This iconic landmark is a must-see whether you love architecture, film, or the best views of the city. The Empire State Building is a National Historic Landmark, on the State and National Register of Historic Places and a symbol of New York City. The new LED lighting system on the tower is capable of 16,000,000 colors which change often to match seasonal events and holidays and also special occasions. One of our favorites is our alma mater’s graduation day, New York University, when the tower is all lit up in violet (purple), the school color. This Art Deco masterpiece can be seen as part of the city’s skyline from all over the city, across the water into neighboring areas and from the connecting bridges.
Planning a Visit
A terrific time to visit is during the Christmas holiday season when the city is in full dress. It gets cold up on the observation deck in the winter, but the crisp clear air is great for the view.
The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year from 8am to 2am making it easy to plan a trip. Tickets start at $38 for an adult Standard Pass and go up from there based on how memorable you want to make your visit. They do offer slightly lower prices for seniors and children. Children under 6 are free. Our family did the Standard Pass and we all felt like we had a really good time. There’s a lot to see just going up to the Main Deck (Open Air Observatory)- views from all four directions, exhibits, gift shop, and tons of terrific photo opportunities. I would suggest holding off on more expensive packages unless you want an additional experience because you’ve visited before or you are planning something really special (ie; proposal).
There is a lot of security to go through, so the earlier the better to beat the long lines. It is similar to airport security rules so check your items before going so they are not confiscated. We had a tiny pocket knife on a key chain that we didn’t even think about and it was confiscated, so they are strict.
Another iconic landmark to visit: Statue of Liberty
Did you know?
The Empire State Building has been featured in more than 250 movies! Here’s a quick look at a few…
- King Kong
- An Affair to Remember
- Sleepless in Seattle
- Annie Hall
- Independence Day
- On the Waterfront
- Superman II
- When Harry Met Sally
Family Adventure Rating ♥♥♥♥♥
Cost– Visiting the Empire State Building is an expense. Tickets for a family of five average about $180 for the standard Main Deck experience. However, this is an experience like no other and for most people it’s a once in a lifetime goal. Regardless of the moderately high cost, we still give this a five heart rating for our blog because of its world famous appeal.
Parking & Transportation- The easiest way to visit Manhattan is via public transportation since you don’t have to worry about traffic, tolls, directions, and parking. Cabs are readily available outside Penn Station (they are hit and miss throughout the city). Subways go everywhere if you don’t mind some extra walking and can read maps well. Ride services like Uber are also a popular choice for their convenience. If you do drive in, research and book a parking garage for the day in advance to save time and money. There are hundreds in Manhattan and you can research pricing which will vary greatly (average daily rate $30-$50).
Location– There’s no better location than Manhattan. This city literally never sleeps and is like no other. The Empire State Building is centrally located so you can easily find food, shopping, and other activities close by.
Day Trip or Overnight– If you live within the tri-state area you can typically make this a day trip. If you do plan to stay overnight, there’s much more you can experience to make the most of your time.
Experience– The biggest fascination with the Empire State Building is its association with film and pop culture. (Even we were suckered into going home with a King Kong plush.) It is a magical place where you are certain to relive scenes in your mind from your favorite movies. The view of Manhattan is phenomenal so don’t forget your camera. And if you enjoy history, there is plenty to learn in the exhibits.
Combination– You can easily combine the Empire State Building with just about any other experience or activity in Manhattan based on your time availability. Some great spots of interest: Statue of Liberty/ Battery Park, Rockefeller Center/Ice Rink/Top of the Rock, NYC Public Library, The Intrepid, American Museum of Natural History, One World Trade Center, and the Brooklyn Bridge.