Is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Worth It? [Visiting Tips]

As the latest gem in Manhattan’s crown of observation decks, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt offers more than just panoramic city skyline vistas. Perched on the uppermost levels of one of Manhattan’s soaring skyscrapers, this attraction was designed to redefine the concept of urban observation.

Through interactive art installations and expansive mirrored spaces, you are treated to a multi-sensory journey, enhancing the traditional panoramic views with a fascinating, artistic twist.

Drawing from our personal experiences, having visited SUMMIT One Vanderbilt multiple times since its opening, we’re eager to share insights that will make your visit even better.

Whether you’re admiring the cityscape during the golden hours of sunset or enjoying the tranquil morning views, we’ve gathered some valuable tips.

Check Ticket Availability | Avoid Long Queues

The best way to ensure entry to Summit One Vanderbilt is to purchase your tickets in advance!

To secure your spot during your preferred time slot and skip the long waiting lines, we highly recommend that you get the ticket online via our calendar tool above! The official website also suggests to buy tickets in advance!

What is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt?

Amidst the skyline of New York City, towering at 1,401 feet, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt offers a unique vantage point from the city’s fourth tallest skyscraper. This architectural wonder is more than just an observation deck; it’s a top-ranking member within the global hierarchy of skyscrapers.

We find SUMMIT One Vanderbilt at the pinnacle of its namesake building, occupying the uppermost trio of floors. Within these heights lies “Air,” an innovative, mirrored art installation conceived by Kenzo Digital.

Through a series of reflective rooms, glass sky boxes, and interactive spaces, visitors are treated to a transformative art experience coupled with awe-inspiring panoramas of the urban expanse.

Is It Worth Visiting?

We always say that Top of the Rock has the most spectacular views, and it’s even cheaper! However, if you love thrilling adventures and want to feel like you’re floating in the sky while checking out the city, then Summit One is the place to be!

It’s definitely worth visiting; it’s super fun and a little scary adventure right in the clouds.

However, besides the pros there are some cons as well:

  • Incredible Views: As one of the tallest structures in New York City, it offers panoramic views that are hard to rival.
  • Cultural Experience: The observation deck merges art and technology, providing a unique cultural experience.
  • Location: Situated atop Grand Central Terminal, its central location makes it easily accessible by various means of transport.
  • Ticket Price: The cost can be steep, with adult tickets varying from $46 to $57 and children’s tickets from $39 to $50 depending on the day of visit.
  • Crowds: Being a popular attraction, it can get crowded, which might affect the overall experience.

3 Essential Visiting Tips

The red toilet on the 91st floor has great views (not captured in the photo). Find a panoramic shot with the red restrooms at the end of this article!
  1. Check out the mirrored alcoves on Level 92 for a unique perspective and playful photo ops. Lie down on the platform for a vertigo-inducing selfie with the cityscape as your backdrop.
  2. Visit during sunrise or sunset for warm, flattering light and avoid harsh midday glare. You can capture the best photos one hour before sunset, but be prepared for crowds during peak tourist times (summer and the winter holidays).
  3. For sparser crowds, visit on Monday through Thursday during spring, fall, or after the winter holidays.

Special Tip: There are toilets on each level, and some even offer panoramic views.

How to Get There

First, make your way to the iconic Grand Central Terminal, nestled in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Upon arriving, Grand Central’s Main Concourse serves as the gateway to this extraordinary experience.

Here’s our guide to finding the entrance:

  • Locate the Vanderbilt Passage: From the expansive Main Concourse, seek out the pathway marked with signs pointing towards “Ticket Machines, Subway, 42nd Street.”
  • Follow through to One Vanderbilt: Head through the passage that leads to “Subway Shuttle Passage.” You will find another sign indicating “Vanderbilt Ave 42nd & 43rd Street.” Keep moving straight ahead, and you’ll descend to the basement level of One Vanderbilt.
  • Entrance to SUMMIT: Once inside the building, veer left to find the entry point to SUMMIT. If there’s any uncertainty, simply keep an eye out for the signs guiding you to SUMMIT or join the line to the entrance, which can sometimes be quite noticeable.

Alternatively, if you’re approaching from street level:

  • Street-Level Access: Arrive at 45 East 42nd Street, situated conveniently between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues, right next to Grand Central Terminal. Here, an escalator brings you down to the basement level where signage will usher you towards the entrance.

To arrive here, the nearest subway lines include the 4, 5, 6, and 7 trains.

For those preferring a ride, taxis and rideshare options like Uber or Lyft are readily available. And of course, should the New York streets beckon, arriving on foot is always a vibrant way to soak in the city’s atmosphere.

Understanding Your Ticket Options

When planning a visit to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, you’re presented with a variety of ticketing choices. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide (prices are subject to change):

  • Daytime Admission
    • Standard Entry: Grants access to the main experience:
      • Adults (13+): Starting from $42
      • Youth (6-12): Starting from $33
    • Enhanced Visit with Cocktail: Includes general entry plus an exclusive drink:
      • Adults only: Starting from $56
    • Premium Experience with Elevator Ride: Combines the experience with a ride up the glass elevator:
      • Adults: Starting from $62
      • Youth: Starting from $53
  • Evening Admission
    • Add an additional $10 to each category for visits during evening hours.

