Activities & Resources
Empire State Building254in New York, NY 10016
about Empire State Building:
Although it can no longer lay claim to the world's "tallest" title, the Empire State Building still offers some of the city's best views. The obvious first choice is a visit to the Observatory located on the 86th floor. Here, visitors can wallow in spectacular views of New York City and the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (on a VERY clear day), as well as New York.
Lines for the elevators may be VERY long; we suggest taking the one to the 80th floor and then, if stamina permits and lines are long, climbing the final six flights to the 86th Floor Observatory. This is the outside viewing center seen in all kinds of movies, and if you go at night, you'll be standing right under the neon lights that change color depending on the day (ask one of the friendly guides about that).
The 102nd floor Observatory is not open to the public at this time.
Note that everyone must go through a security check when entering the building. No glass or bottles are permitted to be taken to the Observatory, and while cameras and camcorders are allowed, tripods are not. The building does not have a coat check, package, baggage check, or holding area, so please do not attempt to bring non-carry-on style luggage to the Observatory.
One of the best things for kids is actually on the second floor (and not affiliated with the Empire State Building Observatory): The New York Skyride is an absolute hoot of an interactive virtual tour of New York. There are not one, not two, but FOUR holding areas, but the waits are usually acceptable, and you do keep moving. The third and fourth holding areas might even be described as part of the ride, beginning with a bank of monitors dedicated to various comedians telling silly stories and jokes about New York. Your last holding area is a dark, Star Trek inspired launching pad, and the fact that the monitors pretend to go haywire might alarm younger riders, so warn them in advance it's all part of the fun. Tickets for the Skyride require an additional fee, naturally.
Finally, you'll enter the theater, step onto a hydrolic platform and tuck yourself into a seat (a bar folds down to keep you in place), and you're off on a wacky simulated spaceship ride through and under New York. Children under 3, pregnant women, and people weighing over 300 pounds are not permitted on this ride.
Bathrooms are best on the observatory levels, but you'll find acceptable ones on the 2nd floor as well.
Strollers are not permitted.
Information on group rates can be obtained by faxing a request to the Group Sales Office at 212.947.1360. Tickets may be purchased through the Online Ticket Office or at the observatory ticket office on the 2nd Floor Visitors Center.
Express Pass tickets cost a whopping $45/person, but they do get you up quickly. CityPass: The Empire State Building is a participant in CityPass®, the most convenient way to visit five city attractions. Tickets are combined in an easy booklet for one low price, with no waiting in ticket lines.
Before you go, let the kids check out the real time/live Webcams on the ESB website.
The Empire State Building will light red and green to help the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation deliver the magic of the holidays, just like Arthur in Arthur Christmas on November 18. Look for bins in your community or donate online at toysfortots.org/Arthur. Click here to find out more about the 12 days of fun family events nationwide leading to the release of ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, the new 3D CG-animated family comedy in theaters November 23, 2011.