Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock | New York City
New York

Essential New York: Top of the Rock

Getting a bird’s eye view of Manhattan is something every New Yorker and NYC visitor must do at some point.¬†Touristy? You bet. Still Awesome? Definitely. The immense skyscrapers and shining lights that look so overwhelming from the ground look like toys with sparkles from up high.

In my opinion, the best place to go is the Top of the Rock – the observation deck atop 30 Rock in Rockefeller Center.

Why 30 Rock and not the Empire State Building?

While the Empire State Building affords beautiful views of the city and is over 30 floors higher than 30 Rock, it doesn’t give you a view INCLUDING Manhattan most iconic building – itself. Without the ESB in the shot, it feels different. Do yourself a favor and spend the money on the complete view of NYC. It’s so much better that way.

Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock | New York City

Looking south to the Empire State Building, with the Freedom tower in the distance (right side)

Central Park viewfrom the Top of the Rock | New York City

Looking north to Central Park

Looking through the viewfinder | Top of the Rock, New York City

My niece, checking out the city through the viewfinder

Practical Tips for Visiting Top of the Rock:

*You can visit Top of the Rock day and night. I recently visited during the day as that was the best time for us to go based on schedule, I have no doubt that the nighttime is equally beautiful, if not better. I think I’ll be doing it again just to see the sparkling lights myself.

* It’s not cheap. One trip up the elevators is $29! If you want to go both during the day AND during the night in one day, they do have a “Sun & Stars” package for $42 dollars that allows you to do both. If you are hell bent of doing both, this is actually a good deal. There’s also the CityPASS that includes other tourist places, if you are interested in that.

* You will buy a ticket with a time attached to it. Right at ticket time (no earlier! not even 2 minutes!) you’ll be allowed to queue up for the elevator.

* Lines to get upstairs can get long even with pre-scheduled ticket times, ESPECIALLY during peak season. Oh wait, it’s always peak season in NYC. So, I would just recommend planning on waiting in lines.


This article is part of a TravelShus series about travel around New York State. Read more HERE.


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