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Best Time to Visit the Top of the Rock: Night or Day

Do you know the best time to climb the Top of the Rock? If you are new to skyscrapers, I tell you everything you need to know to visit the Rockefeller Center observation deck.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

8 min read

Best Time to Visit the Top of the Rock: Night or Day

Enjoying the view from the Top of the Rock | ©Maarten Van den Heuvel

The Top of the Rock is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Manhattan, but when is the best time to visit it? And to take cool pictures from the observatory? What is the best time of the year to go up?

Like any planned visit, the Top of the Rock also has its tricks. Before you get your tickets, take a look at the following post to find your best time to go up to the Rockefeller Center observation deck.

When is the best time to visit the Top of the Rock?

Top of the Rock at sunset| ©Johnell Pannell
Top of the Rock at sunset| ©Johnell Pannell

Sunset is the best time to visit Top of the Rock. It may seem a cliché that it is in all the skyscrapers of New York but in the case of the Rockefeller Center observation deck this is true to the letter! In fact, there is a surcharge of about 8 Euros on tickets to the Top of the Rock just to go and watch the sunset there. That's nothing!

So it's a super popular time for New Yorkers and visitors to drop by Midtown and close the day in a nice and special way with lots of souvenir photos in between. Keep in mind the opening hours of the Top of the Rock to schedule your climb.

Reserve your ticket to the Top of the Rock

And the best time for a more intimate experience at the Top of the Rock?

Inside the Top of the Rock| ©Pascale Amez
Inside the Top of the Rock| ©Pascale Amez

Going early in the morning, first thing in the morning, is another good time to visit the Top of the Rock. There is no doubt that watching the sunset from the top of Rockefeller Center is a magical feeling, but if you prefer to save that money and escape the crowds that can occasionally occur in that time slot my advice is to go up early in the morning.

However, late in the evening, before they close the observation deck around 10 PM is also a good time to enjoy a more intimate visit at the Top of the Rock with hardly any other visitors, especially on weekdays. For this you will have to wait to take the last elevator at 9:10 PM.

At these two times of the day you will have the observation deck almost exclusively to yourself and you will live an almost private experience, and that in a city like New York full of people everywhere is always a luxury!

3. Is it a good idea to go up if the weather is bad?

Under cover at Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
Under cover at Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

If you already have your tickets, even in bad weather it is worth the climb because the overall experience at Top of the Rock goes beyond the views, although, of course, most visitors come to the observation deck to enjoy the New York skyline and test their vertigo.

So if the day of your visit dawns cold or a bit cloudy with rain and moderate wind, you can always enjoy the views from the 67th floor of the observation deck, which is almost completely enclosed and sheltered, in case you don't feel like going up to the open-air observatories on the upper floors. From here you will also have incredible views of the city and take equally beautiful photos.

And if a bit of bad weather is not a problem for you, don't hesitate and go out to the open-air observation decks on the 69th and 70th floors because from the top of the observatory you will have the feeling of being on top of the world. A memorable experience!

Only in the hypothetical case of extreme weather conditions (such as snow, hail, strong wind and so on), the Top of the Rock could decide at its discretion to close certain areas of the observation deck to the public for safety reasons but visitors would be informed of this.

What other things to see at Top of the Rock in bad weather?

In addition, during the visit you will be able to see quite interesting exhibitions about Rockefeller Center, the observation deck and the Rockefeller family, as well as other curious spaces inside the skyscraper such as the Breezeway room or the Radiance Wall.

So do not worry if the weather is bad because you will not leave there with the feeling of having wasted your time.

Reserve your ticket to Top of the Rock

4. When is the best time to combine a visit to Top of the Rock with other tourist attractions?

A morning at Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
A morning at Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

The morning, no doubt. Top of the Rock is located in Midtown, in the heart of Manhattan, so it is surrounded by other popular tourist attractions that you can visit after going up first thing in the morning to the Rockefeller Center observation deck. This way you can plan a route around the area to see other sites of interest.

Popular places near the Top of the Rock

  • The 5th Avenue: one of the most important and emblematic streets of the city full of stores that you will want to enter to browse for a while.

  • Grand Central Terminal: A nineteenth-century architectural jewel of New York. You may have seen it in countless movies. Take the opportunity to have a drink at the "Oyster Bar", the oldest of its cafes, dating from 1913.

