Welcome to the city that never sleeps. Are you looking for a unique view of New York City? Are you wondering which one is the best observation decks in nyc?
Whether you’re an adventurous tourist, a dedicated New Yorker, the observation decks of New York City are the gift that keeps on giving!
Discover the Best To Worst NYC Observation Decks with us and get ready for the New York City rollercoaster of emotions from thousands of feet up!
Best To Worst NYC Observation Decks
If you’re looking for one of the best views of the Empire State Building, then the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt observation deck should be at the top of your list!
Located on the 91st floor and taking up three floors, this new attraction is extremely popular among both tourists and Instagram fiends.
It is divided into three main parts: an observation deck, a digital art installation by Kenzo Digital, and the Transcendence room. The Transcendence room is perhaps what you have seen on Instagram.
It features mirrors on both the floor and ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows, creating an incredible optical illusion that many love to photograph.
Here you can stand on a glass floor over 1,000 feet above the streets of NYC! Other points of interest include the bar/lounge area called Apres, and an open-air observation deck called Ascent reaching up to 1,200 feet.
However, don’t forget sunglasses! It can get extremely bright in the observation deck rooms, so make sure to bring them along!
What We Like About Summit One Vanderbilt
– Spectacular views of the Empire State Building
– Cutting-edge technology and immersive, artistic experience
– Option to visit one of the highest points of Manhattan (additional cost)
What We Don’t Like About Summit One Vanderbilt
– Always busy with many people around
– Photo shoots may make it difficult to move around
– Elevator to the 105th floor is an extra charge of $20
Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders
Ticket Prices: $39
Building Height: 1,401 ft.
Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Hours: 9 AM – 10:30 PM
Top of the Rock is my favorite viewpoint out of all the observation decks in New York City. Though it may not be the highest (One World Observatory) or the most modern (Edge), it has the best all-around views of the metropolis.
On 50th Street, Central Park begins just 9 blocks away and the views of its lushness from the northern side of the tower are downright breathtaking.
Other locations, such as the Edge or the Empire State Building, can only offer a tiny view of the park but here, everything can be observed in a way that none of the other observation decks can match.
The views of the Empire State Building from this spot are majestic. Being on the 70th floor gives one a great perspective of it, which is pretty much non-existent in the other sky-high view points.
The Edge has a partially obstructed one, One World Observatory offers a far-away (though higher!) view, and you can’t even see it from inside the Empire State.
This is a significant feature that the Top of the Rock offers and makes its views the most savored.
Another drawback of the Top of the Rock is that it is the shortest of all these quarters. Furthermore, the user experience is not always the greatest experience. In 2017, I visited with a City Pass and it was a disaster.
Having to wait in line to exchange the ticket for a timed-entry voucher could be inconvenient, especially if your hotel does not vicinity and the process can be really taxing.
But, if you book the tickets directly through an authority ticket seller like Viator, you can skip the long lines and just show up at the time booked.
What We Like About Top of The Rock
– Indoor and outdoor observation decks allow for stunning views of the New York City skyline regardless of the weather
– Located at a prime spot for taking in sunsets
– Excellent vantage point for appreciating the nearby Empire State Building
What We Don’t Like About Top of The Rock
– It is one of the shortest observation decks in the city, which can limit some of the views
– No dining or bar services available at the top
Building Height: 850 ft. to 872 ft. * (The information available is uncertain)
Ticket Prices: Start at $34
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Hours: Everyday 9 AM – 11 PM
The iconic Empire State Building stands tall in Midtown Manhattan reaching a whopping 1,454 feet into the sky, making it unmissable for anyone wondering around town.
But from atop the two observation decks located on the 80th and 86th floors, one inside and one outside. It is possible to see far beyond on a clear day even to neighboring states like New Jersey, Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Taking in the iconic Financial District is a must, including One World Observatory, and the ticket also includes complimentary binoculars respectively.
The Empire State Building is much more than just spectacular city views. It was the first 100+ story building ever built, and the tallest building in New York City until the Freedom Tower was complete. Its stunning art deco architecture is history in itself.
When visiting, you can experience two observation decks. The 86th floor observatory deck you will see views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Central Park.
This one is outdoors and comes with general admission. For more views, you can go higher onto the 102nd floor (1,250 ft) which offers floor-to-ceiling views that stretch for 80 miles when the weather is clear and costs extra.
You can explore the surrounding area too, with Madison Square Garden, Herald Square, Macy’s, Fifth Avenue, and Koreatown all nearby.
With complimentary WiFi in the building, you can easily identify the landmarks around you and capture the perfect shot. When it comes to the Empire State Building, the view truly is priceless.
What We Like About Empire State Building
-Located in Midtown Manhattan, surrounded by numerous attractions.
-One of the most iconic buildings in the world and in New York City’s skyline.
-Access to fantastic indoor and outdoor views for visitors.
-Special nostalgic additions like King Kong.
What We Don’t Like About Empire State Building
-Metal bars obstructing the view on the observation deck.
-The inability to see the building while on top of it.
-Running one of the more expensive decks, tickets for both observation floors start at $79.
Building Height: 1,250 feet, with the antenna 1,454 feet
NYC Observation Deck(s): 86th and 102nd
Ticket Prices: Starting at $44 for just one deck. Seeing both start at $79
Address: 20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001
Hours: 11 AM – 9 PM
From the 100th floor observatory at The Edge observation deck in New York City, you can get amazing views both from the interior area and the open-air sky deck. It is the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere.
It is uniquely designed as it is suspended in mid-air with angled-out glass, making it look like you’re really on the edge.
This observation deck is 1,131 feet, and the outdoor part of the deck spans almost 80 ft. out to the air, making it the largest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere.
