Top of the Rock, view from Top of the Rock sunset

Top of the Rock NYC Observation Deck

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The Top of the Rock at NYC’s Rockefeller Center is an impressive viewpoint where you can see Manhattan’s most iconic landmarks. It’s an exhilarating place with lots of history in addition to its majestic views. Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in NYC, so I recommend coming here at least once.

We’ve spent the past five years living in Philadelphia, so we’ve had the opportunity to check out several famous attractions in the Big Apple. The Top of the Rock observation deck is one of the best, thanks to its central location in Midtown Manhattan and its proximity to other historic sites.

Top of the Rock, the top of the rock observation deck

Top of the Rock NYC Observation Deck

So, if you’re looking for something to do with your significant other, or you want to capture incredible pictures of the New York City skyline, you can’t miss the Top of the Rock. In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your visit, buy your tickets, and make the most of your time here.

Before we begin, I’d like to point out that the Top of the Rock is included in most New York attraction passes, so if you’re coming here for a couple of days and want to see several attractions, consider getting a pass. I recommend the New York Pass, which includes the most activities and attractions for the best price.

Guide to Top of the Rock observation deck

Out of all the observatories and viewpoints in NYC, the Top of the Rock is one of the most popular, and for good reason. To help you make the most of your visit to the Rockefeller Center observation deck, this guide includes all the information you need to plan an unforgettable experience:

Visiting the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center

Visiting the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is a full experience. In addition to the observation decks, there are other things to do at the Top of the Rock, so be sure to plan enough time to check everything out.

Your admission ticket includes access to the different exhibits and galleries, but you can go straight to the Top of the Rock observation deck if you’d like. This is one of the best observation decks in NYC, so I recommend spending at least an hour here.

As you enter the first level of the Rockefeller observatory, which is on the 68th floor, you’ll pass the Radiance Wall, a magnificent wall made of Swarovski crystals, hand-blown glass, and fiber-optic lights. If you look closely, you can see tiny figures and animals hidden in the wall. This part of the Top of the Rock has indoor viewing platforms, so you can look out over the city.

View of Central Park, how high is top of the rock observation deck

Visiting the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center

The 69th-floor observatory also has viewing areas, as well as an interactive gallery called the Breezeway. When you enter this light-up gallery, you choose a color, and the corresponding lights follow you around the room.

Up on the 70th floor’s open-air deck, you’ll get 360° views from the Top of the Rock. Enjoy an unobstructed panorama of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, and even over into New Jersey.

There are even more Top of the Rock attractions in the works, including a theme ride that simulates the feeling of being on one of the steel beams.

View from the Top of the Rock

The view from the Top of the Rock is spectacular and something you need to see for yourself. From up here, all of Manhattan is spread out before you, so you can easily see Central Park, the Chrysler Building, One World Observatory, and the Empire State Building.

Aerial view of NYC, Rockefeller Center observation deck

View from the Top of the Rock

Further in the distance, you’ll spot the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the East and Hudson Rivers. There are also binoculars, so you can even see to Long Island and New Jersey.

Top of the Rock NYC tickets

Visiting the Top of the Rock is a popular thing to do in Manhattan, so I recommend buying your ticket in advance. General admission includes access to all three observation decks as well as the Top of the Rock app, which I’ll mention later.

NYC skyline at night, top of the rock activities

Top of the Rock NYC tickets

Just select the date you want to visit, and your ticket will be good for any time that day. The Top of the Rock is worth it for the stunning views, but you’ll also get to explore the exhibits and theater with your admission ticket.

Attraction passes for the Top of the Rock

If you’re comparing the Top of the Rock and New York’s other observation decks, or you’re interested in visiting other popular attractions during your trip, consider a New York city pass. In particular, I recommend the New York Pass since you can select the number of days, then enjoy discounted rates at NYC’s most famous landmarks.

Top of the Rock hours

The observatory is open Sunday-Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm, so whether you want to visit the Top of the Rock day or night, you should have no problems. Just keep in mind that the latest you can go in is at 10:10 pm.

Top of the Rock 69th floor, top of the rock tickets price

Top of the Rock hours

The best time to go to the Top of the Rock to avoid the crowds is right when it opens or shortly before it closes. For the most beautiful views, go about an hour before dusk, when it’s still light enough to see everything. Then, hang around to watch the sunset descend over the city.

