Wondering which observation deck in NYC is the best? Hopefully, my list will give you the answers you need!
If you’re visiting NYC for the first time, you might be wondering, “What is the best observation deck in NYC?” and it’s a question you should rightly ask.
I’m an expert in all things NYC, and I’m here to help you decide which one is right for you! From classic tourist-spots like The Empire State, to new arty locations like the Summit. There’s quite a few choices!
Most people only have the time (and budget) to visit one (or two if they’re lucky) observation decks whilst in NYC, so picking the right one is really crucial.
Whilst the classic choices like the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock are still going strong (and I love them!) there are other, more modern and exciting observations decks in NYC now – which are also worth checking out.
Hopefully, my list of the best observation decks in the city, will help you figure out which is the best one for you, and point you in the right direction for tickets too!
Pssst! Stay tuned to the end of this list to learn about New York City’s free observation deck, which is a total hidden gem, and most people who visit the city don’t even know about.
So, what is the best observation deck in NYC?
Because it depends on the kind of experience you want, there’s no right answer. Each observation deck offers something different and unique.
Each observation deck in NYC is good for different reasons, and what’s best for you, might not be the best for someone else.
Which is why figuring out the best observation decks in NYC is so tricky!
They’re all very different, and they each offer completely different experiences and outlooks over the city. What I’ll try to do below is outline what each one is like, how good the views are, and whether I recommend it.
It’s worth noting the following though: the most famous observation decks are often considered to be The Empire State and The Top of The Rock – but there are newer observation decks like The Edge and The Summit that are uniquely fun too.
1: The Empire State Building Observation Deck
One of the most well-known observation decks in NYC, is usually considered to be The Empire State Building.
- Adult ticket price: $44
- Website: https://www.esbnyc.com/
- Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001, United States
- Closest subway station: 34 St-Herald Sq
It was one of the first observation decks in NYC, and it’s one of the classic choices that many tourists opt for!
If you’re looking for an iconic tourist attraction in the city, you can’t ask for more than The Empire State observation deck.
You really can’t get more NYC than the Empire State Building – and although this may be one of the older observation decks on this list (and not the most shiny!) it’s a great place to visit, with a great view and loads of history.
It’s definitely one of the best observation decks in NYC, because at this point, it’s a classic location in the city. But honestly – I personally, think the views are better from other options.
- Pros? It’s one of the most famous buildings in the world, and has lots of history (alongside the views).
- Cons? The view is a little generic (you can’t actually see the Empire State in the cityscape – because you’re stood on it!)
2: The Top of the Rock Observation Deck in NYC
Next on our list of the best observation decks in NYC, it’s The Top of The Rock. Amazing views (maybe the best?).
- Adult ticket price: $40
- Website: https://www.rockefellercenter.com/attractions/top-of-the-rock-observation-deck/
- Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, United States
- Closest subway station: 47-50 Sts-Rockefeller Ctr Station
Top of the Rock is one of the best observation decks in the city, for many reasons (which I’ll talk about below in our pros and cons list!).
Top of the Rock is really central, has great views, and is reasonably priced too – with good combo tickets available if you want to return in the evening to see the skyline lit up too. Which makes it a great choice for night time visits.
It’s certainly one of the best observation decks in NYC (if not THE best, in our opinion). It has the history, it’s super central, but it has those amazing cityscape views (with the Empire State Building in shot).
It’s a classic location, and there’s so much to explore nearby too. If you’re visiting at Christmas time, you could even try ice-skating afterwards! I always recommend timed entry tickets over normal tickets, to avoid queuing – Click here to book timed-entry tickets
- Pros? Great views of the cityscape (including the Empire State!). One of the best views in the city. The views are both uptown and downtown.
- Cons? It’s very popular so does get busy… But there aren’t many cons to this one!
3: The Edge observation deck in NYC
The Edge observation deck is one of the newest additions to this list! It’s located in Midtown, and has some unique features.
- Adult ticket price: $36
- Website: https://www.edgenyc.com/en
- Address: 30 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001, United States
- Closest subway station: 34th Street – Hudson Yards on train 7
The Edge is a really modern, fun and unique observation deck in NYC. It’s a corner viewing ledge at the top of a skyscraper, and there’s even a glass floor so you can look directly down to the city below.
