Top of the Rock (TOTR) is an outstanding observation deck ascending to 70 floors with fantastic 360-degree views of New York’s skyline.
In this article, we explain everything you must know before visiting Top of the Rock.
1. How to reach
2. Opening hours
3. Observation decks
4. Best time to visit
5. Waiting time
6. Tour duration
7. Ticket price
8. Buy tickets
9. TOTR ticket discount
10. What to see?
11. View from The Rock
12. Empire State vs TOTR
13. TOTR reviews
14. Rockefeller Center
Top of the Rock Address
Top of the Rock is at the heart of Manhattan at the 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY.
30 Rockefeller Plaza is a skyscraper which forms the center piece of Rockefeller Center.
Top of the Rock entrance
The main entrance to the building is on 50th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
You can’t miss the red carpet welcoming you at the main entrance.
On the Concourse level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, you can find the second entrance to the building.
How to reach Top of the Rock
The best way to reach Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is either by Metro or by bus.
Depending on your starting location, there are various routes to get to Top of the Rock, NYC.
You can choose to board the B, D, F, or M train and reach the 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop.
You can also reach the Rockefeller Center between Fifth and Sixth Avenues by boarding either the N, Q, or R train.
Reach the 49th Street Subway station and then walk East on 49th Street to reach your destination
If you are taking the 1 Train, get down at the 50th Street stop and walk East on 50th Street to Rockefeller Center.
If 6 Train works best for you, get to the 51st Street station and walk West on 50th Street to reach the Rockefeller Center.
From Fifth Avenue (going South) or Madison Avenue (going North)
Board the M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 bus and reach the 50th Street from where you can enter the Top of the Rock.
Buses run North and South on this route.
From 49th Street
You can board the M 50 bus from the 49th street and exit anywhere between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.
Buses run East and West in this route.
You can also take the M7 bus from Broadway.
Step down at 50th Street and reach Rockefeller Center by walking East.
Buses ply North and South. Jump to the tickets section
Top of the Rock hours
Top of the Rock is open all through the year.
Its timing is 8 am to 12 midnight.
The first elevator leaves for the observatories at 8 am, and the last elevator goes up at 11 pm.
TOTR holiday hours
Thanksgiving, Nov 28: 8 am to midnight
Christmas Eve, Dec 24: 8 am to 10 pm
Christmas Day, Dec 25: 8 am to midnight
New Year’s Eve, Dec 31: 8 am to 10 pm
New Year’s Day, Jan 1: 10 am to 12.30 am
Important: Since weather can affect your experience at Top of the Rock observatory by reducing visibility, it is always better to buy Flexible Time & Date tickets. It costs 3 USD more, but gives you complete control of when you want to visit.
Top of the Rock observation decks
At Top of the Rock, visitors can witness the glorious skyline of New York from the three observation decks on the 67th floor, 69th floor and the 70th floor.
These decks often get referred to as the Rockefeller Center Observation deck.
67th Floor Deck
To reach the 67th-floor deck, you have to ride the beautiful high-speed glass-ceiling elevator.
You can take in fantastic sights of the New York City through the indoor deck at the height of 250 meters (820 feet).
This observational deck also has a beautiful Radiance Wall made up of Gossamer glass panels illuminated with fibre optic lighting and crystal clusters.
The iconic Beam Walk is also on this floor.
69th Floor Deck
At 256 meters (840 feet), the 69th floor is 16 meters (20 feet) higher than the 67th floor.
This observational deck also has a protective glass for the safety of the visitors.
The indoor galleries are climate controlled and offer warmth during cold winter days.
It has a fun outdoor deck known as ‘Breezeway’ where you are assigned a colour which follows you through the entire floor.
70th Floor Deck
The 70th floor is the highest level at the Top of the Rock.
The high-speed state of the art elevator helps you reach the 70th floor in less than a minute.
The 70th floor is entirely outdoors offering an unobstructed view of the New York City skyline from every vantage point possible.
If you are a photographer, you will love this deck.
From this floor also you can see the iconic Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, the Statue of Liberty as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.
Not to mention, the stunning views of the East River and the Hudson River. Book your tickets now
Best time to visit Top of the Rock
If you are looking for a quiet time and want to avoid crowds, visit Top of the Rock between 8 am to 11 am.
If you can’t make it to TOTR in the morning, the next best time to visit is between 8 pm to 11 pm.
The hours between 3 pm and 8 pm, i.e. the sunset hours are quite busy with lots of visitors and even longer waiting lines.
It is best to keep track of the weather while planning a trip to the Top of the Rock.
However well you time it, if it is cloudy or rainy, you will miss the mesmerising New York skyline.
Tip: Because the TOTR experience is dependent on the weather, we have only recommended tickets with 24-hour cancellation policy. Check them out
TOTR at night or day?
The green Central Park is an integral part of the view from Top of the Rock.
However, when you visit TOTR at night, Central Park is just a dark patch.
If you want to see New York skyline all glittering at night, we suggest visiting just before sunset.
You can then witness the City skyline during the day time, see it change colours as the sun sets, and then watch in admiration as the lights come up one by one.
