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Things to do at the Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock, in Rockefeller Center, is one of the must-see if you go to New York. It is one of the most popular viewpoints in the city, with privileged views of the Empire State Building and Central Park, among others. I'll tell you everything you can see on the tour, get your camera ready!

Cecilia Gaitán

Cecilia Gaitán

7 min read

Things to do at the Top of the Rock

Enjoying the view from the Top of the Rock | ©Lisha Riabinina

The Top of the Rock is for many, the favorite viewpoint in Manhattan. For its location in the center of the city, its wonderful views and its history.

It is located in the Comcast Building at number 30 of Rockefeller Center and has three observatories, located on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors, which offer different experiences. Touring it is very entertaining, since before reaching the top you will find other exhibitions, stores and cafes.

I'll tell you everything that this great work of the Rockefeller family has to offer, which since 1939, leaves all its visitors speechless.

First impressions on arrival at the Top of the Rock: the great Lobby and the ascent

The entrance to the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
The entrance to the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

After touring Rockefeller Center with its stores (and if you visit Rockefeller Center at Christmas time, its famous ice skating rink "The Rink"), you will arrive at 30 Rockefeller Plaza or Comcast Building.

There, on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, you will find the access to the Top of the Rock. Impossible not to recognize it, a large red carpet and an "Observation Deck" sign will indicate where to begin this well-deserved experience.

You will probably also recognize the entrance by the long lines of visitors waiting for access. I recommend that in order to avoid mishaps and speed up the tour, buy your tickets in advance, thus saving you an incalculable wait.

The Grand Atrium Lobby

As soon as you enter, you will begin to enjoy the Top of the Rock experience in the Grand Atrium Lobby. You'll enter a three-story, Art Deco-style lobby with an enormous golden staircase. And in the center, you'll see a fabulous Swarovski crystal chandelier called the "Joie Chandelier," designed by Michael Hammers for the 2005 reopening of the observation deck.

From there you will have to go down to the lower floor where you will find the ticket offices, the elevators and from where you will officially start your visit.

Lockers and elevator

On the lower level of the lobby you will find the ticket offices and elevators. If you already have timed tickets, because you bought them in advance through the internet, you only have to scan the QR code or present them printed and you can start the tour.
If you have untimed tickets or you have to buy them, you will have to go to the ticket office to buy your ticket.

Once you have your ticket in hand, you can go through the main staircase or elevators to the second floor.

Reserve your ticket to Top of the Rock

The Mezzanine Exhibit, first stop at Top of the Rock

The interior of Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
The interior of Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

The tour of the observatory begins on the second floor, "Mezzanine Exhibit". There you will be able to enjoy a modern multimedia exhibition about the building and the Rockefeller Center complex, its history, curiosities, as well as information about the prestigious founding family.

In the same exhibit, you will also find the "Beam Walk". This is a space dedicated to the mythical photo of the workers having lunch, sitting on a beam hanging in the heights, does it ring any bells? That photo was actually taken during the construction of Rockefeller Center in 1932 and you will have the chance to recreate it. You will be able to take a photo of yourself pretending to be suspended on a scaffolding hanging in the void. Please note, this photo is not included in the ticket price.

Finally, before ascending to the sky of Top of the Rock, you can make a last stop at the "Theatre" to watch a short documentary about NBC, the famous television network that houses its offices in the same building.

The Sky Shuttles, the 4 shuttles to the top of the Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock elevators| ©Hellotickets
The Top of the Rock elevators| ©Hellotickets

Finally, you're going to get to the moment of climbing to the top, to the very top of Top of the Rock. The elevators are another experience in itself. Why? Because in just 42 seconds they will transport you...more than 200 meters! Just as you read it, get ready to feel your stomach tingle.

The elevators pretend to be time capsules. Through its transparent roof and screens, you will see the acceleration from the bottom to the top, while images of the history of Rockefeller Center and its evolution over time divided by decades are projected.

And in less than a minute, without giving you time to imagine anything, you will reach the 67th floor, the doors will open and voila, you will see the Empire State Building.

Book your ticket to the Top of the Rock

What are the three Top of the Rock observation decks like?

The Top of the Rock observation decks| ©Hellotickets
The Top of the Rock observation decks| ©Hellotickets

One of the peculiarities of the Top of the Rock is that it has three observation decks, each offering different experiences. Originally, it was designed to simulate the shape of an ocean liner. It was even decorated to evoke the characteristics of the decks of a ship. Over time in its restoration and rejuvenation, contemporary forms and designs were combined with the Art Deco style of the 1930s.

First observation deck, 67th floor

When the doors of the meteoric elevators open, you will reach the 67th floor, the "Great Panoramic Room". This floor, where you will also find the gift store, is almost completely enclosed. However, its glass windows allow you to explore the skyline from north to south.

If you go in winter, it is an ideal space to stay a long time taking pictures and enjoying the panoramic views.

On the same floor, you can also have fun in the "Breezeway" room, full of moving LED lights and enjoy another work of Michael Hammers with Swarovski crystals, "Radiance Wall".

Once you've finished your warm-up for heights, you'll find the escalators that will take you to the next level - there's plenty of vertigo ahead!

Second observation deck, 69th floor

This observation deck is outdoors, so get your camera ready because the views just keep getting better and better. Although for safety it is surrounded by glass almost 3 meters high, you will be able to appreciate the city in 360 degrees. Two huge terraces await you there, offering views of Manhattan from the north to the south of the city. From Central Park and Harlem, to Midtown and the Financial District.

From this 69th floor, the panoramic views are breathtaking, so much so that on clear days, the visibility from the Top of the Rock can be up to 130 kilometers around.

Third and last observation deck, 70th floor

This last viewpoint is accessible both by elevator and stairs and is the star of the Top of the Rock, without any doubt. It is a terrace that is completely outdoors, has no glass or elements that hinder visibility (or photos).

And although it is smaller than the other floors, it allows us to move in 360 degrees perfectly, having access to unparalleled views of New York. From there all the skyscrapers seem small and time takes forever to observe the beauty of the skyline.

Fortunately there is no maximum stay time, so when you get to the top of the viewpoint, you will be able to stay as long as you want and it is necessary, to take the best memory of this experience.

Ceci's Traveller Tip

From the 70th floor, you can see the terraces on the 69th floor. So if you are accompanied, you can ask your companion to take a picture from the highest floor with the skyline in the background!

The views of Manhattan from Top of the Rock

The views from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
The views from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

The panoramic views of the Big Apple from this observation deck are unique. You can spend hours discovering places from the top and take New York postcards for the whole family.

I give you a preview of what you can see from the sky of Rockefeller Center, but these are just some of the attractions of the views from the Top of the Rock. The list is as endless as the skyline itself.

Views to the north

  • Central ParkCentralPark, almost in its entirety, disappearing into the skyline.
  • The Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Harlemneighborhoods
  • The Hudson River in the distance and the George Washington Bridge
  • Times Square and its brightly lit buildings
  • Along the river you will also see the new Hudson Yards neighborhood and the Edge observatory.

Views to the south:

  • The Empire State Building, in the foreground
  • In the distance, Downtown, One World Trade Center and another observation deck, the One World Observatory.
  • The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island

Reserve your ticket to the Top of the Rock

And if you still can't decide between Top of the Rock and Empire State

The view of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
The view of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

This is one of the eternal doubts a traveler faces when planning a trip to New York. If with everything you have read about the incredible experience that awaits you at the Top of the Rock, I invite you to check out this article with the comparison between climbing the Empire State or the Top of the Rock.

No one can decide for you, but this article might clear up some of your doubts. If not, you can always complete your New York experience by going up to both viewpoints!