The Empire State building is an American icon. It’s observation decks allow you to get a magnificent view of New York City.  The building itself is very pretty with lots to do including exhibits, shops, and dining.

Empire State History

The Empire State building was officially opened in 1931.  The building has 102 floors and is 1,250 feet tall; not including the pinnacle on top.  It was the first building ever to have over 100 floors. It has an art deco design which was popular at that time in New York.

Cool fact: There is a door on the 102nd floor that leads to stairs going to the 103rd floor.  This was built as a disembarkation for airships tethered to the building and has a circular balcony outside.  Its practical use is as an access point to reach the spire for maintenance but is also a popular spot for celebrities.  So now we know about the secret celebrity party spot.


When you walk into the lobby you are struck by how pretty it is and all the attention to detail.  It is one of the few interiors in New York to be designated as a historic landmark.

The ceiling has intricate murals representing planets and stars.  They renovated the lobby and you can tell with all the gold and aluminum leaf accents.   As you walk in, you see beautiful marble, various displays, and the main desk.  Behind the desk is the iconic image of the Empire State building in a stunning gold tone.  It has beams of light coming out from it and is quite memorable.

Empire State Building entry

Next, you go to the visitor’s center to wait in line.  Luckily with the building being open from 8am-2am, it breaks up the crowds.  We went later after we had done some other site seeing so it wasn’t too bad.  I would say we waited about 25 minutes.

Sustainability Exhibit

Once you have your tickets in hand you move to the sustainability exhibit.  I didn’t realize how much effort they are putting into making the building energy efficient.  Upon completion of their project, the building will reduce total energy consumption by 38% and reduce carbon emissions.

The exhibit is on the 2nd floor and tells the story of the renovation through digital displays and sculptures. I love hearing about companies doing the right thing and trying to help the Earth.

Dare to Dream Exhibit

As you move on the tour you take the elevators to the 80th floor to see the Dare to Dream exhibit.  This covers the background on the building including history, construction, and engineering.  It has original documents, pictures of workers and the construction process.

There are mementos and pictures from 3,400 workers who helped create it. I really think the workers were brave in the 1930s building something so tall.  I would be terrified of the heights and limited safety equipment.


Next, you take the elevators to the 86th-floor main observation deck.  This is the most famous observatory in the world and has been the setting of dozens of movies.  The observation deck wraps around the building giving you a 360-degree view of the city.

It was beautiful seeing all the lights at night.  We really enjoyed viewing the city from so high. Each area had a unique and spectacular view. They also have an app that tells you about each view as you are seeing it, so that enhances the experience even more. It was very windy and chilly, but definitely worth it.

The Top Deck is on the 102nd floor and gives you another beautiful view of the city.

Empire State View 1
Empire State view 2

Shopping and food

After you are done with the observation decks, you can go to their store.  They had so many great souvenirs.  I liked the King Kong items and posters.   They had everything you would want to remember your visit.

Once we were back on the main floor we decided to eat in the State grill and bar.  It was convenient to find a place right in the building and the food was great.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Empire State building.  The architecture is beautiful and the views are very impressive. The Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty are two iconic spots to check out when you are in the city.


“King Kong Lives”

Rating (4 stars):

Pros: Unique experience, amazing view

Cons: Crowded, very windy at top

Priority: Medium – beautiful view of the city

Savvy Tip: Open 8am-2am so do this after other site seeing

Cost: Main deck standard pass $34 adult, cheaper with City Pass