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This post is about the Freedom Tower Observatory in NYC, how to plan your visit, get tickets, discounts as well as tours.
TIP: CitySights offers a combination bus tour, boat tour, and observatory ticket for just $74 for an adult ticket.
If you can only visit one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, or the Freedom Tower.
Travelers who would like to purchase their tickets ahead of time should keep the following information in mind while planning out their trip.
For more details, make sure to read our explanation of the timed tickets at Freedom Tower.
If you want to avoid long lines and pick the best time to see the Freedom Tower, make sure to read our plan your visit section for helpful tips.
There are several ways to obtain discounted tickets, either as part of a tour bus combination ticket, or part of a tourist discount pass or an organized tour that also includes the 9/11 Museum and/or Memorial.
Some options may work better for you than others. It really depends on what else you plan on visiting while in New York City.
Some walking tour companies offer tours of the 9/11 Memorial that also include tickets to the Freedom Tower’s observation deck.
At the end of this section, we list retail promo codes, discount websites, and other discounts that are available.
A tourist attraction discount pass is a bundle of attractions and tours into one price and can save you up to 55% off listed prices.
In addition to offering discounts or free admission to the Freedom Tower, these passes also typically include activities and attractions such as the following:
If you’re interested in visiting even just a few of these locations, picking up one of these passes is an absolute no brainer.
Several bus tour companies offer combination tickets that combine bus, boat, and attractions, such as One World Observatory.
We’ve listed the best value option below, but be sure to read our bus tour comparison page to learn more about other companies’ options.
CitySights NYC Tours offers a broad deal that gives you tickets to One World Observatory (plus)
Pay with your Mastercard and you get two tickets for the price of one. Check the website to see what dates this deal is offered.
During Must-See Week in late January-early February, many attractions in the city offer 2-for-1 tickets.
Active military personnel gets free admission when presenting a valid ID at the ticket booth.
One World Observatory has no discounts available for military veterans. Nevertheless, all other discounts, such as those listed in this post are available to veterans.
Promo codes, coupons, and vouchers can be found on the internet, though not all of them work. A quick search may still worth the time, as you may come across a valid coupon.
AAA discounts are not currently available as of March 2020.
In this section, we cover how to choose a ticket, including explaining the difference between standard, priority and flexible tickets.
Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss visiting One World Observatory on an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast.
Freedom Tower provides timed tickets in order to keep crowds manageable.
As a result, you may want to consider purchasing admission ahead of time in order to ensure that you can enter One World Trade Center.
Although most of their tickets are timed, it’s important to note that they also provide flexible admission for tourists who don’t know when they will arrive.
Several visitors indicate that they managed to buy tickets within 30-60 minutes of arriving, so getting them in advance might not be an absolute necessity.
However, you could save money and time by ordering your tickets with either a tourist pass or a combo package.
A general admission ticket will guarantee you entry to the Freedom Tower at a specific time and date. It is recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time.
A priority ticket will allow you to skip to the front of the line and get in ahead of everyone else.
You’ll also have the opportunity to skip elevator lines and go straight up to One World Observatory.
A flex ticket will allow you to enter the building pretty much whenever you want and receive skip-the-line access. This final option is also the most expensive.
For more information, make sure to check out our section detailing ticket prices and the different ways you can get admission to Freedom Tower.
Thanks to the timed tickets at One World Trade Center, the crowds are usually pretty manageable no matter when you choose to visit.
Bearing that in mind, it’s important to remember that you can skip to the front of the line and avoid waiting for the elevators by purchasing a priority ticket.
This is one of the best ways to make sure that you won’t have to wait for much of anything while visiting.
Whether you get tickets ahead of time or directly at the Freedom Tower, it will be important to keep their hours in mind.
Late guests can stay until 10 pm
According to several visitors, there are two times to consider when going to One World Observatory: early morning and early evening.
Although timed tickets keep the lines manageable, this landmark still gets pretty busy in the late morning and early afternoon.
Some visitors have mentioned waiting in line for around 1 – 2 hours during especially popular days and hours.
If you want to visit during these hours, consider purchasing a priority ticket in order to avoid long waits.
Guests also indicate that the Freedom Tower is far more popular than usual on weekends and during warmer months.
In order to avoid large crowds and long lines, we recommend visiting on Tue-Thu, if possible.
Even though your tickets are timed, there is no limit on how long you can stay at One World Observatory.
Travelers who have been to this landmark suggest setting aside at least 1 ½ – 2 hours for your visit.
Guests recommend planning to spend at least 2 hours at the museum and 1 hour at the memorial.
Check out our guide to the area.
Whether or not you choose to make a day out of this trip, you can always take a break right across the street from the One World Trade Center at Brookfield Place and get a bite to eat at their food court.
Visitors who plan on doing more than just seeing the 9/11 Museum + Memorial and One World Trade Center might want to consider taking one of our pay-what-you-like walking tours.
We offer several tours nearby, including some that either start or end at the Freedom Tower.
Before you head out to One World Trade Center, it will be important to make sure that you don’t bring anything that is prohibited.
In order to ensure the security of the building, certain items are not allowed inside.
