Attraction Reviews: SUMMIT ONE VANDERBILT | ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY (New York City)

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by Tony Frankel on June 8, 2022

in Art and Museums,Theater-New York,Tours

A TALE OF TWO TOWERS

The area around the erstwhile World Trade Center towers may have transformed slowly, and still under construction, but the transformation is astounding around the new high-rise replacement tower, One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, and which is now the focal point of the Lower Manhattan skyline. The viewing areas on top of the building are known as ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY. Meanwhile in mid-town is the newly opened SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, which offers astounding light show experiences with spectacular views. Wondering which to visit on your next trip to The Big Apple? Both. Completely different experiences, views, and great food and drinks await you.

When you come to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, take a side trip to the ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY, located on floors 100-102 of One World Trade Center. I was lucky enough — and naturally recommend — arriving before sunset. The excitement begins with the amazing SkyPod Elevators, which climb 102 stories in 47 seconds as you watch the transformation of New York City from unsettled lands to today’s remarkable forest of skyscrapers. Once you’re at the top, you enter a surprisingly un-cheesy pre-show, beautifully spliced; paired with the soundtrack makes you appreciate the chaotic beauty of New York.

Being on top of the largest building in the western hemisphere your 360° view of the skyline are simply remarkable. The windows weren’t as large as SUMMIT, but were absolutely sufficient to get a good look. Available for those wanting to pay a little more is an info iPad that provides history on specific buildings and the surrounding area. I’d say getting a guided tour versus the iPad tour is worth the extra $. It’s informative, entertaining, and our guide was fantastic. Plus you get credit which can be used at the gift shop, café, or restaurant/bar.

Surprisingly, the ONE Dine restaurant, and bar ONE Mix were highlights for us. The NY inspired menus will elevate your dining plans and are even more inspiring as you eat and drink while watching the light change on your views. The elegant Bar has a great menu of cocktails to try and an “Old World” class and charm to it. The menu lists several sophisticated cocktails that are worth a try (we loved the strong Van Gogh Starry Night cocktails!). A “New World Fashion” which is a twist on the classic “Old Fashion” was delicious, too. The is a busy bar, so get your seats as quick as you see them. The tables are reserved only for the restaurant, so if you’re just drinking you must find a seat at the bar. For dining, I had the lobster bisque, a thick soup with big pieces of lobster. Well worth it. The fried chicken sandwich was one of the best I’ve had. The cheesecake with a 20-year tawny port was the best way to end a great meal.

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Mind blowingly beautiful with stunningly clear views, the multi-level, 65,000 square-foot entertainment space SUMMIT One Vanderbilt (pictured on top) took years to conceive, design and develop. Located in the heart of Midtown, there are thrill experiences, food and cocktails, and an outdoor terrace with the highest urban alpine meadow in the Western hemisphere. Explore 3 levels of mind-bending multi-sensory immersive experiences that will forever change the way you view New York at any time, day or night. SUMMIT takes the concept of an “observation deck” to entirely new heights through a collection of breathtaking installations: AIR, a blend of story-driven immersive art experiences mixing transparency and reflectivity to create the illusion of boundless space. AIR AT NIGHT, dramatic waves of color illuminate AIR turning SUMMIT into a beacon of light and energy. LEVITATION, transparent glass-enclosed skyboxes extending over 1,000 ft above Madison Avenue. ASCENT, a sensory defying all-glass elevator reaching SUMMIT’s highest elevation (1,210 ft) above Midtown. APRES Indoor Café and Outdoor Terrace Bar featuring a curated menu of light far and cocktails. Located inside Grand Central Terminal, SUMMIT Experience tickets start at just $39.

The first floor is all mirrored and you can see this from the upper floor as well, so take note if you are wearing skirts or dresses! You can see some wonderful views of the Empire State and Chrysler building from this angle. If you then walk round, there is a small art installation — “The Clouds” — and you can also get a great view of Central Park from here. I would recommend taking some snaps here before you go into the next room with the silver balls called AIR, as this can get busy with lots of people taking photos. Later at night seemed to be emptier (we spent two and one-half hours total at SUMMIT).

Once upstairs, you can’t come back down, so take your time in each room. You can go through the upstairs of the mirrored room, and then there are two glass boxes for photo taking. The light shows at night projected throughout the mirrored view rooms are positively fantastical. This is more of an attraction than just a view. The mirrored flooring will absolutely trip you out. Guests would lie on their backs watching the show, and all are given booties to protect the floors. There is then a little restaurant and bar (closed the day we were therre) and you can go outside for more views. The menu is not nearly as wonderful as ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY, where you should plan to dine when you visit these amazing towers.

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