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Insider's Guide to Visiting Top of the Rock

The Rockefeller Center, one of New York City’s most celebrated landmarks, was once considered an architectural marvel and a symbol of the city’s resilience in the face of The Great Depression. Today, this spectacular complex is more than just a historic building; it is home to 19-building complexes, roof-top gardens, shops, restaurants, entertainment, and the world-famous Top of The Rock Observatory!

Located 70-floors above the bustling streets of NYC, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck provides visitors with a sense of serenity and some of the best views the Big Apple has to offer. The Top of the Rock Observatory lures in close to three million visitors annually, and features a stunning 3-story Swarovski chandelier in its recently renovated lobby, the Beam Walk exhibit, an interactive light show, and three floors of sweeping panoramic views of the city. The observatory that is located on the 70th floor is a wrap-around open-air deck, not bordered by glass, makes it very easy to get the “perfect” shot -- a photographer’s delight!

Some advance planning and a few helpful tips will make your visit even more enjoyable!

  • Check the weather forecast in advance to prevent an undesirable sightseeing experience.
  • If you’re visiting in the summer months, go between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM to get shorter lines.
  • Visit during the winter months for much shorter lines. It may be a little chilly outside, but the views are still mesmerizing.
  • To avoid peak-hour crowds, visit after 9:00 PM. The last elevator ascends at 11:00 PM.
  • Enjoy both day and nighttime views by visiting in the late afternoon and staying into the evening.
  • Plan to visit on weekdays or when it isn’t a holiday to avoid big crowds.
  • Visit during mealtimes for a lighter crowd.
  • Dress appropriately, especially in the winter months. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen in the summer.
  • Outside food and beverage is not allowed.
  • The security check is similar to that of an airport; anything deemed dangerous will be confiscated. Cameras are allowed but not tripods.
  • If you’re on a tight schedule, opt for a VIP Access ticket for expedited entry and priority elevator access.
  • Download the free Top of the Rock app to get the lay of the land.

How to Get There

  • By Subway – the closest stop is the “47th-50th Streets Rockefeller Center” stop on the B, D, F or M trains. Take the 1 train to the 50th Street stop and walk east on 50th Street to Rockefeller Center between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Take the 6 train to the 51st Street stop and walk west on 50th Street to Rockefeller Center (between 5th and 6th Ave). Take the N, Q, or R train to the 49th Street stop and walk east on 49th Street to Rockefeller Center (between 5th and 6th Ave).
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft – Get off at 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Is there anything else to do in addition to the Observatory?

  • In the Grand Atrium Lobby, guests are greeted by the 3-story “Joie” chandelier, sparkling with 14,000 crystals! The chandelier is one of two stunning Swarovski masterpieces you’ll see on your Top of the Rock adventure. Insider Tip: look at the chandelier upside-down and you’ll notice that it’s in the shape of 30 Rock!
  • The Mezzanine Exhibit is where you will find informative facts about the Rockefeller Center, complete with photos and artifacts. Learn about John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the construction of the Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock.
  • The Beam Walk exhibit features the famous photograph “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” of construction workers, in the 1930s, perched high above eating lunch while working on this very building. Experience what the workers did by sitting on an interactive beam and smile for a tribute photo.
  • The interactive light show in the Breezeway room is a hit with both kids and adults alike! As you enter the room, a color gets assigned to you that follows your every step around the room.
  • The Radiance Wall, created by Swarovski, is a unique structure made from blown glass, glass panels, crystal clusters and fiber-optic lighting. Insider Tip: Try to find all the tiny animals and crystal figurines hidden away in the wall.
  • Photos make for great souvenirs, but there's more memorabilia to explore at the gift shops. Located at the top and also in the Concourse, these shops provide everything from “I Love NY” T-shirts to magnets to knickknacks and even books and totes.

More Tips to Make Your Day

  • The Rockefeller Center Tour – This interactive tour takes you on an incredible journey to discover the history behind one of the most iconic buildings of New York. Learn about John D. Rockefeller Jr’s vision from 80 years ago to what it has become today.
  • The Chanel Gardens – This garden is a much-needed oasis in an urban jungle. Stroll around the lush, themed, seasonal landscaped plant installations set around water pools with sculptures and fountains.
  • The Rink at Rockefeller Center - The Rink at the Rockefeller Center is a treat that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re partaking in a wintertime experience aka ice skating or simply taking in the electric energy of the crowd, the rink will leave you with fond memories to take back home.
  • Dining – All that exploring will make you very very hungry. Visit Rainbow Room for breathtaking views along with your meal. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar offers some of the finest sushi in the area. Or visit Brasserie Ruhlmann if you’re craving French cuisine.