Hudson Yards Vessel Free tickets

Hudson Yards Vessel: Get Free Tickets, Food and Design Explained

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The Hudson Yards Vessel has both wowed and confused onlookers and tourists in New York City at the same time. The structure, which you’re able to get free tickets for depending on the time that you visit it, consists of 154 flights of stairs, and provides views of the city that you’d normally need to get on an elevator for. 

Ticket Prices

When planning to visit the Vessel and the surrounding Hudson Yards shopping area, the first thing you need to know is how to score tickets. You’re able to reserve specific times online at the official Hudson Yards Vessel website for future dates only. The prices will vary based on which time you select. Ticket costs range from $0.00-$10.00 

Full view 2 of the Vessel at Hudson Yards in the daytime.
Full view 2 of the Vessel at Hudson Yards in the daytime.

Score Free Tickets

If you’re planning on visiting the Vessel on the same day, you can meet with one of the many Vessel workers on the site of the structure and they’ll direct you to a kiosk where you can make a reservation.

If you want to enter into the Vessel at the time you arrive, it might cost around $10 each; but if you reserve a ticket for a few hours later and browse the Shops a bit, it’s totally free. There’s a ton of stores there so I recommend making an evening out of it. 

My wife and I visited the Vessel recently and obtained tickets through the onsite kiosks. The workers at the site were quite helpful and tell you everything you need to know in order to get into the structure for free. It’s not like many other tourist traps in NYC where they look to squeeze as much money out of you as possible. 

Full view of the Vessel at Hudson Yards in Daytime
Full view of the Vessel at Hudson Yards in Daytime

Lots of Spanish Food

After purchasing our tickets, we made our way down to Mercado Little Spain, which is like a Spanish Eataly. Mercado is filled with individual kiosks serving all types of food including paella, grilled octopus, empanadas, Spanish and European baked goods, gourmet coffee, and lots of tomato bread which is not to be confused with pizza. 

Tomato bread and Chorizo dish from Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards
Tomato bread and Chorizo dish from Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards

Tomato Bread is not Pizza

Tomato bread looks a lot like its Italian cousin, but it’s not made with seasoned tomato sauce. It literally tastes like a sliced up fresh tomato on pizza crust. I wasn’t a big fan, but if you like tomatoes this might be a good thing to try. 

$10 for 2 Sodas

My wife and I got our food at a kiosk called Paella al Plato which serves, you guessed it; Paella. She ordered a paella dish with chicken and I ordered a chorizo dish that came with a side of tomato bread. The meal was relatively reasonable in price, but another kiosk we visited charged us almost $10 for a coke and an orange soda. That was pretty outrageous. There’s shared seating all around the market so you need to make sure you plop yourself down at one of the tables to ensure that you don’t have to eat while standing.

We ended our meal with a piece of cake from Helados and headed out to the Shops at Hudson Yards (basically a mall with a fancy name) to kill the rest our time before our Vessel reservation. 

The Shops

The Shops looked very high-end when we first walked in with stores like Coach, Piaget, an Rolex, but if you navigate to the upper levels you’ll find more stores for the every-man like Banana Republic, H&M and Sephora. The Shops also boast a Shake Shack and a chicken chain restaurant called Fuku that people seemed to be eating all over the mall. 

The front area of the shops overlooks the Vessel, and if you take the escalators up to the top floor, you can get a great view of the structure. We walked around the mall for awhile and started to grow impatient. We realized we booked our Vessel appointment a little too late and we wanted to see if we could get in earlier. 

Looking across the Vessel from the middle at Hudson Yards
Looking across the Vessel from the middle at Hudson Yards

Exploring the Vessel

We headed outside to the Vessel and spoke to one of the workers who told us to go on the website and buy tickets for an earlier time since it wasn’t that busy on a Wednesday night. We were able to make new, free reservations and enter into the Vessel a few minutes later. 

A picture of the blue orb in the middle of the Vessel
The blue orb in the middle of the Vessel

Once we got inside, the first thing we noticed was a large blue light emanating from the middle of the ground level. People were putting their phones in the middle of it and taking pictures of themselves, and the sky. There’s also an elevator right next to the blue structure for the handicapped. 

Avoid the Crowds

We walked to a less crowded area to begin climbing the stairs. After my experience in Santorini, I was nervous about climbing this many stairs which amounted to 2500 total. But considering we were only scaling a small part of the structure, we’d only do about one-fourth of that. 

Top of the Vessel 2 at Hudson Yards
Top of the Vessel at Hudson Yards

Origin of Design

The Vessel features a unique stair pattern modeled after Indian water wells by its creator Thomas Heatherwick. This was told to us by one of the workers before we bought our tickets. There are probably endless combinations of paths to the top making it a new experience each time you visit it. 

A photo of the bottom of the Vessel viewed from the top.
The bottom of the Vessel viewed from the top.

You Can See Empire State Building and New Jersey

My wife and I quickly climbed the stairs and snapped some pictures from all of the different levels. Somewhere around the middle of the structure you get a great view of the Empire State Building. Once you reach the top, you get an awesome view of NYC and New Jersey along the Hudson River. You can even see some of the larger apartment complexes in New Jersey from it. Unfortunately, there’s no view of One World Trade Center because one of the apartment complexes built on the site blocks it. There are also some loose tiles in some of the flat areas, so you need to be careful when climbing to the top. 

A picture of the view from the top of the Vessel
View from the top of the Vessel

The Subway is Close

Once we got to the highest level, we climbed down and exited the structure. There’s a nearby subway if you need it so traveling to the area is pretty convenient. 

Looking out into the Hudson from Vessel at Hudson Yards in NYC
Looking out into the Hudson from Vessel at Hudson Yards in NYC

In conclusion, the Vessel can be a reasonably priced day out, or date night if you avoid the ridiculously expensive soda. 

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