Whether it’s your inaugural trip or it’s your millionth time around but you’re eager to impress someone you’ve brought along, the first thing to do on any trip to the Big Apple is take in the incredible view of the city.
What better way to get acquainted with it than to head straight for one of the New York observation decks?
There are a few to choose from in Manhattan, each one great for a different reason. But for the sake of not rattling your brain figuring out which one is most impressive, we’ve done the hard work for you.
Here’s your guide to the New York observation decks, ranked best to worst.
1. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Situated at the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock) building, it soars above the Rockefeller Center’s famous gardens, Rockefeller Tree and ice rink in the winter time. The art deco skyscraper allows visitors to see New York from floors 67 to 70 and although it’s surrounded by glass, it doesn’t obstruct views when trying to snap a selfie.
It’s a great choice for seeing the vastness of Central Park as it’s the closest of the observation decks to it. Binoculars are available at an extra cost or bring your own Bushnells but there’s no need with such iconic structures as the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building clearly in sight.
Of course there’s also opportunity for a cheesy green screen tourist photo where you can pretend you’re sitting on a high beam like the men who built the skyscraper.
It’s open 8am to midnight daily and tickets cost $39.20.
2. One World Observatory
At the site where the Twin Towers once were, One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere now stands in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. The elevator zooms guests up in less than minute to enjoy the top three floors of the building known as the One World Observatory.
This Hudson River-side tower takes you up to the 102nd floor where it’s possible to gaze at the Brooklyn Bridge and across the water to New Jersey. But it’s all indoors so avoid this for a clear picture moment and truly take in the magic of the city by night. The experience is equally as much about some Big Apple learning with various presentations available.
Plus there’s a restaurant and bar for lunch and dinner to round off the experience in a more relaxed setting.
Depending on the time of year it’s open from 8am or 9am to 8pm or 9pm (but can be enjoyed up until 10pm). Prices start from $34 for adults.
3. Empire State Building Observatory
Located in Midtown, this building reaches 1,454 feet making it unmissable for anyone wondering around town. But from atop the two observation decks on the 80th and 86th floors, one inside and one outside, it’s possible to see far beyond.
Add the 102nd floor viewing deck and on a clear day view stretch not only to neighboring states like New Jersey, Philadelphia and Connecticut but beyond that to Massachusetts too.
However as far as New York goes, it offers a stunning look at the Financial District, including One World Observatory, but you’ll have to move your camera lens through the gaps in fencing to get good shots. If your eyesight isn’t great, don’t worry because binoculars to help you enjoy the 360-degree look around the city are completely free.
Complimentary WiFi will also help you figure out what you’re looking at in case you need to consult Google Maps!
It’s open 8am-2am daily and prices start from $38 for an adult.