Things to See and Do at Rockefeller Center

Everything you need to know about Rock Center

View looking up at the Rockefeller Center

 Kelsea Watkins / © TripSavvy

The popular sitcom "30 Rock" gave American audiences a satirical sneak peek as to what goes on inside just one of the massive structures that makes up Rockefeller Center. The address 30 Rockefeller Center is where the NBC studios are housed and where the comedy show "Saturday Night Live" is filmed. Besides the studios, the Rockefeller Center complex is a news media, publishing, and entertainment landmark. It features Radio City Music Hall, the original Time-Life Building, Today Show studios, the Simon & Shuster Building, the original McGraw-Hill Building, and the original RKO Pictures Building.

Today, it's one of New York City's most visited sites, especially during the winter when it becomes a holiday wonderland with its legendary tree and ice skating rink.

Steeped in Rich History

The Rockefeller Center complex was built during the Great Depression, providing much-needed work for New Yorkers. It was commissioned by the Rockefeller family on land formerly owned by Columbia University. Construction started in 1931, and the first buildings opened in 1933. The core of the complex was completed by 1939. The buildings' architecture reflects the art deco style popular at the time it was built. Rockefeller Center was revolutionary in incorporating artwork throughout both public and private spaces, adding parking garages, and having centralized heating systems.

  • 01 of 07
    Rockefeller Center subway
    Getty Images / Getty Images

    Rockefeller Center is a massive complex spanning the area between 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenue. To get there by subway, you can take the B, D, F, M to the 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop. You can also take the 1 train to the 50th Street stop, the 6 train to the 51st Street stop, or the N, Q, R to the 49th Street stop.

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    The Rainbow Room

     Rainbow Room

    Take a tour of all the marvelous sights to behold at Rockefeller Center. Also, you can plan a posh dinner at the Rainbow Room restaurant on the 65th floor of 30 Rock overlooking the promenade for a memorable snapshot. 

  • 03 of 07
    Lower Manhattan from Top of the Rock
    Created by Tomas Zrna / Getty Images

    Rockefeller Center is home to a number of well-known works of art including murals inside the buildings and the famous bronze Atlas sculpture located across from St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

    Also, consider a stop at the Top of the Rock observation deck for sweeping views of midtown Manhattan. 

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    People ice skating at Rockefeller Center

     Kelsea Watkins / © TripSavvy

    The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is one of New York City's most famous holiday attractions with a tree-lighting ceremony each year in early December. Also considered one of the most quintessential New York City experiences is going skating at the Rockefeller ice rink

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Radio City Music Hall,New York City
    Ozgur Donmaz / Getty Images

    You can learn intimate details about Rockefeller Center by taking a curated tour. There are several guided tours that give you a behind-the-scenes look at Rockefeller Center, including a Rockefeller Center tour, NBC Studios Tour, and the Radio City Music Hall's "Stage Door Tour."

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    Natalie Portman Visits 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
    Getty Images for NBC / Getty Images

    A free thing to do in Rockefeller Center is to be part of the studio audience at one of the shows that tape in Rockefeller Center, like "Saturday Night Live" or "The Tonight Show."

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    Atlas, St Patrick's Cathedral, New York City
    Getty Images/Domingo Leiva

    Rockefeller Center is conveniently located in midtown near many free attractions, including St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York Public Library, and Central Park. Keep a ​map of the neighborhood on hand to plot your visit to midtown Manhattan.