Visitors enjoying the view from One World Trade Observatory in NYC

How to Visit One World Observatory (Tips & Tricks)

In Guides, New York, See & Do by Megan ILeave a Comment

Wondering how to visit One World Observatory aka the Freedom Tower Observatory in NYC plus tips for your visit? This guide has you covered!

Upon its completion in 2013 (opened in 2014), One World Trade Center also called the Freedom Tower and WTC is the new World Trade Center complex rebuilt in Lower Manhattan after the tragic events on September 11th in 2001. 

Located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, the World Trade Center is mostly office spaces filled with businesses and employees who work in international trade services not to mention the tallest building in the United States and the Western Hemisphere as well as the 7th tallest building in the world!

One of the most popular NYC attractions and experiences for visitors (and even locals) is visiting the Freedom Tower observatory and dining at the top of the One World Observatory restaurant with sweeping views of the city from the tallest point in the city!

view of the Edge from One World Observatory in NYC

One World Observatory is an observation deck located on floors 100-102 of One World Trade Center.

Here, you’ll be able to find exhibits that will help you learn more about the history of the building, some of the best views the city has to offer, and of course, dining in the clouds at the One World Observatory restaurant.

From the observation deck at the World Trade Center, you’ll have access to a once-in-a-lifetime 360-degree view of the Manhattan skyline, East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and New York Harbor.

What’s more, this entire observation deck is indoors, so it’s great for any time of the year.

Since the One World Trade Center is the highest building in the Western hemisphere and the seventh tallest building in the world, you can rest assured that you won’t find views similar to this one anywhere else.

This guide will give you all the information you need in one place to find out how to visit One World Observatory plus tips and tricks for visiting to make your experience easy to plan!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Visitors who wish to visit One World Observatory will be required to show proof of vaccination, either with a physical vaccination card, a picture of a vaccination card, or the New York Excelsior Pass.

Where is the One World Trade Center?

911 Memorial and One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattans Financial District

One World Trade Center is located in Lower Manhattan on 285 Fulton Street in the Financial District. 

If you are driving to the One World Trade Center, it’s best to go via FDR Drive. There is no parking for visitors at One World Trade Center and there is nearly no street parking. If you are coming by car, it is recommended to go to Icon Parking Garage (25 Albany Street) which is a short walk to the entrance.

If you’re taking the subway, you can get off at any of these stations which are a short walk away and give you access to most of the city:

  • Chambers Street Station (1, 2, & 3 lines)
  • World Trade Center Station Transportation Hub (PATH, 1 at WTC Cortlandt, 2 & 3 at Park Place & Fulton Street, 4 & 5 at Fulton Street, A & C at Chambers & Fulton Street, E at World Trade Center, J and Z at Fulton Street, N, R, W at Cortlandt Street)
  • Rector Street Station (R & W lines)
  • Cortlandt Street Station (1 line)
  • Fulton Street Station (2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, N, R, W,  & Z lines)
  • Wall Street Station (4 & 5 lines)

If you’re taking a taxi or rideshare app, have them drop you off at the corner of Vesey Street and West Street.

Where is the Freedom Tower Observatory Entrance?

the walk to the beginning of the One World Trade Observatory experience in NYC

The entrance to the observatory can be found at 117 West Street at the corner of West and Vesey Streets. There will also be a sign.

One World Observatory Tickets

view of East River Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge from One World Trade Observatory in NYC

Booking ahead of time for the One World Observatory is the best way to save the most money on tickets. There are four types of tickets to choose from when visiting the observation deck at the World Trade Center:

All-Inclusive:

All-inclusive tickets start at $63 but are often on sale. You’ll have access to the 360-degree views and the priority lane in the security section, elevator, and exit if you get this ticket.

You’ll also have access to a flexible arrival time and $15 that you can use at the gift shop, restaurant, bar, or cafe!

You’ll also be able to explore the digital guide that they give you! This will be an interactive and helpful guide on a digital tablet that will give you a guided tour and teach you more about the surrounding buildings and landmarks.

Combination:

Combination tickets start at $53 and include the 360-degree views, priority lane in the security section, elevator, and exit. You’ll also have access to the digital skyline guide that has useful tips and tricks and is interactive. 

Standard:

Standard tickets are for those who want general admission. Starting at $43, these tickets provide the 360-degree views that you can see from the observation deck! However, you won’t have access to the digital guide or priority entry in any part of the building.

VIP Tour:

The VIP Tour tickets are for MasterCard members only. Starting at $73, these tickets provide a one-hour guided tour, escorted entry into the Freedom Tower Observatory, and $15 that you can use at any spot in the building!

Skip the Line Ticket:

This skip-the-line ticket for the Freedom Tower observatory is a great option if you’re short on time. Simply book your ticket and choose which option you want, to skip the line straight to the security checkpoint or skip the line and get priority in the security checkpoint. Book here.

All ticket options tickets are non-refundable, with the rare exception of days that have zero visibility from the observation deck. 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. Not guaranteed.

silhouettes of people enjoying the view of the empire state building and nyc skyline from the freedom tower observatory at one world trade center


Looking to do more sightseeing around the city? Maybe you want to see all the cool observatories like Top of the Rock Observatory, visit the top of the Empire State Building, or the Edge NYC? These tickets can ADD up quickly! You can save money on your admission tickets by bundling them with other attractions with an attraction pass.

A great option is the New York Pass which you can purchase anywhere from a 1 Day Pass to a 10 Day Pass that gets you into over 100 attractions. Once you purchase your New York Pass you download the Go City app and use that to get into the popular NYC attractions as well as some hidden gems.

Using New York Pass instead of buying individual attraction tickets can save you hundreds of dollars and up to 45% savings on popular attractions including free admission to the Top of the Rock!

See our full breakdown of the New York Pass

What to Expect Visiting the One World Observatory

view of the NYC skyline and Empire State Buidling from One World Observatory

You can expect to go through a security checkpoint when you arrive at the One World Observatory. This is where they will search your bags for any prohibited items – we accidentally brought our camera tripod and had to leave it at an item check to pick up on the way out. 

Be sure to read their full list of prohibited items before the day of your visit to make sure you don’t accidentally bring any of those items with you!

sky pod elevator experience going up to the world trade center observatory

Once you go through security, you’ll take an interactive elevator ride up to the 100th floor. This is the Sky Pod Elevator and it is surprisingly fast getting you up 100 floors in 47 seconds!

Be sure to pay attention to the interactive show, the elevator ride up to the observation deck at The World Trade Center is an experience all in itself.

right before the reveal of the view at one world trade observatory in NYC

Once you get off the Sky Pod elevator you will be greeted with another collage of videos that are truly stunning to watch that when the show completes it reveals the view of the skyline for that initial WOW moment! And it really does WOW!

From floors 100-102 with over 125,000 square feet, you’ll have a lot to see including breathtaking panoramic views of the New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and the Hudson River, and all of Manhattan!

Global Welcome Center at One World Observatory experience in NYC

Upon getting out on the 100th floor, you’ll see the Global Welcome Center. This welcome center is made up of the largest curved indoor LED light in the world! It is made to display data about the 10 million + visitors who have been to the One World Observatory.

There is another multimedia exhibit called the Horizon Grid. Presented by 145 glowing screens, this exhibit will show you all the memorable moments and famous faces that make up the history of the One World Observatory.

visitors using the digital explorer at one world trade center and freedom tower observatory in NYC

Another great feature that One World Observatory that other observatory decks in NYC don’t currently offer are the One World Explorer iPad guides. Each visitor with the Combination and All-Inclusive tickets will be given one at the beginning to borrow and you can use it to navigate the city from window to window. 

This digital and interactive guide will let you know what you’re looking at and if you’re looking for more information you can use the audio guide too which gives you fascinating stories and history about each site.

Once you get to the cafe and gift shop and you’re all done, you can descend. 

One World Observatory Restaurant

View of Statue of Liberty from one world trade center observatory in NYC in New York Harbor

One experience you don’t want to miss out on is dining at the One World Observatory restaurant, ONE Dine during your visit. Besides being one of the most unique dining experiences in the city at the top of the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, they serve up an amazing seasonal fare and really great, creative craft cocktails.

You’ll need to make a reservation for this though! So be sure to plan ahead. Also, if you don’t have a ticket for the observation deck at the World Trade Center you won’t be able to dine here. This restaurant is only reserved for those who come to do the entire experience.

If you want a quick snack or bite there is also the more casual One Cafe. This is also a great option for those who have a ticket to the observatory! This cafe is known for its freshly brewed coffee and smaller snacks and salads.

