Your Guide to Visiting NY’s Hudson Yards Vessel For Free

From Free Parking to Free Bathrooms and How To Get Your Tickets We Cover It all

Visit Hudson Yards Vessel

This Tourists Guide Answers Every Detail About The Hudson Yards Vessel For Free

(DM) — If you like to climb stairs, try this fun tourist experience at Hudson Yards, it’s currently called (soon to be renamed) The Vessel. Perhaps you already know what it is and you plan to visit the Vessel and not spend a lot of money on your day trip or visit? This 16 story structure located in west midtown New York is an artistic ascension to observe Manhattan from within. We’ll guide you through full FREE access or extras you can pay for.

  • FREE bathrooms
  • FREE parking & Cheapest Paid Parking
  • FREE admission & Flex Pass Paid Version

Why Pay For The Flex Pass When You Can Visit For Free

The Vessel is free to visit with a caveat. You may not get in just by arriving and grabbing a free ticket. Only so many free tickets are available daily.

The Hudson Yards Vessel sells arrive anytime Flex Pass tickets for $10, or plan ahead online and reserve no charge tickets. You just need to schedule your trip in advance. For GPS purposes, The Vessel is located at 20 Hudson Yards in West Side Midtown Manhattan New York. It’s due to be renamed, but The Vessel may be a name that sticks.

Just what is the Vessel? Where is this new tourist destination called Hudson Yards? How do you get to Hudson Yards? What is free and what do you pay for? This planner has everything you need to visit this free public tower.

What Is The Vessel?

This tall structure is an artistic ascension to observe Manhattan from within. But be advised, it’s actually not much for a view outward!

The Work Dutch graphic artist Maurits Escher

It evokes the warped perspective view of if an Escher illustration as if it has come to life. Even as humanity passes through, it feels meta. Was the choice of bronzed-steel meant to make you feel Escher’s mezzotint imprinting inside this live modern experience?

Is the Vessel a sculpture or tower? Do you call it an observation deck or verticle park? Is it a bridge or a building?

When we visited Mount Midtown, the perfect description became obvious from the huge crowds taking photos: tourist trap.

The vessel is a free tourist trap.

The Vessel as it is called for the time being a honeycomb staircase. It looks like a large cup or wire wastebasket. Some see a pinecone or shwarma. This Hudson Yards centerpiece was inspired by images of Indian stepwells.

Vessel Fact List

  • It’s going to be renamed
  • Sales at the Kiosk have NO reference to the name The Vessel!
  • You can’t walk up without a reservation (read below)
  • Cost: Between 150 to 200 million, built at roughly $12,000 per square foot.
  • Height: 150 Feet
  • Capacity: 700
  • 7 Designated Levels, 16 stories
  • Exposed soffits are covered in bronzed-steel
  • Originally named Hudson Yards Staircase
  • The staircases get shallower as you ascend
  • Elevator Access for Handicap with security enforcement
  • Built directly over active trains and rail yards!
  • Funded by Billionaire developer and owner of Miami Dolphins Steven Ross
  • Made of 87 modular carbon steel sections fabricated in Italy
  • Each modular section was delivered at night
  • Designer: Thomas Heatherwick over 6 years (4 years to construction)
  • It’s expected to create 500 million in city revenue

More Facts About The Vessel’s Home Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards construction began in 2012, the unnamed Vessel was only Commissioned in 2013. Watch Hudson Yards construction in timelapse below. Construction of The Vessel came along 4 years into Hudson Yards. The Vessel’s first modular piece in construction was set in April 2017 and topped out in December 2017. The Vessel was completed in early 2019.

This 25 billion dollar experience called Hudson Yards continued construction through 2019. The official opening of the Vessel was March 2019 with The Edge observation deck in the summer of 2019.

It is claimed to be the most expensive privately developed real estate project in American history occupying approximately 28 acres. It includes office, retail and residential space. Oh, and a public park! The surrounding penthouse dwellings average 30 million dollars to own. One factor is the superheat conducted below Hudson Yards from the active trains.

