Top of the Rock or Empire State Building?

During my first trip to New York, or even the United States for that matter, possibilities and ideas of joyful activities were plentiful! In addition to the countless must-do’s, I went to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers defeat their Hudson River rivals, attended a Yankees game on a sunny Sunday afternoon and enjoyed watching people queue for tickets to the NFL Draft…

However, what would a visit to the Big Apple be without some sort of a splurge? Not taking into consideration my seemingly endless shopping spree…  Instead of choosing between the two typical tourist attractions where you are forced to play the waiting game, being Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building’s observation deck, I decided to go nuts and opted for a helicopter tour! Fly to the Statue of Liberty, over the skyscrapers, have a bird’s view over Central Park that had bursted into full green, … If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right the first time!

Google to the rescue as I stumbled upon New York Helicopter, who to my knowledge offer the best deal.. Also, you can check availability online, which is a big plus in my book! It’s essential for the purpose of this tour that you patiently await the perfect day with clear blue skies as you eagerly and desperately aim for the money shot.
New York helicopter

Up came the second day of the trip and my oh my, even René Magritte would have giggled if he had awaken on such a glorious morning! Rise and shine!
I took the Subway downtown, quickly snapped my first picture of One World Trade Center, strolled along Wall Street all the way up to FDR Drive where I headed to the New York Helicopter office.

NYC helicopter

With some hesitation, I chose the Liberty Tour, although it was a tough call deciding.
After 40 minutes me and another soon-to-be passenger were pulled aside and the friendly employee told us we were getting upgraded to the Grand Helicopter Tour for a 20-25 minute helicopter flight! Of course, he did mention that discretion was mandatory as the fellow passengers paid twice as much as what I have on my MasterCard statement!
Not only was I getting a view from lower-Manhattan but also were we flying above the Hudson river on the West Side, next to the Financial District, over the Intrepid Museum, which has the Concorde and the space shuttle Enterprise on display, all the way up to the Bronx and George Washington Bridge! A Great Deal!

It goes without saying that we were two incredibly lucky passengers, but if you do some research on the world wide web, you should notice that we are not the only ones to have had this pleasure..
My advice to you: the early bird catches the worm

Should you be interested in the must-do activities I mentioned, you can find an interesting list in Dutch here . I would like to add  that visiting the 9/11 Memorial museum is also a memorable visit, one should really take the time to read the words printed on the walls…


  • Peter Flanagan

    Thanks for informing me about your “seemingly endless shopping spree”. Good thing you didn’t elaborate on why you found New York Helicopter to offer the best deal though. Just imagine if one of your readers would’ve gathered some practical, useful info from this post. The horror.

    FYI: vanity blogging has been uncool for quite a few years now.

  • svenluckermans

    Peter, thank you for taking the time to comment on my post, which gives me the opportunity to respond..

    All the pratical information regarding the tour can be found on the website of ‘New York Helicopter’, for which I have included the hyperlink in this post (it is not underlined in blue, that is a fact.)
    However, I do think I have provided some useful information on how to increase your chances on getting that free upgrade.

    As I mentioned, I found New York Helicopter to have offered me the best deal for 3 reasons:
    1) you are able to check availability online

    2) if you compare the prices for 12-15min helicopter tours in New York, there is only a small difference, money wise, but if you can save $11 for the exact same product..
    For instance: Liberty Helicopter charges $150+$30 heliport facility fee vs $139+$30 at New York Helicopter.
    Then again, they do offer packages with boats & busses which the latter doesn’t. It simply depends on what you are looking for and nowadays everyone looks at the prices from competitors. Adding a spreadsheet might take the fun out of the search.

    3) I was offered an amazing deal by getting upgraded.. perhaps others might do the same, but this I cannot confirm.
    It is absolutely not my intention to claim NY Helicopter is the best, I can only say, this time it turned out to be.

    The shopping spree is simply added to confirm what most already know, that is that shopping in New York is absolutely less expensive than in Europe for instance..

    The remark regarding vanity blogs being uncool is absolutely correct, however, should you care to take the time to read other posts and/or the ‘About’ section, you will notice that I have no desire to write about merely superficial events and/or things but I seek to write about EXPERIENCES I encounter during my travels..

  • Herman Dailybits

    Yep that’s the thing I regret the most of our NYC-trip last year, we didn’t do a helicopter-tour and on the days we wanted to visit Top of the rock it was to foggy up on there. :-/

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