Other Attractions Near One World Trade Center

9/11 Memorial 

911 memorial pool and reflection of the world trade center in lower manhattan nyc

The 9/11 Memorial is located at the base of the World Trade Center on Vesey Street.

This free, outdoor exhibit commemorates and is a tribute of remembrance of the 2,977 who passed in the 9/11 attacks and is made up of various waterfalls and carved-in names of victims who were lost at the terror attacks of that day including the victims of the World Trade Center site, Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania site.

9/11 Tribute Museum 

The 9/11 Tribute Museum is connected to the 9/11 Memorial and is also very close to the Freedom Tower. This museum showcases artifacts, videos, and personal stories about the attacks and their continued significance including the events that took place on 9/11/11 and the attacks from 1993.

By visiting this museum, you’ll gain a deeper, more personal understanding of the events that took place here and the lives connected. You can buy tickets for general admission or also join a tour. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

The 9/11 Museum is one of the attractions available on multiple attraction passes you can use in the city to bundle your sightseeing tickets and save alot of money! This experience is on both CityPASS and New York Pass.

CityPASS offers a 3 attraction pass or a 6 attraction pass with over 12 city attractions to choose from including the 9/11 Museum. Using this pass instead of buying individual tickets can save up to 35% equaling hundreds of dollars in savings.

Another great option is the New York Pass which you can purchase anywhere from a 1 Day Pass to a 10 Day Pass that gets you into over 100 attractions. Once you purchase your New York Pass you download the Go City app and use that to get into the popular NYC attractions as well as some hidden gems.

Using New York Pass instead of buying individual attraction tickets can save you hundreds of dollars and up to 45% savings on popular attractions including free admission to this museum.

See our full breakdown of the New York Pass and our breakdown of the New York CityPASS to see if it’s worth it for your visit to save hundreds of dollars on multiple attractions.

The Oculus

inside the Oculus at One World Trade Center mall in Lower Manhattan NYC

The Oculus is a shopping mall and transportation hub directly next to the World Trade Center observatory.

Located on Church Street, The Oculus is made up of corssed steel columns that give it a sculptural, museum-like look that is truly a marvel to see. Inside you’ll find a shopping mall and one of the most stunning photography spots in the city.

Home to 12 subway lines, the PATH station, and many retail stores, The Oculus is a great place to go before or after your visit to the World Trade Center.

Eataly NYC Downtown

Eatly NYC Downtown is a great alternative to the One World Observatory restaurant if you weren’t able to snag a reservation. This restaurant is just a 3-minute walk from the 9/11 memorial and is part of the famous Eataly branch of Italian restaurants and markets. So if you’re craving any type of bread, pizza, or pasta, this restaurant is the perfect pick for you!

New York Stock Exchange & FiDi Attractions

fearless-girl-outside-of-the-new-york-stock-exchange-in-the-financial-district-of-manhattan-nyc

You’re in the Financial District which is where you can find the backbone of the world’s financial system and some of the most historic parts of NYC. 

The New York Stock Exchange is one of the most significant landmarks in the area that’s just a few minutes away from the Freedom Tower in NYC!

Known globally as the world’s largest stock exchange, this landmark is home to the world’s leading financial markets and is a stunning skyscraper to see.

This is also where you can find the Fearless Girl Statue created by Kristen Visbal facing directly towards the NYSE. This bronze statue was made for International Women’s Day and depicted a confident girl that represents women empowerment. It was actually originally located across the famous Charging Bull but moved to its permanent location here.

Speaking of, another iconic sculpture nearby is the Charging Bull at Bowling Green. Also known as the Bull of Wall Street. There is always a line and crowd here.

Brookfield Place

Megan looking at Christmas lights at Brookfield Place in Manhattan NYC

Brookfield Place is a luxury shopping mall and office building complex that’s only a 2-minute walk from the Freedom Tower!

Located in Battery Park City, this mall overlooks the Hudson River and has many seating options inside that will give you access to these fantastic waterfront views.

Although Brookfield Place is spectacular during any time of the year, it is most popular during the holidays when the Winter Garden is on display. This Winter Garden is located in the middle of the mall and features colorful luminaries all around making it one of the best places to view Christmas lights in NYC

Also, if you’re here in the winter, check out their ice rink overlooking the Hudson River, this is one of the best ice skating rinks in NYC!


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