The iconic Empire State Building in New York City has appeared in many films, perhaps most pivotally in the romantic finale of “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Empire State Building
350 5th Avenue
New York, NY
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Tempting as it may be to play it cool and try to skip some of the more obvious touristy spots on a visit to New York City, I can’t recommend skipping the Empire State Building. It’s an iconic landmark of the city and has a great aerial view of surrounding Manhattan. Everybody’s gotta do it at least once!
I visited the Empire State Building on my most recent trip to New York (on New Year’s Day!); it was the first time I’d ever been to the ESB! The website has a variety of ticket options available, and (because I’m impatient and willing to pay for convenience) decided to choose the VIP pass that lets you skip the lines (it’s about $30 extra dollars per ticket). To me it was worth it; my visit went quickly and smoothly and it left me an extra hour in my day to pack in some more location-hunting!
The lobby of the Empire State Building appears in the Will Ferrell Christmas comedy “Elf.” Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) goes to the Empire State Building to meet his father, Walter (James Caan), who doesn’t know he exists.
Of course, everyone thinks Buddy is insane and he gets kicked the hell out of the building:
Once you get through the line and security, you take the elevator up to the 80th floor, then switch elevators and take a quick jaunt up to the 86th floor (known as the Main Deck), at which point you can walk out onto the observation deck.
You can walk all the way around the deck to get different views of the bustling city down below and snap some photos. (I found that people are generally pretty friendly about taking a photo of you and whoever you’re there with, especially if you offer to do the same for them!)
Take your time and make sure you soak in the sights and get all the photos you want. Once you’re on the deck, there’s really no time limit for how long you can stay. This deck, of course, is also famous from the “Sleepless in Seattle” scene in which Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan) finally meet:
For the most “Sleepless in Seattle”-y visit, go at dusk or nighttime!
When you are ready to depart the deck, you’ll be able to visit an Empire State Building gift shop in case you want souvenirs, and you’ll have the chance to purchase a souvenir photo (which is taken of you on your way in) – $25 for a digital version or $30 for a hard copy with a magnet frame and paper frame.
In addition to the 86th floor, you can also go up to the 102nd floor (it’s about $20 more). My boyfriend and I tried to upgrade our tickets to get to the 102nd floor, but were told that it was unavailable that day. (Oh well, guess I’ll have to go back!) The guy we spoke to was some kind of head honcho and felt bad for us, so he gave us a little treat – he let us into the celebrity walkway, which they use when they take big names up to the top! The celebrity walkway is lined with photos of famous folks who’ve braved the 103rd floor, which has a walk-around so tiny that they recommend you clip yourself in (to avoid plummeting to your death, I imagine). It was cool to see all the celeb photos and be in that little zone where it was just us and the famouses.
My personal favorite celebrity Empire State Building photo is James Franco’s:
He just looks so cool and so classic Franco. Can’t go wrong. I’d like to emulate it. Hahaha.
The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year, from 8am-2am, so it’s not very hard to visit! (Pro tip: avoid going on Valentine’s Day unless you’re planning on proposing to your partner, because that shit will be crowdedddd.) Tickets range in price from $34-175 for adults, depending on which floors you want to visit and if you want the cut-the-line VIP experience!
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