* Prices may differ from that shown
The best view of New York? Surely that would be the Empire State Building because it's taller, right? Wrong.
The Top of the Rock observation is deck is, for me, the best view of the city. Sure, The Empire State Building is taller, but that doesn't mean it's better.
I'll break it down into the practical reasons...
Compared to The Empire State Building, your queueing time is a mere fraction. You purchase your ticket from a booth overlooking the plaza and head inside. Because The Top of the Rock isn't one of the big-hitters (I didn't know about it until I got there) then there isn't a great deal in the way of tourists.
2) Getting up.
After you've made your way through the checking in process, the ride to the top is via a lift (sorry, elevator). The lift has a pretty funky graphic show on the ceiling so it looks like you can see the lift flying up, along with the over-dramatic countdown to the top!
3) When you're up there.
You'll find, first of all, that the space you have to move around is fantastic. At the top of The Empire State Building, you're crammed in and pretty much have to go with the crowd. At The Top of the Rock, you have space to move around at your own pace and take as long as you like. In terms of photography, you have much more of an un-obstructed view, so snap away! Rather than a mesh wire fence holding you in, there are simply large planes of reinforced glass. It makes you feel less penned-in, and because of the large gaps between each pane, you can get better shots with your camera.
Lastly I must add that you can buy a dual ticket. One ticket for day admission and one for night admission. If you buy both together you get a discount, and it is very much worth it.
I have just came back from a 2 week holiday in New York last week. This wasn't my 1st time there and people say to me "why do you want to go for so long?". I know that New York can typically be a place where a lot of people just go for a few days, and this could be because it is so expensive over there for Hotels but we could afford the 2 weeks so we went for the 2 weeks. This was my 1st time going up "The Rock".
This is open from 8am-midnight 365 days a year! Not sure if the opening times vary depending on holidays though.
You can buy your tickets for The Rock in advance or just when you get there. I plumped to buy our Tickets before we went. This was for 2 reasons -
1. The money for the Tickets wasn't coming off our spending money
2. After not buying our Tickets for the Empire State Building the last time and having to wait approx 40 minutes to get the Tickets last time along with waiting in the other queues then it has been pre-booked Tickets all the way this time. Anything that saves me standing in less queues is good for me!
You can buy the Tickets from the official website www.topoftherocknyc.com. The prices from this website are below
Child 6-12 $16
Senior (over 62) $23
Sunrise/Sunset Adult $38
Sunrise/Sunset Child $20
Bearing in mind that the $ is approx $1.50 = £1 (may not be as good as that when you pay on your card and your Card issuer does the conversion) then an adult Ticket will cost approx £18 perhaps. The Sunrise/Sunset Ticket allows you access twice in 1 day so you can experience the view in the daytime with good clear visability (hopefully) and night time with all the nice lights. We didn't bother with this ticket as we had seen the Empire State Building at night the last time we were there so didn't feel the need to do this twice. It would be a good enough option if you want to see the city at night, or perhaps go to the Empire through the day and here at night?? The Empire doesn't give you a 2 visits in 1 day option and this building is cheaper to go up than the Empire so if you are on a budget then this will still give you a good view of the city - although it isn't as high as the Empire. Anyway, this review is about the Rock, not about the Empire :-)
I bought my Tickets from www.Viator.com. I paid only £12.86 per Ticket as there was a 10% sale on which seems to be on this Ticket quite often on Viator. Even with this the full price it is cheaper to buy this through Viator than the official site. Although you will have to state a date when you plan to use this on Viator it is a flexible ticket and you have 12 months from the date you have entered on the ticket to use this - so I just put down the day after we landed in the city, and I used the ticket 1 week later with no problems. I've used Viator for quite a few tickets so I would recommend a check of their website to compare prices for different Tours in different places.
A little bit about the Rockefeller Centre
It took 9 years to build the Rock, and building started in 1930. There is 3 Observation floors in the Rock - these are the 67th floor, 69th and 70th Floor. The highest observation deck is 850 feet above the streets below.
The entrance to the building is located between West 49th and West 50th street on 5th Avenue (on the other side of 5th it changes to the East side). The Building is set back from the main street a bit so you can stand back a bit and take some nice picture of the height and view of the building. The building does take up the block so if you walk passed the Building and then turn left to go along W 50th then you will see the base of the building and even if you turn down 6th avenue at the end of the road and go left then you will still see the base of the building. This part of the building is home to different shops and businesses. Radio City Music Hall is in here (you can go on a tour of this as well seperately) as well as the NBC Studios (again a Tour opportunity).
The outside of the centre is pretty nice as well. If you have watched the film "Home Alone 2" where Kevin is at the Christmas Tree at the end of the film that is in front of the Rockefeller (and the Plaza Hotel where he stayed isn't too far away either!) There is greenery as well as Flowers and lots of Flags from different countries.
It is easy enough to navigate through the entrance. Just go in and to the right hand side. You will then be told to go downstairs but there is access if you need it by Wheelchair or cannot manage the Stairs. You walk down a wide spiral staircase which has a beautiful long Swarovski Chandelier with Fibre Optic Light going down the middle of it. Downstairs is where they check/issue your tickets. We went approx 9.30am and only had to wait 1 minute. Not sure if it does get pretty busy here but I was still glad of the prebooked Tickets. Once you have your tickets you take a short walk to the Lift where you will go through a quick security screening. Quick and easy. After this you will have a short walk. While you are walking you get to see different pictures of the building as well as read facts about the building. There is also a short film about the Rock too if you want to watch it for a few minutes. The staff will try to take your Photo against a background of the building. I never bother about these as am not fussed.
