Top of the Rock is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Manhattan, but when is the best time to see it and take great photos from the observatory? What is the best time of year to go up?
Like any planned visit, entry to the Top of the Rock observation deck also has its tricks. Before you get your tickets, take a look at the following post to find the best time to go up to the observation deck at Rockefeller Center.
When is the best time to visit the Top of the Rock?
Sunset is the best time to visit the Top of the Rock. It may sound like a cliché, but in the case of the Rockefeller Center observation deck this is true! In fact, there is a surcharge of about 8 euros on tickets to the Top of the Rock just to watch the sunset there. That's nothing!
So it's a popular time for New Yorkers and visitors alike to drop by Midtown and end the day in a beautiful and special way with a bunch of souvenir photos in between. Please note the opening hours of the Top of the Rock to schedule your climb.
When is the best time for a more intimate experience at the Top of the Rock?
Going early in the morning, first thing in the morning, is another good time to climb the Top of the Rock. There is no doubt that watching the sunset from the top of Rockefeller Center is a magical feeling, but if you prefer to save that money and escape the crowds that can occasionally occur in that time slot my advice is to go up early in the morning.
However, late in the evening, before they close the observation deck around 10 PM is also a good time to enjoy a more intimate visit at the Top of the Rock with hardly any other visitors, especially on weekdays. For this you will have to wait to catch the last lift at 9:10 PM.
At these two times of the day you will have the observation deck almost exclusively to yourself and you will have an almost private experience, and that in a city like New York full of people everywhere is always a luxury!
Is it a good idea to go up if the weather is bad?
If you buy your Top of the Rock tickets in advance, even if the weather is bad it is worth going up because the overall experience at the Top of the Rock goes beyond the views, although naturally most visitors come to the observation deck to enjoy the New York skyline and test their vertigo.
If the day of your visit is cold or a bit cloudy with rain and moderate wind, you have several options:
- Enjoy the views from the 67th floor of the observation deck, which is almost completely enclosed and sheltered. From here you will also have incredible views of the city and take equally beautiful photos.
- Climb up to the uncovered observation decks on the 69th and 70th floors, because from the top of the observatory you will have the feeling of being on top of the world - a memorable experience!
- In addition, during your visit you will be able to see interesting exhibitions about Rockefeller Center, the observation deck and the Rockefeller family.
- You can also enjoy other curious spaces inside the skyscraper such as the Breezeway Room or the Radiance Wall.
In the unlikely event of extreme weather conditions (e.g. snow, hail, high winds, etc.), Top of the Rock may decide at its discretion to close certain areas of the observation deck to the public for safety reasons, but visitors will be informed of this.
When is the best time to combine a visit to Top of the Rock with other attractions?
The morning, without a doubt. Top of the Rock is located in Midtown, right in the heart of Manhattan, so it's surrounded by other popular tourist attractions that you can visit after going up to the Rockefeller Center observation deck first thing in the morning. This way you can plan a route around the area and see other places of interest.
Popular places near the Top of the Rock
- 5th Avenue: one of the most important and emblematic streets in the city, full of shops that you will want to go in and browse for a while.
- Grand Central Terminal: New York's nineteenth-century architectural gem. You've seen it in countless films. Take the opportunity to have a drink in the "Oyster Bar", the oldest of its cafés, which dates back to 1913.
- :::link|text=St. Patrick's Cathedral|element=pa-4690: is the largest neo-Gothic Catholic church in North America. It is opposite Rockefeller Center. Free admission.
- Chrysler Building: An imposing Art Deco skyscraper where you can visit the lobby for free.
- New York Public Library: you will be amazed by its majestic exterior guarded by the lions "Patience" and "Fortitude" as well as its spectacular reading rooms, which have also appeared in films.
When is the best time of day to visit the Top of the Rock with children?
Every family is different but, in general, if you plan to visit the Top of the Rock with children, the best time of day to visit the Top of the Rock is early in the morning because the kids are usually up early and wake up with lots of energy ready to make plans.
A visit to the Top of the Rock usually lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, so kids won't find it too long and will have a great time seeing the sights and browsing the gift shop. Plus, they'll be thrilled to ride the interactive Sky Shuttle lift and go up 200 metres in less than 60 seconds. They'll be amazed!
Also, if you go to the Rockefeller Center observation deck early, you'll have the rest of the day to do other activities with them, such as:
- Go to the famous FAO Schwarz toy store, located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
- Take a stroll through Central Park.
- Go to a Broadway musical.
- Visit Dylan's Candy Bar.
- Take a ride onthe ferry.
What about older adults?
In this case, it will depend a bit on how old they are and whether the older ones have daytime or night-time habits. In other words, if they don't mind getting up early, I recommend going with them early in the morning because that is when there are fewer crowds at Top of the Rock and they can move more freely and calmly around the viewing platform.
However, if they are night owls who are more active as the day goes on, then I recommend going in the late afternoon, a little before closing time, as there will also be fewer people and they can enjoy the views calmly and without the crowds of other visitors. The important thing is that you don't get overwhelmed by the crowds, that you don't get exhausted and that you feel comfortable during the experience.
What about the best time of year to climb Top of the Rock?
Top of the Rock is open every day and can be visited at any time but as Christmas in New York is unique, this is the best time of the year to visit, without any doubt.
Especially in the moments before you go up to the observation deck, as everything around Rockefeller Center is decorated with Christmas motifs and you can feel the magic that New York gives off in the cinema during the festive season.
- You'll see Rockefeller Center's gigantic illuminated Christmas tree.
- You can ice skate at Rockefeller Rink in Rockefeller Plaza.
- If you feel like it, you can go shopping on 5th Avenue.
- Listen to Christmas carols...
And to top it all off, you'll climb to the Top of the Rock for a bird's eye view of New York and a glimpse of the clouds. There's so much to see and do, I recommend this guide to visit the Top of the Rock at Christmas so you don't miss anything. Of course, I recommend you buy your tickets online in advance so that once you're there you can spend your time doing what really matters - enjoying yourself!
And the best time of the day to take pictures at the Top of the Rock?
Cameras love New York! True, but good light is essential for beautiful photos, no matter how photogenic the "City of Skyscrapers" is. That's why the morning is the best time of day to take advantage of the natural sunlight from the open-air observatories on the 69th and 70th floors of the Top of the Rock.
Also, since there are fewer people early in the day, it's easier to let your creativity run wild with your camera without any tourists in front of your lens. You can take all the photos you want in peace and quiet!
Other moments to take photos from the Top of the Rock
However, we can't forget that another of the top times to take photos at the Top of the Rock is at sunset. This is the most popular time of day for visitors to the Rockefeller Center observation deck because of the romantic atmosphere and the diverse palette of colours that can be captured with the camera of the sky and the beautiful cityscape from there.
Climbing to the Top of the Rock at night is also a great time to take pictures of the New York skyline if you are skilled at handling the lack of natural light and avoiding blurry photos. Watching the lights that adorn the city slowly illuminate after sunset is a fascinating spectacle and capturing the moment is a challenge for any photographer.
Anyway, don't worry too much because the important thing is to live the experience and as I said before, New York always comes out well in photos!
Isabel's Traveler Tip
Tag with the hashtag #topoftherock some photos of your experience at the Top of the Rock and upload them to social networks so everyone can see them.