offers guests the chance to step right into the famous ape’s hand – to the Sustainability exhibit that showcases the building's industry-leading deep energy retrofit and eco-friendly initiatives, these exhibits add an extra layer of history and authenticity to your visit.

The Kong Exhibit at the ESB Observatory


When you visit the Empire State Building, take time to explore the vibrant area around the landmark.

Local Dining Options 

From quick bites to fine dining, there are plenty of restaurants near – and inside – the Empire State Building. Enjoy diverse cuisines at renowned establishments from casual tacos and tequila at Tacombi to elevated American fare at STATE Grill and Bar, the Empire State Building’s signature restaurant. Pro tip: Add a pre-fix lunch or dinner for a great meal deal when you purchase your Empire State Building tickets online.

Nearby Attractions 

Explore other local landmarks like the Flatiron Building or the New York Public Library, or indulge in some retail therapy on Fifth Avenue.


If you plan to stay overnight, there are several hotels near the Empire State Building. From luxury accommodations like The Langham to budget-friendly options, you'll find a variety of accommodations nearby to suit your needs.

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