Travel Guide

Observation deck at Top of the Rock in New York

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

Experience New York City from the iconic Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center, where unobstructed 360-degree views open up the city beneath you like never before.

The Top of the Rock in a Nutshell

The Top of the Rock offers unobstructed 360-degree views of New York City from its three observation decks.

Location: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, with the entrance on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues,

Tickets: It’s recommended to purchase tickets online  to skip the lines with options including general admission, sunset visits, and VIP experiences. Utilize tourist passes for additional savings.

Transportation: Accessible via subway with stations at 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Center or by buses M1, M2, M3, M4, M5 to 50th Street. Driving is not recommended, but parking is available at 25 West 48th Street.

Visiting Hours: Open daily from 8:00 AM to midnight, with the last entry at 11:10 PM.

Perched atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers a viewing experience like no other in New York City. Its three levels of indoor and outdoor decks provide spectacular panoramic views in every direction—the perfect vantage point for photography enthusiasts and sightseers alike. With each terrace facing a cardinal direction, no other viewpoint in the city offers such comprehensive scenic vistas. Whether you’re capturing the early morning calm, the sunset glow, or the twinkling night lights, every visit promises unique and stunning perspectives.

During your visit, don’t miss the chance to step into ‘The Beam’ and recreate the famous ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ photograph, an exciting new feature that brings history to life. Start your journey with interactive exhibits on the ground floor that narrate the rich history of the Rockefeller Center’s construction during the tumultuous 1930s. Then, whisk away to the top in under a minute in the Sky Shuttle, emerging to views framed by the Empire State Building to the south, the George Washington and Brooklyn Bridges to the east, and the vast Central Park to the north.

Top of the Rock sign
Top of the Rock’s vibrant entrance glistens with light, welcoming visitors to ascend to one of New York City’s most illustrious vantage points for unparalleled skyline views.

Your ascent brings you not just to the best views in New York City but also through a portal to the past, where the legacy of the Rockefeller Center’s development during the Great Depression unfolds in a narrative of architectural triumph and enduring cultural significance. From the depths of economic despair arose one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, offering panoramic views that stretch for miles in every direction today.

Brief History

Opened in 1933, the Top of the Rock was conceived as a grand viewing platform as part of the Rockefeller Center, which took nearly a decade to complete. Standing 850 feet above street level, this 70th-floor observatory provides not just higher, but broader views than its famed counterpart, the Empire State Building. Originally designed with the elegance of an ocean liner, complete with deck chairs and detailed furnishings, it offered visitors a luxurious escape above the city.

The original observation deck was closed in 1986, restricting access until its grand reopening in 2005 as ‘Top of the Rock.’ The renovation by Gabellini Sheppard Associates preserved its historical essence while introducing modern safety features, including the unobtrusive frameless safety glass that offers seamless views today. The deck now includes fully accessible indoor and outdoor terraces across three floors, each offering unique perspectives of New York City’s sprawling canvas.

View from Rockefeller Center 1936
Public Domain
A historical photograph taken from Rockefeller Center in 1936, showcasing Central Park flanked by the emerging skyline of a bygone New York, a testament to the city’s perpetual growth and transformation.

In 2023, Top of the Rock continued to innovate with ‘The Beam’ experience, allowing visitors to sit daringly on a beam extended 12 feet out from the 69th floor, reminiscent of the iconic 1932 photograph. Plans for a ‘skylift’ ride and new viewing platforms in 2024 promise to further enhance the visitor experience, cementing Top of the Rock’s status as a top New York City attraction.

Practical Information

Visiting Top of the Rock is more than just an opportunity to see New York from above, it’s a chance to experience the city from a unique vantage point that combines history, culture, and stunning architecture all in one place. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.

Location

Top of the Rock is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Enter through the dedicated entrance on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to start your ascent to one of the city’s highest peaks.

How to Get There

Ensuring a smooth trip to Top of the Rock involves planning your route ahead of time. Whether you’re arriving by subway, bus, or even a sightseeing bus, here’s how you can reach the Rockefeller Center.

For more information, you might want to check out our articles about New York City transportation or figuring out the best MetroCard for your needs.