It is a short ride in the lift to the 67th floor. The Lift is quite nice. There is light on the inside of the lift shaft and you can see yourself going up - but not in a scary way. The top of the lift has TV screens in it and it plays a short film on loop. Would have been good if the floor was glass I think - don't look down :-)
So you are on the 67th floor - the most spacious of the floors due to the fact that the building gets narrower the higher that it goes. There is a spacious inside bit which has comfy seats and a few more bits of info about the building. To get the best views though you will have to go outside. When you are ouside you can go straight up to near the edge and there is large panels of toughened glass seperating you from the edge. The glass doesn't join up all together, so you will get the odd breeze through it, which unsettled Alex as he is scared of heights. The view from this level I think is great. You get the height but in some cases the buildings can nearly be the height you are, or just a bit taller. Although I loved being on the 102nd floor of the Empire you are really just looking down onto the tops of buildings whereas I think this does give a good view in it's own way. Buildings are clear enough and it is easy to spot some of the familiar ones such as the Empire, Chrysler, Freedom Tower, Central Park, Statue of Liberty (little speck in the distance!) and so on. There is a good amount of space to mill around here, and there is some Binoculur things so you can zoom in on certain parts of the city if you wish. These cost 1 quarter (25c) for a few minutes.
To get up to the 69th Floor you go up an esculator and the area here is smaller but obviously higher so you see much of the same but just looks a bit different. To get to the final level - floor 70 you walk up a small staircase from outside to the middle of the 70th floor. On the 69th and 70th floor there is no glass and just railings but it feels safe enough - perhaps because if you look down then you will see the levels below. The view still looks great from the top and you really get an idea of how large Central Park is with the large green patch amongst the "Concrete Jungle". The air is nice and crisp up here and although you may pick up the odd Toot of a Car horn up here it is quite peaceful. There is no seating on the 69th and 70th and although I think it would be nice to sit up here I guess with the limited space and amount of tourists then I can understand why there is no seating.
There is members of staff milling about so happy to answer any questions about the building or "what's that building?" questions.
The gift shop in here is alright. Plenty of different New York gifts and not just things with this building on it.
So would I recommend a visit to here? Yes. Ok so to compare against the other building - Empire State this doesn't let you up quite as high, but as I said it does give you a great view of the City and is cheaper than the Empire - Empire is £25 if you want up to the 102 floor, so perhaps half the price for just as great a view.
An impressive building which gives an impressive view of an amazing city.
Rockefeller Centre and Top of the Rock.New York.
The Rockefeller centre is perhaps one of the must see attractions when visiting Manhattan New York. The Top of the Rock being a must do experience to take in the sights of the vibrant city of New York.
So what is the Rockefeller Centre?
It is in fact a cluster of buildings which takes up a couple of blocks between 49th and 50th street between 5th and 7th avenue. Within the complex of buildings built in the art deco style housing the NBC studios, Radio city music hall, the concourse which is an underground warren of shops and small businesses the channel gardens and the Top of the rock observation deck at 70 stories high. There are pieces or art deco statue, art pieces and stone carvings dotted around the complex and areas with evocative names such as The international building, The British Empire building, Palazzo D'Italia and La Maison Francais.
The Top of the Rock.
Work on the Rockefeller centre began in 1930 and in total took 9 years to build. The observation decks at the top of 'the rock' opened in 1933 which resembled the observation deck on the top of an ocean going liner.
To reach the top of the rock you take a rapid lift up to the 67th floor to reach the first observation deck then take an escalator up to the 69th and 70th floor reaching a heady height of 850 feet above the streets way below.
The entrance to the observation deck at the top of the rock is on 50th street where you can queue to purchase your tickets or if you are a wise bunny you should pre-buy your tickets by-passing and to avoid the sometimes very long queues. The entrance takes you into the Mezzanine area where the queues for the tickets stretch for some considerable distance or you can ride the escalator or the circular flight of stairs to the third floor if you have your tickets to the entrance level and exhibition area. Hanging in the central atrium of this massive hallway is a massive Swarovski Chandelier made up of 14,000 individual crystals and fibre optic lighting. The rainbow prisms that emanate from the crystals are quite pretty and it does look somewhat interesting.
You then pass through a security check point where your bags are passed through an X-ray machine. Walking around towards the lift area you pass through a photographic exhibition with such photos like the guys sitting on hanging girders eating their lunches from their lunch box seemingly sitting hundreds of feet above the streets below. Then comes a photo opportunity where you can sit on what appears to be the girder and pose to have your photo taken which will be ready for your collection once you have finished your visit. You can even walk across one such girder which gives you the impression that you are walking in mid air as the workers so skilfully did when building the massive tower. Next you walk into a small stand up theatre to watch a brief film about the building of the Rockefeller centre. The lift to the top takes just under a minute to reach the 67th floor. You enter one side of the lift and when it reaches the top you exit the other side.
On the 67th floor there are further exhibitions of crystal some of them are massive formations which look really intriguing. There is also a wall called the radiance wall which consists of glass panels with crystals and back lighting which enhances the look of the wall. Here you can also go out to the outside terraces to give you your first view of the New York sky line. The perimeter is surrounded by toughened glass panels which allows you unobstructed views of Manhattan below you and stretching out towards the Hudson river and New Jersey to the right and Brooklyn and the East river to the left. You can also see downtown towards Battery Park and the ferry terminal to Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty and the Stratton Island Ferry terminal. The Empire state building is ahead of you as you are looking towards Liberty state park. It looks brilliant in the distance but to be honest I think the Chrysler building with its silvery showy top is more appealing to look at.
The views are pretty good from here and during poor weather you can sit inside the two story building without getting wet and viewing the sites through the windows. There is also a souvenir shop on this floor and the 69th floor where you can buy mementoes of your visit should you wish. Some of the mementos are not too tacky by the way.
Up a small escalator will bring you to the 69th floor where the outside deck gives you unparalleled views of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. To reach the 70th floor you walk up a short flight of steps where you can look down to the 69th floor viewing deck with its tall toughened glass panelling and telescopes dotted around which costs 25 cents for a few minutes to see further afield.
The top ultimate 70th floor looks like the deck of a ship with the air-conditioning outlet/inlet pipe work resembling the funnels of a ship. From here you get fantastic views completely unobstructed out towards Central Park, which incidentally looks like an oasis amid the tower blocks of Manhattan. You can see the tourist site-seeing helicopter flights buzzing all up and down the Hudson and East river. They look like little bees. Out towards Stratton Island you can see the tour boats heading out to Liberty state park and the defiant Lady the Statue of liberty standing proudly holding her torch.
