Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Empire State of Mind: The Empire State Building

...the one in which we touch the sky....

The Empire State Building...

...probably one of the most-visited attractions in the New York City - if not the world.

No trip to Manhattan would be complete without a visit to this iconic emblem of New York, and this is where we headed to on that Sunday evening. I won't bore you with a history/fact lesson regarding the building, as all of that information is easily attainable online. However, I WILL offer some tips to make your visit smooth.

We arrived at the landmark building around 7:00 pm...this was done purposely, as we wanted to see "the view" while the sun was still shining...but don't worry. I'd done my research, and knew that the sun would be setting at 8:31 p.m. this evening - and our plan was to catch sunset, as well.

Tickets can be purchased online HERE. You have several options when purchasing tickets:

1. You can spend $25 to visit the "Main Deck" only (which is the "main" observation deck on the 86th Floor).

2. You can spend $42 to visit BOTH the "Main Deck" and the "Top Deck" (which is the highest floor, the 102nd).

3. You can purchase the "Express" option to either of these above tickets, which will whisk you to the front of any line/elevator with relative little or no waiting. Add about $20 to the above prices for the Express option.

We opted for the "Express" option...and we also opted to get tickets for BOTH observation decks. Life is short, and I figured why NOT visit both while we were here...?? Would we ever have another opportunity to do this again? Who we splurged a bit.

We also opted to schedule this EARLY in our trip, so in case the weather didn't cooperate, we'd have plenty of time in our vacation to reschedule. So - there's another tip. Don't schedule this at the end of your vacation. A cloudy or rainy day will ruin your visit...but we were fortunate. It was a GORGEOUS night.

So...we arrived, and showing our Express pass, we quickly got through security lines and were soon on our way up the elevator to the Main Deck. Man, did my ears pop on the way up.

Upon arriving at the 86th Floor, I was surprised at the crowds...

And this was on a SLOW night!!!!

The views up here were incredible:

Shortly before sunset, we decided to go the we boarded the elevator (on the 86th floor) that would whisk us up to the 102nd floor:

Notice the numbers in the elevator. Instead of floors, they now tell you how high you are. The 86th Floor is at 1050 feet, and the top floor is considered 1,250 feet high. I really didn't need to know this. Yikes. (Yes - I hate heights.)

The Top Deck is completely enclosed in glass...and is MUCH smaller than the 86th Floor...but there are considerably less people up here, as well. We settled in to watch the sunset over New York City:

The neon of Times Square is starting to shine through....

It was incredible, actually...the whole city was transforming in front of us as the sun slowly slipped over the horizon...the lighting was amazing, the crowds were hushed, and it was just a great evening....

Daughter and I point out the sights...

We weren't done yet, though...we wanted to watch all of the amazing lights turn on in the city...

There was a full moon tonight, and it was rising above Brooklyn:

Sorry...I don't have the fancy camera to capture the beautiful night time shots...but you get the idea!

It was awesome.

We were there a total of two hours...getting to see the city below us swathed in daylight, and then twilight...with a bonus, beautiful sunset thrown in....This is pretty much what we did that entire time:

When we left around 9:00 pm, it was even BUSIER to get in than before. I guess a lot of people wanted to see the city at night, and were coming late, as the building is open until 2:00 a.m.

So, my tips:

1. Buy your tickets online.
2. Plan your trip early in your vacation, to allow for bad weather.
3. Go about an hour before sunset, to see the city in different lighting.
4. DON'T get the audio tour - we did, and it wasn't worth it.
5. Don't take big purses or bags - it's a tight space, and very crowded.
6. Don't wear a skirt - it's windy up on the 86th floor!
7. Consider the Express Pass - we felt it was worth it, as it saved us a TON of time.
8. Don't rush it...relax and enjoy the view.

Of was now about the time that my tummy was demanding it's usual late-night sweet...where to go???


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