Top of the Rock in a Day

Top of the Rock in a Day

There’s nothing like getting a view of Manhattan from one of the tallest buildings in the city. Top of the Rock offers 360-degree views of Manhattan, Central Park, the Empire State Building–all from the vantage point that gets you pretty darn close to the heavens. Find out when to visit, how much time to budget, why you should skip, and how to get secret deals on tickets to Top of the Rock.

Why You Should Visit Top of the Rock

Icons NYC in a Day Iconic: Though not as famous as the Empire State Building, Top of the rock is one of the top viewing platforms in NYC.

  Photographic: You can snag stunning photos and selfies with places like Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Manhattan Island in the background.

Empire State Building NYC in a Day Architectural: Top of the Rock’s viewing platforms are at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, a mammoth structure built by famed architect Raymond Hood. Photos of its Art Deco interiors are included in art history and architectural textbooks world wide.

History NYC in a Day  Historic: Built during the Great Depression by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 30 Rock has seen New York City’s history transition from the age of radio to the age of television.

Kid Friendly NYC in a Day  Kid Friendly: Kids love the views from the Top of the Rock just a much as adults.

Artsy NYC in a Day  Artsy: The great murals in the lobby entitled Man at a Crossroads were painted by Jose Maria Sert. 

Foodie NYC in a Day  Foodie: The building’s famed restaurant The Rainbow Room has some of the most highly coveted tables in the city. They serve high-end new American fare.

Cinematic NYC in a Day  Cinematic: Plenty of movies and TV shows have filmed in 30 Rock and in Rockefeller Plaza, including 30 Rock, Elf, and Sleepless in Seattle. The Today Show and Saturday Night Live are also filmed in studios off Rockefeller Plaza.

Like a Local NYC in a Day Like a Local: Top of the Rock used to be a local fan favorite place to get above the city. Even though the viewing platform has become extremely touristy, locals still prefer it over the Empire State Building.


Cost NYC in a Day How Much Does Top of the Rock Cost?/Money Savers:

Tickets start at:

  • $37 for adults
  • $28 for kids

Hot Tip NYC in a DayHot Tip!: Instead of buying a ticket to Top of the Rock, head to the Rainbow Room’s bar. You’ll need to buy a drink (they cost around $25 each), but you’ll get nearly the same view as the ticketed platforms, fewer crowds, and a drink!


Time Commitment NYC in a Day How Much Time to Spend at Top of the Rock/Time Savers:

VIP tickets give you priority access, skip the line status, and access to a priority elevator.

Fly-By NYC in a Day Fly-By: 30 minutes

In-Depth NYC in a Day  In-Depth: 60 minutes


Need to Know NYC in a Day  Need to Know:

During peak seasons, you could end up waiting in line for up to an hour before boarding the elevator. Buy your tickets online with a timed entry, or buy the VIP passes to save time.


Why You Should Skip NYC in a Day  Why You Should Skip:

You really only need to visit one viewing platform in NYC. If you decide to go to the Empire State Building or the World Trade Center viewing platform, you can skip Top of the Rock.


When to Go NYC in a Day  When to Visit Top of the Rock:    

First thing in the morning or late at night to avoid long lines. Or, visit during an off-peak season.


How to Get to NYC in a Day  How to Get to Top of the Rock:

Walking NYC in a Day  Walking: Head up 5th Avenue to 49th Street. Rockefeller Center will be on your left. Enter 30 Rock, and follow the signs for Top of the Rock.

Subway NYC in a Day  Subway: Take the B, D, F, or M trains to Rockefeller Center.

Taxi NYC in a Day  Taxi/Car: Traffic can be horrendous in Midtown, but I recommend taking a taxi or Lyft car back to your hotel if visit late at night.

Bus NYC in a Day Bus: Though subway is often best, take the M50 crosstown bus to get to the east or west sides of the city to catch the appropriate train.


Alternate Ways to See Attractions NYC in a Day  Related Attractions/Other Ways to See: 

  • Head up to the Rainbow Room’s bar (see money savers above) to get nearly the same view for a fraction of the price.
  • Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop between May and October for great views of Central Park.
  • Visit the Empire State Building or One World Trade instead for views from a different angle.



Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.

Already know what you want to do? Find out the best ways to get to the attractions you love, find a place to stay, or discover New York City’s neighborhoods to round out your itinerary!

Want all the fun without all the work? Check out my New York City itineraries. Or, get a customized itinerary to save even more time.

Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!

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