Fear of Heights!!!!!
At this point of the review I am going to let you into a secret. I have a terrible and an irrational fear of heights and although I was wary about going up the Rock as it is affectionally known. The feelings I get when I am at a height include legs going like jelly and feeling that I am falling, dizziness and unable to focus on anything to try and regain a sense of equilibrium and stability to the point of wanting to cry and nail gripping the walls to try and stabilise myself. How daft is that???
I actually felt quite safe and did not feel ill at ease at any time. I even went right to the edge of the observation deck to take photos without feeling that I was falling unlike in other places I have visited where I have literally been frozen to the spot and like a quivering wreck. I have even had this feeling when sitting down and looking at pictures on the computer which has left me feeling physically sick for about 20 minutes. I can reassure anyone that if I can do it I am sure you will enjoy it too!
After our visit we retraced our steps back down to the 67th floor to take the lift back down to the lobby area. We had a meander for a little while around the shopping concourse ok ok only for about 10-15 minutes as I find shopping particularly boring. We then went out to the sunken plaza which is taken over as a skating ring in the winter months. We had a drink here in one of the lower plaza's al fresco cafes admiring the views of the Art deco fountain with a beautiful golden statue of Prometheus which is 18 feet high and weighs in at an incredible eight tons.
Is it worth a visit?
I would say a resounding yes. I found the whole experience exciting and exhilarating and really enjoyed my visit to the Rock. You feel like you are on top of the world. We chose The Top of the Rock as opposed to the Empire state building and had great views of it from the rock. The main reason is that the Top of the Rock is not as popular as the Empire State building, you get better and more spectacular views and it is not quite as busy. Plus the added attractions of the art deco that is all over the place in the complex.
If you really wanted you could devote a whole day exploring the high end shops, eateries both affordable and fine dining establishments, exhibitions and all that the Rockefeller centre complex has to offer.
Currently opening times are as follows:
08:00 - Midnight. 7 Days a week 365 days a year!
You can pre buy your tickets which I think is wise but if you do not have the time join the queue once you get there. The top of the rock is disabled friendly and wheelchair accessible.
Recently I was lucky enough to visit New York City, and one of the things I did was go to Top of the Rock observatory. The Rockefeller Centre is basically a really tall building, and the observatory level is at the top of the building. From the observatory level you get brilliant views of Manhattan.
The Rockefeller building is located between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The tickets cost $25 for an adult and $16 for a child. However looking on their website, it costs a few more dollars if you want to go at sunrise or sunset. I never actually paid to go to the observatory deck as I had a city pass ticket which is basically a ticket you buy, and it lets you visit lots of attractions, and the Rockefeller centre was one of the activities you could do.
We arrived at the building about midday, when we entered, we had to show our city pass tickets to the employees at one of the desks. We also had the chance to buy a map, the map was basically pictures of all the buildings you would see from standing on the observatory deck. It told you what all the buildings were called, and a little explanation about them. The map cost $2, and we decided to buy it.
After showing our tickets and buying the map, we then went to a lift, which went up 1 floor, we then had to go through security checks, which were very qucik and didnt take long at all. After that we had the chance to get a picture of us all, the picture was set out to look like the famous work men photo, to take the photo was free, but it cost to buy it. We then got the chance to watch a short clip about the history of the building which was interesting, and to me worth a watch.
We then made our way to the lift that took us to the 67th floor. It takes 42 seconds to reach the top. And going up in the lift, is actually really cool. While going up, there were flashing lights, and a clip playing, i wasnt too sure what the clip was to be honest, i was too distracted! When we reached the top, the lift doors opened to reveal a beautiful view of Central Park with plenty of buildings surrounding it. The 67th floor was indoors so on a very cold day I imagine its a nice floor to be on! There is also a gift shop on this floor if you would like to buy any touristy stuff! If you walk through the gift shop and out the other side you can get to the other side of the building which revealed a lovely view of the empire state building, but I'll talk about that in more detail later! We didnt stay on the 67th floor for long, and soon made our way up the esculators to the next floor.
The next floor was outside however there was safety glass surrounding the edges of the building, and I was actually pleased about that as I know without that glass i would be very scared to go near the edges of the building! There were infact gaps between the safety glass which meant that I could squeeze my camera through the gaps to get lovely pictures, however becareful not to drop your camera! Finally we made our way to the very top of the building. To get to the top of the building you go up some steps and your at the top. There is no safety glass on the very top, however the floor below is larger so if you did fall over the waist high barriers (which is very unlikely) then you would just fall on to the floor below.
Throughout this review I havent said much about the views, but I finally will! The views from the top floor are stunning! Face one direction and you have the Empire State building infront of you, It was so close and very easy to see it. It was lovely to take some photos of me and my family with the famous building. There was also so many other lovely things to look at. Central Park I found was gourgous to look at. It was just this huge green square in the middle of one of the busiest citys in the world! You also got a view of the Hudson river and I think it was Washington Bridge, which was also a brilliant view. The day we visited top of the rock was a lovely sunny day, and i can honestly say the views were simply stunning.
I would definitly recommend this experience to everyone, in my opinion it is one of the best ways to view Manhatten. When i was at the top, i was too busy looking at all the views that I even forgot to look at the map. Next time I visit New York, i would love to go in the evening as i think it would be pretty cool to see all the lights! All though this might seem like an expensive activity to do, I personally think its worth it!
Oh New York, how I love thee! I shall keep this quick and to the point as thinking about this place for too
long will make me cry!