In our view, the Standard Entry typically suffices for a full-enjoyment visit. While the glass elevator ride is a unique feature, offering you a ride in one of the world’s highest of its kind, the perspective on the city landscape you gain doesn’t significantly differ from the lower observation levels.

For the most convenient experience, we suggest booking your tickets in advance online, especially if your visit falls on a weekend, during summer peaks, or holidays. Notably, sunset view tickets and the Premium Experience with Elevator Ride are in high demand and may sell out quickly.

To secure your spot and check the most current prices, visiting the official SUMMIT One Vanderbilt website is highly recommended.

Visiting Tips

Preparing for Entry and What to Anticipate

Upon arrival at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, it’s important to be ready to show your tickets and undergo a security check. You will receive a wristband with a QR code that allows you to access personal photos taken during the visit and to participate in interactive exhibits.

Timed entry could still mean a brief wait in line for security. After this essential step, you have the option to watch a short introductory movie, but it’s not a necessity, and you can proceed if the line is considerable.

Next, you’ll have your picture taken and then put on the shoe covers to protect the mirrored surfaces you’ll be walking on.


  • Shoe Policy: Certain types of footwear, including stiletto heels and steel-toed boots, are prohibited.
  • Sunglasses: Complimentary sunglasses are available, and they can be necessary in the brightly lit areas.
  • Face Scan: For the interactive Unity Air exhibit, you’ll need to have your face scanned before proceeding to the elevators.

Expect an elevator ride that is a visual experience on its own, transporting you to the 91st floor in seconds.

Engaging Activities at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

The experience across three levels at SUMMIT includes various artistic installations and opportunities to view Manhattan from unique perspectives.

  • Transcendence 1: The first mesmerizing room you’ll enter boasts mirrored surfaces amplifying the expansive views of the city.
    • Viewpoints: Includes vistas of the Chrysler Building, Queens, Brooklyn, the Empire State Building, Lower Manhattan, Hudson Yards, the Hudson River, and New Jersey.
    • Dress Prudently: Mirrored floors suggest proper attire to avoid discomfort, with a non-reflective path available for those who prefer it.
  • Reflect: Relish a serene moment in a space adorned with Yayoi Kusama’s artful ‘Clouds’, offering a visual respite from the previous expanses.
  • Affinity: Encounter a space where round, silver balloons create a dreamlike atmosphere, and gain a splendid view towards Central Park.

Ascending with the elevator to the next level is a one-way journey, preparing you for the next tier of experiences.

  • Transcendence 2: This upper level grants an elevated perspective over the first and includes ‘portals’ for peeking down to the previous area.
  • Levitation: For those seeking an adrenaline rush, glass sky boxes offer a vertigo-inducing look at the streets far below, with SUMMIT staff available to capture this moment.
  • Unity: After scanning your wristband, search for a familiar face amongst digital clouds in this unique interactive display.

Facilities Tip: Restrooms are available on each level, with some offering panoramic views that certainly enhance any restroom visit.

  • Après: This lounge and terrace provide relaxation and refreshments, with a bar available to those with the right ticket type. The terrace offers views shielded by glass panels.
  • Ascent: For an additional fee, elevate to the apex of your visit in glass elevators boasting views from 1,210 feet up to the Empire State Building and beyond. This brief elevator ride isn’t vastly different from the terrace view, but it adds height to your experience.

Navigate these one-way paths strategically, ensuring you indulge in each level’s offerings to the fullest before ascending to the next.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Time Should You Plan for Your Visit?

We advise setting aside approximately 2 to 3 hours to fully enjoy the SUMMIT experience. Entry procedures, including security checks, can take upwards of 30 minutes. If your visit coincides with sunset, allow extra time to appreciate the stunning city views during daylight and after dark.

Are There Facilities to Store Personal Items?

It is important to note that there are no facilities to store large items at the SUMMIT. Guests are expected to find alternative storage solutions for any large bags, backpacks, or luggage before arriving.

May We Use Photography Equipment Like Selfie Sticks?

Your photography equipment should be compact for use at SUMMIT. Items such as selfie sticks and tripods that extend beyond 12 inches and commercial photo equipment are prohibited due to space constraints and safety considerations.

Is the SUMMIT Experience Recommended?

Indeed, the experience at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is remarkable. Notably, the Transcendence 1 and 2 installations offer a unique, immersive visual encounter unmatched elsewhere in Manhattan. The three-level observation area provides breathtaking 360° views of Manhattan along with unparalleled vistas of the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and the skyline of Lower Manhattan.

Best Time to Visit
  • Pre-Sunset Period: Aim to arrive roughly 60 minutes prior to sunset.
  • Experience: Ascend in daylight, observe the shifting hues of sunset, stay for nighttime vistas.
  • Visuals: Day to night, the changing light transforms reflections and views.

Surreal Restroom With Great Views 

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