A hundred years ago, if you wanted a bird’s eye view from the tallest manmade structure in the world, that meant taking a trip to the 792-foot-tall Woolworth Tower near City Hall in Lower Manhattan. Where, for 50 cents, you could take a trip up to the 50th floor for never-before-seen views of New York Harbor, Brooklyn, and neighboring New Jersey across the Hudson River. A tour book of the attraction boasted:


“The view from the top of the Woolworth Tower is without question the most remarkable, if not the most wonderful, in the world. The scenic and color effects with the sun shining on the multi-colored buildings and on the water and land for thirty-five or forty miles in all directions is a picture impossible of adequate description.”


A lot has changed to Gotham’s landscape and skyline in the past century. Today, if you want to capture breathtaking vistas from the tallest structure in the city, you’ll have to take a trip a few blocks west of the Woolworth Building over to One World Trade Center, where at 102 floors up, you’ll be at twice the height that visitors marveled at a century ago. And that’s not the only option in town. Today, there are five observation decks atop skyscrapers in New York,each one offering their own unique experiences for all tastes that run the gamut from sky-high morning yoga classes to late-night fine dining. But, whatever your preference, something described by the author of that 100-year-old tourist book for the Woolworth Tower remains true today.


“Looking down on the thousands of great buildings, the wonderful bridges that span the East River, the beautiful parks, the great ships berthed at the piers along the rivers, one realizes the grandeur and vastness of the metropolis.”


Empire State Building

Fifth Avenue at 34th Street

Completed in 1931


With its unmistakable silhouette that changes nightly with lighting that celebrates everything from holidays to hockey teams, the Empire State Building has long been on par with The Statue of Liberty as an icon that defines New York City. Captured in countless classic films like “Elf”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and, of course, “King Kong”, this art deco marvel of the past century consistently tops the list of most popular attractions in the United States.


  • Deck Height: 86 and 102 floors

  • View Experience: 360 degrees on indoor and outdoor decks

  • Hours Open: 9 a.m. to Midnight. Hours vary depending on the season.

  • Restaurant/Bar: No table service on the observation deck level. But while you’re visiting the building, be sure to check out the  Starbucks Reserve Restaurant & Bar, Starbucks Reserve Coffee Workshop or Innovation Bar located on the first three floors of the building.

  • Special Experiences: Multiple exhibits celebrate everything from 20th-century architecture to the building’s own celebrity status. An Instagrammable moment with a giant growling King Kong is not to be missed.


Top of the Rock

30 Rockefeller Plaza, entrance on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues

Completed in 1933


The experience begins at ground level, where you'll stare up in awe at the Joie Chandelier created specifically for the attraction by Swarovski. Made up of 14,000 crystals, it’s the largest of its kind and soars three stories above visitors' heads. Viewed upside down, you’ll see that it’s the shape of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza itself!  Once you’re on the observation deck you’ll have spectacular views of the city and its landmarks. Best of all, Top of the Rock offers weather guarantees for tickets purchased in advance. If it’s raining or the visibility is bad on the day of your visit, they’ll reissue your ticket for a later time and date.


  • Deck Height: 70 floors

  • View Experience: 360 degrees on indoor and outdoor decks

  • Hours Open: 9 a.m. to Midnight. 

  • Restaurant/Bar: No bar, but mocktails, hot chocolate, espresso drinks, and light bites that feature locally-sourced casual fare like artisanal sandwiches, mezze plates, and pastries are available at the Weather Room. Reservations recommended.

  • Special Experiences: Recreate the famed 1932 photo depicting ironworkers having lunch on a steel beam 69 floors up. The new “The Beam” experience sits visitors on an iron beam that is lifted 12 feet above the observation deck platform and taken for a 180 degree spin.


One World Observatory

117 West Street

Completed 2014


Easily the most dramatic trip of the city’s observatories, the experience begins below ground level at One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors enter SkyPod elevators that climb 102 floors in 47 second seconds while enjoying a view on the transformation of New York City from unsettled 17th-century land to today’s dramatic landscape. Once you reach your destination, the reveal of the view from the See Forever Theater is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.


  • Height: 102 floors

  • View Experience: 360 degrees indoors only.

  • Hours Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours vary depending on the season.

  • Restaurant/Bar: Yes! One Dine Restaurant located on the 101st floor offers a first-class sit-down dining experience. The restaurant bar offers specialty cocktails, craft beers, and a full list of fine wines. Reservations required.

  • Special Experiences: Onsite tour ambassadors. Digital skyline guides that offer interactive information on the sites below. Day and Night Experience: visit before 1 p.m. and receive a “sunset voucher” good for a return visit after 5 p.m. on the same day.


The Edge

30 Hudson Yards

Completed 2020


Jutting 80 feet out from the side of the building a whopping 1,131 feet above New York City’s newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, The Edge holds the distinction of being the highest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere. With awe-inspiring vistas of the city below, The Edge offers an eye-level view of The Empire State Building located a few blocks to the east. The most Instagrammable moment is posing on a glass section of the deck’s floor.


  • Deck Height: 100 floors

  • View Experience: South and East views outdoors. North and West views indoors.

  • Hours Open: Off- Season 10 a.m. to 10 p,m,  Peak season 8 a.m. to midnight

  • Restaurant/Bar: Bars available on deck level. Enjoy a fine dining lunch, dinner or late night cocktail experience at Peak Restaurant located on the 101st floor. Reservations required.

  • Special Experiences: Yoga events are held during the warmer months. Indoor “Sky Skating” during the winter months boasts the world’s highest skating rink. For thrill-seekers, City Climb offers the opportunity to scale a 45-degree angled staircase to the top of tower 1,200 feet above the ground. 


Summit at One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt Avenue at 42nd Street

Completed 2021


The newest observatory experience in New York, Summit at One Vanderbilt offers an eye-popping three-floor experience that’s equal parts hall of mirrors, art installation, and thrill ride. Reflecting floors and ceilings provide the illusion of infinity atop the greatest city in the world. Rooms of interactive and immersive art installations make for FOMO-inducing Instagram posts. The evening sunset experience into nightfall is almost unparalleled. Due to the mirrored floor, wearing pants, non-marking shoes, and sunglasses are highly recommended.


  • Deck Height: 93 floors

  • View Experience: 360 degrees indoors on floors 91 and 92. Indoors/Outdoors on the 93rd floor

  • Hours Open: 9 a.m. to midnight during peak season. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during off-season

  • Restaurant/Bar: Sort of. Nordic-themed cafe Après serves soft drinks, cocktails, and light bites without table service.

  • Special Experiences: Ride the world’s largest glass-bottomed elevator over 100 feet from the 93rd floor.