Empire State Building – Cheat Sheet: avoiding the long line with a beautiful view
Yes the Empire State Building is probably the most iconic landmark in NYC and has a wonderful panoramic view of the city to boot, but that also means that it is one of the most visited. Which means that unless you decided to camp outside of the building during the early morning hours you are most likely going to be standing in a line several hours line.
Is it worth it? The view is spectacular, probably one of the best in the area and how often do you get to take and share pictures from the top of the ESB? So for a one time visit I say yes, you should definitely go but be ready for a caveat to that visit. So you know, the cheapest ticket runs about $27 for adults and only gets you to the 86th floor and not to the top of the spire. To get to the top of the spire its going to cost you $44 for an adults ticket ($17 more than that other ticket).
My advise would be this, if you plan on going, invest in an express ticket which will run you about $50 for an adult to get to the 86th floor deck. Why do I recommend spending almost double? Well I did this recently and was able to go during decently peak times (talked to a group who just arrived at the top that it took about 2.5-3.0 hours to navigate all of the lines) and it took my small group maybe 15 minutes to do the same. The express ticket allowed us to bypass each and every checkpoint and elevator bank (of which there are several) and move right to the top. So if you don’t mind the extra cost, this would definitely be the way to go.
To also keep this in mind, you can also visit the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center for around the same price which normally has much shorter lines.