How To Visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt In NYC



SUMMIT One Vanderbilt by Where Are Those Morgans

The SUMMIT One Vanderbilt experience is NYC’s newest observation deck. It sits 93 floors above Midtown Manhattan offering visitors incredible views of New York including multiple interactive exhibits. This observatory is everyday from 9:00 am to 12:00pm and it’s a must do activity for anyone visiting the city.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know for visiting SUMMIT One Vanderbilt including tips we wished we knew before our visit.

Our NYC Experience

Man and woman enjoying their time at Affinity in SUMMIT One by taking many photos
Mark and Kristen taking photos in Affinity

Kristen is a New York state native and we lived in NYC for a few months in 2021. We chose to move to the city so we could create the best possible content because you can’t just visit New York City for a weekend and claim to be an expert. Read more about us.

While we no longer live here, we still travel to the city every year because it’s one of the best travel destinations in the USA. We’ve visited Summit One a few months after it opened in April 2022. The information we share is based on this trip including our own personal photos.

What Is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt?

Close up view of SUMMIT One Vanderbilt in Midtown Manhattan
Exterior view of One Vanderbilt in Midtown

SUMMIT is the observation deck at the top of One Vanderbilt in New York City. One Vanderbilt is a whopping 93 stories tall with large floor to ceiling windows helping to bring in natural light and 3,291 stairs, equivalent to eight State of Liberties. According to the official website, One Vanderbilt is the tallest commercial skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan and one of the 30 tallest buildings in the world.

It’s also home to the ascent experience which features the largest glass floor elevators as well as the highest rack-and-pinion elevator system in the world. The construction of One Vanderbilt began in 2016 and officially opened to the public on October 21st, 2021. This entire building was designed to express openness and rises to a point at its summit mimicking the surrounding icons of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building.

SUMMIT observation deck is located between the 91st and 93rd levels. The 91st and 92nd floors are completely enclosed while the 93rd floor showcases an outdoor viewing platform.

READ: How to visit the Statue of Liberty


Taxi passing by the entrance to One Vanderbilt
Street entrance to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt is connected directly to Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan. It’s open every day of the week from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

  • Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
  • Location: Google Maps

You can get to the SUMMIT observation deck in many different ways. Here are the best options:

  • Nearest subway: Lines 4, 5, 6, 7, and shuttle at Grand Central, 42nd Street
  • Bus: M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, and M42
  • Metro-North: Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven lines

If you’re visiting with a car, there are multiple parking garages nearby but rates, availability and space may vary. You can also try Uber, Lyft or taxi but this might not be the most cost effective option.

Entrance and elevator leading down to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Black signs leading the way to SUMMIT

There are three ways you can access the observation deck:

  • Main concourse level (at Grand Central)
  • Street level entrance (45 E 42nd St)
  • Transit Hall in One Vanderbilt (corner of Vanderbilt Ave and 43rd St)

We entered via 45 East 42nd St between Madison and Vanderbilt Ave. Look for the black SUMMIT One Vanderbilt signs, take the escalator down and follow the arrows pointing you to the observation deck. If you plan to enter via Grand Central Terminal on the main concourse level, look to your southwest for the ticket machines, subway and 42nd St sign. Continue along this passage.

Large sign point to a New York City observation deck entrance
Look for arrows pointing to observation deck

You’ll want to find the subway shuttle passage. The Vanderbilt Ave 42nd or 43rd St signs will lead you to the basement of One Vanderbilt. From here, look for the large black SUMMIT One Vanderbilt signs and follow the arrows for the observation deck.


SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Tickets

Ticketing area for SUMMIT One
Ticketing kiosks to purchase tickets onsite

You’ll need a ticket to visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. There are three main ticket options, but if you choose to visit during the sunset time slot, you’ll pay $10 more for your ticket. The SUMMIT experience is the basic general admission ticket and you’ll be able to pick a date and time at the time of purchasing. This general ticket includes access to all three floors, but prices will increase at peak times or with additional add ons.

