Julie United States 21 Comments

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is the newest addition to the Manhattan observation decks.

The main reason to visit an observation deck is for the view. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt takes the experience to a whole different level.

Located on the top three floors of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Manhattan is an immersive, multi-sensory experience with art installations, floor to ceiling mirrors, and of course, BIG views.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is an entirely different experience than what you get at One World Observatory, the Edge, the Empire State Building, or Top of the Rock… a good thing, since these visits can be pricey, so they need to offer unique experiences.

We have visited  SUMMIT three times. Our first time here was in November, just a few days after SUMMIT opened. We were here both at sunset and during the morning hours. On our most recent visit to New York City (April 2022) we visited for our third time, arriving at 9 am. We learned a lot from our visits and now we can pass that information on to you. All of the photos in this guide were taken during our November 2021 visit to the SUMMIT.

In this guide, we share everything you need to know about how to visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, from great photo spots, to how to get your tickets, and tips to have the best experience.

What is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt?

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is located at the top of One Vanderbilt. At 1,401 feet, this is the fourth tallest skyscraper in New York City (One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower, and 111 W 57th Street are taller). It’s also one of the top 30 tallest buildings in the world.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is located on the top three floors of One Vanderbilt. On these three floors is an art installation called Air. Created by Kenzo Digital, these mirrored rooms, glass sky boxes, and interactive areas combine to form a fully immersive art experience with some of the best views of the city.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt opened on October 21, 2021.

Summit One Vanderbilt Photo

How to Get to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt is located next to Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan.

Summit One Vanderbilt Location

The entrance to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is located on the Main Concourse Level of Grand Central Terminal. From the Main Concourse, you will enter One Vanderbilt through the Vanderbilt Passage.

Since this passage is not easily identifiable from the Main Concourse, here are directions on where to go.

If you are standing in the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station, look for signs that read “Ticket Machines, Subway, 42nd Street.” Enter this passage and the next sign will read “Subway Shuttle Passage” and this is immediately followed by “Vanderbilt Ave 42nd & 43rd Street.” Continue straight to enter One Vanderbilt. You will be on the basement level of One Vanderbilt.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt Passage is on the same level as this photo was taken. The hallway has “Subway 42nd St” written above it.

Once in One Vanderbilt, turn left to get to the entrance of SUMMIT. At this point, you can also follow signs to SUMMIT or just look for the entrance line (it can get quite long).

You can also enter at street level at 45 East 42nd street, between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues. This is right next to Grand Central Terminal. Take the escalator to the basement floor and follow signs to the entrance.

The closest subway lines are 4, 5, 6, and 7. You can also get here by taxi, by Uber or Lyft, or on foot.

How to Visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt: Ticket Options

There are three ticket options for SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

  • SUMMIT Experience: This is a general admission ticket that gets you into SUMMIT One Vanderbilt without any perks. Online tickets start 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. Online tickets start at $59 for adults and $53 for youth.
  • Ultimate SUMMIT: This is the general admission ticket plus the glass elevator plus a SUMMIT signature cocktail by Danny Meyer. Online tickets start at $73 for adults and $67 for youth. Those under 21 years old get a mocktail.

The above prices are for daytime tickets. For evening tickets, add an additional $10 to each ticket price.

Which ticket should you purchase? In my opinion, the general admission ticket (SUMMIT Experience) is sufficient. I don’t think the glass elevator ride is worth the extra $20 per person. Sure, you go higher and get to ride one of the highest glass elevators in the world, but the views don’t change that much from what you get at the other SUMMIT experiences. 

For updated pricing and to book your tickets online, click here to visit the official SUMMIT One Vanderbilt website. 

PRO TRAVEL TIP: I recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance, especially if you will be visiting on weekends, during the busy summer months, or over a holiday. Sunset tickets sell out the fastest and SUMMIT Ascent tickets also can be hard to get.

Manhattan Sunset

View from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt at sunset.

What to Expect on Your Visit to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

Hours of Operation: Hours of operation vary by day of the week and the season. As of May 2022, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is generally open every day except Tuesday. Hours of operation range from 9 am to midnight, but this also varies by day of the week. The best thing to do is to get updated hours on the official website. To do this, visit the Tickets page, select your ticket type, and this takes you to the calendar with the daily schedule.

