Visiting the Top of the Rock Observation Deck

What you should know when you're planning to head to the Top of the Rock

USA, New York City skyline
••• Michele Falzone / Getty Images

Facts about Top of the Rock:

  • Top of the Rock is a six-level observatory atop the Art Deco skyscraper, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
  • The upper decks are 850 feet above street level
  • Views include some of the city’s most prominent landmarks from the Chrysler Building to the Brooklyn Bridge and from Central Park to the Hudson and East Rivers
  • Observation deck was first opened to the public in 1933
  • Deck was originally designed to evoke the upper decks of a 1930s grand ocean liner, outfitted with deck chairs, goose-neck fixtures, and large air conditioning vents intended to look like the stacks on a ship’s deck

    Visiting the Top of the Rock Observation Deck:

    Originally opened to the public in 1933, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center was closed to the public in 1986. Restored and improved, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck reopened to the public in November 2005, offering 360 degree views of the New York City skyline, including fantastic views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, as well as the Hudson and East Rivers.

    The timed-ticket system eliminates the aggravation of long waits in line, and even allows you to time your visit to include the time of day that most appeals to you. Want to enjoy great views of Central Park and see New York City's waterways? Plan to visit during the day. Want to see the sunset? Buy your ticket for about 30 minutes before sunset. Want to experience the sparkle of New York City at night? Plan to come after dinner.

    The views are best when the day is clear -- I recommend going on the first clear day of your trip.

    You can book your tickets online with just 3 hours of notice (depending on availability), but you can also pick them up at the box office or at one of the kiosks selling tickets in Rockefeller Center.

    Dress for the weather -- the wind is stronger and it's always a bit chillier on the Observation Deck than it is at street level.

    If you get too cold, duck into one of the enclosed viewing areas to warm up.

    Personally, I think the experience at Top of the Rock beats out the Empire State Building Observatory. It's far less crowded, and the timed ticketing can save you a ton of time. In addition, the views of Central Park are fantastic and you can actually see the Empire State Building. While the Top of the Rock isn't as high as the Empire State Building, you feel closer to the other buildings from the Top of the Rock.

    Top of the Rock Pictures

    Tips for Visiting the Observation Deck:

    • During the day, you can get a great view of Central Park
    • During the evening, you can enjoy the glowing city lights, including a great view of the Empire State Building
    • If you arrive shortly before sunset, you can enjoy both the day and night views
    • The security guards can be very helpful in identifying landmarks if you're not sure what you're looking at
    • Be sure to climb up from the main deck to enjoy the view from a slightly higher and better pictures. Otherwise, you have to shoot through glass.
    • There are both indoor and outdoor viewing areas, which is great when it's cold out.

    Visiting With Kids:

    • Strollers are allowed.
    • Children under 6 are admitted free, with a paid parent or guardian

    Top of the Rock Observation Deck Basics:

    • Entrance: 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues
    • Phone: 212-698-2000 or 1-877-NYC-ROCK
    • Nearest Subways: B, D, F to Rockefeller Center/47-50th St. Station
    • Hours: 8 a.m. - midnight daily (last elevator goes up at 11 p.m.)
    • Official Website:

    Admission Prices:

    Tickets for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck are timed, which means that you won't find yourself waiting for hours to buy tickets or get up to the observation deck.

    • Adult (13-61) $32
    • Senior (62+) $30
    • Child (6-12) $26
    • They also offer "Sun & Stars Tickets" ($47/adults, $36/child) that can be used for admission twice in one day.
    • The Premier Pass is $5 extra per ticket and includes a digital keepsake photo and a printed viewfinder with notable buildings and NYC points of interest.

    Buy Your Tickets Online from Viator

    Combo Passes for Top of the Rock:

    Deciding Between Top of the Rock and Empire State Building: