One World Observatory NYC: Tips to go to the Top

The tallest building of NYC! The One World Observatory is the highest and newest observatory of NYC located at the top of One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower). Right next to where the Twin Towers once stood. It’s an indoor observatory with 360-degree views of New York from the 102nd floor. One of the best views of the New York skyline! All info & tips below!

All the area is known as the 9/11 Memorial located in World Trade Center, Financial District. One of the Top Things to do in New York. Keep in mind that this observatory has nothing to do with the 9/11 memorial though… they won’t show you anything about the attacks (for that, you have the museum right next to the One World building!).


One World Observatory Hours

Daily from 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week. Check updated times here just in case before you go.

Last ticket sold 45min before closing time.

Guests in the Observatory by 9pm can stay up to 10pm.

It’s open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day & NYE!

Check calendar of hours here.


One World Observatory Tickets

How to purchase tickets:

  • Buy tickets online here.
  • At the box office of One World Trade Center (it’s better online so you skip this line).
  • By phone (844) 696-1776 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Additional $5 processing fee though!

You can Get 10% off Here!


Ticket prices:

Yes! It’s pricey but similar to the prices at Top of the Rock & Empire State Building!

Adults $39
Senior (+65) $37
Kids (6-12) $33

Free for kids 5 & under.

There’s a $4 processing fee when purchasing tickets online.

Additional ticket options:

Combination Combo:

For an additional $10 per ticket. Skip the lines + Includes a digital skyline guide.

PRIORITY EXPERIENCE: when selecting “general admission” you can add priority access (no lines) for only $7.62!

All-Inclusive Experience:

Additional $20 per ticket. The “Combo” but you can arrive at any time on selected date + beverage.

For MasterCard Cardholders:

Total: $67 per adult. “All-inclusive experience” + tour guide escort, a customized lanyard & a gift.


One World Observatory Address

Located at One World Trade Center.

Entrance through West Street between Vesey & Fulton Sts.


One World NYC Good to Know…

  • There’s Free WiFi in the building!
  • You can stay up there as long as you want.
  • When you ride down the elevator, you’ll see more cool videos!
  • The “sky floor” is a bit disappointing because it shows you a video. You don’t really look down as if there’s a “hole” from the top to the street.
  • It has nothing to do with the 9/11 memorial.
  • No room to sit at the top and enjoy the views (except if you’re at the bar or restaurant!). The drinks at the bar are AWESOME by the way! Even the non-alcoholic ones!
  • Strollers are allowed but you’ll need to fold it up for access to the elevators and escalators within the Observatory.
  • What if it’s foggy & you already bought the ticket? Upon request, on the rare occasion of zero visibility, and at the discretion of the Observatory, a voucher may be issued for each un-used ticket allowing for re-entry on another date and time within 14 days, subject to availability.
  • You can’t access the restaurant at the top without a ticket!


One World NYC Tips

One World Trade Center Observatory nYC

  • Buy tickets online to avoid doing another line.
  • When you’re in the elevator, get a spot near the wall to experience better views of the videos while you climb up! (More info below).
  • Go on a clear day! You won’t be able to see much on a foggy or stormy day.
  • If you go on a busy cold (or hot) day, keep in mind that the line to purchase tickets can be outdoors if there are too many people! So bring warm clothing or stay hydrated if it’s too hot outside.
  • Try going an hour before dusk so you get to see the NYC skyline during the day, during sunset and the city lights at night!
  • If you go in peak/holiday season, it’s better to be there probably 2 hours before sunset to give yourself time to get tickets and be at the top in time for sunset after going through all the lines!
  • Once you exit, you can go directly into the Oculus NYC! It’s worth taking a look at it from the inside.
  • Make sure to visit the 9/11 memorial: The pools & the plaza right next to the One World Trade Center. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is right there as well & is free on Tuesdays!
  • Check out the full Financial District NYC Guide.


The Journey to the Top of One World Observatory

One World Observatory Entrance
Ph: One World Observatory
Lines to go up

Be a little patient even though lines go pretty fast but still… Lines you’ll have to do:

  • Line to purchase your ticket (if you didn’t buy yours online).
  • Line to go through security. It looks like the security check of the airport!
  • Line to get on the elevator that takes you up to the 102nd floor.
Time until you get to the top:

About 30-45min.

It can take up to 1.5hs if you go in peak season (Summer, Holiday Season).

Lines once you’re up:

  • Line to get your picture taken (if not interested, you can skip this line, plus it’s with a fake NY skyline!).
  • Line to get your iPad digital guide (you need to pay an additional $10-$15 for this)
  • And one last line to take the elevator back down!

Feel FREE to Skip the photo-op & iPad lines if you’re not interested in them! Just walk through and head down to the 101st floor.


One World Observatory Elevator: The Famous Sky Pod Elevators

My favorite part! Time-lapse videos showing you 500 years of NYC history and how everything changed while you go up to the 102nd floor. Really well done. I really wanted to ride up the elevator again to watch the awesome videos!

Tip: Try to enjoy the videos and not focus on taking pictures/videos without really enjoying the experience because it goes fast!

How long it takes to go up? The elevator is pretty fast & entertaining. You’ll be on the 102nd floor in less than a minute, literally! You’ll be entertained with the video displays.

