When my son gets an idea in his head he will hound you until his wish is fulfilled. In the summer it was the Empire State Building: he wanted to go to the top. When we were in New York in June, he said he wanted to go to the Empire State Building. But we ran out of time to go to the top. He’s had it in his mind since. I promised him when we were in New York in September I would take him to the top. I needed to deliver on that promise.
In our most recent trip to New Jersey we made sure to set aside a day to go into New York City. First stop was the Empire State Building. At 102 stories right on the corner of 5th and 33rd, the Empire State Building is an impressive sight both inside and out.
You enter into a lobby that is pure 1920s Art Deco. Inside there is an imposing depiction on the wall of the building itself. Then up the escalator to the ticket counter (You can buy them online and skip this part). Once you buy tickets, you go through security, then through a winding display of interesting facts and information about the building. At the end is a chance to take a cheesy shot in front of a green screen before you head to the elevators.
Generally there are 3 stops for tourists:
- 85th floor – a display of historical information about the Empire State Building and views from windows of Manhattan, as well as the gift shop
- 86th floor – an indoor and outdoor observatory where you can see Manhattan from the North, South, East and West and feel the winds of the high altitude
- 102nd floor – an enclosed observatory from the highest floor
On the 85th floor, I used the opportunity to teach the kids a bit about the building, the time in which it was built, and the history around it. However, to be honest, they were more excited by the King Kong poster.
However, the views from the 86th floor was why we came. My son was so excited to go outside and see everything from up high. He climbed the telescopes to get a better look. The kids were fascinated at looking down and seeing how tiny the people and cars looked. My son was excited to recognize the Statue of Liberty in the distance. And I showed him the Freedom Tower and explained about the significance in it’s height (1,776 feet).
We opted to skip the 102nd floor due to the cost. Once we were done observing from all sides, we went down to the 85th, through the gift shop and out to the famous tourist trap: the picture vending area. Remember the cheesy tourist picture in front of the green screen? This is where they sell you your family picture in front of the Empire State Building, or Statue of Liberty, or whatever else you want. Normally we pass right by, but we decided to take a look today. Wouldn’t you know it, my kids both had on green shirts, causing the software to put the building right on their clothing. We found this hysterical and surprisingly, we all looked good. An indulgence just this once.
Once we were done, we headed down to the street to meet up with my mother, get lunch, and continue on our New York adventure. But not before one last time letting my son look up in wonder and amazement at building that defines New York.
- Time Open: 8AM – 2AM
- For the Main Deck: $32 for Adults, $26 for Children 5 -12, $29 for Senior (5 and under is free)
- For the 102nd Observatory and the Main Deck: An Additional $20
- Tip: Come early. We got there around 11 and had short waits. As we were leaving, waits were much longer to go up. During the weekend the waits can be hours long.