I have been to NY many times. I wish I lived there. But I dont. And I cant. End of :(
So instead I visit once a year, and every time I go to the top of the rock. In the daytime, at night, and,
on my most recent trip in June, at sunset. It really is like being the king of the castle looking out on to
a glorious horizon of building upon building or (queue to turn around) the vast wonderment of Central
Top of the Rock is worth the $20. Its the only tourist thing that I will do again and again because its just
spectacular. It like something out of Disneyworld. Everything right from getting your ticket through to reaching the top is such a wonderful experience. I'm not going to reveal how cool the journey to the top is, but is IS cool. And, once up there, take in the views, take in some air, take a moment to reflect on a point in your life and...release. The Americans really know how to do something well :)
After years of dreaming about it, I visited New York very recently, and at the top of my 'things to do' list was the Top of the Rock observation deck. Now, there is alot of discussion as to whether Manhattan is best viewed from this or the very popular Empire State Building, so I decided to put this to the test myself, but at different times of the day. I will be reviewing the Empire State Building shortly after this to compare.
We decided to visit Top of the Rock at night time as we wanted to see the whole city lit up! Just a short walk away from our hotel we arrived at the Top of the Rock at 9PM with the help of direction signs to find the way (it can be quite tricky to find believe it or not). As we walked in, we noticed the huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the room which was beautiful, and a ticket desk. We both paid $21 each and headed upstairs to the delightful ticket man who scanned our tickets and directed us to security. An airport style security system is in place here, meaning removal of coats, bags, belts etc and whilst at the time this can be somewhat frustrating, it's good to see they have gone to great lengths to protect the building and the customers.
On your ticket you are given a time gap, and when waiting in the foyer you listen to when your time gap is shouted out. There is then the usual NY 'photo opportunity' with the Top of the Rock iconic background, and then you head to the lift. The lift itself is an amazing experience; on first inspection it looked like a regular glass lift, however when the lift starts going the lights are turned out and disco lights and patterns are turned on from the ceiling of the lift, along with a commentary giving information about the Top of the Rock. It is also shocking how the lift to the 69th floor is quicker than the lift to the 3rd floor in my college!
There are 3 floors: 67th, 69th and 70th, we visited the 69th floor as the 70th floor was closed due to lightening the night before. If I were to visit again I would most definitely visit the 70th floor, as this has no glass panels in the way unlike the other floors which can prevent you getting good pictures (although there is small gaps to fit in your camera to get some good shots). The 67th floor has a small gift shop and also a small cafe if you would like to spend more time in the building; however we were just eager to get to the 69th floor.
As we reached the 69th floor and stepped out the elevator and into the opening, we were stunned at how beautiful the city looked at night. You could truly see how amazing New York is and we were both left speechless. After 5 minutes of staring with our mouths wide open, we decided to take a 360 walk around the deck to see the whole city. From here we had beautiful views of the Empire state building, the Chrysler building, Times Square and all the other skyscrapers and landmarks of NY. There are pay for binoculars around the deck at 50 cents for around 2 minutes viewing which I loved as you could see right over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As I have mentioned before, the glass panels can be pretty frustrating as its virtually impossible to get a good picture without cramming your camera into the gaps between the glass. This would be the only fault I would pick with the Top of the Rock!
All in all, the Top of the Rock is well worth a visit. Although I did much prefer the Empire State building, it could be due to the fact I visited that at Sunset. Be sure to take a jacket even in the summer months as it can get chilly up there!
Top of the Rock is open 7 days a week at 8pm until midnight and the last elevator goes up at 11pm, so there is no excuse to not visit this amazing landmark during your stay in NY!
I was in New York City over Christmas. I have been several times before and have been a firm believer in the fact that Manhattan is best viewed from above - although in the past I have opted to view the city firstly from the World Trade Centre (alas, no longer an option) and after that, from The Empire State Building. I had heard from a few times that actually the Top of the Rock (at Rockefeller Centre) actually affords the best views of all three - and the queues are no where near what they are at the Empire State Building. For this reason, and as I had seen the other view, I opted to visit Top of the Rock on this last visit.
Basically, Top of the Rock is the top of the tallest building at Rockefeller Centre, which, as I'm sure anyone who has been to NYC will attest, is bang centre in the middle of all the action. Finding it was relatively easy but basically the entrance is on 50th Street and before 5th and 6th Avenue (otherwise known as Avenue of the Americas) and is hence classed as being in mid-town. We got the subway to the 47-50 St. Rockefeller Ctr Station (B,D,F & M lines) and it was just a few minutes stroll to the entrance.
In order to get in, you can either buy online or you can buy tickets from the ticket booth outside (be aware though that the ticket booth only takes credit card purchases for some unknown reason!). It costs a whopping $17.50 for an adult and $11.25 for a child - which, I feel, is very expensive, but it is considerably cheaper than if you want to go to the very top of the Empire State building (the 102nd floor) which will cost $36 per adult. We bought our tickets from the ticket booth outside, where the cashier advised us that the wait time was around 30 minutes - and this was indeed fairly accurate. Please note that last time I went to the Empire State Building at the same time of year, I was waiting over 2 hours to get to the top.....and so 30 minutes was very acceptable to me.
Once you have your tickets, you have to get a lift - and then you have to go through airport like security. However, security is dealt with quite quickly and efficiently and so it really didn't take us more than about 15 minutes to move through the security queue and come out the other side. Once we had been security approved, we then had to get another lift which took us to the first observation floor at Floor 67. There is a further observation floor at Floor 69 which is reached by a stairs. The lift looked very new age and I liked the fact that the roof of the lift was made of clear glass and as the inside of the lift shaft was lit up, we were able to see how far we had to go - and how quick we were moving. Apparently it took 42 seconds to get to the 67th floor - which is pretty quick and you could certainly feel the lift whooshing through the building. However, it felt perfectly safe!
The 67th floor has an inside and an outside viewing area - and you can get great views from all around the floor. The inside viewing area has glass from just below the knee right up to the ceiling and the glass is clean and so views are unhindered, even if you choose not to go outside. The outside viewing areas also have safety glass around the edge - which I would prefer to go without, but I know there is a reason for it. However, there are small gaps between the panes of glass and so I could slot my camera through these gaps and get a glass free picture (which is always going to be clearer, not matter how clean the glass is!). I do think its a shame that there is a need for this glass, but the day I went up it was very cold and windy and so I suspect that this glass also worked as a wind breaker as well which allowed us to be able to stay outside longer.
