Starbucks Teams Up with the Empire State Building For a Chance to Watch the Sunrise With No One Around

Yes, really, no crowds. We promise.

Starbucks Reserve Sunrise Experience at the Empire State Building

Courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has Big Ben, and here in New York, we have the Empire State Building. And like its tall counterparts across the pond, the Empire State Building is usually just a magnet to tourists hoping to get a sky-high feel for the vibrant, fast-paced city Sinatra sings about. But now, thanks to who else but Starbucks, the Empire State Building is offering an experience that even locals (who typically only make it ‘round to 34th Street when they can’t get out of seeing the sights with their visitors) might enjoy — if they’re willing to get up very early that is. 

In partnership with the Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building — the brand’s swanky new three-level outpost at the base of the landmark — the Empire State Building is offering a new Starbucks Reserve Sunrise Experience that allows a limited number of visitors to whizz up to the 86th floor every Saturday to take in the views as the sun rises over Manhattan for $135 per person. 

The big pain point, of course, is that you have to get up really early. Arrival time is at 5:45 a.m., so you can make it past security and up to the 86th floor before those rays of sun first make their appearance. Living in Brooklyn, I had to wake up at the totally reasonable hour of 4 a.m. (on a Saturday!), but if you’re in Manhattan, or better yet, Midtown, you might be able to catch a few extra zzzs. The big positive, which is also the reason that locals might be keen to get out of bed for this, is that tickets are actually quite limited, as far as tourist attractions go, which means there are no crowds.

I’ll say that again: No. Crowds. 

A major historic landmark in a major bucket list destination with no crowds? It seems almost too good to be true, but it is. There were so few people when I visited that everyone was able to spread out across the perimeter of the observation deck and have their own little space to take it all in, which might have been the most magical thing about the whole experience. 

Starbucks Reserve Sunrise Experience at the Empire State Building

Courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

Now you’re probably wondering if you have to get up that early, and this is a Starbucks partnership there must be coffee, right? Of course, there is. As soon as you exit the elevators to the 86th floor, there’s a Starbucks coffee cart waiting for you with its special Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building Microblend and pastries from Princi. Unfortunately, there are no lattes or Frappuccinos, but after waking up at 4 a.m., I’ll take what I can get. The cart is also there throughout the experience, so you can get all the caffeine and croissants you like while you bask in the sunrise over Manhattan. And frankly, a buttery croissant and hot coffee in hand as you take in those once-in-a-lifetime views is pretty special. 

After the sun had fully risen over the Chrysler Building, our focal point for this particular sunrise viewing, my fiance and I stuck around and did a couple of laps around the observation deck because, I can’t stress this enough, it was so empty that you could do a leisurely walk and take in every corner of the city without even being remotely close to another person. As far as I could tell, there was no time limit or rush for visitors to leave, so there is definitely plenty of time to catch the sights of both Upper and Lower Manhattan and take selfies to your heart’s content. In fact, the Empire State Building doesn’t open to regular visitors until 9 a.m., and considering you’ll be up there by 6 a.m., you could do a whole photo shoot if you so desire (don’t get mad at me for suggesting that Empire State reps). 

Starbucks Reserve Sunrise Experience at the Empire State Building

Courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

Once you’re done with oohing and awwing over the city, you can go down to see the Empire State Building exhibits, which focus on the construction of the building, its history, and its place in pop culture. While this is something I ordinarily wouldn’t bother with, it’s actually interesting when you can stop and read the information and can take it in because, again, no crowds! 

To cap off your experience, you can head down to the Starbucks Reserve at the bottom of the building to get one more desperately needed cup of coffee. Then if you’re wild like us, you can take advantage of being up so early on a Saturday and walk all the way up 5th Avenue, hitting other major tourist attractions like Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the way, and make it up to Central Park, hang out for an hour, and then be first in line to wait for the Met to open. Because why not? You may as well commit to the bit. Or you could go back to bed. You did wake up for a 5:45 a.m. call time on a Saturday, after all. 

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