You can’t always trust reviews
I want to first start by saying I had a fantastic experience at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt and I will be returning for an evening experience. The lights at night and the colors look fantastic. I want to come just before the sun is setting and capture more spectacular photos.
“This place is nothing but a tourist trap” something I read continuously through reviews or even when I posted it on my Facebook page, I received some backlash. There were people who were angry and didn’t enjoy their visit. Sometimes you can’t trust everyone’s reviews, you have to go out and experience places for yourself.
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SUMMIT One is a highly recommended must-see when you’re visiting New York. And yes, with visiting New York, there will be tourists. It’s the big apple, the city that never sleeps, and of course, there will be people coming from all directions to visit and explore. But I will let you know how to avoid them and how you can enjoy visiting this observation deck.
I read the reviews and I thought to myself, this would be a place I will visit one day. Well, that changed, when a few of my coworkers planned a girl’s day out. I was excited and had mixed emotions. I have a love-and-hate feeling with New York. I was happy that I would get a chance to visit SUMMIT One and see if what the reviews had stated was true.
New York is indeed a beautiful city with wonderful places to visit, but the trains or if you’re driving can be discouraging at times. There’s always traffic, but then I laugh to myself. If you can drive in New York, you can drive anywhere.
How to get to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is located at 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, next to the iconic Grand Central Terminal. I prefer taking the train to New York, it’s less expensive. By the time, I pay for gas, the toll for the tunnel, parking, and sitting in traffic, taking the train is more efficient. But there are several ways to get here: cab, Uber, Lyft, or bus.
Street-level access is located at 45 East 42nd Street, between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues.
The nearest subway lines are the 4, 5, 6, 7, and Shuttle at Grand Central, 42nd Street.
Hours are Monday-Sunday from 9 am-12 am and closed on Tuesday. There are different packages to choose from general admission, riding the glass elevator, or having a signature cocktail and something to eat.
It is best to purchase your tickets online.
SUMMIT Experience This is a general admission ticket starting at $39 for adults (13+) and $33 for youth (6 to 12).
SUMMIT Ascent This is the general admission ticket (SUMMIT Experience) plus the glass elevator experience. Start at $59 for adults and $53 for youth.
SUMMIT Admission + Ascent + SUMMIT Signature Cocktail (or mocktail). Online tickets start at $73 for adults and $67 for youth. Those under 21 years old get a mocktail.
Things to know before your visit
I wish I would have known all the codes of conduct before visiting because I was semi-prepared. There are things you should know before your visit. I wore a dress and sandals (brought sneakers for my walk from the train) and had a big bag that I was lugging around with me. I suggest wearing comfortable shoes and carrying light. There are no lockers to place your things in or coats.
Let’s get started with my attire: I was able to see up under my dress and others from all the mirrors. My dress was made of thin material, so a few of my pictures I can see through my dress, nothing revealing. But just a warning to you, it’s very bright and sunny when the weather is great and you can see through a lot.
I wear prescription glasses and wished I had a pair of prescription sunglasses for my visit. SUMMIT One provides sunglasses that are sanitized after each use, but I couldn’t see through them. They only protected my eyes from the glare.
If you have prescription sunglasses bring them. Wear the proper footwear and it really doesn’t matter how they look because they will be covered with shoe wraps when you proceed to the glass area.
Before your Visit
- Make sure to bring your sunglasses. The reflective mirrors used throughout the space create a bright environment during the day.
- Please dress appropriately to avoid unwanted exposure on glass and mirrored floors. I recommend wearing pants, shorts, or tights when possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Stiletto heels, steel-toe boots, sports cleats, and other footwear that can damage flooring are not permitted.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Experience
SUMMIT One is located in the heart of Manhattan, it is 1401 feet tall and is one of the tallest buildings listed in the world. It’s located on the top 3 floors that offer more than views.
There is an art installation by Kenzo Digitial called Air. You will be taken for a journey through the looking glass, see your face in the clouds, play in a room of balloons or come and take your Instagram photoshoot. There were a few ladies dressed in beautiful gowns having the photoshoot experience.
Guests are welcome to take photos with a personal, hand-held device; however, selfie sticks and tripods longer than 12” fully extended, and professional photography/videography equipment will not be permitted.
Before visiting, I would make of list of places to visit near. There is the Empire State Building, The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Times Square. The list can go on with places to visit for the ultimate day trip.
Yes, it was busy but we didn’t experience “the tourist” trap. The lines moved quickly and it wasn’t overly crowded during our visit. We had tickets for Wednesday at 2 pm. This was a perfect day. Mid-week and during hours people would be working. I think the best times to visit are during the week for day or evening tickets.
The weekends tend to be busier and you will not have the same experience as you see in the Instagram photos. You look on Instagram and there is a photo of someone dressed beautifully and you wonder, wow they took some awesome photos. It looks like the place is empty and you’re the only one there. In reality, you are waiting while someone else is taking their photo until they are done to get your chance.
Ascending to the Top
When you enter, you will go through security, show your tickets, and will be given a wristband with a QR code which gives you access to your digital experience and collects photos you’re able to purchase at the end.
You go through a mini maze, that takes you out to get your shoe protection and sunglasses if you visit during the day. Before going to the elevators, you will have your face scanned for the Unity Air exhibit.
You go through a hall leading to the elevators, which were a little dark. You are swept up to the 91st floor and go down and short hall. The first time walking into Transednce 1 is incredible. The weather was perfect with a blue crisp sky with big fluffy white clouds floating. The sun was beaming on the mirrors causing glare, this is why sunglasses are needed. The room was filled with people posing, some were even laying on the floor capturing different angles.
I felt a bit overwhelmed at first. I was standing in a mirrored-filled room, it was something you see in a movie. I suggest starting in the corners and working your way around the room. Check out all the views of New York.
The next room you enter is called Reflect, the art installation of Yayoi Kusama. Which, I had the pleasure of visiting her art installation at the New York Botanical Garden.
The next rooms we entered were: Affinity, filled with shiny silver balloons, Unity, where you can see your face in the clouds (the scan of your face that you took before going up the elevator), and Apres the indoor lounge that heads out to the elevator to Ascent.
Should you visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
I think this is a great day trip and you will have a nice day capturing spectacular views of the city. I suggest going during the week, not too close to the holidays. Day or evening experiences are great. I wouldn’t buy the ticket to ride the elevator. It’s not worth spending the money on this. The views don’t change.
If there is a crowd when you go, be patient it’s worth it. We spent over 2 hours here, but we could have stayed longer. I highly suggest visiting, let me know if you go and leave your experience in the comment section.
More Unique Places to Visit Near Summit One
- New York Catacombs by Candlelight
- Edge NYC
- One World Observatory
- New York Walking Tours
- Radio City Music Hall
- Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock)
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- NY Public Library & Library Way