Visiting the Empire State Building Today: A Unique “New York for New Yorkers” Experience

empire state building
Courtesy of Empire State Building

Visiting the Empire State Building Today: A Unique “New York for New Yorkers” Experience

According to a 2011 Cornell study, the Empire State Building is the most photographed building in the world. A poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects named it “America’s Favorite Building.” Built in the year 1930 and towering at an incredible 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building is a beloved staple of the New York City skyline. As the city moves forward with its Phase 4 reopening plans, now might be a better time than ever to safely visit one of the Big Apple’s most iconic landmarks with your family.

On a clear day, visitors can see six states from the Empire State Building’s observatories. From the 86th Floor Observatory, enjoy 360-degree views and have fun spotting Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and many more of New York City’s distinctive landmarks. On the building’s brand-new 102nd Floor Observatory, gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking vistas. 

Not only does a trip to the Empire State Building offer a once-in-a-lifetime view of the city, it also provides your family the chance to learn something new! The Empire State Building is home to a number of brand-new exhibits located on its 2nd and 80th floors. You and your kids will be swept up in history while learning about the building’s original site in the 1920s and its remarkable 13-month construction from 1930-31. The Modern Marvel exhibit showcases the steps taken by the Empire State Building that have led it to become a world leader in sustainability and efficient energy. With exhibits about celebrities and King Kong to exhibits about the Empire State Building’s light shows and its original elevators, there’s an experience to interest everyone! 

Through its international #HeroesShineBright campaign and music-to-light shows, the Empire State Building has honored first responders and shone as a beacon of hope during the Covid-19 crisis. Now, they’re doing everything they can to ensure their exhibits and observatories are safe for you and your family. New protocols have been put in place for employees and visitors so that the Empire State Building can adhere to all official city and state guidelines. 

Anthony E. Malkin, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, is confident “that New York is resilient and that our future holds promise.” As New York City begins to reopen, Malkin remains positive. If you and your family haven’t visited the Empire State Building, there’s no time better than now: “The reduced capacity and lack of tourists from out of town will create a unique ‘New York for New Yorkers’ experience.”

Here’s what they’re doing:

  • Crowds are being prevented as ticket purchases shift to online, timed reservations. 
  • The Empire State Building Observatory is currently open from 11 am to 11 pm.
  • Capacity will initially be reduced by more than 80%, allowing groups to distance by more than 18 feet.
  • Guests are required to wear facial coverings for the entirety of their visit.
  • Mask-wearing and distancing will be monitored by CCTV and staff. 
  • The guest protocol includes a contactless temperature check, and visitors’ temperatures must be under 100.4 degrees.
  • Signage, distance markings and hand sanitizers have been implemented throughout Empire State Building spaces.
  • Observatories and exhibits are suited to a one-way flow of traffic. 
  • Interactive exhibits, like those with touch screens, have been transformed into touch-free experiences.
  • Enhanced cleaning methods have been put into effect, including Overnight Electrostatic Disinfectant spray of the entire observatory space and frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
  • A recent $165 million renovation included the implementation of MERV 13 air filters, state-of-the-art air purification that reduces the risk of virus transmission. 
  • New employee protocol includes training, masks, gloves and contact tracing.


Visitor tickets can be reserved online at Child tickets start at $36. Adult tickets start at $42.