So you’ve got a trip planned to the Big Apple and you want to soak in those iconic views of the city skyline. But with two observation decks to choose from- Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building do you decide where to go? I am here to settle this competition unequivocally from my experience of a visit to New York. This guide will help you decide to choose between Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building for your New York observation experience.
When it comes to iconic New York City landmarks, the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building vie for the attention of tourists and locals alike. The Empire State Building, an architectural marvel, stands as a symbol of the city and offers breathtaking views from its observation deck. Its history and grandeur make it a timeless choice.
- Which One is the Best: Empire State Building vs. Top of the Rock
- Views and Observation Decks: Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building
- Location and Accessibility: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
- Observation Experience: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
- Visiting Details: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
Which One is the Best: Empire State Building vs. Top of the Rock
As per the overall experience and viewable distance Empire State Building has the advantage over Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) because ESB (102 floors) far taller than its counterpart Rockefeller Center (70 floors). ESB will allow you to see a better view of New York due to its height. Ticket for ESB observation platform is also cheaper than Top of the Rock.
Views and Observation Decks: Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building
When it comes to views and observation decks, Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building are two of NYC’s most popular attractions. But which reigns supreme?
Top of the Rock offers unobstructed 360° views since there are no surrounding skyscrapers. You’ll get panoramic vistas of Central Park, the Hudson and East Rivers, and the city skyline. The three observation decks also have glass walls and ceilings for unimpeded sightseeing.
The Empire State Building has an outdoor 86th-floor observatory with 360° views and a 102nd-floor observatory with additional restricted views. Nonetheless, some vantage focuses can be deterred by the building’s tower and encompassing high rises. The queues to access the observation decks can also be quite long, especially at peak times.
In terms of height, Top of the Rock is 850 feet high while the Empire State Building reaches 1,454 feet at its spire. But when it comes to views, height isn’t everything. Top of the Rock’s location in Rockefeller Center actually provides a perfect perch to get a great view of the Empire State Building itself along with the rest of the city skyline.
So if panoramic vistas and fewer crowds are a priority, Top of the Rock reigns supreme. But for its historic significance and bragging rights to ascending one of the world’s tallest buildings, the Empire State Building still can’t be beat. Either way, with two towering icons offering unique experiences, the views from both are absolutely breathtaking. Why not do both?
Location and Accessibility: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
Convenient Midtown Address
Top of the Rock is found right in midtown Manhattan, in the core of Rockefeller Center. You can arrive effectively by Subway, bus or taxi. The observatory entrance is only a short stroll from the Rockefeller Center subway station. With its prime location, Top of the Rock is a perfect stop on any NYC sightseeing itinerary.
In contrast, the Empire State Building is located further downtown in the Murray Hill neighbourhood. While still accessible by public transit, the journey may take 10-15 minutes longer. If you have limited time in the city, those extra minutes commuting can make a difference.
Skip the Crowds
Another perk of Top of the Rock’s location is smaller crowds. The Empire State Building attracts nearly 4 million visitors each year, and wait times to get to the top can stretch over 2 hours during peak season. Top of the Rock sees fewer than half the visitors, so you can usually zip through entrance and security in under 30 minutes.
No doubt, the Empire State Building is an architectural wonder and cultural icon. But when it comes to location and convenience, Top of the Rock has its beat. Take it from a local – if you want sweeping city views without wasting precious vacation time in long lines, head to Top of the Rock. You won’t regret it!
Observation Experience: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
The observation decks at the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building offer stunning 360-degree views of New York City. Both are popular attractions, but which reigns supreme? Here are some factors to consider when deciding which icon to visit.
Height and Views
At 850 feet high, Top of the Rock’s perception deck is lower than the Empire State Building’s observatory at 1,250 feet. In any case, Top of the Rock’s area in midtown Manhattan gives unhampered all-encompassing views that incorporate Focal Park, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Hudson River. The Empire State Building’s observatory gives views of midtown and downtown, yet the view of Central Park is darkened to encompass milestones. For photography enthusiasts, Top of the Rock’s open-air deck offers the best vantage points for capturing iconic NYC images.
Crowds and Waiting
The Empire State Building attracts over 4 million visitors annually, which often means waiting in long lines and dealing with crowded observatories. Top of the Rock receives fewer visitors, so the wait times and crowds are generally more manageable. If avoiding hordes of tourists is a priority, Top of the Rock may have an advantage. However, the Empire State Building’s observatories are open later into the evening, while Top of the Rock closes at midnight.
In the end, both Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building offer a truly memorable New York experience with panoramic views of this magnificent city. While the Empire State Building reigns supreme in terms of its historic stature, Top of the Rock holds its own and even exceeds in some regards like photography spots, shorter waits, and a perfect view of the Empire State Building itself. You really can’t go wrong with either attraction, so take in the views from both if time permits. The Big Apple awaits!
Visiting Details: Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building
When visiting either of New York City’s iconic observatories, it’s good to know the details on tickets, hours of operation and what to expect.
For Top of the Rock, buy your tickets in advance on their website to skip the ticket counter line. General admission tickets start around $40 for adults, $38 for seniors and $34 for kids ages 6 to 12. The Empire State Building has similar pricing on their website, with advance tickets starting at $37 for adults and $32 for children ages 6-12. Both offer additional VIP and express options if you want to avoid crowds.
Top of the Rock is open day to day from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The observatory at the Empire State Building is open day to day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. So either choice gives you a lot of opportunity to take in the views.
What to Expect
Once at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza or the Empire State Building, you’ll have unparalleled panoramic views of the city on all sides. At the Top of the Rock, the 70th-floor main observatory offers the best views. The Empire State Building has two levels, the 86th and 102nd floors, with the 86th floor being more popular. Both offer interactive touch screens to help you locate landmarks, as well as gift shops for souvenirs.
The biggest differences really come down to the views. At Top of the Rock you get a view that includes the Empire State Building, while at the Empire State Building, you get a view from the building itself that includes Top of the Rock. Some say the views from the Top of the Rock are a bit more panoramic. The Empire State Building does give you the historical significance of being in New York’s most iconic skyscraper.
In the end, you really can’t go wrong with either of these legendary New York observatories. Take in the sweeping views, learn some history, and create memories that will last well beyond your Big Apple visit!
So there you have it, two of New York’s most popular observatories combating it out for your important time and cash during your NYC visit. While the Empire State Building is an architectural symbol with astounding views, Top of the Rock offers an unrivaled display of Central Park that just can’t be bested. Other than these two landmarks, the New York City is home to various world famous spots like Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square etc you must visit once.