The One World Observatory is located at One World Trade Center and is the tallest skyscraper in New York (and the United States), built as a homage to the Twin Towers.
Being one of the most popular attractions in New York, buying your ticket in advance will save you quite a bit of time waiting in line. If you don't know how to do it or how to choose among the options available, here are my favorites:
Located in the heart of Downtown, One World Observatory has one of the most spectacular observation decks in the city right now. With a general admission ticket to One World Trade Center you will have access to the observatory located between the 100th and 102nd floors.
My recommendation is to buy the general admission ticket in advance, as it also allows you to enter without waiting in line, directly accessing the building.
Why I like this option: if you want to enjoy the views of southern Manhattan from one of the most imposing skyscrapers in the city, this is the cheapest way to do it (and it will let you skip the queue at the ticket office).
Recommended if... you don't have much time to tour the area or simply prefer to see Ground Zero on your own and pay only for access to the observatory.
How to buy tickets for the One World Observatory at the box office
You can buy your tickets for the One World Observatory at the building's box office, which opens at 9 a.m. The great thing about buying tickets online is that, instead of waiting to buy your ticket at that time, you can go straight up and watch life begin in New York as the day starts.
New York Pass and other passes that include admission to One World Trade Center
With this particular pass, you can choose between 1 and 10 days of validity to have an "open bar" of activities. I recommend it if you are one of those travelers who explores every corner of a destination and not miss absolutely anything. Anyway, there are also other passes and if you are considering getting one to complete your visit, I recommend you to check my article in which I compare each one of them: New York Pass and other passes.
Where is the One World Observatory and how long does the visit last?
Most visitors tend to stay at One World Observatory for about one hour. Tickets do not limit how long you can stay at the observatory, so you can visit for as long as you like. If you are visiting with children, it may take a little longer as the interactive displays will keep them busy for a while.
One World Observatory hours
So that you can plan your visit, please note that One World Observatory's opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except in the summer, when the skyscraper is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Throughout the year, you can go up the One World Trade Center every day of the week.
Visit One World Observatory with kids
In fact, if you're visiting with children, I recommend you let them play for a while in the Sky Portal, with interactive screens located on the floor that project images of life in New York under One World Trade Center and give the impression of floating above the air, and the City Pulse, interactive screens that show presentations on iconic elements of New York culture such as its famous cheesecake or its various sports teams.
The interior of the One World Observatory
After entering One World Trade Center, you will begin your ascent to the 102nd floor (where the observation deck is located) in an elevator covered entirely by screens that will show you a spectacular time-lapse of the evolution of New York from its founding as a Dutch colony in the 17th century to the present day.
When you reach the top of the skyscraper you will access the One World Observatory via the See Forever Theater walkway, with another show of stunning visuals of everyday New York.
And now, at last, you can enjoy what you came all this way for: breathtaking views of New York from the top. The observation deck is enclosed in huge glass windows unlike the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, giving you a sense of greater distance from the city. Plus, One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the city, so you'll be able to see New York stretching for miles and miles in the distance.
Before you climb One World Observatory, keep track of everything you can see from the top. In a city as big as New York, and especially on a first visit, it's easy to forget all those iconic places that you'll love to see in miniature from the observatory and then recognize on your walks around the Big Apple.
In case you don't like to do the typical tourist activities, there are many more buildings in New York that you can visit, even if they don't have an observatory. Woolworth Building, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, and many others will delight any architecture buff.
This is what you can see from One World Observatory:
- Empire State Building
- Hudson River
- East River
- Statue of Liberty
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Manhattan Bridge
- Downtown Manhattan Skyline
Practical information for climbing the One World Observatory
How to avoid crowds
The busiest times at One World Observatory are around 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., when visitors prepare to watch the sunset. For similar afternoon views and a less crowded experience, I recommend going at 9 a.m. (or 8 a.m. in the summer), which will give you the whole day to explore the city you just saw from above.
What services does the building offer?
One World Observatory has a gift shop on the 100th floor and a restaurant, coffee shop, and ice cream parlor on the 101st floor to round out your visit.
Watch out for prices
Be aware that One World Observatory is full of "traps" to attract tourists and make them spend some extra money on interactive tablets for the visit, souvenir photos, and the like.
What happens if the weather is bad
By buying your tickets well in advance you run the risk of going to One World Observatory on a cloudy day. The trick is to buy them a week or two before your trip to New York, when you can check what the weather will be with relative reliability and choose the best day accordingly. Needless to say, it is best to go up the skyscraper on a clear day to have spectacular views of New York.
If you go up on a rainy day, the good thing is that the observation deck at One World Trade Center is not open-air, like other observatories in New York. This can also be an advantage if you visit New York during a very cold or very hot season.
Alex's Traveller Tip
There are a lot of tourist "traps" at One World Observatory, so be careful if you don't want to end up breaking the bank!
Another way to take in the sights of New York: the helicopter tour
And if going up in a skyscraper doesn't really appeal to you but you want to enjoy the views of New York from above, you have other options like going on a helicopter tour of Manhattan or visiting one of the many rooftop bars in the city. But in my opinion, climbing a skyscraper is an awesome experience that you can't miss, especially on your first time in New York.
Other recommended experiences in the area
Inescapably, One World Trade Center is part of Ground Zero and is linked to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Combining both visits is a very interesting experience for someone traveling to New York, as you will be able to deeply explore an event in recent history that changed the city like no other.
Therefore, I recommend that you stop by the 9/11 Memorial and if you can enter the Museum to explore one of the most interesting and unique exhibitions in the world, telling the story of the attacks on the Twin Towers with items salvaged from the rubble. You can read the chronicle of my experience here: 9/11 Memorial Tickets and Tours.
Organize your visit to other skyscrapers
In addition, in New York you have two other skyscrapers to see the city from above. The most famous is the Empire State, an icon of the New York skyline and a must-see attraction on any first-time visit to New York, containing a fragment of the city's history within its walls.
And of course Rockefeller Center, whose observation deck known as the Top of the Rock will offer you the best views of the city including a spectacular close-up of the Empire State Building. In my experience, this is the best skyscraper in New York.
Also, The Edge has recently opened its doors, an innovative building with a spectacular observatory whose glass floor will let you see New York from a bird's eye view (quite literally). If you can resist the vertigo, be sure to read how to get organized for your visit here: The Edge.
- Empire State
- From $ 45
- Observatory: open-air
- Floor: 86
- Views: Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue and from afar One World Building
- Location: Midtown Manhattan
- Book your tickets
- Top of the Rock
- From $ 42
- Observatory: open air
- Floor: 70
- Views: Empire State, Central Park and from afar One World Building
- Location: Midtown Manhattan
- One World Observatory
- From $ 35
- Observatory: interior
- Floor: 102
- Views: Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and from afar Empire State Building
- Location: Southern Manhattan
- Book your tickets
- The Edge
- From $ 41
- Observatory: open-air and glass floor
- Floor: 110
- Views: Empire State, Midtown and from afar One World Building
- Location: Manhattan West
- Book your tickets
Frequently asked questions
What is the One World Observatory?
The One World Observatory is the viewing platforms of the One World Trade Center, offering stunning views of the New York skyline.
When is the best time to visit One World Observatory?
As the observatory gets very crowded, it is best to visit the observatory between 8:00 and 10:00, this way you can avoid the crowds and also catch New York during the morning light.
Do I need to bring an official photo ID to visit One World Observatory?
No, only a valid ticket is needed.