The Vessel claims 2,500 steps in total. To climb one section it’s roughly 240 steps. In reality, the Vessel is a small structure at only 150 feet high with an obscured view of NYC. Many other reviewers have claimed it can be a difficult climb. It is easy. Did you know the higher you go the less the incline of each set of steps? It’s actually easier the higher you ascend.

Meant to be explored, it’s more about the photographic experience. Just be sure to turn you camera inward, not out.

Hudson Yards Vessel Interior
The Vessel is A Photographers fun house. Photo: Lars Hindsley


The View From the Vessel

There is no real view. Truly. Look inward, not outward. That’s a bit sad actually, for all the planning this will be a complaint in years to come.

  • East – The side of a building. A mall, in fact, The Shops at Hudson Yards. You can see the Empire State Building peering over the top of The Shops at Hudson Yards.
  • SouthThe Shed performing arts building below but no direct view downtown. You do get broken views of some downtown high rises depending on your location along the south side highpoint on level 7.
  • West – Yes. You can look across the train yard, across the Hudson to NJ
  • North – The best view of the skyline at perspective. If you are looking for a photo backdrop, this is the location.

The views from inside The Vessel are best. From ground level looking upward or from the top looking down into the structure. If you are in search of a city view, this is not going to be the ideal destination. Instead, you should search out The Edge. It will be accessible from the neighboring mall next door which will feature the highest observation deck in the hemisphere! It won’t be for the weak of heart if you have vertigo!

To Find the Vessel Know Hudson Yards

If you’ve ever been to New York City or Manhattan you may be familiar with the huge train yard on the west side just outside of Penn Station. That is now being covered up, not replaced but built over! It’s remarkable if you come to realize just below this 25 billion dollars real estate project is a working train yard.

Hudson Yards sky view

Hudson Yards and the Vessel is a new tourist experience in Manhattan just west of Time’s Square. It’s even closer to the bus and train terminal for out of town visitors. While some will consider this just another affluent ghost town, Hudson Yards is at the least convenient in meeting the needs of everyone.

(1) The Mall: Superluxury brands down below, and (less obviously) an H&M. (2) The Food: Eight star-chef restaurants (David Chang, Thomas Keller, José Andrés, Anya Fernald, more); 25 food places altogether, most in the shopping complex. (3) The Vessel: A 15-story climbable artwork. (4) The Shed: A retractable concert hall and art space. (5) The Observatory: And a party space. (6) 10 Hudson Yards. (7) 30 Hudson Yards: Office towers. (8) Coach: The company’s HQ is in this bump on the side of No. 10. (9) 15 Hudson Yards. (10) 35 Hudson Yards: Residential, hotel, and office hybrid. (11) 55 Hudson Yards: Offices. Nearly at its full height; tenants will include several big law firms. (12) 50 Hudson Yards: 1,000 feet high. Foundations are built; scheduled to open in 2022. (13) The High Line: It ends here. (14) The West Yards: Still to come, once the platform’s built. (15) The Tunnel Box: Reserved underground space for the rail tunnel to New Jersey. Someday. Illustration: Jason Lee

Instead of running over existing residents like portrayed in the Marvel Netflix show Daredevil, Hudson Yards and the Vessel establishes a new neighborhood on perhaps the last bastion of underdeveloped land on the island. And yes, Hudson Yards borders Daredevil’s stomping grounds, Hells Kitchen. It’s not without criticism. Critics rail against the 3.5 billion in tax breaks the project received.

Even This Obstructed View From Level 4 Facing West to the Hudson is an Imaginative Picture            Photo: Lars Hindsley

It borders a number of popular locations as it is a mere block away from the Javitz center. Walking distance from Time’s Square and Penn Station. The High Line promenade begins at Hudson Yards and meanders through the complex with photographic access points.