Metro

  • B, D, F, M trains: Stop at 47-50 Sts-Rockefeller Center Station.
  • 1 train: Stop at the 50th Street station, then walk east towards Rockefeller Center.
  • 6 train: Stop at 51st Street, then head one block south to 50th Street.
  • N, Q, R trains: Stop at 49th Street, walk one block north to Rockefeller Center.

Bus

  • Fifth and Madison Avenues: M1, M2, M3, M4, or M5 to 50th Street.
  • Broadway: M7 to 50th Street, then walk east.
  • 49th and 50th Streets: M50 crosstown bus to between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Sightseeing Bus

Hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours are excellent for exploring Top of the Rock and other landmarks. These buses provide flexibility and convenience, dropping you close to the site with less hassle and more sightseeing opportunities along the way.

View more sightseeing bus options

Driving

Driving to Rockefeller Center is less recommended due to traffic; however, discounted parking is available at the nearby SP+ garage at 25 West 48th Street if necessary.

Tickets

To avoid lines and ensure entry, purchasing tickets online is recommended. Tickets include a timed entry, allowing you to plan your visit smoothly and skip the ticket lines.

Entrance with Tourist Passes

Access with tourist passes such as the New York Pass and CityPASS, which include Top of the Rock, offers a great value and flexibility for your NYC trip.

These passes allow flexible timing and include multiple attractions at a reduced rate, making them ideal for extensive explorers of the city.

New York CityPASS®

Enjoy up to 40% off admission to Top of the Rock, among other attractions. Visit them at your own pace over nine days, simplifying travel and saving money.

The New York Pass

Access over 100 attractions, including Top of the Rock. It’s perfect for those who want to see as much as possible, offering up to 50% savings on entry fees.

Opening Times

Top of the Rock is open daily from 8:00 AM to midnight, with the last entry at 11:10 PM.

Visiting times can vary, but early evening or late at night are typically less crowded and offer mesmerizing sunset or nighttime views.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to visit Top of the Rock is during the early evening to catch the sunset views over Manhattan.

Outside of holiday seasons, the attraction is less crowded, providing a more relaxed experience. Visitors typically spend 45 minutes to an hour at the observatory, though you are welcome to stay longer and soak in the city lights.

What to Expect at the Top of the Rock

Ascending to the Top of the Rock not only promises spectacular views but also an immersive experience in New York City’s heritage and architectural marvels. From the moment you step onto the Sky Shuttle, your journey through New York’s skyline begins.

Three Decks

Explore three expansive levels of observation decks, each offering unique sights and experiences:

  • 67th Floor: Features both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. The Radiance Wall and the Beam Walk offer interactive and historical insights into the Rockefeller Center’s construction and legacy.
  • 69th Floor: Known for the Breezeway, you’ll find colorfully interactive installations that make this deck a delight for families and individuals alike.
  • 70th Floor: The completely open-air roof deck offers unobstructed, 360-degree views of New York City’s most famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Central Park, and beyond.

The Beam

Experience ‘The Beam,’ a thrilling new addition that lets you sit on a beam 12 feet above the deck, mimicking the famous ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ photograph. This unique feature is a must-do for adventurous visitors looking to add an extra thrill to their visit.

Lunch atop a skyscraper
Public Domain
Relive a piece of New York City’s history at ‘The Beam’ experience at Top of the Rock, where visitors can recreate the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ moment, suspended high above the city streets.

The Weather Room

The Weather Room on the 67th floor offers a unique dining experience where you can enjoy artisanal sandwiches and local delicacies, all while surrounded by the cityscape through towering glass windows.

Top of the Rock Gift Shop

Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to pick up exclusive souvenirs, including made-in-America apparel and custom scents, to remember your visit by.

Skylift

Coming in Fall 2024, the Skylift will elevate your experience further, offering rides 30 feet above the deck for even more breathtaking views of Manhattan.

Other Things to Do at the Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center isn’t just about stunning views. It’s a vibrant hub of culture, shopping, and entertainment. Explore more through our dedicated article on Rockefeller Center, highlighting all you can enjoy during your visit:

The Channel Gardens

Between the British and French Buildings, these unique gardens offer a serene escape with beautifully themed floral displays and art installations year-round.