For those afraid of heights: there are no windows showing you “outside” while you’re in the elevator and the observatory is indoors only.

One World Observatory Height: 1250 feet.


Observatory Floors
102nd floor

Once you get off the elevator, they take you to the See Forever Theater. An audiovisual experience of NYC life. I won’t tell you the ending so it’s a surprise!

This is more of a “transition floor”.


101st floor: Restaurant & Café

Take the escalators back down 1 floor. Lines to the photo-op / iPad lines (remember you can skip this… plus there’s someone there telling everyone the main attractions in an entertaining way with a microphone).

You’ll see the Restaurant, Café & Gift Shop.

ONE Dine

Hours: 12pm – 9pm.

Last reservation: 6:45pm.

Check menu & make your reservation here.


100th floor: The Main Observatory

The most popular floor for viewing.

ONE MIX: Bar at the Top

Hours: 5pm – 9pm.

Shareable plates, burgers, sandwiches, salads & bar snacks. Great specialty cocktails menu! Their drinks are really good! They offer cool & tasty non-alcoholic options too!

First come, first served basis (no reservations).


Winter ONEderland
Santa at One World Observatory - Winter ONEderland
Ph: One World Observatory

It’s basically the same experience but with a festive approach celebrating the holiday season in NYC with family-friendly displays!

ONEderland features:

Wall of Wonders

Cool video display as you walk on your way to the elevator featuring different cities in a snowy theme.

Glacier Cave

Walk though a magical underground winter grotto ornamented with crystals and icicles until you reach the elevators to go up!

Snowy Sky Pod Journey

The videos on the elevator will show the history of NYC while it snows.

Giant Snow Globe

You’ll see a giant snow ball at the top.

Visit Santa at the Top!

Book your tickets in advance here.

Once you’re at checkout, you’ll have the option to add-on the Santa Visit for an additional $22.

When is Santa at One World NYC?

  • Dec. 1st |  10am to 6pm
  • Dec. 2nd |  10am to 6pm
  • Dec. 8 – 24 |  10am to 6pm

Check out NYC with Kids and follow @newyorkerkids on Instagram!


Best Times to Visit One World Observatory

One World Trade Center NYC - Observatory

Most crowded times to go up: Noon-5pm. You’ll also face a longer line to go back down.

Best times to beat the crowds: weekdays & mornings up to 11am and later at night.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Noon’s the best time for pictures of all sides of the Observatory since the sun is located in a way that doesn’t “disturbe” any specific side.

One World Observatory: Day or Night?

DEFINITELY TRY TO SEE THE CITY LIGHTS AT NIGHT! Try to go during Sunset even though it’s the most crowded time to go up. But it’s good to go a bit before it gets dark so you get to see the River and the city in the day, and then enjoy the magical city lights at night that are absolutely incredible!

How long it takes to Visit One World NYC?

About 1.5-2 hours the whole thing. Even though in peak season lines to go up can take 1 to 1.5hs! 


Which is the Best Observatory in NYC: Top of the Rock, Empire State Building or One World Observatory?

It’s hard to choose one!

If you have to choose one out of the 3, I’d probably choose Top of the Rock because you get the chance to view the NYC skyline being outdoors, you see Central Park and you get to see the Empire State Building and the One World from TOR 😉

The Empire State Building is the most iconic observatory deck of NYC, but you get a partial view of Central Park and you don’t get to see the Empire State since you’re in it ;-). If you go at night, the Empire State is better than Top of the Rock because you get a better view from Midtown Manhattan at night. You won’t be able to see Central Park at night from Top of the Rock (it looks like a black hole).

They all offer different views. If you want to do 2 of them, I’d pick Top of the Rock or the Empire State and the One World Observatory that has one of the best NYC views.


  • Better views of Midtown Manhattan and Central Park from Top of the Rock and the Empire State.
  • Best views of Central Park from Top of the Rock: with an unobstructed view of the park.
  • Better views of Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Liberty & Ellis Island from One World NYC.
Pros of One World Trade Center Observatory
  • The One World Observatory is the highest observatory of NYC.
  • The most modern & newest one.
  • It offers the best technology with LED displays that make it a great experience than just the view from the top.
  • It’s spacious.
Cons of the One World Observatory:
  • You don’t get to see Central Park from One World NYC.
  • You can take great pictures from the One World Observatory but the windows are too reflective and it shows on many of the pictures.
  • It’s indoors only, even though this can be a positive thing if you’re afraid of heights or if you go on a very cold day & wanna stay warm while being up.
  • They close early compared to Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building.


Once You’re at the Top Make Sure You See…

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge NYC


Manhattan Bridge

manhattan bridge, dumbo brooklyn


Empire State Building

Empire State Building NYC


Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty


Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building NYC


Woolworth Building

Woolworth building


Enjoy the stunning views of NYC from the One World Observatory.

Take the most out of New York & Enjoy!



Hi there :) I'm Jess and I came to NYC to pursue my dream and I feel I'm living it every day. New York is magical and you have to be open to everything because you never know who is sitting next to you on the subway or behind you in the line of the supermarket. I decided to create this blog about NYC because I realized how many powerful tips would have helped me if I knew them before coming to the city from someone who was living in NY! So I thought that it would be awesome to share with you some tips about New York from a New Yorker. I'm going to keep updating this blog so stay tuned :)