Waiting time at the Top of the Rock
There are three kinds of waiting times at the Top of the Rock NYC.
Queuing up to buy tickets
If you haven’t already bought Top of the Rock tickets online, you must line up at the ticket counter.
This wait is usually 10 minutes long.
Waiting for your time slot to arrive
Every Top of the Rock ticket has a time mentioned on it – yes, they are timed tickets.
When you buy the tickets online in advance, you select your preferred time slot and thus know when to reach Top of the Rock.
However, if you decide to buy same-day tickets at the venue, you may not always get the immediate next time slot.
For instance, if you reach Top of the Rock at 2 pm and manage to buy the tickets which allow you entry only at 2.45 pm, you must wait for 45 minutes for your turn to come.
These wait times are dependent on the crowd.
During peak season and peak times, this waiting for your time slot can even extend to an hour.
Waiting time inside Top of the Rock
Since the TOTR tickets have an ‘entry time’ mentioned on them, ticket holders who are on time don’t have to wait to enter Top of the Rock.
However, you are likely to experience waiting time inside the tourist attraction.
For example, while going through security, while taking the official photograph, lining up to see a short film on Rockefeller Center, taking the next elevator etc.
The good thing is, this waiting will only add up to 15 minutes or so.
Tip: You can’t do anything to reduce the waiting inside Top of the Rock. However, to eliminate waiting at the ticketing counter, and waiting for your time slot you must buy Top of the Rock tickets online.
How long does Top of the Rock take?
Tourists who have been to Top of the Rock say that 45 to 60 minutes is more than enough to enjoy the New York skyline.
However, the time you take to reach the observatories varies depending on the crowd at the attraction.
If you visit TOTR during the peak period, your tour duration will increase.
During non-peak hours you need 30 minutes to reach the observatories, making it at max a one and half hour tour.
However, during peak hours you will need approximately 60-90 minutes to reach the viewing platforms, making it a two and a half hour long experience.
Top of the Rock price
There are two kinds of tickets, for which you must know the prices.
By the end of the section, you will understand why.
General admission ticket prices
The general admission ticket prices for adults between 13 to 61 years of age is $ 36.
For the same ticket, senior citizens above 61 years of age pay a discounted price of $ 34 and children between 6 to 12 years of age pay $ 30.
Kids five years and below can enter for free.
Flexible time and date ticket prices
The flexible time and date tickets cost approximately $3 more than the general admission tickets.
The adult ticket costs $39.
The Top of the Rock tickets for Senior citizens’ and students aged 13 to 17 years costs the same – $37 per head.
The discounted entry fee for kids aged 6 to 12 years is $35.
Top of the Rock tickets
These are smartphone tickets.
That is, they get delivered to your email as soon as you make the purchase.
And on the day of your visit, you show them in your email, on your smartphone and walk in.
These ‘flexible time and date’ tickets give you the elbow room to plan your visit around suitable weather.
Top of the Rock flexible date and time tickets have a two month validity period.
The best part is, you can cancel this ticket 24 hours before your visit.
Adult ticket (13 to 61 years): $39
Senior ticket (62+ years): $37
Student ticket (13 to 17 years, with valid ID): $33
Child ticket (6 to 12 years): $33
Tip: Want to save up to 40% of ticket costs while holidaying in New York? Check out this combo ticket which includes access to TOTR.
Top of the Rock discounts
Besides the usual Top of the Rock ticket discount for senior citizens and kids below 18 years, there is only one other way to save money – buy a discount card.
Discount Cards offer two massive benefits –
– Upwards of 45% discount on ticket prices
– Ability to ‘skip the line’ at most tourist spots
If you are a first time traveller to New York and want to see a lot of tourist attractions, without spending a lot of money, we suggest you find out more about these cards.
We list them in order of their popularity –
NYC Explorer Pass
The New York Explorer Pass offers 50+ must-see attractions in the city, including Top of the Rock.
You get to select from 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 attractions, make a one-time payment and visit them all within 30 days. Find out more
New York Pass
The NYC Pass gets you access to more than 80 of the city’s tourist attractions including Top of the Rock.
You get to select from 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, or 7-day pass and visit as many attractions as you can till the card’s validity is over. Find out more
What to see at the Top of the Rock
Besides the amazing views of New York from the three observatories, there are six other must-see items at Top of the Rock.
1. Joie Chandelier
Joie Chandelier is a fabulous chandelier made up of 14,000 Swarovski crystals hanging in 450 gorgeous cascading strands.
Since it is right at the entrance, the chandelier is the very first thing that attracts visitors.
One of the most amazing things to see at the Top of the Rock is the Mezzanine exhibit stretching through a long corridor into an open exhibit area.
This area holds interesting artefacts and information about the Rockefeller Centre.
3. Beam Walk
This exhibit has the replica of the beam mentioned above where people can choose to sit and pose for a photo.
After you sit down on the beam for a photograph, do look down.
Thanks to technology, you can see what those construction workers would have seen back in 1933 when they sat down to have their lunch on the beam.
