Top of the Rock in New York

When Is the Best Time

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City. Many visitors opt to visit here instead of the Empire State Building, as you can admire this building from the Top of the Rock.

We’re going to share everything you need to know about the best times to visit this fantastic attraction. We’ll also share some of our top tips for visiting to help you make the most of your time here.

Good to know: To avoid long waiting times, buy your ticket in advance online (you get a mobile voucher or you can print it. Very comfortable): NYC – Top of the Rock: Timed Entry Ticket

Best Time to Visit | Avoiding the Crowds

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

The best time of day to visit Top of the Rock is in the morning between 8 am and 11 am to avoid the crowds. The next best choice for low crowd levels is from 8 pm to closing time. These two times of day will offer you the shortest wait times and the best experience once you head up to the top of the building.

You will experience the longest wait times between 3 pm and 8 pm, where the attraction welcomes hundreds of guests to watch the sunset. As far as days of the week, Monday and Tuesday are usually the quietest times to visit. Weekends attract more local visitors and so are best avoided if you can.

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

Photography Time: For the best views and photography opportunities, visit for sunset. Head to the Top of the Rock thirty minutes before sunset to ensure you reach the observation floor in time. If you are a keen photographer, sunset from the Rockefeller Center can’t be missed. You’ll enjoy incredible views over New York, including the Empire State Building. When timed correctly, you can enjoy daytime, sunset, and night-time views in one visit.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the current pandemic, hours are shorter at the attraction currently, so you’ll want to bear this in mind when planning your visit. Expect visiting hours of 11 am to 7 pm for the foreseeable future, so visiting first thing at opening time is your best bet.

Queue Time

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

During peak visiting hours, expect to wait between 45 minutes and an hour to reach the top of the attraction. You will wait to buy tickets, for your entry time and for security and elevators.

The first way to minimize waiting times is to book your tickets ahead of time. The ticket line at the Top of the Rock is usually around ten minutes but can be much longer during the holiday season.

Buying Tickets: During busy times, if you buy your ticket on the day, you may have to wait forty-five minutes to an hour just for your ticket time to start. That’s why we highly recommend buying your ticket(s) online in advance:

 

Finally, everyone will experience a short waiting time upon entering the attraction. This is usually only about fifteen minutes and will include your security check and wait for the elevator.

Better at Night or Day

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

For the best views, it’s essential to visit Top of the Rock during the day. At night the prominent sight of Central Park will only be a dark patch.

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

However, the time between day and night gives you the best of both worlds. Visiting at dusk will allow you to see Central Park, the beautiful sunset, and then the city lit up at night. For keen photographers, this is one of the best times of day to visit. However, if it doesn’t fit in with your plans, choose to come early in the morning for low crowds and good lighting for photos.

Top of the Rock on a Rainy Day

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

On a day with heavy rain, it is best to avoid Top of the Rock if possible. Too much cloud or rain can reduce visibility and your chance of enjoying the city’s skyline.

If it’s just a light rain shower or a few clouds, the views will still be fantastic. During this type of weather, you’ll also experience lower crowds, which can make your visit much more pleasant.

However, during extreme weather conditions, parts of the experience may be closed. If this is the case, you will be warned about this upon entry and issued a ticket for another time.

Flexible Ticket: If the weather looks unreliable during your visit, purchase a flexible time and date ticket. These tickets are valid for up to two months so that you can time your visit around the best weather conditions.

What to Wear: As some of the deck is open-air, you’ll want to make sure you wear appropriate clothing during wet and cold weather. A light rain jacket is always a great addition to your travel backpack and will make your experience much more pleasant. If you opt to visit during rain or fog, have realistic expectations about the limited visibility and sights you will see.

How Much Time to Spend Here

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

The average visitor spends 45 to 60 minutes at the Top of the Rock. Adding on time in the queues, expect to spend up to two hours here. An hour will give you a good amount of time to admire the city’s views and take photographs.

During the busiest times, you might wait up to thirty minutes to reach the elevators. This means you need to allow a fair amount of time out of your day, especially if you are buying tickets here.

VIP Pass: General Admission and the VIP Access Pass both have no time limit. These tickets allow you to stay as long as you wish during opening hours. If you are looking to enjoy a long photography session over the city, it’s a great spot to visit.

By booking your tickets in advance online, you’ll also gain entry to the building even if tickets are sold out for the day.

3 Top Tips for Visiting Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock - Rockefeller Center

  1. You can enjoy taking hundreds of photos from the Top of the Rock, and the clear glass makes this a better option than the Empire State Building. However, tripods and professional video cameras are not allowed on the observation deck.
  2. For a unique addition to your visit, consider adding on a reservation for Bar SixtyFive. Located on the 65th Floor of the Rockefeller Center, it’s a fantastic location to admire the views with a cocktail in hand.
  3. Top of the Rock is included in some of the city’s sightseeing passes. These are worth considering if you are spending multiple days exploring the area’s top attractions. The NYC Explorer Pass and the New York Pass will both grant you free admission to Top of the Rock with your purchase.

Top of the Rock offers incredible views over New York City and shouldn’t be missed on any trip to New York. There’s plenty to see and do around the Rockefeller Center, so you should put aside a morning or evening of your trip to enjoy everything the area has to offer visitors.

If you still have time and like short road trips, we highly recommend a Maine vacation after your visit to NYC. It’s a 5-hour drive from New York City to Portland in Maine. From there you can visit many fascinating coastal towns.