Empire State Building, Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 736 3100
Concierge.com's insider take:
With the tragic demise of the World Trade Center, this symbol of New York is again the city's most recognizable skyscraper and, at 1,050 feet, its tallest. Since the 86th-floor observatory opened in 1931, 110 million visitors—including King Kong, as well as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—have taken in the panoramic views. On a clear day, this is one tourist experience that actually lives up to its billing. Waits can exceed three hours in peak season, as masses of would-be gawkers proceed through security, ticket lines, and waits for the elevator. You can skip one of those lines when you buy a ticket online; midweek at 8 a.m. (opening time) and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. are generally the least crowded times. The speediest option, a $40 express ticket, guarantees that you'll be at the top in 20 minutes once you have a ticket in hand (though you still have to clear security).