However, for me, the prize goes to the 70th floor - which does mean walking up some relatively narrow steps. But, if you're mobile, it really is worth going up here because there is no safety glass and so you can get a completely barrier free view of the city - which really is quite stunning. However, be warned, that if you are here in December (as I was), it gets incredibly cold on the 70th floor as there is not insulation whatsoever, and there is also not the option of an inside viewing area from the highest observation point. I only managed to stay up here for about 10 minutes despite being well dressed up - because it was - 6 degrees C and, quite literally, freezing!
Wherever you stand, the views are spectacular, especially if you go on a clear day. I went up in December at about 4.45 in the afternoon and that meant that, with some patience, we were able to see the views in daylight, at dusk, at Sunset - and when the Empire State Building lights went on (around 6pm). The best thing about the views from here, as opposed to the Empire State Building, is that you get to see the Empire State Building without any obstructions - and this affords a very romantic view of the city, especially once the ESB lights went on and lit up red and green. There are good views of the Chryslar Building, Central Park, and the whole midtown area - and we were lucky enough to even see as far as Harlem and the Statue of Liberty at the other end. Once all the lights came on at night, for me, this was the million dollar shot and it symbolised how I remember NYC once I'd left.
Now, if I was being critical, I wouldn't say that TOTR was as romantic as the ESB - because TOTR is more contemporary and doesn't have the history attached to the ESB. However, as far as views alone go - I would say that TOTR was superior. Although the ESB is taller, I don't think the added metres really mean that the views are any better. In addition to this, the overall cost is cheaper (if you're going to the top) and, most importantly for me, the queues are significantly shorter and so it doesn't take up anywhere near as much time as the ESB. In addition, you can have a timed ticket if you book online where you just turn up at your alloted time and so you're not spending all day standing in queues and getting frustrated.
There are some other facilities at TOTR - including some weird light art installation that I didn't really get! There are restrooms (you have to take another elevator down a few floors) and there is a gift store which you visit on the way out. Because you are in Rockefeller Centre, there are plenty of places to eat and drink before or after you've visited the observations decks.
I recommend visiting the TOTR and think its superior in most ways when compared to the other options, namely the ESB. If you're going in winter though, I cannot stress strongly enough that you dress up warm!
Top of the Rock is an observation deck covering three floors at the top of the Rockefeller Center. It boasts great views of the city, including a view of the Empire State Building, and is also well known for shorter queues than the aforementioned. After carefully planning my recent trip to New York, my mind was made up that I'd much rather go up to Top of the Rock than the alternative, the Empire State Building. The main reasons being a shorter queue (and I didn't fancy spending an hour or two waiting to go up the Empire State Building!) and also Top of the Rock offers good views of the city including being able to view the Empire State Building itself, which you can't see if you're on that observation deck. I wanted to time my visit perfectly so that I could view the city as the sun was setting; essentially meaning I could view the city in the daylight, and then at night as all the lights of the city come on.
After a quick subway ride and a helpful local to point us in the direction, we arrived at the Rockefeller Centre. Once inside it was a bit confusing where to go at first, but once we found the correct place the signs from then on made it simple. What first shocked me as we went to get our tickets was the lack of a queue; we walked straight up and got our tickets, got straight through security, and were ushered into the first elevator to go up a floor or two to get the proper elevator. Here we wandered around a small display containing information about the history of the building, and you can have your photo taken pretending to re-enact that famous workmen photo before moving into watching a film. As the film was half way through, we attempted to watch it but left after a minute or so, eager to get the elevator up to the observation deck. We only had to wait 2 minutes before we got into the final elevator, and were told the lift would take 42 seconds to reach the top before the doors closed on us and we were being zapped up through the building. Looking up at the roof of the elevator I could see small blue lights guiding the way to the top, making me slightly giddy as these came rushing past and we got closer to the top. The roof also had a projection on it of something, but I wasn't paying too much attention to that, instead being amazed at how quickly we were advancing up through the building.
Top of the Rock is a 3 level observation building, and it takes up the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of the building. The first level you come out onto is the 67th floor, and as you leave the elevator and round the corner you can immediately see out the windows a lovely view of central park. There is also a small gift shop here and a bar area. The evening that I went up there was a bad playing in the bar area, and it made for a lovely atmosphere. The outside sections are the smallest viewing points on this floor, and the view is obstructed by fully transparent safety glass which is much nicer than looking through wired fencing which is usually the case with observation decks. There are gaps in the safety glass every so often big enough to fit your camera through to take shots of the city without the glass ruining it. There were also gray leather seats here to lounge around on with a beverage from the bar, I choose to have a glass of wine and go indoors and sit on a window ledge though. The visibility on the day I visited was brilliant, and I could even see the statue of liberty right in the distance, so if you want great views I would try and go when the weather is a bit clearer.
After a while we decided to head on up to the 69th floor deck, again this has the safety glass except the view goes around the whole building this time and has a much better feel to it. Go upstairs to the 70th floor deck and you have a complete 360' view of the city, and no safety glass! I got a good spot with a view directly towards the empire state building, and it made for an amazing view watching the sunset and the city begin to light up. In the distance you can see the camera flashes from people standing on the empire state building observation deck, and I wasn't jealous at all, after all Top of the Rock has great views of the whole city including central park, where as the view to the park is rather blocked for people who choose the Empire State option. We spent over an hour at the top watching the sunset and it was an enjoyable experience which I will never forget. After taking it all in and having took enough photos to satisfy, we decided to get the elevator back down to explore the city, and again we didn't even need to queue to get the lift back down to the bottom.
Top of the Rock is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and if you don't want to waste your time in New York standing around in queues, then I highly recommend this over the Empire State Building. Ticket information can be found on the website: http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/tickets However as adults we paid $21 each, and you have as much time as you want to take in the views of Manhattan. The top level does get rather chilly as there is no safety glass to shield the wind, so wrap you warm if you are visiting in the colder months! The entrance is on 50th St between 5th and 6th Avenue and is open daily from 8am till Midnight with the last elevator going up at 11pm.