Visiting the Top of the Rock at night

Watching the sunset at the Top of the Rock is a magical experience, especially with a partner. That said, it’s a completely different feeling to go up to the Top of the Rock at night when the city twinkles. So, if you’re looking for romantic things to do in New York City at night, head up to the observation deck after dark and admire the views.

Top of the Rock tours

Your ticket includes a self-guided visit through the attraction, but you can also opt for a Top of the Rock tour. The 45-minute guided tour includes skip-the-line entry and priority access to the elevator. Your tour guide will lead you through the exhibits and share additional information about the Top of the Rock’s construction, history, and legacy.

You’ll also pay a visit to the Rainbow Room, a lavish event space on the Rockefeller Center’s 65th floor. Along with a private dining room, outdoor bar, and gallery, the crown jewel is the chandelier above the dance floor, which is surrounded by crystal light fixtures that illuminate the space in a rainbow of colors.

After the tour, you’ll receive a complimentary digital photo and a 20% discount at the gift shop, so if you’re interested, get your ticket here.

View of the Empire State Building, visiting top of the rock

Top of the Rock tours

Besides the Top of the Rock tour, you can enhance your self-guided visit by downloading the Gesso app for iPhone or Android. As you enter the building, the app will share historical facts and figures about the Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock.

Walk through the Mezzanine level, which has photos, memorabilia, and artifacts about the observation deck’s construction and advancements. Check out the Beam Walk to see what it was like building this famous skyscraper in NYC, then head into the theater to learn more about NBC Studios and Rockefeller Plaza.

Admire the Joie Chandelier, which is made of 14,000 Swarovski crystals, then take the Sky Shuttle elevator up to the 68th floor, the first level of the Top of the Rock observation deck.

Top of the Rock restaurants and dining options

Make a day or evening of your visit to the Top of the Rock by enjoying a delicious meal. There are all kinds of restaurants by NYC’s Top of the Rock, including sushi spots, delis, and Italian restaurants. Some places worth checking out include the Pebble Bar, which is known for its towering seafood platters, and Del Frisco’s Steakhouse.

Top of the Rock, view from Top of the Rock sunset

Top of the Rock restaurants and dining options

In addition to dining at the Top of the Rock in NYC, there are plenty of other options near the Rockefeller Center, including The Modern, one of the best restaurants in NYC.

Hotels near the Top of the Rock

The Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock are in Midtown, Manhattan, close to several other top NYC attractions. If you’d like to stay near the Top of the Rock, here are some hotels I recommend:

  • Pod Times Square – We stayed here during one of our trips. It’s a good value for the money and a mile from the Top of the Rock.
  • The Jewel Hotel – If you want to stay next to the Rockefeller Center, the Jewel Hotel is a lovely accommodation with an outdoor cocktail bar.

For more hotels, check out our guide on where to stay in NYC.

Top of the Rock FAQs

If you have any other concerns about NYC’s Top of the Rock, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions:

Visiting the Top of the Rock is well worth it for the lovely panoramic views and the interesting exhibits and interactive galleries. There is a lot to see both inside the attraction and from the observation deck.

Tickets to the Top of the Rock observation deck costs about $44.

No, you must purchase a ticket. The only exception is kids under 6, who get in for free.

The Top of the Rock observation deck takes up three stories on the 68th, 69th, and 70th floors.

You can stay at the Rockefeller observatory for as long as you’d like. Most people spend about an hour here.

It depends on what you want. The Top of the Rock isn’t as tall (800 feet vs. 1,224 feet), but it has more interesting exhibits and galleries. Also, certain landmarks, like Central Park, are closer to the Top of the Rock, so it depends on what kind of view you want.

To avoid long lines and crowds, go when the Top of the Rock first opens or shortly before it closes. For the best views from the Top of the Rock, go shortly before dusk.

You’ll get amazing photos from the Top of the Rock since you can see all of Manhattan as well as Long Island and New Jersey. From up here, you’re able to spot the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and One World Observatory.

That’s it from me! I hope you enjoy seeing the Top of the Rock in NYC and you feel better prepared for your visit. Don’t hesitate to leave me your questions or share your experiences below. I’d be happy to hear from you. Until then, have a wonderful trip!


COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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