Top of the Rock – A Visit to Rockefeller Center – New York
The first stop on our ambitious 24 Hours in New York City trip took us to the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center. The Top of the Rock is highly rated on most of the travel websites that we use… even beating out the iconic Empire State Building observation deck on TripAdvisor. While the cost to get to the top is $34 if purchased separately, there are many discount passes that include admission to this historic landmark including: CityPASS, Smart Destinations, and the New York Pass. For this particular trip we used the New York Pass, however, we have used the other 2 companies on our other adventures and were very pleased with them.
We visited “The Rock” on a Saturday morning in May and the weather was absolutely beautiful. The entrance wasn’t difficult to find: it’s on 50th Street, right across from the Radio City Music Hall, and says quite plainly “Observation Deck” right above the doors. Inside you make your way through a beautiful lobby to get to the ticketing area. There is security screening prior to entering so be prepared to put your bags, keys, camera, and phone through the scanner. We found this to be a very smooth operation at this time of day as the crowds were light so we were to the elevator and on our way up to the top in no time.
Once at the top you find yourself in a lobby-type area which it seemed most people mistook for the observation deck. They were crowding the windows taking pictures when just a few steps away was the real attraction. Outside the doors you were immediately treated to a clean, unobstructed view of the city around you. There are multiple levels, each with a better view than the level before, ending finally at a small deck at the top of some stairs where (at the time) very few tourists had gathered.
We took dozens of photos of the surrounding city and pointed out the various stops we were going to make during the day. There was a gift shop at the top, however it was pretty small and crowded… we had noticed that there was another gift shop near the exit on the way out so we skipped over this one. In total we spent maybe a half hour on the observation deck… sure you could relax up there and take in the view for hours but when you have other things to do you need to keep moving.
On the way out we stopped in the gift shop which had a decent selection of souvenirs and picked up a little something to remember our stop. From there we must have made wrong turn because instead of an exit we found ourselves in a shopping mall. We wandered down a few hallways looking for a way out which we eventually found… on the opposite side of the building. This was actually convenient for us because it let us out right in the Prometheus statue which is something we wanted to check out while we were here. Also, as luck would have it, there was a special exhibit called the “Seated Ballerina” which was a 45 foot tall inflatable ballerina located just above the statue plaza. This was quite an amazing sight and the perfect ending to our Rockefeller Center visit.
Betsy – This was the perfect way to start the day. No crowds, great view and great company. It is a must see when you are in NYC.
Chris – There’s just something about city views that I absolutely love! Actually I know what that something is… the photos!! I love the kind of photo you can only get from high up in a major city. Yes, I love the view and exploring the city from up above …plus you can’t argue that it’s pretty romantic to take in the scenery with your significant other 🙂