The Freedom Tower’s address is 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007 and it’s located in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan at the corner of West and Vesey Streets.
The entrance is located on the West Plaza alongside West Street at the Northwest corner of the World Trade Center site and is bordered by Vesey Street to the North.
There are numerous subways nearby as well as a few buses. You can use this link to Google Maps to get exact directions from your starting point to One World Trade Center.
If you are new to riding the subway, check out our posts:
The Freedom Tower’s observatory’s official name is One World Observatory.
You may hear it referred to by different names based on its association with past events and locations: the 911 Observatory, the World Trade Center (WTC) Observatory, the 911 Freedom Tower.
Whatever you call it, this tower is like no other in the world. A visit to its sky-high observatory is simply unforgettable. Just read the reviews.
The tour of the Freedom Tower is self-guided, but there are guided tours of the memorial outside that include tickets to the Freedom Tower observatory.
The Freedom Tower is also a stop on both our Lower Manhattan and 911 Memorial GPS audio tours.
Upon entering the building, you pass through an airport-style security check. (Bring as few belongings as possible to speed up this process. B
e prepared to empty your pockets, remove your belt and walk through a metal detector.
Your belongings will be screened and there are several prohibited items that you will find listed under our security information section.
After security, you go down an escalator and enter a series of halls with looping videos.
The first hall is Voices, which shares stories of those who built One World Trade Center.
Next is Foundations, a narrow hallway lined with fake bedrock to give you a sense of just how solid a foundation was needed to have built the Freedom Tower.
You then take the Sky-Pod elevators where you will climb 1,250 feet (381 m) in less than 60 seconds!
The Sky-Pod elevators have LED screens on all sides showing a 47-second time-lapse video of 500 years of New York City history from a wide-open green landmass to a tiny Dutch settlement, then a small city and then the rapid transformation into a modern metropolis.
If you have a VIP entry ticket, you can bypass the Voices and Foundations exhibits and go directly to the elevators. This is great if you are in a rush, but some may enjoy the entire experience.
The elevator arrives in the blink of an eye to the 102nd floor where you are led into the See Forever Theater, a long room lined with panels on which a two-minute video about New York City is shown.
At the end of the video, the panels disappear into the ceiling and floor to reveal the breathtaking view to the north and east of the tower.
Since the 102nd floor is reserved for private events, you are led down to the 101st floor where a snack café, a bar, and a fine dining restaurant are located.
But you didn’t come up to eat, you came for the views. Finally, on the 100th floor, you will be mesmerized by the 360-degree panoramic view of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.
On a clear day, you can see about 50 miles in any direction.
You can walk over the Sky Portal, a 14-foot-wide (4 m) circular disc with screens that use real-time video feeds to simulate the view from 100 stories up.
Also, live guides will introduce you to the “City Pulse” interactive skyline concierge with information about the city and its landmarks.
Plan to spend 45 minutes to an hour for your visit. Of course, you can stay longer staring at the view that goes on forever. Or grab a snack the cafe or bar and visit the gift shop.
If you loved the view from the Freedom Tower, you might want to check out one of the other observation decks in the city, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, which both have great views that include the Freedom Tower.
If you can only visit one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post Which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or the Freedom Tower.
One World Observatory offers one of the best views of NYC, but the competition is pretty fierce. Both Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building have incredible and historic views of the city.
With that in mind, let’s discuss a few reasons why you may or may not want to visit this landmark.
Perfect for Photographers
If you are interested in photography, One World might be the best observatory to visit. Unlike some of the other observation decks in the city, you are allowed to bring a DSLR camera and take high-quality photos.
While the Empire State Building will let you bring small cameras, Top of the Rock does not allow any type of professional camera.
If you want to get some very nice photos of the New York skyline, this is an excellent opportunity.
Closest to Statue of Liberty
If you want the most unobstructed views of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, One World Observatory is going to be your best bet.
It is closer to this monument than any other observation deck in the city.
This also makes it easy to combine a trip to both locations in one day.
Although you can see Lady Liberty from both Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, it will be much further out and more difficult to see.
Not Centrally Located
Unfortunately, since the One World Observatory is so close to the Hudson River, it isn’t exactly the best spot to get a 360° view of Manhattan.
In comparison, Top of the Rock is very close to sites such as Central Park, Times Square, Trump Tower, and the Empire State Building.
If you’re not too worried about getting a good view of the Statue of Liberty, you may want to consider a different observation deck.
If you need more help picking just one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post Which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or the Freedom Tower.
Before or after your visit to the Freedom Tower, consider taking one of our pay-what-you-wish guided tour of Ground Zero and 9/11 Memorial.
On Tuesdays, we run our 9/11 and World Trade Center Tour at 1 pm.
If you visit the Tower in the afternoon, join us on our 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour at 7 pm. We also recommend you do at least one of these free activities. These are among the highlights of any New York visit!
Helpful tips when visiting Lower Manhattan
If you would like to join us on one of our tours, take a look at our tour calendar. We offer more than 35 tours that explore many parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. We also have more than 20 self-guided tours you can use on mobile devices.