New York residents with the 34th Street Station delivering right to The Vessel, a free-standing structure free to the public.

What Do People Think of the Vessel?

Critics abound. Locals complain of everything from its lack of artistic merit to the many tax breaks it received to be built. Yet the entirety of Hudson Yards is built over an active rail yard below. No local residents were evicted or lives ruined to make way for this endeavor. Writers have gone as far as to lambast Hudson Yards as a corporate city-state.

When Should You Get Your Tickets To Visit the Vessel?

Open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm daily. Technically you could walk up the vessel without delay if no one was there ahead of you waiting with a reservation. You’d still need a ticket. Here is how it works.

  • Plan A: Reserve your Vessel tickets well in advance online
  • Plan B: Walk up to the ticket booth below the Vessel a few yards away. You’ll be given the number of tickets you need for your party to return at a future time that same day. It could be a half hour to hours away.  We arrived on a Sunday at 1:00 pm. For a party of two, we were given tickets to return at 2:20. When we arrived the lines had fallen off completely. It seems the earlier you come, the busier it is. A 3:00 PM visit on a weekend my work out great.
  • Plan C: Buy Flex Pass Tickets. Arrive anytime buy pay $10 per person.

Get Your Tickets To The Vessel Online In Advance

The Weekend crowds are getting exponentially bigger. After our Sunday attendance with a mere hour wait, the following Saturday resulted in tickets SOLD OUT (given out) for the entire day. Yes, from the early afternoon the return tickets for the day were all gone by 2:00 PM. Our advice is PLAN A from above. Get your Vessel tickets in advance otherwise risk showing up to leave without ever getting in.

Interior skyward view from inside the Vessel at Hudson Yards
Many photos such as this will populate the Internet in years to come as the Vessel becomes a photographers muse      Photo: Lars Hindsley

Where is The Vessel & Hudson Yards?

If this is your first time to NY as a tourist, it is very convenient as it doesn’t drive you across the city, it’s in the immediate vicinity of entering Manhattan by the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s truly within 3 blocks of entering the city and parking.

Hudson Yards is just west of Mid-Town Manhattan. It’s built over an active rail yard! The science behind this is amazing! The planted trees would burn up if not for specially cooled ground technology! Hudson Yards is just between Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, just along the Hudson River.

Hudson Yards Vessel GPS Coordinates

Latitude: 40° 45′ 11.99″ N
Longitude: -74° 00′ 6.00″ W

Hudson Yards, The Vessel, The Edge, The Shed, and the Shops at Hudson Yards along with the ramp onto The High Line are located between 10th Avenue and 12th Avenues from West 30th Street to West 34th Streets.

34th Street Entrance to the Vessel

Walk-in from 34th Street. Your best approach inward is from 34th Street. You’ll pass the subway entrances and the Vessel will be staring at you larger than life.

Map to Entering Hudson Yards from 34th Street
Your best approach to entering Hudson Yards from 34th Street

10th Avenue Mall Entrance to the Vessel

Enter the mall at ground level. Go up the escalators and turn left. Walk in through the Mall, (The Shops at Hudson Yards). You won’t gain easy access from West 30th Street unless you are up on the High Line. You won’t find any access from 12th Avenue.

Entering The Vessel from 10th Avenue The Shops at Hudson Yards Entrance
Entering The Vessel from 10th Avenue The Shops at Hudson Yards Entrance