We visited the SUMMIT three times: an hour before sunset on a Thursday afternoon (November 18), Friday morning at opening time (9 am on November 19), and Friday morning at opening time (9 am on April 14). Lines to enter were actually longer on both mornings, which surprised us. We thought lines would be long at sunset, since this is the best time of day to visit the SUMMIT. But right at opening time both mornings we were here, crowds were huge. Mid-morning it does appear that crowds get lighter.

Getting through Security and Preparing for the Visit

To enter SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, show your tickets and then proceed through security. You will be given a wrist band with a QR code. This code gives you access to your photos taken at SUMMIT and is used for the digital art experience.

Even though you have a timed ticket, there still could be a security line. Both mornings that we did this, we waited about 15 minutes to get through security.

Just past security, you have the option watch the short promotional film (about 2 minutes). It’s a dramatic movie-like intro to the experience. It’s purely for entertainment and does not offer any insider tips or necessary information for visiting SUMMIT. If the line is long, skip the movie and continue on. There are still a few more things to do before the experience really starts.

You will have your photo taken which can be purchased at the end of your visit.

The next thing you will do is put on shoe covers. These cover your shoes and protect the mirrored floors from getting scratched. They aren’t much of a fashion statement and everyone has to wear them.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Stiletto heels, steel toed boots and sports cleats are not permitted.

If you did not bring a pair of sunglasses, make sure you also pick up a pair of the free sunglasses.

Finally, before riding the elevator, you will do a face scan for the Unity Air exhibit.

Finally, get in line for the elevator. It could be just a minute or two wait or longer (we waited in line for the elevator for approximately 10 minutes on our second visit).

The elevator whisks you up to the 91st floor in just a matter of seconds. The elevator is covered with mirrored panels that reflect a light show during the ride. If you are here with young children, 

From the elevator, it’s a short walk through a brilliantly lit hallway (you might need those sunglasses here) to get to Transcendence 1.

Things to Do at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

Once at SUMMIT, you will walk through three different floors. Along the way are different art installations, mirrored rooms, digital displays, and viewpoints of Manhattan.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: There are no signs that say this, but this walking route is one-way only. Once you ride the escalator to the next floor, you will not be permitted to return to that lower floor. For example, if you are on the 92nd floor, you will not be permitted to go back down to the 91st floor. So, make sure you get the photos and experience you want, before going higher. If you purchased tickets to watch the sunset, make sure you don’t zip through all three levels too fast.

Transcendence 1

From the elevator you step into Transcendence 1. This enormous room is covered with mirrors and floor to ceiling glass windows. The mirrors on the floor and ceiling dramatically enlarge the view and can be disorienting at first. But it creates endless photo opportunities and a unique way to view New York City.

Transcendence 1

East View Summit NYC

Looking east towards the Chrysler Building.

 Hudson Yards 2021

Looking west towards Hudson Yards.

From this room, you can look out New York City through floor to ceiling windows. To the east is the Chrysler Building, Queens, and Brooklyn, to the south is the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan, and to the west is Hudson Yards, the Hudson River, and New Jersey.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Be mindful of what you wear. You will be walking on mirrored floors, so leave the dresses and short skirts at home. If you feel uncomfortable about walking on the mirrored floor, there is a non-reflective path through SUMMIT.

Reflect

If you are suffering from sensory overload, the next experience can help calm your senses. From Transcendence 1 you will enter a much smaller room. On floor is an art installation called “Clouds” created by Yayoi Kusama.

Reflect Summit One

Reflect

Affinity

Round, silver balloons drift through the air. Like Transcendence, the mirrored floor and ceiling creates a dramatic effect.

Julie at Summit

How to Visit Summit One Vanderbilt

Things to do in Manhattan

From Affinity, you also have a great view looking north towards Central Park.

From Affinity, ride the elevator to the next level. Remember, once you go up the elevator, you will not be permitted to return to the first level.

Transcendence 2

This the second level of the large, mirrored room. From here, you overlook Transcendence 1 one from upper walkways. There are also portals, or circular openings, to the floor below.

