Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock – The Best Location for Your Next NYC Tour

New York is the city of observatories. 

If you are looking to enjoy the New York City skyline, the chances are high that you are confused between them. 

Empire State Building Vs Top of the rock is a hard choice, and the answer depends on personal experience and preferences. 

Top of the rock bestows its visitors with the iconic skyline of NYC, which is incomplete without the Empire State Building. 

Empire State Building takes a step further by making the entire experience iconic and classy. 

If you have your heart set on enjoying NYC, find out by yourself if the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock offers the best experience.

Let us give you an insider insight about the differences between Empire State Building and Top of the Rock:


Even though they are in close proximity, The Empire State Building and Top of the Rock offer vastly different views.

In the heart of Manhattan lies the Empire State Building, while Rockefeller Center is further North, between Time Square and Central Park. 

A mile apart from each other, these skyscrapers are close to various prominent spots. 

Located in the happening parts of the cities, you might face long queues. 

Not if you book your tickets online.

Opening Hours

The Empire State Building is open from 8 am to 2 am daily, including holidays.

This provides visitors with ample opportunity to take in the stunning views at any time of day or night. 

This extended schedule means that visitors can enjoy the unique Empire State Building light show, which illuminates the building in various colors depending on the occasion.

In contrast, Top of the Rock has a slightly more limited schedule, with opening hours from 8 am to midnight. 

This shorter window may mean that some visitors miss the chance to see the city lights in all their glory.


Image: Pkujiahe / Getty images signature

The Empire State Building stands tall at 1,454 feet, making it one of the tallest buildings in the city, while Top of the Rock reaches a height of 850 feet. 

This means that you can see breathtaking views of Central Park from Top of the Rock.

On the other hand, the Empire State Building offers a more bird’s eye view of the city’s entire skyline.


One of the major differences between Empire State Building and Top of the Rock is their architecture.

The Empire State Building boasts a classic Art Deco design that has been an iconic symbol of the city since it was completed in 1931. 

With its soaring height, elegant curves, and intricate details, the building stands as a testament to the city’s engineering and architectural feats. 

In contrast, Top of the Rock offers a more modern, sleek design that blends seamlessly with its surroundings. 

Its open-air observation deck allows visitors to take in breathtaking views of the city while feeling connected to the surrounding environment.

The Empire State Building’s Art Deco style is unique in its timeless appeal, standing out as a true work of art that has captured the world’s attention for over 90 years. 

Top of the Rock’s modern design, conversely, is a nod to the city’s ever-evolving nature and its commitment to innovation and progress.


Besides observatories and spectacular views, the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock offer a lot to visitors. 

So, which one should you choose to visit, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock? 

The features of these classic creations will leave you spiraled in thoughts. 

Features of the Empire State Building

As you stride through the magnificent lobbies of the Art deco skyscraper, you will see the history of the Empire State Building unfold around you. 

History could get boring, but not at ESB! 

You will embark on a journey back in time to days of construction and the lively NYC on the opening day of the Empire State Building through an immersive cinematic experience.

From watching King Kong claim the ESB to setting up your NYC itinerary, there is a lot you can do in this colossal tower. 

Empire state building has the edge over the Top of the Rock because of its augmented reality experience, ‘The Scenes of New York.’

You can adore parts of NYC, be it the Grand Central Terminal, Coney Island, or even the Statue of Liberty and view them come alive through the classic binoculars. 

If you are still wondering how to make your trip to the Empire State Building worth it, you can find more things to do here.

Features of Top of the Rock

As you surpass the spiraling stairs, a dazzling Swarovski chandelier welcomes you into the Mezzanine exhibit. 

Before heading to the observation or decks, you will be in awe of the mini theatre, beam walk, and rainbow room. 

Want to enjoy ‘lunch atop a skyscraper’ in the old fashion? 

The interactive multimedia lets you witness the view of the construction workers back in 1933 as you recreate the scene on the replica beam. 

Observation Decks

Have you even been to New York if you have not visited the observatories?

The sight of the NYC skyline, peering down on buzzing people in the lane, yellow taxis and the aerial view of the city is why millions make their way to the observatory decks. 

Empire State Building and Top of the Rock are a few of the sought-after destinations. 

But where should you head for the best view: the Empire State Building or the Top of the rock?  

The Empire State building houses two massive observatory decks on the 86th and 102nd-floor

The main deck, built 1050 feet high in the air, is furnished with an outdoor observatory to savor the beauty of NYC.  

Even though the mesh fence might photobomb your clicks, with the view of the entire New York City in front of you, you “hardly notice.” 

The top deck on the 102nd floor is embellished with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and enables you to view upto 80 miles during clear weather. 

An upgrade from the main to the top deck could earn you an intimate viewing experience to cherish for a lifetime.  

Most people wonder if the view from the 102nd floor is any different than the 86th floor. It totally is!

The extra height of 61 meters gives you a deeper view into lower Manhattan and even across the vast city of New York.

Even though Top of the Rock is not as elevated as the Empire State Building, the view is incredible at 850 feet (260 meters) high!

Top of the Rock encompasses three observatory decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors.  

The open-air observatory on the 70th floor provides an uninterrupted view that will make you swoon.

Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock – Where do you get the best view?

Since the two attractions are a mile away from each other, the landscape of the view has a clear distinction. 

Further, down Manhattan, the Empire State Building showcases the charm of the skyline near the water. 

Usually, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Centre, and Times Square decorate the scene of the ESB’s view. 

On clear days the spectators enjoy views of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Delaware.

On the other side, Top of the Rock lets the tourist relish the beauty of all the iconic structures of New York, including the Empire State Building, East River, and Hudson River. 

Being one of the four open observatory decks, the Top of the Rock is closer to Central Park and offers greener scenery.

Expected Crowd

Crowds inevitably affect the overall experience of the visit.

Empire State Building welcomes around 4 million tourists annually, while the Top of the Rock sees only 2.5 million. 

The line at either the Empire State building or the Top of the rock starts extending after 10 AM. 

During summer, they expect more tourists than in other seasons. 

To skip long lines and wait, book your tickets online. 

Ticket Prices

Empire State Building tickets are comparatively pricier than Top of the Rock. 

Regular admission ticket to the Empire State Building is $48 for Adults, goes down to $46 for senior citizens and $41 for children of age 6 to 12.  

Infants up to the age of 5 years can visit for free.

Top of the rock charges $41 for adults, and the prices sink for senior citizens and children to $38 and $35 for regular admission. Free entry is available for kids up to 6 years of age. 

Flexible and fixed-time tickets are available for Top of the Rock. 
Standard, Express, Sunrise and AM/PM tickets  are various ticket options for visiting Empire State Building.

Featured Image: Charles Parker / Pexel, RockEfellerCenter.com

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