Never pay for an observation deck again - how to get that amazing view for free

Observation decks suck. I really can’t stand them. They’re expensive, they almost always have horrendous queues and are often crowded beyond belief. 

  A crowd scrambles to join the queue for the queue in the Empire State building.

A crowd scrambles to join the queue for the queue in the Empire State building.

A perfect example of this is the Empire State building in New York. In order to get to the observation deck you have to work your way through four queues, take multiple lifts, partake in a cheesy theme-park style photo shoot and finally lug yourself up several flights of stairs. When you do eventually get the the observation deck it’s a scrum to secure a fleeting view of Manhattan’s skyline. Observation decks simply aren’t worth it.

So, how do you avoid observation decks and get that amazing view for free? It’s simple, next time you visit a skyscraper, don’t pay to visit the observation deck, check if the skyscraper has a bar. Skyscraper bars are awesome - they are almost always higher than the observation deck and generally free to enter. So instead of forking out a huge wad of cash for a view you can spend that money on a tasty cocktail or overpriced beer with the view thrown in for free.

I first discovered this in Boston while waiting in line to visit to the Prudential Center Skywalk. The Skywalk on the 50th floor costs $16 and a cocktail at the restaurant on the floor above costs a mere $11.

I initially thought this must just be a fluke, but so far pretty much every tall building I’ve been too since has a similar set up. So far this year I’ve pulled this trick off at The Shard in London, The ICC tower in Hong Kong,  and the Bitexco Tower in Ho Chi Minh.  

Here's to drinks with a view!

Cocktails at Ozone on the 118th floor of the ICC Tower Hong Kong

And the accompanying view