Summit One Vanderbilt NYC

Transcendence 2

Transcendence 2 View

The view from Transcendence 2 mid-morning

 

Summit One Vanderbilt

The view from Transcendence 2 at sunset.

 

Summit One Vanderbilt Sunset Photo

Summit Portal

The circular glass opening is a “portal”

 

Summit One Vanderbilt Portal

The view looking through portal.

Levitation

This is your chance to step out on a glass paneled floor to view the city streets below.

Two glass sky boxes with floor to ceiling windows and a glass floor jut out from the side of the building. These sky boxes are perched 1,063 feet above street level. This is the most thrilling part of a visit to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt and not for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights.

You can skip this experience or you can step into one of these two sky boxes to have your photo taken.

We were not permitted to take photos of each other with our personal camera…photos are only taken by SUMMIT staff members, which can be purchased for an additional fee. However, I was allowed to take one photo of the sky boxes and one photo looking down from the sky boxes (and you can see my lovely shoe covers).

Glass Sky Box

Glass Sky Box View

Tim Julie Summit

Our photo in the sky box (taken and purchased from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt).

Unity

Before entering the next room, scan your wrist band. Then walk into Unity look for your face in the clouds.

Faces in Clouds

PRO TRAVEL TIP: There are restrooms on each level. Some restrooms sit on the corner of the building. There are floor to ceiling windows in these restrooms…probably the best view you will get from a restroom in New York City.

Aprés

After Unity, ride the escalator to the third and final level. Remember, once you go up the escalator, you will not be permitted to re-visit the second level.

Aprés is an indoor lounge and outdoor terrace with a bar. If you purchased an Ultimate SUMMIT ticket, this is where you will order your cocktail. Also for sale are snacks, sandwiches, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. 

Apres Summit One Vanderbilt

 

On the outdoor terrace, you can view Manhattan from behind a glass-paneled wall.

New York City

Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan.

 

NYC at Night

Continue around the west side and then re-enter the building. Turn right for Ascent (the ride on the glass elevator) or continue through the gift shop.

Ascent

Ascent is an extra add-on experience that you can purchase when buying your SUMMIT entrance ticket.

Two elevators, with floor to ceiling glass windows and a glass floor, take you up to 1,210 feet, the highest you can go on SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. From the elevator, you have a great view south, to the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan.

Here is the view.

Summit One Vanderbilt Glass Elevator

Summit One Vanderbilt Ascent

One of the glass elevators.

Like I said earlier, $20 is a big price to pay for this 2-minute experience. The views are great but they are not a whole lot different from what you get on the outdoor terrace. You get a higher view of Manhattan from the Apex platform at the Edge (part of the City Climb experience), One World Observatory, and the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building.

For more information on the observation decks in Manhattan, and lots of photos, read our Guide to the Best Observation Decks in New York City.

Exit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

From Ascent, you will walk through gift shop and then you reach a series of computer monitors where you can view and purchase your photos. Ride the escalator down to the elevator bank and then ride the elevator back to ground level.

Best Time to Visit Summit One Vanderbilt

The best time to visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is about an hour before sunset. Visiting at this time allows you to enjoy the experience in the daylight, as the sun sets, and then in the evening. It is a very different experience at each of these times, as the reflections augment the reality of what you are viewing.

Things to Do in New York City

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt at sunset.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a visit to Summit One Vanderbilt last?

Allow 2 to 3 hours for the entire experience. Depending on crowd levels, it could take 30 minutes or longer just to get through security and ride the elevator to the SUMMIT.

If you plan your visit for sunset, budget more time, so that you have enough time to take in the view in both the daylight and once the lights illuminate NYC.

Is there luggage storage?

There are no lockers or luggage storage for the SUMMIT. Large bags, backpacks, and luggage are not permitted, so you will need to store these elsewhere before your visit. Click here to learn more. 

Can I Bring a Selfie Stick or Tripod?

Selfie sticks, tripods or monopods longer than 12 inches fully extended, and commercial photo equipment are not permitted. Click here to see the full list.

Is Summit One Vanderbilt worth it?

Absolutely. The mirrored room of Transcendence 1 and 2 is a very unique experience…there is really nothing else like it in Manhattan. And with three different levels and multiple rooms with different experiences, there is a lot to do here.