I would definitely recommend this over the Empire State Building, as you get a better view of Central Park, it being more north, and you can see the Empire State from it! Plus the glass screens that surround the edge make it easier to see the full panorama, as well as take pictures. The are three levels at the top, meaning someone more inclined to take in the view from a slightly lower level (and inside if you feel the need) can still get a really great view, but the views from the very top are outstanding. The building staff are friendly and the elevator ride up to the top is even fun as you get a small video played to you on the roof of the elevator as you go up. Watch out for your ears popping though!
We visited the site in November and twice in March (by ourselves and with family who came to visit) and we loved it every time, as did the people we were with. Definitely a key site for your trip and you will get some great experiences and photos. Try and get up there for sunset for even more breath-taking views.
The Rockefeller Centre is actually a 'city within a city' it is a group
of buildings which also includes Radio City Music Hall and NBC Studios
tour amongst many other things. The Top of the Rock is actually the top
of the GE Building which is part of the Rockefeller Centre .
This was one of the first things we did in NYC, on the afternoon that we
arrived! When we arrived at the Rockefeller Centre Plaza we just looked
up! Wow! We were going to the top of that!! My husband has a fear of
heights...he has always said he is fine on a building as it is a solid
structure, he just doesn't like things like the Eiffel Tower that don't
seem as 'solid'! This was going to test his building theory! He kind of
looked up and just said, hmm that's pretty high!! We were going to go up
the Empire State building on the first day - one of those NYC things
that just has to be done! But having done my research I realised going
on a Saturday afternoon even in March may not be the best idea as it was likely we would be stuck in a queue for a while! So we decided on the Rockefeller Centre, this way we could also see the Empire State
When we arrived it was about 5pm and we walked from the Rockefeller
plaza/ice rink and to the entrance on 50th street. We walked straight in
went down the spiral stairs and bought our tickets - we had a voucher for $2 off each which I had printed from the internet, this worked no problem, so it was $20. We also decided to buy the guide for $2 so we could work out which building was which! I think this was really good value (the guide for the Empire State Building later on our trip was $8...)
We then got the lift up the mezzanine floor and went through the security check, again no queues at all. Just after the security check was some information on the history of the building, however we realised it was getting later and later and we wanted to be up the top in the light to get some pictures before the sun set so we didn't read any of it! I think it would have been quite informative though, especially as we are quite interested in skyscrapers!
We had a picture took on a steel bar - a mimic of the famous picture with all the workmen having their dinner. We were given a little card and told the images could be viewed online for 30days and that there would be a photographer at the top who could take some pictures for us as well. We thought this was a good idea as when there is just 2 of you on holiday you rarely get pictures together!!
We walked through to the lift lobby where there was a small queue - 10
people?! We were ushered round and were in the next lift up! Once in the lift if you don't like lifts or heights don't look up! Once it starts
moving there is a bit of commentary and the top of the lift goes see
through and you can see lights all the way up to the top! And your ears
will pop! It moves fast!
You arrive at the 67th floor, the first of 3 observation decks. Here
there is an indoor area with some seats and a small shop as well as all
the lifts. The other 2 observation decks are on the 69th and 70th floor
- I'm not quite sure what happened to the 68th floor, I didn't notice
we'd gone up 2 floors! On the 67th floor there are 2 small terraces, one
at the Empire State building side and one at the Central Park side,
these are both obscured by Perspex, however you can fit you camera in
between a gap to get good photos.
The 69th floor has a bigger terrace at either side, again with Perspex
round for protection, also with some benches to sit on outside, there is
a small shop on this level and an indoor bit which shows people
movements using light through the area. From here you go up another level to the 70th and you really are on top of the building, this is one big terrace that does not have any obstructed views. There was a photographer up here that would take your picture and put it on the same card as the other one for us to view online later and choose whether to buy or not. We had a couple of photos taken with the Empire State Building in the background.
We took some photos from up here and spent quite a bit of time up here watching the sunset and the lights come on on the buildings, We thought the views up here were fantastic and loved watching it go dark. We spent some time wandering between the floors and spending some time inside - it got a bit chilly once the sun went down! Overall we were up there about 2 hours and got some fantastic pictures.
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Rockefeller centre and think
it was the better of the two out of the Empire State and here, although
I would still say go up the Empire State. We timed our visit perfectly,
we saved ourselves $20 each by going up in the daylight and waiting til
it got dark, it was also a spectacular sight to see the sun set and the
city lights come on. You get such a different view in the daylight to
the dark! The lights are fantastic! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to
the Top of the Rock and it was definitely a good way to start our visit
I visited New York in February 2007 and after going to the top of the Empire State Building and seeing the magnificent views across Manhattan, my friend and I decided that we would visit the Rockefeller center the next morning and observe the views from the top of the rock.
The entire experience was amazing from start to finish. The first level of the observation deck is surrounded by plastic panels. This doesn't hinder photo taking in the slightest. However, you can go up to the highest level where there is no secure covering like this, just a small railing if my memory serves me correctly.
Being at the highest point of the building was quite a scary, but at the same time a surreal experience. Being that time of the year, it was freezing cold and the wind was quite ferocious at that height which unnerved me a little.
Nevertheless, it was totally worth it for the magnificent views across central park and also looking onto the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. It is a priceless experience and I was really in awe of the surroundings.
I much preferred the top of the rock to being at the top of the Empire State building. It was much quieter than the Empire State and provided me with amazing scenic pictures of the NYC landscape.
On the way up to the observation deck of the Rockefeller there is the opportunity to have a souvenir photo taken for around $10 (well it was that price when I went in 07). My friend and I got ours taken and it is lovely. It is the perfect memento of an amazing experience. However, if this isn't for you there are plenty of opportunities to take photos inside the building itself.
Overall, the entire experience was utterly amazing, words really can't do it justice and I hope to return to New York one day so that I can do it all over again!
...or "How To entertain 6 kids and 5 adults in Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon"
When I arranged my latest trip to the US I also arranged to meet up with my friend Wendy, who lives in New Jersey.
