Review – Top of the Rock (New York, NY, USA)

Contributor: David Bernard

*Header photo was taken from top level of exterior observation deck, facing south*

When visiting New York City, people often ponder the idea of going to an observation deck. I mean, the city certainly has the skyline for it, without a doubt! Typically that gives three major choices within the Manhattan border (Brooklyn/Queens/New Jersey [facing Manhattan] is always an option too, but they are typically not the mainstream choices) and they are the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the brand new One World Trade Center Observatory.

Most people will go to the Empire State Building, given its famous history… and many more people have quickly begun to fill the just-opened observation deck at the top of the new One World Trade Center… but while both of these views are absolutely spectacular, there is still something missing. For visitors who choose to try out Rockefeller Center’s version, they get a little bit more than the other two. For this reason, it has always remained my first choice for an observation deck in New York City.

With the Top of the Rock, you actually get to see BOTH the Empire State Building and the One World Trade center, BOTH unobstructed! Given that both buildings are very iconic on the New York City skyline, it certainly adds to the experience when you get to look out and see both at the same time. Neither the Empire State Building, nor the One World Trade Center, can give you both buildings. In a bit of a weird way, since the Rockefeller Center building is not necessarily the most prominent part of the skyline, you don’t lose much when you take it out of the equation and ironically it makes for a more spectacular view.

Compared to the other two facilities, the prices are about the same. Therefore it really becomes a matter of personal preference as to which one you use. Below are the current prices for Top of the Rock as of January 2017:

Top of the Rock

General Admission

Children Under 6 are Admitted Free



Child (6–12)


Senior (62+)



From the top, there are three decks from which you can observe the skyline. The lower two decks even include an inside area with moderate views in case of cold/inclement weather. For those looking to venture to the very top of the building, look for the escalators on the second deck and follow them up. There is no inside area on the top deck, so be prepared for possible weather conditions.

I’ve had many friends and family try all the decks, and most of them seem to enjoy Top of the Rock the most. I myself have only done Top of the Rock, but that’s really just because I want to see the Empire State building mostly, and the One World Trade Center has just opened recently, with not really much time for a visit yet. I feel like I would still choose Rockefeller Center though, given the fact that I can see both of the famous buildings at the same time, but who knows… What do you think?

Have you experienced the Top of the Rock before? Comment and share your experiences below!


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