It even has a glass section to look 100 stories down. Additionally, it has areas to sit and relax, perfect for those seeking peace and relaxation.
The tallest building in the Hudson Yards area on the far west side of Manhattan, the observatory provides a different perspective of the Manhattan skyline than in the middle of the concrete jungle.
You get a great view of the Hudson River and New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan where One World Trade Center is prominently visible and the Statue of Liberty faintly visible.
Unfortunately, the East Side of the city, such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, which can be seen from other observation towers, is mostly obscured.
Iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building are also partly obscured, but you can get a better view from the interior area near the gift shop (although the window adds a bit of glare or cast on the photo). Due to some construction work, some of the shots may also be interrupted.
For any adrenaline seekers, The Edge offers its Climb experience that allows you to climb even higher on the deck and lean off at 1,271 ft. in the air.
This experience can be found on Level 4 of The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, and they have a bar where you can sip on champagne and grab a bite to eat.
Though, it is advisable to note that all the bars and food in the observation decks are expensive. Moreover, the elevator ride up to the top is also pretty unique.
What We Like About The Edge
-The highest outdoor observation deck.
-A unique vantage point of protruding out.
-Both indoor and outdoor views.
-Have the option to do the Climb.
What We Don’t Like About The Edge
-If the weather is not great, the indoor views are not as great.
-Not as close to public transportation as other observation decks.
-It can get very busy as it is one of the most popular observation decks.
Building Height: 1,271 ft.
NYC Observation Deck(s): 100th floor; the climb is higher – about 1,271 ft up
Ticket Prices: $40 (cheaper if you book online). City Climb is $185
Address: 30 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001
Hours: Everyday 10 AM – 10 PM
5. One World Observatory
Visiting the One World Observatory this year in 2021 was a powerful experience for me.This observatory is significant to New York City after the events of 9/11, and offers a plethora of multimedia experiences and history to be explored.
As a former New Yorker, I had watched the construction of the One World Trade Center slowly progress during my three years at Pace University, and finally it was completed in 2014.
Attached to the building’s spire is a height of 1,776 feet – purposely designed to commemorate the year America declared its independence.
The elevator ride up to the 102nd floor is an immersive experience, with a video lasting one-minute showcasing 500 years of NYC history.
Once the video is done playing, the screen lifts to reveal the cityscape behind it – a dramatic reveal I, as a jaded former New Yorker, found incredibly impressive.
From the observation deck, the 360 degree views of the city skyline are breath-taking – an especially moving sight put into the context of 2020’s tragedy that struck so many so hard here.
One downside worth mentioning with One World Observatory is that the entire experience is inside – so while it’s nice in inclement weather, it can be difficult to get photos through the glass.
During the day, there can be some glare, although during the night I suspect it would not turn out nearly as well due to the lights reflecting off the glass.
And One World Observatory is considered to be the worst NYC observation deck due to its extremely high price of admission, long queues, lack of an outdoor platform, and rigid adherence to its security protocols.
Other high-rise buildings often block the views from the 100th floor, leaving visitors with a less than satisfactory experience.
Even so, One World Observatory is an incredible sight for any history lover or shutter-bug to experience. To me, it stands as a symbol of New Yorkers’ resilience.
What We Like About One World Observatory
– All indoors which is ideal for colder and rainy days.
– Standing at a height of 1,776 feet, it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
– An engaging experience full of added historical content during the visit.
– Symbolizes the importance of New York and represents an integral part of the city’s skyline.
– 360 degree full views of the surrounding area.
– Less crowded than other observation decks in the city.
What We Don’t Like About One World Observatory
– The lack of an outdoor option.
– A further viewpoint from iconic sky-scrapper buildings when compared to other observation decks.
– Typically at a higher cost than other observation decks around the city.
Building Height: 1,776 ft. high
NYC Observation Deck(s): 101st floor (restaurant) and 102nd floor
Ticket Prices: start at $44
Address: 117 West St, New York, NY 10006
Hours: Everyday 9 AM – 8 PM
From Best to Worst in Terms of Price: The NYC Observatory Decks
1. Top of the Rock – The Top of the Rock offers breathtaking views of Manhattan from the observation deck located 850 feet above the streets of Midtown for $38 per adult ticket.
2. Empire State Building – Visitors have access to two observation decks located on the 86th and 102nd floors of this iconic building, for $38 per adult ticket.
3. The Edge – The highest observation deck in NYC, located 1,100 feet away from The Hudson River, it offers an amazing view of the city for $36 per adult ticket.
4. One World Observatory- The One World Observatory allows visitors to “time travel” through interactive displays, from the Old World to the New Manhattan and past the future with stunning views for $35 per adult ticket.
5. Summit One Vanderbilt- The newest observatory to open in NYC, located over 1,000 feet in the air, it’s the tallest building in town and offers a breathtaking view of the city for $32 per adult ticket.
Best to Worst in Terms of View and Building Height
1. Summit One Vanderbilt: At 1,401 feet tall, this is the tallest building in NYC and offers full 360 Degree views of New York City and beyond.
2. Top of the Rock: Offering a distinctly different experience than the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is 775 feet tall and provides three different outdoor viewing decks with 360-degree views of the Big Apple.
3. Empire State Building: With 102 floors and standing at 1,454 feet tall, the iconic Empire State Building stands tall among NYC’s skyline. It also boasts three outdoor viewing decks with nearly 360-degree views of the city and beyond.
4. The Edge: This 100-story Hudson Yards skyscraper is expected to be 1,131 feet tall when completed, offering visitors an enclosed outdoor viewing deck with breath-taking views of the Hudson River and midtown Manhattan.
5. One World Observatory: This 1,776-foot-tall observatory is the second-tallest building in NYC and provides visitors with several outdoor viewing decks, allowing them to take in the views of the city, the harbor, and beyond.