Wendy and I connected online as both of us have autistic children and despite having "known" each other for six years we had never managed to meet up so we made it a definite arrangement when I was booked for New York.
The problem was - what to do? Wendy lives nearer Philadelphia than New York but does go to the city a handful of times a year so her kids weren't going to be that impressed with Central Park. And it was February - freezing cold with a huge amount of snow dumped on the city just a few days earlier.
I suggested perhaps we could go to the Top of the Rock - which is the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center, and Wendy thought this was great as it was something she had never done with her kids before. Unfortunately, the only day she could make it while I was in town was Saturday, and Saturday afternoon at that.
I must admit at this point that I prefer to visit anything even vaguely "tourist" first thing in the morning, as this tends to keep waiting times and crowds to a minimum. My daughter doesn't handle either of these things well you see.
To add to my concerns, I was in town on Presidents' Day weekend, meaning there were a lot of tourists about - never mind the fact it was also Valentine's Day weekend too.
However this might be my one and only chance to hook up with Wendy and her family so despite my reservations, I agreed.
~~The Rockefeller Center~~
Located between 5th and 6th Avenues at 48th and 51st Street the Rockefeller Center is actually a series of office blocks built on land which was unsurprisingly, originally leased by its namesake John D Rockefeller Jnr, and following the Great Depression he financed the building on the site himself.
There are 19 buildings and what is so stunning about them is the use of the art deco style which is both beautiful to look at but also functional, modernist and sleek.
The Center is also home to the famous Radio City Music Hall, home to an annual Christmas spectacular show and also a well used music venue in Manhattan.
There are some stores in the Rockefeller Plaza including the Nintendo World Store and there is also the famous ice rink there too.
~~The Top of the Rock~~
On my first trip to New York way back in 1999 I did the obligatory trip to the top of the Empire State Building. I enjoyed that experience but yearned for some pictures which featured that building in all it's glory - something you can't get from the top of it.
The Top of the Rock opened in 2005 and is a wonderful observatory, offering clear views of Manhattan's most iconic building and also Central Park and out to Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
We walked to the Rockefeller Center - we had all met at my hotel on 29th Street and lunched at Ruby Tuesdays on 7th Avenue near 42nd Street. From there it was a short stroll uptown to the Center - me, my daughter, Wendy and her three sons Brennan, Sammy and Oliver, who is autistic, her daughter Marielle and her friend Kristi who came along to help with Oliver.
While we were at Ruby Tuesdays we got a call from another friend, Christine, to say she was coming with her husband and daughter and to meet them at the Center around 2.00 pm.
The Top of the Rock is clearly signposted and hard to miss. We had no problems finding the main entrance at all.
I was fearful of long lines and marvelled at Wendy's optimism that Oliver would cope with crowds just fine. Both he and my daughter had found the restaurant pleasant when we had entered but as it filled up both got cranky and stressed.
However much to my surprise the queue wasn't that big at all, so we paid our $21 fee each (it costs $14 for children aged 12 and under) and then went to wait near the security area for Christine, Bill and Kate to arrive.
After we took the obligatory group shot, we didn't have too long to wait and once again the queues I had been expecting at security were not long at all - all bags had to be screened but this was done quickly and very professionally using airport style equipment.
We then had to wait for the elevator which takes you to the observation deck but again the lines went down quickly and the staff there ensured we all went in the same car - which was good given there were 11 of us!
You can get your photograph taken professionally as you wait for the elevator in front of a backdrop of a black and white view from the observation deck but we decided against this, preferring to take pictures ourselves when we got to the top.
The elevators are an attraction in themselves - they have clear roofs so you can see the up the lift shaft as it speeds past 70 floors to the top. There is also a light show in them and as you can imagine, the kids loved this. Well I say that but my daughter was showing signs in being completely disinterested in the whole thing and sadly her whingeing was just about to start.
We got to the top and were pleasantly surprised by how spacious the observation deck was and also how relatively quiet it was. I can still recall how busy the observation deck on the Empire State Building was when I visited but I had no problems getting vantage points to take pictures here.
You can stay indoors to take pictures or go outside - and there is an additional viewing area up another few floors which I did visit but in light of the weather didn't stay outside for too long and the windchill factor was far lower than on the street up there. I had wrapped up warm for the experience, including wearing a particularly unflattering hat, but still the cold was too much for me.
My daughter had decided that her Nintendo DS was far more interesting than the Manhattan skyline but I was relieved to see seating areas so she parked herself there for a while as I decided to take some pictures and take in the views.
And what views there are - although obviously the top draw has to be the Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building is also just about visible but it is sadly hidden behind some other skyscrapers - if you want to see this clearly I would suggest the Empire State Building will give you a better vantage point.
I was kicking myself for not bringing my binoculars - however there are viewing areas with the large binoculars you can pay a few cents to use. Christine and her husband used these to help their daughter Kate appreciate the views and they were very impressed with them. They were also able to look over to their hometown in New Jersey and point it out to me.
In the distance past the Empire State Building was the Statue of Liberty to one side and the Brooklyn Bridge to the other. If you walk round to face north you get the most incredible view of Central Park - in fact after the Empire State Building I think this was the view I really appreciated most, especially as you could see the snow still lying on the ground.
All the kids in our party were enjoying the experience, with the exception of my daughter. Even Oliver was enjoying the views, although he was being kept on a pretty tight leash for obvious reasons.
There is a light room on the observatory deck and this was
a big hit with everyone in our party, including my daughter. The light room assigns you a colour and that colour follows you on the ceiling as you move about. Even my daughter loved this and was happy to walk about for a while and watch her colour move as she did. I really thought this was a brilliant idea and something that people of all ages can enjoy but also something that children with sensory issues would benefit from.
Despite the freezing temperatures we enjoyed a good hour at the Top of the Rock, taking in the views, taking photographs, chatting with each other and generally having a wonderful time.
Visibility wasn't brilliant as there was some low cloud but we could see reasonably far into the distance. You also have to remember that a sunny day can have pitfalls too - I remember a haze in the distance when I went to the top of the Empire State Building one sunny day in May for instance.