This is a great choice for observation decks in NYC, especially if you’ve already tried the classic choices listed above, or if you’re just looking for something a bit different. It’s always great to try something new!
It’s unique, (relatively) new to the city, and seriously fun. The views are also slightly different to what you’d expect – which is refreshing!
This place is a great choice if you fancy seeing the city from a different perspective, and you’ve already visited the city’s other observation decks.
Click here to book skip-the-line tickets (which I always recommend over normal tickets!).
- Pros? New to the city and a different, unique perspective! Also lots of Instagram opportunities!
- Cons? The view isn’t quite as iconic, and they’re not 360.
4: One World Observatory
Next on my list of best observation decks in New York, it’s the One World Observatory. This is the highest observation point in the city.
- Adult ticket price: $32
- Website: https://www.oneworldobservatory.com/
- Address: 117 West St, New York, NY 10007, United States
- Closest subway station: World trade Center Cortlandt
The One World Observatory is located at the top of the One World Trade Centre. It’s certainly one of the best observation decks in NYC, and has the advantage of being the highest.
One thing I love about this place (compared to others) is that One World Observatory is located downtown – rather than in midtown.
This means the views are much different, and you get a different perspective on the city, and see slightly different things.
It’s also much higher than the other observation decks on this list, which means you can see more of the city from up there!
Click here to book skip-the-line tickets – I always recommend skip-the-line tix over normal tickets! Especially in NYC!
- Pros? A higher viewpoint of the city and a different part of the city to look upon too. 360 views.
- Cons? Located out of Midtown (which may include more transit / Subway from your hotel, if you’re located in Midtown).
5: SUMMIT ONE Observation Deck
Next, it’s SUMMIT ONE observation deck. This place is artistic, unique, fun, and boasts amazing views.
- Adult ticket price: $32
- Website: https://summitov.com/
- Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, United States
- Closest subway station: Grand Central 4nd St
Next on my list of the best observation decks in NYC, it’s Summit One Vanderbilt. And it’s amazing.
One thing that really makes this observation deck in NYC stand out, is the design of it. It’s all been put together to maximize getting insanely cool photos – so it’s great if you’re into photography.
They use mirrors, balloons, sculpture, angles, to change the way you’ve ever seen the skyline before. It’s very fun, but also very hard to explain! I’ve included some photos below so you can see what I mean!
This is a really unique observation deck in NYC, it’s a place that was built quite recently, and it’s unlike anywhere else in NYC, that much is for sure!
It’s not just an observation deck, it’s a full-on experience, with plenty of activities, view points, and things to see and play with.
Click here to book tickets to SUMMIT ONE observation deck in NYC. You should absolutely book ahead for this one!
- Pros? Different, unique and interesting! Plenty of great photo opportunities, and wonderful Midtown views.
- Cons? Full of people wanting lots of Instagram photos. If you don’t mind this – don’t worry about it. Book early morning tickets for less crowds.
6: Little Island Park
My final suggestion on our list of the best observation decks in NYC, is Little Island! A FREE park, with a walk-up observation deck.
- Adult ticket price: FREE!
- Website: https://littleisland.org/
- Address: Pier 55 in Hudson River Park at, W 13th St, New York, NY 10014, United States
- Closest subway station: 14th Street and 8th Avenue
On my recent trip to NYC I discovered Little Island, a free public park, with a pretty amazing observation deck / platform at the top of it.
It has to be one of the best observation decks in NYC – and it’s free to visit!
Whilst it isn’t the most conventional observation deck in NYC, I wanted to include it as a free option, for those who are a little worried about budget during their NYC vacation.
Little Island is a wonderful park to visit anyway (it’s very unique and gorgeous). But the little observation deck at the top of the park’s walkways adds another great reason to visit. It’s wonderful and one of the best observation decks in NYC.
Whilst the views won’t be as high, or an comprehensive as other paid observation decks in NYC, it’s a wonderful option to visit for free!
- Pros? Free! And very unique and pretty, and completely outdoors.
- Cons? The views aren’t quite as impressive, or as high up.
Hopefully this list of the best observation decks in NYC has been helpful!
Read more NYC recommendations: 60 free and cheap things to do in NYC!
As you can see, there are plenty of contenders for the best observation decks in NYC.
Whichever you choose for your best observation deck in NYC, will depend on what you prioritize and what kind of experience you’re after.
Don’t miss out on these other NYC articles, you might find them useful!