The Rink

Iconic for its winter ice skating, The Rink at Rockefeller Center offers a magical winter experience from October to April. Whether you’re skating or just watching, it’s a must-see during the holiday season.

NBC Studios

Take a guided tour of the NBC Studios, or be part of a live TV audience—an exciting way to peek behind the scenes of your favorite shows.

Bronze Atlas Statue

Standing across St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Atlas statue is a striking Art Deco monument and a popular photo spot for its dramatic portrayal of the ancient Titan.

Radio City Music Hall

Known as America’s Showplace, catch a performance or tour the art deco interiors of one of the most famous entertainment venues in the world.

Rockefeller Plaza

This bustling plaza is at the heart of Rockefeller Center, featuring seasonal displays, shopping, and dining options that offer something for everyone.

Christmas at Rockefeller Center

Experience the magic of the holidays at Rockefeller Center with the legendary Christmas tree lighting, ice skating beneath the golden Prometheus statue, and the spectacular Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes.

Rockefeller center in Xmas
The Rockefeller Center at Christmas, where the twinkling lights of the season meet New York’s urban magnificence, centered around the iconic, towering Christmas tree.

Tips for Visiting Top of the Rock

Plan your visit to Top of the Rock with these tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • While food and drinks are not allowed on the observation decks, you can enjoy a variety of dining options within Rockefeller Center such as Lodi, Del Frisco’s Grille, Bill’s Bar & Burger, Dough, Chip City, and FuKu
  • Make sure to explore the shopping opportunities at Rockefeller Center, featuring iconic stores like FAO Schwarz, Nintendo, Kate Spade, NBC Store, LEGO, Mulberry, Cole Haan, and Michael Kors
  • Download the Top of the Rock App to enhance your visit; it serves as both a skyline guide and an audio tour, enriching your experience
  • All visitors must pass through a security checkpoint; remember to pack light and avoid bringing prohibited items such as weapons or outside food and beverages
  • Check the weather before your visit as Top of the Rock is an open-air observatory and weather conditions can impact your experience
  • Be prepared for crowds, especially if visiting without a timed-entry ticket, as Top of the Rock is a popular destination in New York
  • The observation decks can be quite windy; dress accordingly and consider bringing a thick jacket to stay warm, especially during evening visits
  • Evening time slots are ideal for enjoying spectacular sunset views over the New York skyline, enhancing your photographic opportunities
  • Take advantage of various activities within Rockefeller Center, like ice skating at The Rink or dining at high-altitude restaurants for a full experience

Accessibility Details

Top of the Rock is committed to ensuring every guest can enjoy the spectacular views and facilities:

  • Wheelchair Access: All observation decks and facilities are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair users can access all areas without concern for mobility barriers.
  • Service Animals: Licensed service dogs are welcome across Top of the Rock and Rockefeller Center.
  • Strollers: Strollers are permitted on the observation decks; they must be collapsible and stored during your visit.
  • Assistive Devices: Visitors can request printed transcripts of multimedia content, and headsets are provided for tours, ensuring everyone can enjoy the history and stories of Rockefeller Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the 70th floor is entirely open-air, providing unobstructed views of the city.

Beyond the views, explore shops, dine at various restaurants, and join studio tours at NBC Studios or enjoy seasonal activities like the ice skating rink.

It’s an observation deck atop Rockefeller Center offering stunning 360-degree views of Manhattan.

It stands at 850 feet above street level, providing some of the most expansive views available.

Most visitors spend about an hour, but there’s no time limit to how long you can stay.

Yes, there are shopping and dining options, plus the nearby attractions of Rockefeller Center including Radio City Music Hall.

No, but guests under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

No, these are located at the lower plaza levels, which are not visible from the observation decks.

Where to Stay Near Rockefeller Center

Staying near Rockefeller Center puts you at the heart of New York City’s excitement.

Nearby hotels like The Jewel Hotel offer views of the plaza, especially beautiful during the holiday season when the area is festively decorated. Options such as the New York Hilton Midtown and the Lotte New York Palace provide luxurious accommodations with easy access to not only Rockefeller Center but also to other Midtown attractions.

