Ultimate Guide to visiting One World Trade Center

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What is the One World Trade Center?

One World Trade Center, New York City
One World Trade Center, New York City

One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh tallest building in the world. It’s 1,776 feet tall, in honor of the year when the US Declaration of Independence was signed.

One World Trade Center was completed in 2014 and stands on the same block the Twin Towers stood until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Although it was originally to be named the Freedom Tower, the name was changed to a less “emotionally-charged” One World Trade Center, the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center. It is mostly offices that take up space in the tower, but on its highest floors (100-102) sits the One World Observatory, the city’s highest viewing platform. 

Visitors interested in the best views in New York City and its skyscrapers shouldn’t miss experiencing the One World Observatory, which opened in 2015. Because One World Trade Center is by far the tallest building in Manhattan, guests can experience unimpeded, 360-degree views of the rest of Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn and Jersey City from the Observatory. It is one of the best things to do in Manhattan in my opinion. The One World Observatory is not just a place to take breathtaking photos, but also a place to eat and drink with a one-of-a-kind view, and to learn about the art, culture, and history of New York City.

How do I get tickets to the One World Observatory?

One World Trade Center, New York City
One World Trade Center, New York City

GetYourGuide is an authorized ticket seller for One World Observatory tickets, and offers a variety of skip-the-line ticket options. Buying skip-the-line tickets in advance for the One World Observatory is highly recommended, so you don’t need to waste time waiting in line on the ground floor. Lines can be as long as 45-60 minutes during peak tourist season. 

The best ticket option is the all-inclusive, flexible entry tickets to the Observatory, which gives you flexible entry timing privileges, allows you to skip all lines, and you receive a $15 voucher for food and shopping. 

Here’s a list of all types of Observatory tickets available on GetYourGuide:

  • Standard skip-the-line, timed entry ticket, $47 — skip the ticketing line only
  • Combination skip-the-line ticket, timed entry $58 — take the Priority Lane for all lines, including the ticketing line and both elevator rides. A virtual multimedia guide is also included.
  • All-inclusive (VIP) skip-the-line, flexible entry ticket, $69 — skip to the front of all lines, flexible entry timing options. A virtual multimedia guide is also included. Receive a $15 voucher to spend on food, drinks, or souvenirs at the Observatory. 

Tip: The One World Observatory is included in various New York City passes, like the New York Pass and the New York Sightseeing Pass. Check out the other New York City attractions you can pair with your visit to One World Trade Center.

What is the best time to visit One World Trade Center?

The Oculus, World Trade Center
The Oculus, World Trade Center

There isn’t a best time to visit the One World Observatory. Weekends are most crowded, but each time of day has its advantages and disadvantages:  

  • Early morning: This is the best time to visit the Observatory to avoid crowds. If you visit in the morning, expect to spend 1–1.5 hours here because you won’t need to spend as much time waiting in lines. 
  • Midday: For bright and clear panoramic views of New York City, visit in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky. 
  • Sunset: New York City is filled with amazing sunset spots, and the One World Observation deck is no exception. Sunset is another immensely popular time for visitors, who want to catch golden hour then a little longer for the lights to come on across the city. If this sounds ideal to you, plan to spend at least 2 hours to have time to get through the line and take in the views. Be sure to arrive a little before sunset, and book a skip-the-line ticket, so you don’t get caught up on the ground floor and miss it.

Tip: Check the weather forecast for New York City before booking your tickets, so you know you’ll be visiting on a clear day.

What are the One World Observatory opening hours?

The Observatory, One World Trade Center NYC
The Observatory, One World Trade Center NYC

The Observatory’s regular opening hours are 10 AM to 7 PM every day. The summer months have extended opening hours, from 9 AM to 9 PM.

What should I expect on a visit to One World Trade Center?

Sunset Cruise with the New York Water Taxi
Sunset Cruise with the New York Water Taxi

One of the coolest aspects of a trip to the One World Trade Center is its unique elevator to the One World Observatory. It hurtles visitors 102 stories up in a mere 47 seconds, but what makes it extra special is the multimedia show on the walls of the elevator as it moves. It shows a high-speed transformation of New York City and Manhattan over 500 years, from its humble origins as a Dutch settlement to the skyscraper-covered metropolis it is today. 