Traveling To Hudson Yards

    • Auto: Avoid the Lincoln Tunnel most days if arriving from the south. The Holland Tunnel is almost always faster. You’ll come up the Hudson Parkway or 10th Avenue. The destination is 10 Hudson Yards.
    • Parking: General street parking is free after 7:00 PM weekdays. Best use Parkwiz App. Pay in advance if you have advanced tickets to the Vessel. With Parkwiz you can get a nearby lot at The Shops At Hudson Yards and be guaranteed a parking spot. You won’t get LOT FILLED rejection. Period. It’s cool. It works, we’ve done it a few times. GPS: 10th Avenue & West 30th Street or 55 Hudson Yards. That location is 11th Avenue & West 34th Street.
    • Taxi: Drop off & Pick up at 10 Hudson Yards or 55 Hudson Yards.
    • Train: Penn Station is two to three blocks away if you arrive by train from the south. If you are taking trains south, you’ll arrive at Grand Central Terminal. You won’t need to leave the terminal, grab the subway over to 34th Street Station.
    • Out of Town Bus: Outside busses drop you at Penn Station and the Bus terminal which are a combined terminal. Just walk out and head west towards the Hudson River. The Avenues run 1st avenue on the East River and 12 Avenue at the Hudson River. Just walk from 7th Ave to 10th.
    • Local Busses: NJ Bus Transit, M4, M5, M6, M7, M34  & Q42.
    • Local Ferry: Midtown Ferry terminal, West 39th Street along the West Side Hudson Highway is only a few blocks walk.
    • Bike: CitiBike Station is at NW street corner of 11th Avenue & West 34th Street.
    • Local Subway: Easy! 34th Street station. But you knew this. You’re a New Yorker. Take the 7 local or express. MTA Subway: A,C,E, 1,2 & 3.

Free and Paid Parking Near the Vessel & Hudson Yards

Take it from a New York streets parking pro. Over ten years, one parking ticket.

Here is what you need to know. Much of the street parking is FREE during the week after 7:00 pm on the avenues and most streets. The city uses Muni-Meters to pay for selected hourly parking during the day. You can pay for a couple of hours at best at roughly $3.00 per hour.  If you want to visit during the week by day, just pay for parking, avoid the risk of a $90.00+ citation.

Paid parking will run you up to $45 on the day, half the cost and aggravation of a citation. You can do better. ParkWiz app can save you money, and it guarantees a spot. We’ve used for Comic-Con at the Javitz to hotel stays in the financial district. It’s a solid solution.

If you don’t want to install an app or don’t have the means, here is a direct link to NY Parking Near Hudson Yards.

Planning ahead and calling ahead and pre-paying ahead is the best way to save money and get convenient parking.
Planning ahead and calling ahead and pre-paying ahead is the best way to save money and get convenient parking.

Hudson Yards Parking

Yes, they have parking on site. Plan ahead! Pay ahead! Call ahead! There is a number for parking at the shops you can call. (800)836-6666. Unless you can get lucky with parking on a weekend on 10th Avenue right in front of the Shops at Hudson Yards, the best closest option is paid to park under the mall. Call the number above for details.

Bathrooms Near The Vessel at Hudson Yards

A guide isn’t complete without help finding bathrooms. New York is notorious for locking people out of store bathrooms without being a customer. You won’t find free public bathrooms in the park area. If you need a restroom, enter the Shops at Hudson Yards which overlook the Vessel. There are bathrooms inside on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the mall.

For bathrooms nearby, Starbucks has a patron-friendly policy. Your drug store chains are a hit-and-miss on locking you out without a keycode on a receipt. Don’t bother with the bodega’s or their like, they are NY to the core and just won’t let you use their bathrooms.

More At Hudson Yards & Nearby

What will you do while waiting to enter the Vessel? You may want to avoid the High Line until you’ve finished your ascension and descent. The High Line is a 1.5 mile raised park which takes you one direction, away from Hudson Yards. It will take you to Chelsea Market! But that’s a good mile into your walk.

In addition, the High Line is very crowded around Hudson Yards. It’s not the best representation of the experience. The High Line’s popularity is becoming a problem for those that once enjoyed it as a peaceful walk.

You may want to stick to the Shops At Hudson Yards or travel down to 10th Avenue for some local flavor.

If you find this experience interesting, don’t miss “The Edge” or “Pier 55” park and theater built on pilings in the Hudson River.