Top of the Rock Observation Deck, New York

Martyn White

Posted on April 01 2018

Top of the Rock observation deck for the best views of the Manhattan skyline, its iconic landmarks and beyond. 

The best way to truly appreciate the city of New York if from above, taking in the impressive views of the iconic skyline with its many landmarks. Manhattan is known for its many observation decks and for those visiting the city for a short time, it can be difficult and costly to pick the perfect vantage point to capture the city. Whilst many turn to the World Trade Centre and the Empire State Building in default, there is one observation deck that can boast uninterrupted views like no other. I visited the Rockefeller Center and its viewing gallery 'Top of the Rock' to find out more.

New York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery Empire State Building and World Trade CentreNew York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery at nightTop of the Rock New York skyline at night

To avoid confusion, it is best to use the entrance directly on West 50th Street, close to the NBC Studios signage. There are several destinations that advertise the observation deck, one of which is a souvenir store, the other is a secondary ticket booth. The entrance on West 50th allows you to purchase tickets for a specific time and make your way up to the first tier of the platform. For those familiar with the shape of the building, the skyscraper steps up in height, essentially creating five platforms for visitors to enjoy. 

New York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing GalleryNew York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery night viewNew York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery Citicorp Building Evening

If you are limited for time, I would advise skipping the first level and making your way straight to the second and third. The highest platform level's floor plan is the longest, providing the best views on both sides of the building. Views to the south look out towards the Empire State Building and Times Square, travelling down towards the southern tip of Manhattan where the World Trade Centre stands. On the north side, the deck looks out towards Central Park and Billionaire's Row, containing some of the most expensive and tallest residential skyscrapers in the city. 

New York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery Paramount BuildingNew York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing GalleryNew York Travel Blog Top Of The Rock Viewing Gallery Times Square New Years Ball

Twilight is an extremely popular time for all observation decks across the city so do visit earlier to book tickets to ensure availability if this is the desired time. Watching the sunset and seeing the character of Manhattan transform before your eyes is an incredible sight and one that you will never forget. Night time photography can be quite difficult to capture, especially with the perspex barriers erected on the decks that capture and reflect lighting. There are several gaps between the perspex sheets to angle cameras through but do check your cameras and phones for night time photography before you visit.

Expect queues at all times but even during the busy periods, the lines constantly move making time pass quickly. The Top of the Rock observation deck has to be one of my favourite viewing platforms in New York for its impressive views and large floor plates for visitors to walk around. The deck is almost entirely outside providing an incredible feeling of standing on top of the city without any constraints. Another bonus of its location is the opportunity to photograph the Empire State Building and World Trade Center from a height.

For further details, tickets and pricing, visit the official Top of the Rock website.


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