The art installation is what makes SUMMIT One Vanderbilt truly unique but you also get one of the best views of New York City from an observation deck.

From SUMMIT, you get a 360° view of Manhattan since you view the city from all four sides of One Vanderbilt. You also get the best view of the Chrysler Building from an observation deck, unobstructed views looking south towards Lower Manhattan, and the best view of the Empire State Building from any observation deck in New York City.

For more information on the observation decks in New York City, and photos from each of them, read our Guide to the Best Observation Decks in NYC. 

What else can I do in the area?

Stroll through Grand Central Terminal, a national historic landmark and one of the busiest train stations in the world. It was one of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions in 2018 and has appeared in many movies.

Bryant Park and the New York Public Library is a very short walk from One Vanderbilt. To the north is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, and the Museum of Modern Art. To the west is Times Square. And to the southwest is the Empire State Building.

With SUMMIT One Vanderbilt’s handy location next to Grand Central Terminal, it is easy to get pretty much anywhere in the city using the subway.


If you have any questions about how to visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about New York City

BEST OF NEW YORK CITY: For a list of the top experiences in New York City, read our article Best Things to Do in New York City.

NYC OBSERVATION DECKS: In our article Best Observation Decks in New York City, we rank all of the observation decks by price, height, and best view. We also have detailed guides on The Edge and One World Observatory.

NYC ITINERARY: In our article 5 Days in New York City, we included detailed daily itineraries for exploring New York City. You can do all five days or follow just a day or two, if you have less time in the city.

CHELSEA & HUDSON YARDS: In our article Best Things to Do in Chelsea and Hudson Yards, learn about the best things to do in the area, with suggestions on where to eat and where to stay.

BROOKLYN: If you have plans to visit Brooklyn, read our article How to Spend One Day in Brooklyn.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.

 

Summit One Vanderbilt New York City Travel Guide

 

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 21

  1. Avatar for Debbie Schweig
    Debbie Schweig

    What time do you think we should buy tickets for in order to be there in time for sunset? It will be on Friday night September 9 and sunset is at 7:15. And when should we arrive with the timed tickets that you suggest are the times we should be there?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      For a 7:15 sunset, I think 6 pm tickets, or sometime around this, is a good time to book your tickets. If you have a 6 pm ticket, you will get in line at 6 pm (you could show up a little bit early, just in case there is a long line). It could take you 10 minutes or 30 minutes to get through security, depending on how long the line is. Assuming it’s a longer line, with a 6 pm ticket, you should hopefully be up at SUMMIT by 6:30, which gives you 45 minutes to enjoy the view before the sun sets. If you want more time, you could make your reservation a little bit earlier. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Shagun Rao
    Shagun Rao

    What are the chances that tickets sell out for a particular day and time? Should we buy them online or just show up and hope for the best?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      During peak travel times (weekends, holidays, summer months) there is a chance that tickets could sell out in advance, particularly around sunset. If you are visiting at this time, I recommend that you book your tickets in advance. It’s hard to know how far in advance, but at least a few days, just to make sure you get the time you want. I am not aware of entire days being sold out, so if you are willing to visit at a less than ideal time of day, you could just show up and hope for the best. But we always book our tickets in advance for the observation decks in NYC, just to skip the ticket line, and many times this is just 1 to 2 days before our visit, once we have a weather forecast. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Ashley
    Ashley

    Hi Julie, thanks for your article! I decided to go to SUMMIT for sunset view during our trip to NYC. I booked a 7pm spot, however, I couldn’t find anywhere on their website or on internet what time frame I should actually show up. 6:30-7? Or 7-7:30? Or 6:45-7:15? Or else? Hope you could help me with this question. Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      If you booked a 7 pm time slot, then you want to get in line at the entrance at 7 pm. Depending on how long the line is, it could take 10 to 30 minutes to get up to SUMMIT. Have a great visit! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Franco
    Franco

    Hi Julie and family, firstly I wanted to thank you for this amazingly helpful article. I’m planning to take my husband to One Summit for his 40th this Wednesday the 25th of May. We doubt that we can do the sunset timeframe since we have dinner reservations around that time. You mentioned that early mornings tend to get crowded; what time times between then and sunset would you suggest, for optimal views and shorter wait lines? Thank you so much in advance 🙂

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      I think midday to early afternoon would be good. We haven’t done Summit midday yet (only morning and sunset) but recently did both One World Observatory and Empire State Building right around midday and the lighting was great both times for photography. So, depending on what else you plan to do that day, midday could be great or before your dinner reservation. May is generally a good month because you won’t have the hot, hazy skies of summer. Happy early birthday to your husband! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Rod
    Rod

    Hi, great article. I’m really excited to experience this place later this summer.