The journey back down in the elevator was just as much fun as it had been on the way up and we took a stroll around the Center once we were back on the ground so that Wendy's son Sammy, who is a huge fan of the TV show 30 Rock could see and get a photograph of the statue of Prometheus which sits above the ice rink and features in the credits for that show.
There are gift shops at the top of the center and also back down on the ground but we decided our photos were perfect souvenirs so we didn't buy anything there.
My fears about crowds and queues were completely unjustified and I have to say this day out was a hit with everyone in our party, with the exception of my disinterested daughter. Wendy and Christine had never even considered doing it before but they thoroughly enjoyed being tourists for the day and loved my idea.
Doing it in such a large group made for an interesting experience, and also having two autistic kids in the party could have been a challenge but the observation deck is laid out in such a way that children such as my daughter who find the experience stressful or dull can easily just check out and do their own thing if they like with seating available and the light room offering perfect distractions.
Everyone got something out of the visit - I appreciate my daughter struggled a bit but both her and Oliver loved the light room, and Oliver enjoyed the views over the city. All the other kids enjoyed themselves while all the adults just breathed in and enjoyed seeing an amazing city from a different perspective.
It is all too easy to think if you want to see Manhattan then the Empire State Building is the place to go, but I think you may do better to consider the Top of the Rock instead for shorter queues and a vista that includes the Empire State Building itself.
I took my mum to New York last November. It was a first time for us both and we couldn't wait to get stuck in to the sights. The Rockefeller Centre was on the top of our list! Loads of people go for the Empire state building but the queues are alot longer and the view of the Empire State building from the Top of the Rock is great. I'd recommend doing the sunset-sunrise package, it allows you to go up twice, once during day and the other, you guessed, during night. Both views are unmissable but the night was definately better! You don't have to do them both on the same day either which means you can wait for the clearest day/night and you dont have to stay in the same area all day. New York can get really misty so I'd definately only reccomend doing Top of the Rock on a clear day/night. Even if it looks clear from where you are standing, it is worth asking the doorman what the visibililty is like on the top, they make plenty of money so they wont lie to you! Don't be fooled by the lines, they may look small but they will be long inside! However, I don't think we waited for longer than an hour and a half and during that time you have a few short films and you can have your photo taken to make it look like you are on the steel framework (think of the famous workmen on lunch photo taken during construction). Even if you do wait for ages, it is worth it, even the elevator is brill-make sure you look up! If you are scared of heights, its not too bad. There are 3 viewing levels, one is inside and the higher two are outside with a thick perspex screen all around so you cannot actually look down at the ground as such. Just make sure you have plenty of free camera space and battery!!
I'm afraid of heights. I don't really know why, I just don't like being off the ground as I don't feel safe. I've only developed this fear as an adult though, as a child I've been to the top of the Stratosphere in Vegas which us over 1,000 feet tall - and even went on the roller coaster up there! However as an adult I've wussed out of the Eiffel Tower, the Fernsehturm Tower in Berlin and even the London Eye.
And so it was with great trepidation that the wife dragged me to the Rockefeller Centre barely 2 hours after arriving in New York.
We went into the centre through the red carpeted entrance on 50th Street and were led downstairs to purchase our tickets. A visit to the top costs $21 each however the wife had done her research and found some vouchers online that saved us $2 per person. We did also purchase a map of the skyline that details all the different buildings you can see from the top - this was a bargain at only $2.
After purchasing our tickets we made our way upstairs and through security where they quickly scanned our bags and then sent us on to the lifts (or elevators as the Yanks call them).
The lift quickly takes you to the 68th floor where you get an incredible view of this amazing metropolis. The Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park can all be seen through the 10-foot high glass screens.
The glass screens are a little annoying but fear not, as just 2 floors above you can look at the city skyline with nothing to obstruct your view (the building narrows as it gets taller so it'd only be a 1-storey drop if you fell over the edge!
After a few minutes at the top I finally began to feel safe and even made it to the edge to look out over the city, although I was clinging onto my wife's coat for dear life!
Despite being half scared to death, I enjoyed the Top of the Rock. It wasn't too expensive, there wasn't a big queue and they have photographers at the top who will take your picture for you. The photographers give you a card with a web address and a password so when you get home you can view the pics and buy them if you want.
The wife did some great research beforehand and found the sunset time to be 6pm and so we went to the top of the Rock at 5pm and stayed for around 2 hours which meant we saw the city skyline in the daylight and spectacularly lit-up at night without having to make 2 trips and pay twice.
If you're going to New York you really have to go to the top of the Rock. And if you're afraid of heights like I am, I have one piece of advice for you... just get over it. The view from the top is worth it!
I have to admit I'd not heard of the 'Top of the Rock' before visiting New York, but when we were on an open top bus tour and were offered free tickets as part of the tour to go to the Top of the Rock (Rockerfeller Centre) we thought we may as well.
The Rockerfella Centre is located at 30 Rockerfella Plaza (not far from fifth avenue).
On entering and giving in our tickets we were taken up into a lift, where there were a few exhibitions on display and some historic video footage telling you about the Rockerfella Centre. We also had our photo taken against a blue screen, to show New York City in the background.
We then got into another lift and were taken to the viewing area and after later visiting the Empire State Building I much prefered the Top of the Rock, partly because the view you get includes the Empire State Building but also because it wasn't as crowded and the queues were no where near as long.
It's open from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week and adult tickets cost $21.
When you come down from viewing the New York skyline there are also shops and restaurants within the Rockerfella centre so you can spend a few hours in the area. Also, if you go in the winter there is the famous Christmas tree outside along with an ioce rink.
The observation deck includes three renovated lower levels and three renovated upper levels housed in the 70-story architectural heart of Rockefeller Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The view itself is unique and astonishing, unobstructed for 360 degrees and stretching for miles in every direction. It includes a panorama of Central Park and the northern half of Manhattan that can't be found anywhere else. New York's other landmarks are visible as well, including the Chrysler Building, Times Square, the Hudson River, the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. It is, quite simply, the most spectacular view in New York City.