5 Awesome Observation Decks in New York City

The Manhattan skyline is a truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring sight to be seen. In fact, the immense size of the city and the towering buildings is what attracts many people to visit the city each year. There’s just one problem: Once you’re in the city, you can’t see the skyline! The Manhattan skyline is best seen from across the river, or up in an observation deck. It’s no wonder why the city has multiple to choose from since each unique angle leads to new views. Here are the five best observation decks Manhattan has to offer.

 

Top of the Rock

30 Rock
The famous 30 Rock in Midtown (Photo: FrimuFilms)

Top of the Rock is at the top of the famous and historic 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to the media giant NBC. Inside the building are the network offices and the sound stages where shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are filmed.

The Top of the Rock observation deck is so popular because, not only is it a chance to ascend to the top of one of New York’s most famous towers, but its location makes for amazing photos. To one side, you can see Central Park, and from the other you have an excellent unobstructed view of the Empire State Building. For a truly memorable experience, you can rent out Rockefeller’s Rainbow Room. A grand event space located on the building’s 65th floor!

 

One World Trade Center

one world trade center
One World Trade Center (Photo: Mihai_Andritoiu)

It’s the tallest observation deck in the USA, towering over the city on the building’s 102nd floor. Even wilder is that the elevators take you from the ground level to the 102nd floor in just 47 seconds! Keeping with the history of downtown Manhattan, One World Observatory is also documenting the origins of every visitor and is creating a giant virtual globe to show where everyone has come from.

For a romantic evening, you can experience fine dining at One Dine, the observatory’s restaurant. During the day, enjoy Illy cappuccinos and premium tea selections, and at night, enjoy a luxurious dinner with brick-pressed chicken, lobster gnocchi, and NY strip steak.

 

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

Empire State Building at Sunset (Photo by Gary718)

Easily the most iconic building on the entire planet, the Empire State Building has ruled the New York City skyline since 1931 and was the city’s (and country’s) tallest building for decades. After the attacks of 9/11, the Empire State Building returned to being the city’s tallest building for a few years before the newer, modern skyscrapers began to open.

In its lifetime, everyone from presidents to King Kong has been to the top of the 102-story tower. The building has two observation decks, an outdoor one on the 86th floor and the 102nd-floor glassed viewing platforms. On top of that, the Empire State Building also has exhibitions about the building’s history and what life in 1930’s New York was like.

 

THE EDGE

The Edge observation deck
The Edge is New York’s highest outdoor observation platform (Photo: CarlosDavid)

The Edge is one of the newest observation decks in Manhattan. Built in the completely redeveloped Hudson Yards district, it sits 1,100 ft. above the streets of New York and its outdoor balcony juts out 80 feet over the city. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a truly exhilarating experience. The building has a four-level mall at the lobby level, and the area is also home to the instantly-famous modern art piece, the Vessel, which is comprised of 2,500 steps (but also has a unique elevator for those who want it).

SUMMIT

One Vanderbilt tower
SUMMIT sits atop of the One Vanderbilt tower (Photo: ANDRE POULIN)

Opened in mid-October 2021, the new SUMMIT experience is more than just an observation deck. It’s a mix of experiential installations, art, architecture, and community. It’s a massive three-floor space, from the 91st-93rd stories of the building, and each room contains a different, interactive modern art piece. There’s even going to be a bar and cafe with an outdoor area. On the 93rd floor, guests can also board two completely glass elevators (including glass floors) and ascend up to the 101st story of the building, offering true panoramic views of Manhattan.

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