Access to the Empire State Building requires purchasing a ticket, as well as clearing security. Learn about ticket options, including advance purchases, New York City passes that include ESB access, and buying tickets on-site so that you can make the best choice for your visit!
01 of 07
Who Needs a Ticket?
Military personnel in uniform and children 5 and under are free, but all other visitors require a ticket. You can purchase Empire State Building tickets in advance, on-site or as part of a New York City attraction pass. Tickets are good for a year from the date of purchase/visit date selected.
02 of 07
All visitors to the Empire State Building will have access to the 86th Floor Observatory. Ticket add-on options include
- Visiting the 102nd Floor Observatory - For $17, visitors can go 200 feet further up to the fully enclosed 102nd Floor Observatory.
- Audio Tours
- Express Tickets - These tickets allow you to skip to the front of the line for security and the elevators, saving time, but they come at an additional cost. If you can afford to spring for this upgrade, I highly recommend it, especially during busy seasons in New York City. It can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend waiting, giving you time to see or do something else during that time instead.
03 of 07
Buying Tickets in Advance
You'll save yourself time by purchasing your Empire State Building Tickets in advance; you'll be able to skip the ticket line which can easily save twenty minutes. Tickets you purchase in advance are good for one year.
The best prices for online tickets to the Empire State Building are available through Viator, however, due to limited inventory, you can only purchase advance tickets to the 102nd Floor Observatory directly from the Empire State Building website. You also have the option to purchase the 102nd Floor Observatory ticket as an add-on once you arrive at the Empire State Building on the 86th Floor.
My suggestion: buy an express ticket to the 86th Floor Observatory and pay for the upgrade to the 102nd floor if you decide you want to see more.
04 of 07
102nd Floor Observatory Tickets
Access to the 102nd Floor Observatory requires an additional ticket. These are available in advance if you buy directly from the Empire State Building, in the regular Empire State Building ticket line, and once you arrive on the 86th Floor, you can purchase an upgrade to gain access to the 102nd Floor (a good option if you want to wait until you get to the 86th floor observatory to decide or if you buy a ticket online).Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Audio Tour Tickets
You can purchase an audio tour with your ticket in advance or you can buy an audio tour at the ticket booth in the Empire State Building. The audio tour is self-guided and consists of seven three-minute segments that help visitors identify various important sights that you can see from the Empire State Building. Audio Tours are available in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, and German. Visitors can pick up audio tours on the 2nd floor (same floor as ticket sales).
06 of 07
Express Ticket Options
Express tickets allow visitors to skip to the front of the line for security as well as the elevators to go up to the observatory. This can save visitors significant amounts of time, particular during the busiest times at the Empire State Building. Express tickets are available for visitors who want to visit the 86th Floor Observatory, as well as the 102nd Floor Observatory. As with other tickets, you can only purchase the 86th & 102nd Floor Express Combination Ticket directly, but the 86th Floor Express Ticket is available from Viator as well.
07 of 07
Ticket Passes to the Empire State Building
The New York CityPASS includes access to the 86th Floor Observatory and Audio Tour. If you already have your CityPASS in hand, you can skip the ticket line at the Empire State Building and show your CityPASS to collect your audio tour on the 2nd floor and get into the line to clear security. If you have an e-voucher for your CityPASS, you will need to wait in the ticket line to pick up your CityPASS.
Buy New York CityPASS
The New York Pass covers access to the 86th Floor Observatory. Be aware that you'll have to wait in the ticket line to show your New York Pass in order to get your ticket.
The New York Explorer Pass covers access the 86th Floor Observatory. Be aware that you'll have to wait in the ticket line to show your New York Explorer Pass to get your ticket.