Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock

By Aadesh Mohan Srivastava

Are you planning a trip to New York City and trying to decide between the Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock? 

These two iconic skyscrapers offer incredible views of the city.

The Empire State Building is renowned worldwide. 

Its 86th-floor observatory provides a 360-degree view of the city, including landmarks like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Additionally, a museum on the 80th floor delves into the building’s history.

On the other hand, Top of the Rock, situated at Rockefeller Center, offers a unique perspective on the city. 

Spread across the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors, it provides stunning cityscape vistas, including the Empire State Building. 

The 70th floor is trendy for photography as it has an unobstructed view.

Choosing between these two attractions can be challenging. 

Here, we’ll help you decide which one suits your preferences, ensuring your visit to the city is unforgettable.

Visit both observatories

You’ll notice key differences when visiting the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock. 

The Empire State Building features an 80th-floor museum and an 86th-floor observatory for a classic city view. 

Top of the Rock, with its 67th, 69th, and 70th floors, blends a unique vantage point with great photography spots. 

While the Empire State Building showcases iconic city landmarks, Top of the Rock provides stunning perspectives, including the Empire State Building itself. 

Exploring both attractions allows you to experience New York City from various angles and lighting conditions.

Location 

The Empire State Building and Top of the Rock are in New York City.

The Empire State Building is at 20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, United States.

The Top of the Rock is at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112.

Enter on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Opening Hours

The Empire State Building opens from 10 am to 10 pm.

The Top of the Rock opens from 9 am to 12 am.

Observation Deck Opening HoursClosing Time
Empire State Building 10 am to 10 pm9 pm
Top of the Rock9 am to 12 am11.10 pm

Ticket Prices

Empire State Building offers adult admission tickets with a skip-the-like option for individuals aged 13 to 61 for $48.

The price decreases for youth aged 6 to 12 years, with tickets available for $43, and children up to 5 years of age can enter for free.

The Top of the Rock tickets are relatively cheaper than the Empire State Building ones. 

Regular admission for adults to Top of the Rock is $44, while senior citizens aged 65 to 99 can enter for $42. 

Children aged 6 to 12 have a ticket price of $37, and infants up to 5 years old can visit for free.

Empire State Building View vs Top of the Rock Height

Empire State Building View vs Top of the Rock Height
Photo by Chris Turgeon on Unsplash, Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

The Empire State Building stands in Midtown Manhattan, and it’s been a part of the city for a long time. 

The Empire State Building is tall, reaching up to 1,454 feet (443 meters). 

If you’re curious about the Empire State Building’s width, it’s 210 feet (64 meters) wide.

On the other hand, the Top of the Rock is slightly lower, at around 850 feet (259 meters). 

While the height difference is notable, both attractions offer spectacular vistas of New York City’s skyline from their respective altitudes.

Features 

Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Photo by Pedro Kümmel on Unsplash

The Empire State Building is an architectural marvel, soaring into the New York City skyline. 

What sets it apart are its classic features and historical significance.

The 80th-floor museum is a treasure trove of information about the building’s construction, giving you a glimpse into its rich history. 

It’s a great place to learn about the past.

On the 86th floor, you step out onto the famous observation deck. 

From there, you get a 360-degree view of the city. It’s like being on top of the world. 

You can spot famous places like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

The classic, unobstructed view makes it a must-visit.

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock, situated at Rockefeller Center, offers a different experience. 

The attraction is designed to focus on a unique view of the city.

Spread across the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors, it offers an alternative perspective of New York’s iconic skyline. 

You can spot famous landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building here. 

Each floor offers different angles to admire the city.

What’s unique about Top of the Rock is the 70th floor. 

It’s open-air, without glass barriers. Photographers, in particular, love this spot. 

It’s perfect for capturing the city in all its glory.

Exploring these features helps you understand why each attraction is unique. 

The Empire State Building offers a historical journey and a classic city view, while Top of the Rock provides a more contemporary perspective with many photo opportunities.

Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock – Where Do You Get the Best View

When it comes to getting the best view, you’ll wonder if the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock is the winner. Let’s break it down.

The Empire State Building offers a classic view of New York City. 

From its 86th-floor observatory, you get a complete 360-degree look at the city. 

It’s like being at the top of the world, with famous places like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge all in sight.

The view is clear and unobstructed. Also, it’s beautiful at night when the city sparkles with lights.

Top of the Rock, on the other hand, gives you a different view. It’s split across the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. 

You can see a lot of tall buildings like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. 

The 70th floor is unique because there’s no glass barrier, which is excellent for taking pictures. 

And don’t forget, the timing of your visit matters—sunsets and nights are pretty spectacular from here.

So, where do you get the best view? 

It depends on what you’re looking for. 

The Empire State Building offers that classic New York City skyline, while Top of the Rock gives you more of an up-close look at famous skyscrapers. 

Consider what you want to see and when you want to visit to decide which is best for you.

Final Verdict – Empire State Building or Top of the Rock

Crowd and Tickets

The Empire State Building tends to be busier due to its worldwide fame. 

Long lines are common, especially during peak hours. 

Tickets can be bought in advance, which can save you time. 

Top of the Rock, while still popular, often has shorter lines and may offer a more comfortable experience if you prefer to avoid crowds.

Fame and Recognition

The Empire State Building is an iconic symbol of New York City and a must-visit for many tourists. 

Its unmatched fame makes it an attractive choice for those seeking a classic NYC experience.

Top of the Rock, while known and appreciated, might be slightly less crowded, offering a different perspective of the city.

Comfort and Views

Comfort and Views
Photo by Kai Dörner on Unsplash

Both locations provide spectacular views, but the Empire State Building offers a more classic, unobstructed experience. 

The 86th-floor observatory provides an iconic 360-degree panorama. 

Top of the Rock offers stunning city angles, including that of the Empire State Building.

The 70th floor, with its open-air view, is perfect for photography.

The final verdict depends on your preferences. 

If you want the quintessential New York City experience and don’t mind the crowds, the Empire State Building is the choice. 

Top of the Rock could be the ideal selection for a slightly more comfortable visit with unique photographic opportunities and shorter lines. 

Consider your priorities, whether the classic view or the overall experience, to make the best decision for your visit to the Big Apple.

FAQs

Can I buy tickets in advance for these attractions?

Yes, the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock offer the option to purchase tickets in advance, saving you time and hassle on the day of your visit.

Is there a significant difference in ticket prices between these attractions?

The ticket prices for the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock are similar. However, checking their official websites for the most up-to-date pricing information and any special offers is essential.

Is the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock better for panoramic views of New York City?

Both offer fantastic views, but it depends on your preferences. The Empire State Building provides a classic cityscape view, while Top of the Rock gives you unique angles and an up-close look at iconic skyscrapers.

Which observatory is less crowded, Empire State Building or Top of the Rock?

Generally, Top of the Rock tends to be less crowded than the Empire State Building. It will be better if you prefer a more comfortable experience with shorter lines.

Which observatory is better for photography?

Top of the Rock is known for offering superb photography opportunities, especially on the 70th floor, where no glass barriers obstruct your view.

Do any of these attractions have interactive exhibits or museums?

The Empire State Building has a museum on its 80th floor, providing historical insights. The One World Observatory has interactive exhibits, while Top of the Rock offers an interactive exhibition about the Rockefeller Center’s history.

Are there any additional attractions or things to do near these observatories?

Yes, both the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock are situated in areas with various entertainment, dining, and shopping options. Rockefeller Center, where Top of the Rock is located, is particularly rich in such offerings.

Which observatory provides the best view of the city at sunset or nighttime?

The Empire State Building and Top of the Rock offer stunning views during sunset and night. It depends on your preference for classic or modern cityscapes.

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Featured Image: Teemu Paananen on Unsplash, Josh Connor on Unsplash

About the author

Aadesh Mohan Srivastava, A Prober by passion and writer by profession. On an expedition unknown to find the purpose of life.