Here are the three ticket options explained in detail:

  • SUMMIT Experience – General Admission. Online tickets begin at $43 for adults and $37 for children (ages 6-12) for day time tickets.
  • SUMMIT Signature Experience – General Admission + SUMMIT signature cocktail (or mocktail). Online tickets begin at $57 for adults and $51 for children (ages 6-12) for day time tickets.
  • SUMMIT Ascent – General Admission + Ascent glass elevator. Online tickets begin at $63 for adults and $57 for children (ages 6-12) for day time tickets.

As of June 2024, the SUMMIT Ascent elevator is currently closed, but you can receive a refund on tickets here due to the grounding of the elevators. There is no mention as to when the elevators will be be open again so keep an eye on the official website.

Travel Tip: New York City and Long Island residents will receive a $5 discount on tickets and your billing zip code will be used for validation. Children ages 5 and under can visit for free.

Where To Buy Tickets

Long lines waiting for security and entry at a NYC observation deck
Lines for entry into the observation deck on the basement floor

There are many ways to purchase SUMMIT observation deck tickets. You can buy tickets directly from the official website here or onsite at One Vanderbilt. You can also purchase an entry ticket through:

Travel Tip: If you book with the official website, you’ll pay about $4.00 tax and a $3.00 processing fee. Click on the orange links to compare prices and reviews to see if you can beat it.

We purchased our tickets online in advance through the official website, but if you’re looking for a walking tour, you could consider a combo ticket to sightsee in Manhattan and visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. Shop the Take Walks tours here.

Another way to save money if you plan to visit several of New York City’s top attractions is to purchase an attraction pass. This will give you instant access to the most iconic NYC museums, landmarks and observation decks at a discounted price. Having used all of the NYC attraction passes ourselves when we lived in New York, we recommend the NY Sightseeing Pass because it’s extremely easy to use while offering both flexibility and big savings.

While SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is not currently on any NYC attraction pass, you can visit every other observation deck with this pass and we have an exclusive 5-10% discount just for our readers.

Want To Save Money In NYC?

Use the button below to claim 5-10% off any NY Sightseeing Pass.

You can also read our detailed NY attraction pass comparison to help you decide which New York pass you should purchase for your visit.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Walkthrough

Multiple scanners on the wall used to scan visitors faces for Unity exhibit
Kristen getting her face scanned before heading to the main elevator

At SUMMIT observation deck, you’ll experience 6 experimental immersive spaces across 65,000 sq ft over 3 main floors. The experience is a one-way system so once you leave a room, you won’t be allowed to go back.

If you have a sunset ticket, keep an eye on your timing. This way you experience the best areas while the sun is in prime position. We talk about where to be for sunset later in our guide. In this next section, we’re going to give you a detailed walkthrough including the best things to do at SUMMIT and exactly what you can expect.

1. B1 Ticket Entrance And Movie

Crowd watching a short movie before climbing a NYC observation deck
Visitors watching a short film prior to entry

Once you show your timed entry ticket, you’ll be lead through security for a bag check. We waited about 10 minutes in the security line after showing our tickets, but the line did move quickly. After you pass through security, you’ll have the option to watch a short two minute video showcasing an artistic view of SUMMIT observation deck.

You’ll receive a wristband with a QR code and black covers for your shoes to protect the floors. The QR code will grant you access to any photos the staff at the observation deck may take so you can purchase them later.

Travel Tip: Many visitors complain about the long wait times for security and the elevator, depending on the time of year. If you visit in summer during peak season, you should add on about 30-60 minutes of wait time.

2. Elevator Experience

Lit up sign saying floor 91 in elevator of SUMMIT One
Kristen taking a photo in the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt elevator

Before heading into the elevator, you’ll scan your QR code to receive a face scan for the Unity Air experience. Then as you step into the elevator, the doors close slowly and you’ll be catapulted to the 91st floor in less than a minute.

Similar to the other exhibits at SUMMIT, the elevator walls are covered in glass panels. As you ride, the entire elevator is lit up by a flashing light show. This is just a tease of what is to come. After you step out of the elevator, you’re led down a hallway known as the hall of light which is meant to resemble walking in the sky.

