The Rockefeller Center – aka 30 Rock – is the iconic Art Deco centerpiece of Rockefeller Plaza, a glorious, skyscraping work of art that, at a whopping 850 feet high, ranks as one of the Big Apple’s tallest buildings. It’s no wonder then that the uppermost floors (67, 69 and 70, to be precise) have been given over to observation decks collectively known as the Top of The Rock. We’re talking 360-degree views across the entire city to Long Island, New Jersey and even – on clear days – as far as Connecticut. And (spoiler alert!) if visually stunning 1930s Art Deco treasures are your bag, you’ll also enjoy uninterrupted close-up views of the Empire State Building from up here. Read on for our guide to the best times to visit the Top of The Rock.
Top of The Rock is open every single day of the year including holidays from 9AM to 11PM. Come rain, hail or shine, you can whiz heavenwards in the glass Sky Shuttle elevator, reaching the 70th floor in less than a minute. Guests can visit the observation decks for as long as they like during operating hours, but the latest entry to Top of The Rock is at 10:10PM. Check the Top of The Rock website for the latest opening hours before making your booking.
A Go City attraction pass gives you access to the Top of The Rock’s three observation decks with their uninterrupted views of the Big Apple. The 67th floor deck has a large indoor space plus north and south-facing outdoor terraces. Floor 69 has yet more outdoor space, but it’s the fully outdoor 70th floor, right on top of the building, from where you’ll enjoy the clearest views of NYC icons including Central Park, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building and the Hudson.
Best time to visit the Top Of The Rock
As with many of the Big Apple’s most popular attractions, the best times to visit Top of The Rock tend to be early in the morning or late in the evening if, that is, your primary objective is to beat the crowds. If, on the other hand, it’s heart-soaring sunsets you’re after (and quite frankly why wouldn’t it be?), you'll need to head to the Top of the Rock about an hour before dusk, and expect lines. 3PM–9PM tends to be the busiest time of day for precisely that reason.
Just after the 9AM opening is when you’ll get the most private experience, as the morning sun glints and gleams on the Empire State Building and across the skyscrapers of Midtown. Crowds also tail off after sunset meaning that beyond 9PM is the best time to see the city lights illuminating the Manhattan skyline. Beautiful though this time of day is, do note that unlit areas like Central Park will be visible only as large dark patches on the ground after nightfall.
Generally speaking, Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the quietest days. Holidays and weekends (especially Saturdays) are when Top of The Rock is at its most busy. Visit during the festive season to pair your visit with a pilgrimage to the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which is displayed on the plaza (but not visible from the Top of The Rock itself) from mid-November until early January.
Getting to the Top Of The Rock
There are oodles of ways to get to the Top of The Rock with ease. Most straightforward are the multiple subway services that call at the 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center station (B, D, F and M trains) as well as additional trains to 49th, 50th and 51st Street stops. Discounted parking is also available at Rockefeller Center SP+ garage which you’ll find at 25 West 48th Street.
Enter 30 Rock on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Pre-book tickets direct on the Top of The Rock website to avoid having to wait in potentially long lines at the box office on the day. There are a few different ticket options available, ranging from general admission to the three observation decks to a VIP skip-the-line experience that includes a guide and a peek into 30 Rock’s glitzy Rainbow Room restaurant, a favorite with New York’s rich and famous for nearly a century.
You can save money with a Go City Explorer or All-Inclusive pass for New York attractions, which includes entry to the Top of The Rock in addition to many more landmark attractions across the Big Apple. These include the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Where to eat
Dining options at the Rockefeller Center are plentiful and run the gamut from family favorites to fine dining. There are grab’n’go sandwich bars and those with a sweet tooth can get their fix from any number of bakeries, cookie stores and ice cream vendors. Check the Rockefeller Center website for the most up-to-date list of restaurants and to find out how to book. We love Le Rock for chic Art Deco style and French fine dining. Or choose Ace’s Pizza on the center’s rink level for Detroit and Sicilian-style slices to share with family and friends.
Want to beat the crowds? Visit as close as possible to opening time (9AM) or come after 9PM to experience the best of the glittering Manhattan skyline after dark. Book tickets online in advance to avoid having to wait in line at the box office and you’ll be speeding skyward in that lightning-fast glass elevator before you know it. Uninterrupted 360-degree views await on the 70th-floor open-air observation deck right at the top of the building.
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