Empire State Building
Although it’s no longer the tallest building in New York City, this world-famous landmark remains a Manhattan icon for good reason. The main deck on the 86th floor is the highest open-air observatory in NYC, offering stunning 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and more ($34, seniors $31, children $27). Famous faces such as Chrissy Teigen, Celine Dion and Neil Patrick Harris have all been spotted enjoying the views from the top, which you’ll recognize from countless movies and TV shows. If you can’t get high enough, head to the 102nd floor’s indoor observation deck for a full view of Central Park ($54, seniors $51, children $47). The Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor honors the 3,400 people who built the 1,454-foot skyscraper and features original photographs, architectural sketches and construction notes. Before visiting, download the ESB app on iTunes or Google Play for exclusive content and access to a free audio tour.
The best time to visit with shorter lines is between 8 and 11am. If you’ve got no time at all for lines, nab an Express Pass ($60 for main deck, $80 for both decks), which will allow you to skip past everyone. But take note: The Express Pass is strictly sold online, so don’t be fooled by any people peddling them on the street.
Be an early bird and night owl
What better place to catch a sunrise than the Empire State Building? For $100, you can watch the sun come up over the entire city, and yes, it’s stunning. This experience is limited to only 100 guests each day, so be sure to book yours well in advance. The views are just as spectacular at night, which you can enjoy if you opt for the AM/PM Experience ($49, $39 for children). The night ticket is redeemable after 9pm.
See all of the lights
Since 1976, the tower’s lights have been changing colors to honor holidays, special occasions and different organizations. But in 2012, an LED light system was installed, giving off dazzling displays of 16 million colors. Check the lighting calendar to find out what the colors signify every day. Also, light shows are now staged to simultaneous music on iHeartMedia stations. Want to watch? Search “Empire State Building Light Shows” on YouTube and prepare to be amazed.