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3. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Floors

Man looking out the window of SUMMIT One Vanderbilt to take a photo
Mark snapping a photo on the 91st floor of One Vanderbilt

There are three main floors in the SUMMIT observation deck. As you step out of the elevator on the 91st floor, this is the order of floors and rooms you’ll experience as you make your way through the one-way system:

OB1 – Floor 91

  • Transcendence I
  • Reflect
  • Affinity

OB2 – Floor 92

  • Transcendence II
  • Levitation
  • Unity

OB3 – Floor 93

  • Après
  • Terrace
  • Ascent (elevator ride from 93-105)
  • Boutique

4. Transcendence I (Floor 91)

Transcendence I with many people posing to take photographs
Crowds of people on Transcendence I

When you walk out into the first exhibit Transcendence I, your senses are completely overloaded. This is the room you have seen on social media and it will be filled with many people trying to take that perfect photo.

Transcendence I has floor to ceiling windows paired with mirrored floors. Use your time here to experience infinite reflections of New York City and take in the surrounding views. From this room, you can see many of New York City’s iconic sights in a panoramic fashion.

  • East – Chrysler Building and the borough of Brooklyn and Queens
  • South – Empire State Building, Lower Manhattan and One World Observatory
  • WestEdge at Hudson Yards, the Hudson River and New Jersey
Woman with a pink jacket laying down in Transcendence II to take a photo
Kristen taking photos on the floor of Transcendence I

After you take in the NYC skyline, spend some time getting creative with photos. This room was one of our favorite photo locations during our visit due to the different angles and perspectives you can achieve.

If you look closely enough, you will notice there are circular openings at each end of Transcendence I. These openings are known as portals and will give you a kaleidoscope like experience when you look through them. The portals are a great photo location too. Just to give you a reference, we spent about 30 minutes in Transcendence I and it can be extremely crowded.

5. Reflect (Floor 91)

Reflect exhibit called clouds by Yayoi Kusama
Reflect exhibit featuring Clouds by Yayoi Kusama

The next room offers a small relief from the sensory overload you just experienced. Reflect is an art installation called Clouds created by Yayoi Kusama. This piece was created with stainless steel, patina and wax in ninety parts.

The large floor based installation is meant to look like reflective cloud life forms that wrap around the viewer to create the illusions of floating and infinity. Most people only spend about 5-10 minutes in this room before continuing on to the next experience.

6. Affinity (Floor 91)

Affinity exhibit at SUMMIT One with a woman holding two large silver balloons
Kristen holding two silver balloons in Affinity

Affinity is one of the best experiences at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. This room is filled with many large floating silver balloons. It’s an interactive space which uses reflective balloons to encourage physical connectivity to the area and you’ve probably already seen it on social media.

This is the last chapter of AIR on the 91st floor deigned by Kenzo Digital. The balloons are continually floating thanks to several fans spread throughout the entire room. You should expect to spend about 20-30 minutes in this room. We did notice a few of the balloons popped during our time here so just be aware this is a possibility. If you’re visiting with children, Affinity will certainly be a highlight.

Travel Tip: It can be extremely warm in this room between the windows and all the bodies, especially in the summer. Dress in layers so you can easily regulate your body temperature. We ended up taking our coats off in this room even though it was April.

7. Transcendence II (Floor 92)

The gorgeous view of the Empire State Building from Transcendence II
View of the Empire State Building from Transcendence II

On the next floor up, Transcendence II opens into a larger mirrored room combined with Transcendence I. From this vantage point, the refections of NYC are even more intense as you’re essentially seeing double. In Transcendence II, you can look down through the portals you saw in Transcendence I. Personally, we loved the large scale reflections and took many photos in this area.

Transcendence II is a great place to stay for sunset if you want a good viewpoint as the sun goes down. The setting sun will radiate off the large walls and mirrors creating a very special effect you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Unfortunately, many other people had this same idea and started to congregate on Transcendence II as it got closer to sunset. This floor got very crowded, which was the only downside. Sunset was also little lack luster during our visit, but it was certainly worth waiting anyway. We waited about 40 minutes on this floor for sunset.

READ: Inspirational quotes about New York City

8. Levitation (Floor 92)

Long line and woman getting get photo taken at Levitation exhibit
Long lines for a photo opportunity at Levitation exhibit

If you’re a thrill seeker, Levitation was made for you. At this exhibit, you can enjoy a rush as you step out over the city in one of the two glass bottomed ledges suspended 1,063 ft (324m) above Madison Avenue.