It is not compulsory to purchase the photo taken on the beam.
You reach this seat-less theatre after you cross the Mezzanine exhibit.
It shows a presentation on the history of the Rockefeller Centre and the NBC on a loop.
If the theatre is full, you must wait for 10 to 15 minutes since only a limited number of visitors can go through the elevators, which are beyond this theatre.
If it isn’t crowded, you have the option of walking straight up to the elevators or staying to watch the presentation.
5. Sky Shuttle
The Sky Shuttle is unlike any other elevator.
It takes you to the 67th floor in under a minute and along the way you are shown informative and historical pictures from the 1930s to the present.
6. Radiance Wall
Radiance Wall is a beautifully constructed area with glass blown panels, crystal clusters along with fibre-optic lighting.
If you look closely, you will be able to spot tiny animals and crystal figurines hidden within the wall.
This exhibit is on the 67th floor and makes the trip to the top much more interesting.
Top of the Rock view
The observation deck at Top of the Rock offers 360-degree views of the New York City skyline.
However the Rockefeller Centre’s views (yes, some do refer to TOTR’s decks as Rockefeller Centre’s observation decks!) are best on days when the weather is clear.
This is why you must always buy flexible date and time tickets.
The fantastic views you get to see from TOTR include the city’s most prominent landmarks such as the Chrysler Building, Bank of America Tower, Flatiron Building, Brooklyn Bridge etc.
You can even see the Empire State Building and One World Observatory – the other two observatories that Top of the Rock competes with.
For best TOTR views
To enjoy the day view, the sunset view and the glittering lit up view of New York city’s skyline, it is best to arrive just before sunset.
If you arrive early, you miss the night view – New York all lit up is amazing to watch.
If you arrive later you can’t see landmarks such as the Central Park and New York City’s waterways in the dark because they don’t have artificial lighting.
Note: Unlike Empire State Building, Top of the Rock doesn’t have crisscrossing wiring on the observation deck for visitor’s safety. Instead they use large glass panes as barriers, which makes the views even more appealing.
Empire State Building or Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building (ESB) is in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.
It stands tall at the height of 1,454 feet and is the fifth tallest building in New York.
Top of the Rock (TOTR) is located in Manhattan at Rockefeller Plaza and stands at the height of 850 feet.
TOTR is at the top of the Cathedral Hill while the ESB is at the bottom of the Murray Hill.
That is, in effect the height elevation of both the observatories is more or less the same.
The advantage of TOTR lies in the shorter waiting time to reach to the top as compared to Empire State Building.
While visiting ESB, you might have to wait for 1 hour plus even during non-peak times.
Another advantage Top of the Rock has over Empire State Building is its unobstructed view of the Central Park.
It helps that TOTR is closer to the Park.
Buy one discount Pass and save up to 40% on ticket costs during your New York holiday. Buy New York Explorer Pass
Top of the Rock reviews
Tourists have rated Top of the Rock very highly on Tripadvisor – 4.5 out of 5.
Here are two reviews we have handpicked, so you know if Top of the Rock is worth it.
I have been to the Empire State Building, but Top of the Rock was so beautiful! It was a quick ride up and had amazing views. It was SUPER cold so make sure you layer up if you go in the winter months. It was just a fun atmosphere and a bit cheaper than the Empire State Building. –AmberaK6016EJ, Athens, Georgia
Go a little before sunset and stay until it is dark. The views are great, and it is amazing to see how different the city looks at night versus day. We also enjoyed the beautiful hues of sunset. It can be very windy and cold on the outside viewing areas, so it is good to have a jacket or coat most of the year. There are inside sections too so you can stay in and still see good views. – MizzouLizard, State College, Pennsylvania
Things to do in Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Centre is a complex of buildings between 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
It is one of New York City’s most significant entertainment spots and is a city within a city, with its tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping, etc.
Besides Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Centre NYC has a lot of other exciting things to do for all age groups.
Here are our two favorite activities at Rockefeller Centre –
Rockefeller Centre Tour
Almost everybody who takes the Rockefeller Centre Tour rates it 5/5, such is the charm of this skyscraper.
The interactive tour takes you on a fantastic journey to understand the rich history of Rockefeller Centre.
Particular emphasis is on the history behind the art and architecture of Rockefeller Center. > Find out More
Official NBC Studios tour
If you ever wanted to know how your favorite TV shows get created, this tour is the best chance available.
This tour helps you get behind the scenes at NBC, America’s most iconic TV studios.
As part of the tour, you also get to see a lot of spots you must have seen on TV and films – for instance, the Central Park bridge featured in Home Alone 2, the fountain in Friends sitcom, etc. > Find out More
The other two must-see attractions at Rockefeller Centre are the Channel Gardens and The Rink.
Popular attractions in New York
# Empire State Building
# Statue of Liberty
# Metropolitan Museum of Art
# One World Observatory
# 9/11 Memorial and Museum
# Museum of Modern Art
# Intrepid Museum
# Guggenheim Museum
# BlueMan Group NYC
# Spirit of New York Dinner Cruise