Road Affair is reader-supported and may earn commission from purchases made through links in this article.
New York City is famous for its incredible skyline, and one of the best places to go for a view of it is the iconic Empire State Building. With a trip up this towering skyscraper on your New York City itinerary, you’ll feel like you’re seeing the city in all its glory. Movie buffs won’t want to miss a visit either, especially if you’re a fan of classics like King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle.
Visiting the Empire State Building can be a fantastic experience for tourists, which is why it’s so important that you take the time to properly plan your visit. We’ve put together this guide on how to buy tickets to the Empire State Building so that you know all your options and can plan exactly the kind of visit that most suits you.
Quick Answer – Available Tickets to the Empire State Building:
- 1 Best Ways to Get Tickets to the Empire State Building
- 2 Useful Information for Visiting the Empire State Building
- 2.1 What’s the Best Time to Visit the Empire State Building?
- 2.2 Empire State Building Hours of Operation
- 2.3 How to Get to the Empire State Building
- 2.4 How Do the Empire State Building Tickets Work?
- 2.5 How Much Do Tickets for the Empire State Building Cost?
- 2.6 Best Hotels for the Empire State Building
- 2.7 Security Process at the Empire State Building
- 2.8 Visiting the Empire State Building With a Disability
- 2.9 FAQ – Facts About the Empire State Building
- 2.9.1 What Is the Empire State Building?
- 2.9.2 When Was the Empire State Building Built?
- 2.9.3 How Old Is the Empire State Building?
- 2.9.4 Who Built the Empire State Building?
- 2.9.5 Why Was the Empire State Building Built?
- 2.9.6 How Tall Is the Empire State Building?
- 2.9.7 Where Is the Empire State Building Located?
Best Ways to Get Tickets to the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is an immensely popular place to visit in New York City and, because of that, there are a few different ways you can visit. To confuse things further, there are multiple places where you can get your Empire State Building tickets, so having as much information before you make a decision is crucial. Below, we cover where to buy tickets for the Empire State Building and what kind of tickets each option provides.
1. Line Up in Person (Not Recommended)
No one likes waiting in a line when they could be doing better things with their time. So don’t waste your precious time in New York by waiting until you arrive on the day to buy tickets to the Empire State Building. Unless you get skip-the-line tickets, you’ll already have to wait inside for the line to the elevators. Why add a second line, especially if you can easily avoid it? The other issue you could run into is that tickets may be sold out for the entry times you want, meaning you may have to adjust the rest of your itinerary to fit in your visit.
2. Book Online (Recommended)
A much better approach is to organize your tickets to the Empire State Building before you even arrive. Booking tickets to the Empire State Building online is easy and allows you to choose exactly when and how you want to visit.
Both general admission tickets and skip-the-line the Empire State Building tickets can be bought through the official website for the Empire State Building. However, tickets bought through the official website are nonrefundable, which can be a problem if your plans change.
That is why we instead recommend booking tickets through this link, both for general tickets and skip-the-line tickets for the 86th floor. Although a little more expensive, these tickets allow you to cancel up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full refund. It’s also possible to purchase refundable tickets for the AM/PM Experience and the Sunrise Experience.
3. Book a Guided Tour
Many visitors don’t realize it’s possible to do a guided tour of the Empire State Building. On the tour, you have the opportunity to get an insider’s look at the building, use the VIP entrance, and visit exclusive areas like the Celebrity Green Room. The tour can either be booked through the official website or through this link if you’d prefer a refundable ticket.
4. Purchase a Tourist Pass
New York City is full of things to do, so you’ll no doubt want to make the most of your time there. A great way to save some money while you’re doing all that sightseeing is to purchase one of the various New York City passes that are available. These passes give you access to your selection of attractions so that you don’t have to pay for individual tickets each time. Our recommendation is the New York Go City Explorer Pass as it allows you to not only tour the Empire State Building but visit other attractions like the Statue of Liberty and MoMA.
Useful Information for Visiting the Empire State Building
What’s the Best Time to Visit the Empire State Building?
As one of New York’s most beloved landmarks and a great place to score a view of its signature cityscape, the Empire State Building can get exceptionally busy. If avoiding the crowds is important to you, you’re going to need to be deliberate when you choose to visit.
It’s widely agreed that for those seeking a quieter experience the best time to visit is in the morning between 8:00 and 10:00 (when opening hours allow). The observation decks can also be less crowded in the late evening if you go up after 22:00 (again, when possible). Of course, by choosing the exclusive sunrise entrance that has limited numbers, you’ll also guarantee yourself a more relaxed visit.
When it comes to the best time of year to visit the building, it’s most important to think about weather and visibility. The observation deck on the 86th floor is outdoors, so it might not be that enjoyable if it’s freezing, windy, or raining. As such, it’s best to time your visit for summer or autumn when the outside temperatures are comfortable and there’s less chance of rain.
Empire State Building Hours of Operation
The Empire State Building is open every day of the year. Current opening hours are restricted during the building’s reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic; they are from 12:00 to 21:00 each day, although usually they are from 8:00 to 2:00 the next day. With a sunrise ticket, it’s possible to visit the Empire State Building from 5:30 to 8:00. The last elevator ride up to the observation decks is always 45 minutes before closing time.
How to Get to the Empire State Building
With its location in Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is a relatively easy place to reach no matter from where in New York you’re coming. It certainly doesn’t hurt that you can just look for its distinctive spire and head in that direction. The subway is likely to be your easiest way to get to the Empire State Building on public transport, but which stop you get off at will depend on which line you take.
