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When to visit the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock?

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

If you’re traveling to New York, I assume you are looking forward to visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. Do you know when it's better to visit both observatories?
I’m giving you options visit them in the best possible way:
- Discover the best of New York
- Discover both sides of New York: day and night
- Avoid long lines
- Take the time to snap great pictures

The best tips to enjoy a great visit

In my opinion, the best is to:
- Visit the Top of the Rock in the morning
- Enjoy the Empire State Building at night time

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

Why is it better to visit the Top of the Rock during the day?

The Top of the Rock, which belongs to the Rockefeller Center complex is the highest building in the vicinity and the closest one to Central Park. It’s located 9 blocks away from Central park, while the Empire State Building is 25 blocks away.

You may know that during the night, there's no lighting at Central Park, and you won't have a nice view after daylight. Then, it’s better to see Central Park from the Top of the Rock.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

It’s more interesting to see Central Park during the day, so go visit Central Park during daytime!!!

Hence, the view over the Empire State during the day is truly magical.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

In addition, I strongly advise to visit the Top of the Rock in the morning since it opens at 8 am and at this time of day, there’s no waiting line. All the tourists are still sleeping or at the Empire State Building!
So try to get there between 8 and 9 am to avoid long waiting lines. You’ll be able to jump in the elevator straight to the top of NY.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

You can go to the Top of the Rock around 8:30 – 9 am, then head to the MoMA for the opening, followed by some shopping on Times Square or 5th avenue!!! And voila, that’s a busy morning for you !!:)

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

Why is it better to visit the Empire State Building at night?

After wandering the streets of NYC during the day, you might as well visit the Big Apple during night time.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

I advise you to go there starting 10:30 – 11 pm, to avoid waiting in line for 2 hours. In addition, it won't be too much crowded up there, and you will enjoy a great visit from the 4 corners of the platform snaping some amazing pictures.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

The ESB at night, is a perfect place for lovers! What kind of woman will say "no" to a proposal from the top of the Empire State Building on a lovely evening?
My advice to all men out there who are looking for a romantic "place" to ask your loved one a special request, the Empire State Building and “New York by Night” are waiting for you 🙂

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

Where is it better to watch the sunset: from the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock?

Let's be clear, from both observatories the view will be amazing! But, you won't be the only one and you will find long waiting lines at both observatories by the sunset time...
Now, find out exactly when the sun is setting down here. Take a look on my article on the weather in New York, I talk about it in details.
Try to arrive as early as possible before the sunset to get enough time to get to the observatories.

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

A last tip to visit the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building

My personal advice is to visit both buildings, one at the beginning of your trip and the other at the end, you’ll see New York in a different way.

View from the Top of the Rock

Conclusion

I hope I managed to convince you with some of my tips, which of course are only suggestions.
It’s merely up to you to decide how you want to organize your next trip to New York…:)
But watch out!! NY has a tendency to turn heads: my friend Poupart got a stiff neck at the Top of the Rock!! 😉

Visit the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock day and night

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8 responses to the post : " When to visit the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock? "

  1. Gabriella says:

    Hello!!! We will go from 26th to 30th Oct.(departure time 11.59 pm. so we'll have the entire 30th too visit NY). I wanted to ask you what is the best "pass" to buy. Many thanks!!! Gabriella

  2. Ester says:

    Hi. Thank you for your the best web for NYC. We will visit NYC in September. I have question about the line for Empire, One World or Top of the Rock. We will buy ticket on-line for day and time. How long before the time can we come? Is there e.g. some person or time table where we can see who can entery the observarotry? We do not miss our entery time. Thank you for you advice. I am sorry for my english.

    • Memo says:

      Hi Ester and thank you for your message!
      Don't worry about your English 😉

      If you don't want to spend a lot of money buying the entry per each venue, you can buy a Pass. It's cheaper 😉 Then you don't have to reserve for a specific schedule. The best is to arrive as soon as the venue opens, or later in the evening for the Empire State Building. You will avoid long lines doing so.

      For the One World Trade Center, the line seems to be long, but you will be at the top in less than 20 minutes. Here's another post that may be of your interest: https://www.new-york-city-travel-tips.com/one-world-observatory/

      • Ester says:

        Thank you for your quick answer. Probably I wrote my question in bad way. We buy ticket online for date and time. How long we will wait in line? 20 min, 1hr? How many minutes/hr we must be by entrance before our time?

        • Memo says:

          Hi Ester,
          Well it depends on the time you reserved. In the middle of the day, the waiting lines are longer and you may want to arrive before, 30 minutes at least for the ESB and the Top of the Rock.

          For the One World Observatory, you can arrive 10 minutes before, they are better organized so you can enter at the scheduled time 😉

          • Ester says:

            Thank you for your info. We plan visit OWO, ESB and Top of the Rock on week day around 5pm. I hope it will be OK and we will not wait e.g. 1 hour.

          • Memo says:

            Hi Ester,
            I could not read your answer till today... Sorry about that.
            I am not concerned by the OWO or the Top of the Rock, you just have to arrive about 15 minutes before. For the ESB, it is more chaotic sometimes, try to arrive 30 minutes before, just in case 😉

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