However, you’re not allowed to take photos of yourself in the skyboxes. SUMMIT staff will take your photos and these photos must be purchased for an additional fee. We skipped this attraction because the line was extremely long and we were happy with the photos we had already taken with our camera.

9. Unity (Floor 92)

The Unity exhibit featuring the sky with floating faces
Sky and clouds at the Unity exhibit

Before you enter the next room, you need to scan the QR code on your wristband for the full experience. The QR code transfers the face scan you received from the first floor and places your face into the interactive exhibit at Unity.

As you walk into the room, you’ll see a sky filled with floating clouds. And if you look even closer, you’ll notice many faces among the clouds including yours.

Travel Tip: It takes about 10 minutes for your face to appear in the exhibit so you might have to wait a little bit.

10. Après (Floor 93)

Après cocktail bar and cafe in SUMMIT One Vanderbilt on the 93rd floor
Crowds hanging out at Après

This is the last floor inside the observation deck. As you come out of the elevator, you’ll walk into Après, a nordic-themed cafe and cocktail bar perched high above above Manhattan. The menu features international flavors including a NYC-inspired griddled hot dog and Pretzelsaults. Signature cocktails include the SUMMIT Sunset Margarita and Vanderbilt #1. You can see the menu here.

There is also a small sitting area perfect for taking a break before heading out to the open terrace. We waited at Après for the sun to finish setting and enjoyed the New York City views. If you purchased, the Ultimate SUMMIT ticket, this is where you can grab your signature cocktail or mocktail.

Travel Tip: Après is the only food option at the SUMMIT observation deck, but there is a restaurant on the 2nd floor of One Vanderbilt, Le Pavillion featuring chef Daniel Boulud.

11. SUMMIT Terrace (Floor 93)

The opening viewing platform of the Summit terrace
Opening viewing platform on the terrace

After getting a snack or drink, head out to the open air terrace for more stunning views of the surrounding NYC skyline. Bring a jacket if you plan to stay for awhile because it can be very cold and windy at the top.

The SUMMIT Terrace is the only open floor throughout the entire experience. It was very cold when we visited New York in April and we only stayed out here for a few minutes.

12. Ascent (Floor 93-105)

The world record breaking glass elevator of Ascent At SUMMIT One Vanerbilt
Large glass elevators for the Ascent experience

The Ascent exhibit features a pair of the world’s largest glass floor elevators. These dual elevators travel outside the building and up 1,210 ft above the ground to One Vanderbilt’s highest point. If you paid for the SUMMIT Ascent or Ultimate SUMMIT ticket, the ascent experience is included in your ticket.

We personally chose not to go up in the elevators as the view was good enough and we didn’t think it was worth the extra money. However, if this is your first time in New York and you want to splurge, this might be worth it for you.

Note: As of June 2024, the Ascent elevators are closed and you can not book tickets. Check the official website for any updates as to when they will be open again.

Best Time To Visit

Many people enjoying the night time slot at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Crowds enjoying the reflections at SUMMIT One

The best time to visit SUMMIT One Vanderbuilt is one hour before sunset. This is the perfect time of day because you’ll be able to see the skyline in the daytime, while the sun sets and at night. Golden hour also offers the softest light which will be easier on your eyes in the reflective exhibits.

However, this is also the most expensive and busiest time to visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend you visit early in the morning or after the sun has set. There is no limit to how long you can stay at the observation deck so you can use this to your advantage.

If you’re struggling to decide if you should visit during the day or night, we think both options would be great because they offer something different.

During the day, the light will be extremely bright which will help to illuminate the large rooms and reflective surfaces. At night, the focus of the observation deck will shift to the surrounding NYC skyline which will make you feel as if you’re floating in the air among Manhattan’s iconic buildings.