If you’re taking the NQRW or BDFM lines, you’ll want to alight at 34th Street–Herald Square Station, while for the 123 or ACE lines, get off at 34nd Street–Penn Station. From both stations, the building is a five-minute walk. If you’re on the 456 or 7 lines, take the train to Grand Central Terminal, which you’ll probably want to see anyway. From there, the Empire State Building is 10 minutes away on foot.
How Do the Empire State Building Tickets Work?
Empire State Building tickets are set up to allow visitors the ultimate freedom in choosing how they want to experience the landmark. That’s why it’s really important that you understand how the tickets work.
When selecting your tickets to the Empire State Building, there are a few things you’ll need to decide. The main decision is whether you want to only visit the observation deck on the 86th floor or if you want to also visit the one on the 102nd floor. For either type of visit, it’s possible to select skip-the-line tickets so that you don’t have to wait in line for the elevators up to the observation decks.
Special experiences like the Sunrise Experience, the AM/PM Experience, or a VIP guided tour require a specific ticket and are not just add-ons to a regular ticket.
During the booking process, you’ll need to select a specific date and time for the start of your visit. Tickets must be either printed at home and brought with you or printed at the kiosks when you arrive at the building.
How Much Do Tickets for the Empire State Building Cost?
The cost of tickets to the Empire State Building depends on a few factors, including which floors you want to visit, when you want to visit, and how quickly you want to get in. To give you a better understanding of which ticket is right for you, below you’ll find the ticket prices as shown on the official website.
General admission tickets to the 86th floor start at $44 for adults, $42 for seniors, and $38 for children. Tickets that include access to both the 86th and 102nd floors start at $77 for adults, $75 for seniors, and $71 for children.
It’s also possible to directly purchase skip-the-line tickets for the Empire State Building in the form of the Express Pass. Prices for an Express Pass to the 86th floor start at $80, while an Express Pass to the 86th and 102nd starts at $113. These tickets don’t offer discounts to seniors or children over six years of age.
All prices listed are simply starting prices as visitors have to pay more for entry around sunset. People over the age of 62 are eligible for seniors’ tickets, while children’s tickets are intended for children aged 6 to 12. Children aged under six enter free.
Best Hotels for the Empire State Building
Travelers would be wise to base themselves close to the Empire State Building while staying in New York City. Not only will it make getting to the skyscraper easier, especially if you are visiting for sunrise or late at night, but there are plenty of other fun attractions close by that you can also easily visit. There are some excellent accommodation options in the area, so allow us to share a few that we think you’ll absolutely love.
It’s hard to choose between the many five-star hotels around Midtown Manhattan, but you can’t go wrong with the Langham, New York hotel. Rooms and suites here feature a luxurious, sophisticated design that is sure to make your stay feel special, while the hotel also features an on-site Michelin-star restaurant and a fitness center.
For a balance of location, value, and comfort, look no further than the U Hotel Fifth Avenue. This three-star hotel is located just one block from the Empire State Building and offers stylish rooms with high-end finishes like cherry wood and Italian marble.
Finding any budget accommodation in Midtown is extremely difficult, but thankfully there’s Nap York Youth Hostel just off Central Park in Hell’s Kitchen. Here you’ll have the choice between dorms and pods and can enjoy the hostel’s easygoing vibe, shared kitchen, and chic design. For more options, be sure to check out our New York hostel guide.
Security Process at the Empire State Building
All visitors to the Empire State Building must go through a security screening similar to an airport security procedure. To ensure this goes smoothly for you, it’s worth knowing what you can and cannot bring inside.
The building does not have locker storage facilities, so it’s best not to bring unnecessary bags or backpacks. While strollers are allowed in the building and in the elevators, they must be folded up when on the observation decks.
Prohibited items at the Empire State Building include alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, cans, costumes, luggage, and professional photography equipment like tripods. All weapons are prohibited on the premises, and if you are found in possession of a firearm, you will be arrested.
Visiting the Empire State Building With a Disability
Various measures have been put in place at the Empire State Building to ensure that the attraction is accessible to all visitors regardless of mobility issues. The ADA-compliant building features a handicap-accessible entrance and layout suitable for motorized and nonmotorized wheelchairs, with ramps where necessary. At the observation decks, there are lowered viewing walls and binoculars to ensure everyone can appreciate the views. Service dogs are permitted inside.
FAQ – Facts About the Empire State Building
What Is the Empire State Building?
The Empire State Building is a skyscraper in New York City.
When Was the Empire State Building Built?
Construction for the Empire State Building began on March 17, 1930, and was opened on May 1, 1931.
How Old Is the Empire State Building?
The Empire State Building turns 91 years old in 2022.
Who Built the Empire State Building?
Empire State Inc. was the company responsible for building the Empire State Building, and the design was drawn up by the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates.
Why Was the Empire State Building Built?
The Empire State Building was built to be the world’s tallest building at the time, a record it held until 1970.
How Tall Is the Empire State Building?
Featuring 102 stories, the Empire State Building is 380 meters (1,250 feet) high to its top floor and 443 meters (1,454 feet) when you include its spire and antenna.
Where Is the Empire State Building Located?
The Empire State Building is situated on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City.
Now that you have all this information, you should have no trouble planning the exact visit you want. Hopefully you now appreciate just how important it is to organize your Empire State Building tickets before you arrive.