    I have a question about the photos they take. I can’t really find information about them or any samples.

    Do they take random photos of you as you walk through the exhibit or are they staged photos ? I may be going solo so I want to measure my expectations.

    Thanks

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      They take a photo of you as soon as you arrive. It’s a staged photo and then they add different backdrops. You will also have your photo taken in Levitation, where you stand in the glass sky box. But they will not take random photos of you as you walk through SUMMIT, only in the two spots I mentioned. You get a chance to see and buy your photos just before exiting SUMMIT. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for john
    john

    How long can you spent on the summit? Is there a limit amount of time you can spent there before they ask you to leave so the next group of people could get in?

    Thanks,

    John

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      There is no time limit, so you can stay as long as you like. But once you go up a level, you can’t return to the lower level, so keep this in mind. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Rey
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      You can purchase your photos before you leave SUMMIT. Before you ride the elevator back down to ground level, there are computers that show you your photos. There is a staff member here who will help you out. They have options to purchase digital or printed photos right there, onsite. Using the code from your visit, you can also order digital versions your photos online after your visit (this is what we did). I hope this helps!
       
      Using Google Translate for the above text: Vous pouvez acheter vos photos avant de quitter SUMMIT. Avant de remonter dans l’ascenseur jusqu’au niveau du sol, des ordinateurs vous montrent vos photos. Il y a un membre du personnel ici qui vous aidera. Ils ont la possibilité d’acheter des photos numériques ou imprimées sur place, sur place. Grâce au code de votre visite, vous pouvez également commander en ligne des versions numériques de vos photos après votre visite (c’est ce que nous avons fait). J’espère que ça aide!
       
      Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Peter
    Peter

    You have great views of NYC above – day and night view from same perspective. What lense did you use for those? Are DSLRs sometimes an issue – because they seem to not allow professional cameras?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      The photos were taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 24-70 mm 2.8 lens. The staff did not mind that I had a professional camera. In fact, I haven’t been anywhere that using this camera was frowned upon or we were told that we couldn’t use it. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for chris
    chris

    Hi Julie,
    I was wondering.. in order to enjoy the sunset, and to experience everything with no rush before it, what time do you suggest to book a ticket on February? I’m a bit confused because you wrote that all of it will take about 2/3 hours, but you suggest on the other hand to get inside 1 hour before sunset to live the best out of it.
    Considering that the sun will set at 5.35 pm more or less, I’ll wait for your kind answer.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      With sunset at 5:35 pm, I suggest purchasing a ticket for 4:00. This should give you enough time to get through security and get up to the SUMMIT (about 30 minutes), with enough time to see the city in daylight, at sunset, and when it is dark. Just remember to take your time going through the three levels, once you go up a level, you can’t come back down. Cheers, Julie

    2. Avatar for Eliza
  10. Avatar for Vicky
    Vicky

    Hi Julie,
    Thank you for the article. Lovely photos.
    We have a trip to NYC for August and plan to do TOTR in the evening and Summit One Vanderbilt in the day time. Do you recommend both day time & evening for SOV instead?
    If we don’t go up the Ascent, can we still visit the gift shop ?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We have only been to One World Observatory during the daytime, but from our experience, I think SUMMIT would be a better place to visit at sunset. Since it is located in Midtown, the sunset views of the Empire State Building and Manhattan are the best from any observation deck in the city, in my opinion. In one day, you can visit the Statue of Liberty in the morning, then One World Observatory and the 9/11 Museum and Memorial midday, and then spend the afternoon and evening in midtown/Rockefeller Center with a visit to SUMMIT. And yes, you can visit the gift shop if you don’t go up Ascent. The only way to exit SUMMIT is through the gift shop (it’s like this at each observation deck in NYC). Cheers, Julie

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