Top of the Rock (TOTR) is an outstanding observation deck ascending to 70 floors with fantastic 360-degree views of the expanding skyline of New York.
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. New York Passes
10. What to see?
11. Empire State vs TOTR
12. TOTR reviews
Top of the Rock Address
Top of the Rock is at the heart of Manhattan at the 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY.
The entrance to the building is on 50th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
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.
B D F M Trains: You can choose to board the B, D, F, or M train and reach the 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop.
N Q R Trains: 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 stop and then walk East on 49th Street to reach your destination
1 Train: Take the 1 Train and get down at the 50th Street stop.
Then, walk East on 50th Street to Rockefeller Center.
6 Train: Get to the 51st Street stop by taking the 6 Train and walk West from there 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 enter the Top of the Rock.
Buses run North and South in 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
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.
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 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 on this floor.
69th Floor Deck
The 69th floor is 20 feet higher than the 67th floor – at 840 feet.
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, one 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.
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 them.
Yes, they are timed tickets.
If you buy them online, you will 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 reached Top of the Rock at 2 pm and managed 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, such waits 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.
However, this waiting will only add up to 15 minutes or so.
Important: 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
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 $39.20, and the senior citizens’ ticket is $37.02
The discounted entry fee for kids aged 6 to 17 years is $32.66 (kids 13 to 17 years need to show a valid student ID).
Since severe weather can mess up your Top of the Rock experience, we think it is better to pay $3 extra per ticket and buy the Flexible Date ticket.
With the flexible date ticket, you will have the option of postponing your visit (for whatever reason) to another date.
Top of the Rock flexible date and time tickets have a two month validity period.
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.
As mentioned earlier these ‘flexible time and date’ tickets give you the elbow room to plan your visit around suitable weather.
The best part is, you can cancel this ticket 24 hours before your visit.
Adult ticket (13 to 61 years): $39.20
Senior ticket (62+ years): $37.02
Student ticket (13 to 17 years, with valid ID): $32.66
Child ticket (6 to 12 years): $32.66
Top of the Rock City Pass
There are two New York Passes, which allow free entry to Top of the Rock.
If you love visiting lots of city attractions during your holiday, we recommend you buy one of these discount passes.
They offer two massive benefits –
– Upwards of 45% discount on ticket prices
– Ability to ‘skip the line’ at most tourist spots
The New York City Explorer Pass
This New York Pass can help you choose a handful from the 80 tourist attractions in the city and visit them for free.
Besides Top of the Rock Observatory, some of the other prominent locations you can visit for free are Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Museum, MOMA, Intrepid Museum etc.
New York City Explorer Pass is valid for 30 days from the day of its activation.
You can choose 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 11 attractions to visit as per your appetite.
For instance, if you opt for three attractions the Explorer Pass will cost you:
For adults (13+ years): $89
For kids (3 to 12 years): $67
And for five attractions, it will be
For adults (13+ years): $129
For kids (3 to 12 years): $99
New York Pass
The New York Pass is also a favourite discount card among tourists visiting New York.
The only difference between the New York Explorer Pass and the New York Pass is that the latter is a day pass.
You buy the discount pass for a limited number of days (ranging from 1 to 10 days) and visit as many attractions as you can within the period.
Besides Top of the Rock, there are 100+ other tourist attractions which you can enter for free if you buy this Discount Pass.
The cost of New York Passes increases as you increase the number of days.
For instance, if you opt for three days option, the New York Pass will cost you:
For adults (13+ years): $199
For kids (<12 years): $159
And for five days, it will be
For adults (13+ years): $239
For kids (<12 years): $179
Note: We recommend you buy this pass only if you will be exploring the city for 3 or more days.
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.
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.
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
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