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral: It is the largest neo-Gothic Catholic temple in North America. It is in front of Rockefeller Center. Free admission.

  • Chrysler Building: An imposing Art Deco skyscraper where you can visit the lobby for free.

  • New York Public Library: You will be amazed by its majestic exterior guarded by the lions "Patience" and "Fortitude" as well as its spectacular reading rooms, which have also appeared in the movies.

5. What is the best time of day to visit Top of the Rock with children?

With children at Top of the Rock| ©Adrien Bruneau
With children at Top of the Rock| ©Adrien Bruneau

Every family is different, but in general, if you plan to go to Top of the Rock with children, the best time of day to visit is early in the morning because the kids are usually up early and wake up with lots of energy ready to make plans.

Normally, the visit to the Top of the Rock lasts between 45 and 60 minutes so the kids won't be too long and they will have a great time seeing the sights and in the gift store. Plus, they're sure to find it super exciting to ride the interactive Sky Shuttle elevator and ride up 200 meters in less than 60 seconds- they'll be amazed!

Also, if you go early to the Rockefeller Center observation deck, you will have the rest of the day to do other activities with them such as going to the famous FAO Schwarz toy store located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, taking a stroll through Central Park, going to a Broadway musical, visiting Dylan's Candy Baror taking a ride on the ferry.

And with older adults?

In this case, it will depend a bit on how old they are and whether the older ones have daytime or nighttime habits. That is, if they do not mind getting up early I recommend going with them early in the morning because it is when less crowds are formed at the Top of the Rock and they can move more freely and quietly through the facilities of the viewpoint.

On the other hand, if they are night owls who are more active as the day goes by, then I advise you to go in the late afternoon a little before closing time because there will also be fewer people and they can enjoy the views calmly and without crowds of other visitors. The important thing is that you don't get overwhelmed by the crowds, that you don't get exhausted and that you feel comfortable during the experience.

I want to climb to the top of the Top of the Rock.

6. And the best time of the year to climb Top of the Rock?

Christmas at Rockefeller Center| ©Unsplash
Christmas at Rockefeller Center| ©Unsplash

Top of the Rock is open every day and can be visited at any time, but since Christmas in New York is unique, this is the best time of the year to visit, hands down.

Especially for the moments before the climb to the observation deck as everything around Rockefeller Center is decorated with Christmas motifs and the atmosphere is perceived in the magic that gives off New York in the cinema during the holidays.

You can see the giant illuminated Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skating at Rockefeller Rink, the rink at Rockefeller Plaza, shopping on 5th Avenue, listening to Christmas carols ... and to top it off, climb to the Top of the Rock to see New York from a bird's eye view and skimming the clouds.

If you travel with your family to the Big Apple during this time of the year, I'm sure the kids will never forget Rockefeller Center and the climb to the Top of the Rock - for them it will be like going to the amusement park! There is so much to see and do, I recommend this guide to visit the Top of the Rock at Christmas so you don't miss anything.

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7. And the best time of the day to take pictures at the Top of the Rock?

Taking pictures from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
Taking pictures from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

Cameras love New York! True, but to get beautiful photos it is essential to have good light no matter how photogenic the "City of Skyscrapers" is. That's why morning is the best time of day to take advantage of the natural sunlight from the open-air observatories on the 69th and 70th floors of the Top of the Rock.

Also, since there are fewer people early in the day, it will be easier to unleash your creativity with your camera without any tourists in front of your lens, so you can take as many photos as you want!

Other moments to take pictures from the Top of the Rock

However, we can not overlook that another of the top times to take pictures at the Top of the Rock is the sunset. It is the time slot most desired by visitors to the Rockefeller Center observation deck due to the romantic atmosphere and the diverse palette of colors that can be captured with the camera of the sky and the beautiful cityscape that can be seen from there.

Climbing to the Top of the Rock at night is also another beautiful time to take pictures of the New York skyline if you are skilled at handling the lack of natural light and avoiding blurry photos. Seeing how the lights that adorn the city gradually illuminate after sunset is a fascinating spectacle and portraying that moment, the challenge of any photographer.

Anyway, do not worry too much because the important thing is to live the experience and as I said before, New York always comes out well in photos!

Isabel's Traveler Tip

Tag with the hashtag #topoftherock some photos of your experience at the Top of the Rock and upload them to social media so everyone can see them.