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  • Writer's pictureEverton Silva

New York City Observatories

The city of New York has several observatories that allow travelers to look at the skyscrapers from above and have a panoramic view of the vastness of the city.

Recently, two new ones have been inaugurated, making the choice even more difficult, since when there's a lot on offer, we have to opt for what will please us the most.


The first tip is to plan ahead by checking the weather forecast for the day and time you intend to visit. After all, you're going to an observatory to have a memorable view of the city, and you wouldn't want your experience to be spoiled by fog or rain. For this, you can use websites like Climatempo, which provides detailed weather forecasts.

So, what are the observatories in New York, and which one would be the best to visit?



I'll talk about all of them (at least the main ones) and what each one offers. This way, you'll be able to make your choice and book the one that will truly make you come back saying it was worth seeing New York from the top!


1 - Summit One Vanderbilt

I'll start with the one that has been making headlines ever since it's been innaugurated, and as soon as I entered, I already chose it as my favorite: The Summit One Vanderbilt.

What sets this one apart, and makes it the best to visit especially if you've never been to New York, is that it's the only one that offers a 360º view of Manhattan, along with sensory experiences and being the one with the most Instagram-worthy photo spots.


Additionally, the sensory and interactive experiences it provides make the visit much more enjoyable and are the reason why (besides the numerous photo spots) it is currently the most sought after.

There are interactive installations that make the experience of seeing New York from above much more interesting, ensuring a very rewarding experience for both those who go for the views and those who go for what the attraction offers beyond that.

I've placed it first not only because of its current popularity, but also because, for me, it's the most complete and fun.



This observatory, which operates from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 AM until midnight, is located in the One Vanderbilt building between 42nd and 43rd streets on Vanderbilt Avenue and Madison Avenue. The easiest way to get there is through the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station.

Visiting tip: Wear low shoes because the use of shoe protectors is mandatory to prevent scratching the glass floor.


You can book your visit and make sure you'll have your tickets guaranteed in the day you intend to visit, by puchasing on this link


 

2 - The Edge

The second one, as recent as the Summit, is The Edge. Translated, it means "À Beira." It's located on the 100th floor of the tallest building in Hudson Yards, one of the newest neighborhoods in New York, with plenty of cool things to do in the sorroundings.


Today, it's the tallest observatory in New York, situated on a protrusion from the building, providing a spectacular view of the southern side of the island, the eastern side, and the New Jersey skyline.

But what's really exciting, for the brave ones, is the opportunity to virtually hang over the edges of the triangle, and the glass floor it has in the middle.


The downside for me was realizing that on rainy or snowy days, there's no chance of enjoying this observation deck, even if it's open.

And for the more adventurous ones, there's even the option to hang out a few floors above, at an additional cost.


The Edge is located at 30 Hudson Yards on the corner of 10th Avenue and 33rd Street. In order to make it even easier to find, look for The Vessel, as the entrance to the building is on the same boulevard.


Visiting tip: Try to plan an itinerary for the entire area in the same day, starting with The Edge, then visit the Vessel, take a stroll along the High Line, and finish at Little Island. Or do it the other way around!

Book your tickets in advance clicking on this link and avoid lines


In case you feel brave enough to experiece to be hanging on top of the building, making your visit even more memorable, you can book this additional attraction clicking here


 

3 - One World Observatory

The observatory at the One World Trade Center, located in Downtown in the area of the former Twin Towers, is another observation deck option for you to consider on your list. This building and observatory were constructed as a symbol of resilience and rebirth following the events of September 11, 2001.


The experience of the Sky Pod elevator with an emotional video from the ground floor to the top of New York was the best elevator experience of all the observatories I visited. And its exit, on the floor called Horizon Level, holds a surprise that truly moved me. But there won't be any spoilers!


The One World Observatory is located on the 100th floor of the building. It also provides a 360-degree view, but being at the tip of the island, it's impossible to have the same sensation as the Summit, which is literally in the middle of Manhattan.

However, its major advantage is being the only one with a privileged view of the Statue of Liberty.


Visiting tip: Because this observatory is located in an area of New York that experienced one of the most traumatic episodes in history, its security checks are the most rigorous. Therefore, plan your visit carrying as few belongings as possible to avoid embarrassment and expedite your entry.


The One World Observatory is located in the One World Trade Center, at the corner of West and Vesey Streets, in downtown Manhattan. The best subway station to reach there is Fulton Street, and it's open daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.


Book your tickets in advance by clicking on this link and avoid lines or



 

4 - Top of The Rock

Perched high atop the 70 floors of the Rockefeller Center, the Top of the Rock offers spectacular views of the city, including a breathtaking view of Central Park. The observatory has three observation levels, and because it features a fully open-air platform, it's one of the most famous and must-visit spots in New York City.


Recently they added a new attraction no to be so far behind the many other observatories of the city, which is the experience of sitting in the classical iron pilar of the New York constructors, the Lunch a top a Skyscraper - The Beam Experience

Even though it's an observatory that is currently at a lower height compared to others, visitors to the Top of The Rock guarantee an unforgettable sensation of being immersed in the Concrete Jungle, with a dizzying feeling both looking down and up



To keep up with the others, the company responsible for the attraction is renovating the experience. So even if you've already visited, soon you'll have the opportunity to try something new. Top of The Rock.


Its access is located on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, and it operates daily from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM.


Visiting tip: Since it's a "low-height" observatory, my suggestion is to visit during the evening. This way, you'll catch the city all lit up, and because it has an open deck, you'll have a stunning sensation.


Book yout tickets in advance here


 

5 - Empire State Building

The most classic and consequently the most iconic of all the skyscrapers in New York. The ascent in the building features several exhibitions on floors 2 and 80, which in my opinion, will provide you with the perfect cinematic immersion into New York.

There are two options for visiting: the ticket for the main terrace observatory located on the 86th floor, and the additional ticket that allows you to ascend to the 102nd floor.

Travel tip: People of short stature (like me) don't have the best experience on the 102nd floor because the railing for you to see anything, at least for me at 1.70m (5'7"), was somewhat challenging to lean over. And the excessive number of people in the space, which is quite limited, doesn't help either.

But if you're tall, you'll definitely enjoy it!

This is the most popular among all the others because it's the most famous building in the world. Is it worth the visit? It used to be much more worthwhile, but if you haven't been yet, it might be something to check off your list of iconic things to do in New York.

It's located at 20 W 34th St between 6th and 5th Ave, and it operates daily from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM.


Book your tickets here


 

In conclusion, I believe that attempting to visit all five observatories in a single trip wouldn't be very rewarding and might even become boring.

I suggest picking 2, or at most 3, and spreading out the visits over the days of your trip. This way, you'll be able to fully experience what each attraction has to offer, which is an unforgettable enchantment of New York from above.

As of today, I highly recommend visiting the Summit One Vanderbilt. As a suggestion, I would pair it with The Edge and/or the One World Observatory.

In this video, I show a comparison between the two newest observatories, which I believe will also help you make this decision:



See you in the next one!

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