More Observation Decks in New York City

New York City’s skyline is best experienced from its various observation decks. Each offers unique vistas and experiences:

  • Summit One Vanderbilt: Features glass-floor ledges and immersive installations for a dramatic view.
  • Empire State Building: Offers classic New York City views and a rich history.
  • One World Observatory: Provides an expansive look from the southern tip of Manhattan.
  • Edge: The highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere for those looking to add an adrenaline rush to their sightseeing.

Visiting these decks provides not just breathtaking views but also a panoramic experience of New York City’s vast landscape. Be sure to book your tickets with us for exclusive deals and an unbeatable experience at New York City’s top observation points.

View more observation decks

The Top of the Rock and Nearby Attractions

Perched high above the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan, Top of the Rock provides not only breathtaking views but also serves as a perfect starting point to explore many of New York City’s most iconic landmarks. Each nearby attraction offers its unique flair and history, contributing to the rich tapestry that makes New York a spectacular city to visit.

From the grandeur of the Rockefeller Center itself to the expansive greenery of Central Park, the vibrant lights of Times Square, and the soaring height of the Empire State Building, each site is a touchstone of the city’s architectural, cultural, and historical significance. Whether you’re shopping on the luxurious 5th Avenue, exploring the arts at MoMA, or stepping into the sacred serenity of St. Patrick's Cathedral, these attractions ensure your New York experience is as diverse as it is memorable.

Rockefeller Center

An epicenter of NYC’s hustle and bustle, Rockefeller Center is not just a place to view the city from above but a vibrant complex to explore below. Known for its massive Christmas tree lighting ceremony, outdoor ice skating rink in the winter, and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, it’s a focal point of New York’s cultural scene. The Center hosts NBC Studios, the prestigious Radio City Music Hall, and numerous shopping and dining options, making it a must-visit on any New York itinerary.

Central Park

Just a short walk from Top of the Rock, Central Park is an urban oasis that stretches over 843 acres. It is a haven for outdoor activities, including jogging, biking, carriage horse rides, and boating on the lake. The park is also home to the Central Park Zoo, several lakes, and the iconic Bethesda Terrace, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and recreation in the heart of the city.

Times Square

Known as the ‘Crossroads of the World,’ Times Square is famed for its overwhelming display of neon art and commerce. It’s a hub of entertainment and has a palpable energy that embodies the spirit of New York City. From the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop to the Broadway theaters surrounding it, Times Square offers endless entertainment and shopping opportunities.

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Empire State Building

An emblem of New York City, the Empire State Building stands as a testament to the city’s architectural achievement. Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan, visitors can enjoy views from the 86th and 102nd-floor observatories. The building’s Art Deco design and its central role in NYC’s skyline since 1931 attract millions of visitors each year.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

This Neo-Gothic masterpiece is a beacon of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue. St. Patrick’s Cathedral offers visitors a place of spiritual contemplation and spectacular architectural beauty. It stands opposite Rockefeller Center, providing a stark contrast to the modernist skyscrapers that surround it.

MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art, commonly referred to as MoMA, is one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. Located just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center, it features works from classics like Van Gogh and Picasso to contemporary art. MoMA’s exhibitions and installations offer insights into the evolution of artistic expressions and styles in the modern and contemporary art scene.

5th Avenue

Shopping on 5th Avenue is an experience unlike any other, offering everything from high-end boutiques to mainstream retail outlets. It’s a shopper’s paradise that runs down the east side of Central Park, passing by landmarks such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building, making it not just a shopping street but a cultural landmark of NYC.

Madame Tussauds

Located in the heart of Times Square, Madame Tussauds offers visitors a chance to come face-to-face with lifelike wax models of celebrities, historical figures, and more. This interactive wax museum combines entertainment with the artistry of wax figure creation.

Chrysler Building

A prime example of Art Deco architecture, the Chrysler Building stands out in NYC’s skyline with its gleaming terracotta facade and distinctive ornamental spire. While it’s not open for public tours, its lobby is accessible and features an art deco masterpiece designed by William Van Alen.

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On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Brief History
  3. Practical Information
  4. What to Expect at the Top of the Rock
  5. Other Things to Do at the Rockefeller Center
  6. Tips for Visiting Top of the Rock
  7. Accessibility Details
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Where to Stay Near Rockefeller Center
  10. More Observation Decks in New York City
  11. The Top of the Rock and Nearby Attractions