Once exiting the elevator, be wowed by the One World Observatory’s “big reveal”. The view is blocked by a video screen, which shows the day-to-day hustle of Manhattan residents. Then the screen rolls up and slowly exposes the magnificent view over the city.

Get closer to the windows to immerse yourself in the incredible 360-degree views over Manhattan and New York City. Iconic sights that can be spotted from the One World Observatory include the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Here are some other aspects of a One World Observatory visit to keep in mind:

  • Security: Visitors are required to pass through security protocols at ground level, before going up to the One World Observatory. Although liquids are allowed, items like pocket knives are prohibited, and airport-style scanners are used on all visitors. 
  • Health and safety precautions: The One World Observatory offers increased hand sanitizing areas for staff and guests, encourages contactless payments, and limits attendance through timed ticket sales and reduced elevator capacity. There is no requirement to provide proof of vaccination or wear a face mask. 
  • Food and drink: One Cafe and One Mix are two of three options where visitors can get snacks, a light meal, or drinks at the One World Observatory. Some tickets include $15 to spend on food and drinks at these facilities. 
  • Restaurant: The One Dine restaurant at the One World Observatory invites guests to “elevate your dinner plans” by trying their gourmet cuisine while looking out at the incredible New Your City views. It’s the highest restaurant in New York City! Tickets for the One World Observatory are required for entry, and reservations can be made through OpenTable
  • Souvenirs: A number of souvenir kiosks and shops are available around the One World Observatory for visitors who want to take a little bit of NYC home with them. Check out their online store to see what’s available. 

Bathrooms: In case you’re wondering, there are bathrooms at the top of the One World Trade Center. Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back down 102 stories when nature calls.

Where should I go next during a trip to New York City?

The 9/11 Memorial, New York City
The 9/11 Memorial, New York City

9/11 Memorial and Museum: The One World Trade Center is located on the same block as the former Twin Towers. The location where these two skyscrapers once stood now make up the 9/11 Memorial site. Visitors to One World Trade Center can easily spend time before or after their Observatory visit at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. GetYourGuide has skip-the-line tickets to the 9/11 Museum, and also offers a 5-hour All-Access Pass to both the Memorial Museum and the One World Observatory. The Memorial is free to visit. 
Read more about the 9/11 Memorial and why you should visit it.

Wall Street: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange are within a 15-minute walk from One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This area, the Financial District, is home to some of the world’s largest banks and iconic New York City statues like the ‘Charging Bul’l and the ‘Fearless Girl’.  

The Battery: This historic park is also a 15-minute walk away from One World Trade Center at the southern tip of Manhattan. It’s famous for its views of the Statue of Liberty and also has a large ferry terminal for visitors traveling to Staten Island or a Statue of Liberty ferry tour
Learn more about things to do in Lower Manhattan including the Battery Park

Brooklyn Bridge: The Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge (one of the best NYC tourist attractions), another New York City icon, is also less than 15 minutes away by foot. Although it’ll take an additional 30 minutes or so to cross the 1.1-mile bridge to reach Brooklyn, the bridge viewpoint is easy to reach from One World Trade Center. 

How do I get to One World Trade Center?

Sunny cruise view of the One World Trade Center, NYC
Sunny cruise view of the One World Trade Center, NYC

The One World Trade Center and One World Observatory entrance is located at 117 West Street, New York, NY 10007.

  • By subway: 
    • R train to Cortlandt Street (closest)
    • 1 train to WTC Cortlandt
    • A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street
    • E train to World Trade Center
  • By bus: 
    • M55 Southbound at Broadway and Thames Street 
    • M55 Northbound at Trinity Place and Rector Street 
    • M20 Southbound at South End Avenue between Liberty Street and Albany Street 

By Car:
If you’re driving to One World Trade Center, the nearest parking garage is at the Brookfield Place shopping mall, with the entrance located at 250 Vesey Street. You can park for 2 hours for around $30.

Written by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures. Erika’s Travelventures is a blog about budget backpacking, trekking, and solo female traveling around the world.

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