Checking Out The Views From Top Of The Rock Observation Deck

** We first visited Top of The Rock in August 2014 and then again in June 2019. This post was updated in August 2019 to reflect accurate information. 

It’s incredible how places can change the between the first and second time that you visit. The first time we experienced the views from Top Of The Rock, the observation deck that offers you views 70 floors above the city we were speechless. It was one of the most incredible sights we had seen, with views across the whole island of Manhattan.

The second time we visited things had started to change a little bit. One of the most disappointing changes was the handful of very tall and very ugly black buildings that had started to be built right in front of Top Of The Rocks stunning views over Central Park. It was actually a little bit sad to see such a breathtaking view being ruined right in front of our eyes.

But new buildings are always going up, especially in cities as busy as New York City. These views won’t stay the same forever. And who knows, by the time we visit New York City next time, there might even be a better place to see views of the city from.

Nevertheless, Top Of The Rock is still an incredible spot to visit in the city. From here you can see some of the most iconic buildings and attractions in the city, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Central Park. Here’s everything you need to know for your visit to Top Of The Rock.

top of the rocktop of the rock

The above two images are from our first visit to Top of the Rock in 2014. All images below are from our recent visit in 2019.

About Top Of The Rock

Located in one of the most historic landmarks in the middle of Midtown in New York City, Top of the Rock can be found at the top of the iconic Rockefeller Centre. There are so many things to do at the Rockefeller Centre, it’s home to the world famous NYC Christmas Tree, ice-skating, radio shows, shopping centres, incredible dining and entertainment, and of course, the epic views over the city.

Right at the top of the building, on the 68th, 69th and 70th floors is where you will find Top Of The Rock.

There are three levels of observation decks to explore at Top Of The Rocks. The first deck on the 68th floor includes the Radiance Wall and a very large gift shop. The second floor is completely outdoors and is known as The Breezeway. The third level, on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Centre is a completely open-air roof deck, without the tall glass walls of the second level, making it the ultimate spot for photos over the city.

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top of the rock top of the rock

Tickets To Top Of The Rock

Top Of The Rock operates on a timed ticketing system. They only allow a certain number of people to visit the observation decks at any one time, which means less of the crazy crowds and a little more room to breath at the top. When purchasing your ticket you will need to select the date and time that works best for you. Immediate entry to the observation decks is not guaranteed and available times are likely to be limited.

It’s a good idea to book your ticket in advance to save time when you get there. You can purchase your tickets either online (recommended) or at the box office in the Rockefeller Centre. If you book quite far in advance you can always change your visiting time or upgrade your ticket to a different price later on.

General admission to Top Of The Rock costs $38 USD per adult, with discounts for children and seniors. Visiting during sunset will incur an addition $10 USD surcharge per person. Sunset viewing times are clearly labelled with a little sun on the website, so avoid these sessions if you want to avoid the extra charge.

Upgrades are also available with VIP Access and Rockefeller Centre Tours also on offer for an additional price.

Top of the Rock is open from 8am until 12:30am midnight, with only a few changes for holidays.

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top of the rock

Getting to Top of the Rock

You can catch the subway to the Rockefeller Centre from just about anywhere on the island of Manhattan. The closest subway stations to Top of the Rock are:

  • 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Centre Station
  • 5th Avenue & 53rd Street Station
  • 49th Street Station

The main entrance to Top of the Rock is located on 50th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Look for the big red carpet that markets the entrance to the observation deck on the south side of the street. Another entrance is also located on the Concourse level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

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empire state building from top of the rock

Despite the recent buildings going up around Top of the Rock, it’s still without a doubt one of the best views in the city. Even five years later, the experience is still significantly better than the observation decks at the Empire State Building, with the timed ticketing system making the whole experience a whole lot more pleasant.

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Emma is a travel writer, photographer and blogger, chasing the sun around Australia. Travelling in her recently renovated vintage Viscount caravan, along with her husband Thom and daughter Macey, she's sharing the very best experiences from around her beloved sunburnt country.

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  • Haseeb Ayaz April 23, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    When is the best time of the day to take personal portraits up the tower taking the ESB in the background, considering the sunrise/sunset effects on the lens? I don't want to get dark photos because of the sun coming in front of the image.Regards

    • Emma May 24, 2016 at 6:28 am

      Hi Haseeb, I think it really depends on what kind of setting you want for your images. There are 360 views from Top Of The Rock, which makes the possibilities endless! For example if you were looking for a picture with the sunset you could have the sun right behind you, or change to a different angle to avoid the sun all together. We were there right in the middle of the day so the shadows were a little bit harsher on our faces, to avoid this I would probably recommend late afternoon before the sun has really started setting to get the best lighting for a portrait. Good luck! 🙂

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