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 recommend both attractions.

As we have visited Top of the Rock multiple times, 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 out of your visit.

Get flexible tickets to save time (buying the tickets in advance is strongly recommended):


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 when 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.

Accommodation Savings: Check the hotel deals in NYC. New York City Latest Price Deals Tip: Sort by star rating and price and bookmark your results!

Opening Hours (2022): The Top of the Rock opening hours are from 9 am to 11 pm, 365 days a year. The attraction is never closed, but opening hours can be different on public holidays. The last entry is at 10:10 pm.

Due to current operating hours, you can’t enter anymore at 8 am as suggested above. However, visiting first thing in the morning and being there before 9 pm is your best bet. The tickets are flexible (see below), so you don’t have to book a certain time slot.

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.

Reservation: NYC: Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket (Official Rockefeller Center Ticket via GetYourGuide with comfortable mobile or printed voucher!)

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. From our experience, 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 Top of the Rock 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.

Tip: Go to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum (Tips) and the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) in NYC. Both are must-visits!

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. This happened to us once only once on a day with very strong wind and heavy rain.

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. The official tickets we offer (see above) are flexible ones.

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.

NYC Travel Guide
Click the image to view it on Amazon

We tried a few New York City travel guides. Many are average and with outdated information, and some are not very helpful. The Lonely Planet Best of New York City Guide (via Amazon, affiliate link) is by far the best one and just brilliant. Quote from a reader: ‘This book is absolutely spot on with every detail you need to know about N.Y.C when visiting’.

Tip: If you have time and a (rental) car, we strongly recommend driving to the mesmerizing Watkins Glen State Park in New York. It’s the most intriguing state park we know!

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.

Hotel Deals in NYC and Hotel Tips 

Recommended nearby hotels (budget tips and deals):

Make sure to book well in advance. Another tip is to sort by lowest price (click on the deals above). There are often low-price deals available.

Is Visiting Top of The Rock Worth It?

Top of the Rock is worth visiting because it offers stunning 360-degree views of the NYC skyline from its observation decks. You can see Central Park, Lower Manhatten, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and other breathtaking skyscrapers from a completely different angle.

There are a total of three indoor and outdoor viewing decks, including the 70th-floor open-air roof deck. It’s an amazing experience, from the moment you enter the building to the elevator, and finally to one of the three outside levels.

Is It Free to Enter the Rockefeller Center?

Entering the Rockefeller Center and walking around on the ground level is free. It’s an iconic attraction and there are several shops and restaurants you can explore. However, visiting Top of the Rock inside the center (70th floor) is not free and tickets are required.

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 are worth it and will both save you money.

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.

3 More NYC Tours We Highly Recommend


10 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long can I stay on the observation decks?
    During the opening hours, there is no time limit on how long you can stay on the observation decks of Top of the Rock. The average visiting length is 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Are there restrooms?
    Yes, you can find restrooms in Top of the Rock on the mezzanine level before the elevator ride to the top and the 66th floor of the observation deck.
  3. Are there weather-dependent closures? Top of the Rock is open anytime, regardless of weather conditions. In the case of rough weather conditions, parts of the deck may be closed. This is for safety reasons of our visitors. You will be notified about visibility restrictions due to the weather prior to the entry.
  4. Should I buy tickets in advance? It’s not required to buy your ticket(s) in advance, but it’s highly recommended (see our tips about tickets and wait time above). The tickets are usually flexible without a specific date or time slot.
  5. Is Top of the Rock wheelchair accessible? Yes, Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock is accessible for wheelchairs. If you need assistance, please ask one of the Security Guards or personnel dressed in black.
  6. Can I bring my dog? No, dogs and other pets are not allowed in the Rockefeller Center / Top of the Rock. Only allows service animals are permitted.
  7. Are strollers allowed? Strollers are allowed in Top of the Rock. The only condition is, however, that they must be collapsible.
  8. Can I bring tripods or professional broadcasting cameras?  Tripods and professional broadcasting equipment are not permitted in Top of the Rock.  To schedule a professional film or photo shoot, please contact the media team on the official website.
  9. Can I bring food and beverages? You can bring water in a non-glass bottle if you like. However, bringing any type of food to the observation decks (Top of the Rock) is not allowed.
  10. Am I  allowed to use a drone while at the observation deck? No, bringing and operating drones at Top of the Rock Rick is strictly prohibited.


Top of the Rock Visitor Report

Top of the Rock’s main entrance is located on 50th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. Above the door is the sign “Observation Deck,” and there is also a red carpet in front of it.

Another entrance is through the Concourse, an underground shopping arcade that runs the length of the Rockefeller Center. Each entrance has a ticket counter where you can purchase your tickets. (Tip: Buy your tickets in advance)

Top of the Rock employees will also sell you tickets in the entrance area. Their red jackets will help you identify them. They will also direct you to the observation deck.

You must first pass through the security checkpoint in Top of the Rock’s foyer. This is similar to an airport security check, but you can keep your shoes on.

Just after that, you can view a small exhibition that contains interesting facts about John D. Rockefeller, the Rockefeller Center, and Top of the Rock.

A digital display with the current time is located above the door leading to the elevator. If this time is also on your ticket, you can enter the waiting room through the door.

There, you wait for the elevator to take you to the observation deck. Despite the fact that you’re climbing more than 850 feet (260 meters), the elevator ride takes less than a minute.




Save the 3 Best Activities