Ride the Beam and Enjoy the Views at Top of the Rock Observation Deck

 The Beam offers an unobstructed look at the panorama of the city below.
The Beam offers an unobstructed look at the panorama of the city below.
5/9/24 - By Jody Mercier

Visiting the Top of the Rock observation deck is on many tourists' must-do lists, but even locals should put it on their bucket lists. Even if you feel like you've already been there, seen that view, now is a good time to revisit this classic NYC attraction, thanks to the addition of The Beam, a thrilling telescoping ride that lifts you 12-feet above the observation deck for an unobstructed look at the panorama of the city below.

While NYC has five observation decks, each presents its own unique experience and perspective, including Top of the Rock. Here's what you can expect during your visit to the observation deck, plus more things to do in the action-packed Rockefeller Center campus it calls home, whether you visit during the twinkling holiday season or at another time of year.


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Top of the Rock Observation Deck
The Top of the Rock observation deck offers amazing views of the city.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck Basics

The Top of the Rock is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and visitors enter on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The observation deck is also accessible from the concourse level. Regular hours are 8am to midnight, with the last elevator leaving at 11:10pm.

Like most major city attractions, you have to go through a security checkpoint upon entry. Once you've cleared that, you're on your way to an unforgettable experience. From the Swarovski Joie chandelier in the lobby to the displays of photos and artifacts chronicling the history of Rockefeller Center, and a ride on The Beam, inspired by the iconic photo of early 20th-century construction workers, there is plenty to see and do at the Top of the Rock observation deck. The main attraction is, undoubtedly, the unobstructed, panoramic view of NYC from indoor viewing areas on the 67th floor and open-air platforms on the 69th and 70th floors.

There is currently some construction happening at Top of the Rock NYC, though it didn't affect our access to the world-famous views!

Top of the Rock Tickets

Tickets start at $40 for adults and $34 for children ages 6 to 12; children ages 5 and under enter for FREE. Visit the ticket site to purchase general admission tickets or money-saving combo packages. Prices vary by the date and time of day; you'll pay more during peak times and hours, like sunset. But, once you're at the top, you are welcome to stay as long as you please. There is no time limit to your visit.

Specialty tickets at higher price points include everything from skip-the-line privileges to photo packages, a ride on The Beam, and even tickets to visit the Museum of Modern Art nearby.

For a true red carpet experience, book the VIP Pass, which includes a campus-wide tour with access to Rockefeller Center's rooftop gardens, and culminates in a trip to Top of the Rock, a ride on The Beam, and a full photo package. Family-friendly Rock Center Junior tours are offered on weekends and include a pair of tour guides so parents and kids each enjoy a curated experience.

Rockefeller Center VIP Junior Passes

Speaking of kids, Rockefeller Center is rolling out the red carpet for everyone 12 and under through the end of 2024! Purchases children's tickets to Top of the Rock observation deck, The Rink, or one of the Rockefeller Center tours, and kids receive a VIP Junior Pass that grants fun perks like a FREE ride on The Beam, giveaways at McNally Jackson Books and The Rink Shop, plus discounts to select retailers and restaurants. Keep that lanyard: Discounts can be redeemed multiple times.

The Beam and More Top of the Rock Extras

If you're not a Rockefeller Center VIP Junior pass holder, a ride on The Beam costs $25 per person, and currently includes a photo of the experience. There are some limits on who can ride: Children must be over 42 inches tall to ride with an adult or 52 inches to ride alone.

If you want a private ride, you'll need to book the VIP experience to avoid getting paired with another group. Up to seven people can ride at one time. You'll have to leave the selfie stick—and your other belongings—to the side. They're not allowed on the ride.

If you'd like to purchase a full photo package to remember your visit, including other professional shots at set-ups around the Top of the Rock observation deck, you'll pay an extra $35 for your group.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Top of the Rock observation deck offers a stunning view of the Empire State Building.

Top of the Rock: Best Times to Visit and Other Tips

Buy timed tickets in advance: Purchase your timed-entry tickets in advance, and you'll almost always go up right away. During peak times there may be delays, especially since there's no time limit once you get to the top. Some people hang around for a while. Miss your time slot? Don't worry, you can exchange your ticket for later in the day.

Bring your own camera: There are photo-ops everywhere you turn.

Bring your stroller: The Top of the Rock is very stroller-friendly. My toddler slept comfortably as we toured the place, both inside and out.

Look up, too: The elevator ride is awesome. A clear ceiling lets you watch a cool light show as you travel up and down.

Skip it if the weather is bad: There are two indoor viewing lounges on the 67th and 69th floors, but because the main highlight is the view, you won't get as much out of the trip on a less-than-ideal weather day. If the weather is bad, Top of the Rock will reissue your ticket for a later date or time

Don't expect to see the Christmas Tree: If you visit during the holidays, you won't be able to glimpse the famous Rockefeller Center tree from the Top of the Rock observation deck—so make sure to include a stop in your walk to or from 30 Rock!

Bundle up: Even on a warm-weather day, plan for a bit of a breeze at the top. We cut our visit short because we weren't well bundled.

Bring some quarters: If you want to use the viewfinders on the Top of the Rock observation deck, you'll need quarters to operate them. Alternatively, there is a change machine on the 67th Floor.

Potty emergency: There are restrooms on the 66th floor. Take the elevator from the 67th floor to access them.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Make a day of it at Rockefeller Center with a fabulous meal at 5 Acres.

Top of the Rock Restaurants

The Weather Room is an all-day cafe on the 67th floor of Top of the Rock observation deck. Enjoy light bites, plus coffee, hot chocolate, tea, sodas, mocktails, and more all alongside the breathtaking views.

When you're back down on the ground level, the dining options are ample. We have an entire post dedicated to the family-friendly Rockefeller Center restaurants.

On our most recent visit, we noshed on elevated American fare at 5 Acres on the concourse level. Its generous portions, reasonable prices, and the best french fries we've ever eaten have us craving a return trip!

For dessert, you can't go wrong with a visit to the classic Magnolia Cupcakes, or the newcomer Chip City Cookies!

Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Take the VIP tour and stroll the high-up hidden gardens at Rockefeller Center.

More Fun Things To Do at Rockefeller Center

There are tons of other things to do in the Rockefeller Center area. During the holidays, you can check out the tree, the Saks Fifth Avenue windows and light show just across the street, or ice-skating on the iconic rink.

The warmer season brings Summer at the Rink, and includes a season-long calendar of programming, with Pride Summer Movies and a public art installation. Al fresco dining options from NARO and Jupiter bring fresh flavors to the newly reimagined space.

Year-round you can tour NBC Studios, visit the Lego Store, American Girl NYC, FAO Schwarz, Nintendo NYC, and learn about New York's bravest at the FDNY Fire Zone.

The 12-acre campus is filled with tons of art and history, which you can see during a guided tour. A variety of options and price points are available depending on whether you want to experience Top of the Rock or not.

Looking to save money? If you're booking several top attractions in New York City and looking to save money, consider purchasing a Go City Explorer Pass, which includes discounted admission to One World Observatory, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Statue of Liberty, the American Museum of Natural History, and more.

This post originally published in December 2013. Kelly O. contributed additional reporting.

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Photos by the author

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