Tips For Visiting

Bathroom stalls and large windows of One Vanderbilt
Don’t miss the bathroom with massive windows overlooking Manhattan

We’ve covered everything you need to know in this guide, but here are a few important tips for your visit:

  • Get creative with your camera – It’s impossible to take a bad photo at SUMMIT observation deck because there are so many different angles and fun surfaces. Photography opportunities are endless and we encourage you to try some new perspectives.
  • Avoid skirts and dresses – Mirrors cover the floors at many of these exhibits so we recommend you wear shorts, pants or leggings. If you need it, there is a small privacy path offering non reflective surfaces, but you’ll miss most of the fun.
  • Opt for flat bottom shoes – To protect the floors from scratching, high heels, sport cleats and steel toed boots are not allowed.
  • Check out the bathroom – Seriously, the toilet is equipped with floor to ceiling windows which make for one of the best views you’ll experience when doing your business in NYC.
  • Don’t forget sunglasses – The windows bring in natural light so it can be very bright. Disposable sunglasses will be handed out if you don’t have you own.

Pros And Cons

We personally enjoyed our visit to this observation deck, but there were a few negatives to visiting too. Here are a few pros and cons to help sway your decision:


  • The newest observation deck in NYC
  • Best view of the Chrysler Building 
  • Amazing art installations with stunning reflective properties
  • Excellent close up view of the Empire State Building (but not the best)
  • The modern design is extremely sleek, clean and sophisticated
  • Both outdoor and indoor viewing platforms
  • Staff were extremely helpful and funny at times


  • Overcrowding is a problem, particularly at sunset
  • This is an extremely photogenic observation deck with many people taking photos from every single direction which can be overwhelming 
  • The Ascent elevator ride costs an extra $20
  • All 3 floors have glass panels which makes it difficult to take photos with good image quality
  • Compared to other NYC observation decks, the elevator experience was just okay
  • Extremely overpriced snacks and drinks

The Morgan Conclusion

We like this observation deck because the founders focused on sustainability by achieving one of the lowest carbon footprints in NYC. You can read more about SL Green Realty here. The SUMMIT foundation also strives to give back 1% of all gross revenue by reinvesting it back into the community.

So is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt worth it?

Yes, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is worth it! According to Facebook, this experience is consistently rated a 4.9/5.0 with thousands of positive reviews. We agree with this rating because this is not just an observation deck, it’s an entire experience.

The views and the photos alone are worth the visit, but the interactive art installations certainly make this a unique and must see attraction in New York City. As regular visitors to the city, we visited with a basic SUMMIT Experience ticket and personally thought this ticket was enough.

We didn’t think the glass elevator was worth an extra $20 each and we were happy with our decision. But if this is your first time in NYC or you’re celebrating something special, you might want to upgrade your ticket. However, we recommend you purchase tickets online before you visit. Sunset time slots are extremely popular and may be sold out so it’s best to book as soon as possible.

Travel Tip: A visit to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt typically lasts about 2-3 hours. If you plan to take many photos or want to slowly visit each exhibit, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Photos

We took many photos at this observation deck because it was such a photogenic place. Here are a few of our favorite images to inspire your visit:

Woman taking a perspective photo from Transcendence I
Perspective shot of Transcendence I
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt lit up at night
One Vanderbilt lit up at night in the NYC skyline
Sun setting over Midtown Manhattan from SUMMIT One observation deck
View of the Empire State Building and Manhattan from the observation deck
Black protective foot coverings visitors are given at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Mark with the protective covers on his shoes you’ll receive at entry
Woman taking a photo with the Empire State Building and Manhattan in the background
Kristen snapping a photo of the Empire State Building with her Peak Design Bag
Kaleidoscope optical illusion from Transcendence I
Kaleidoscope portals on Transcendence I
View of Central Park from an NYC observation deck with the sun shinning directly overhead
View of Central Park from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Woman holding out an iphone to take a photo of the Empire State Building
Kristen taking a photo of the Empire State Building on her iPhone
Woman using the portals in Transcendence I to get a perspective photograph
Reflections of the portals at Transcendence I
Man smiling and holding a large silver balloon in Affinity
Mark holding a silver balloon at Affinity
View of the Empire State Building from Transcendence II
Empire State Building from Transcendence II
View of the Chrysler Building from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
View of the Chrysler Building and Manhattan

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We hope this guide to One SUMMIT Vanderbilt helps with planning your visit to New York’s newest observation deck!

Please let us know if you have any questions about this observation deck or New York City in the comments below.

Happy Summiting,

Mark and Kristen

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