Should You Visit the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building When in NYC?

The observation decks at both the Top of the Rock and at the Empire State Building offer incredible views of the city. If you have the time, we’d recommend going to both of them, but what if you don’t have the time, which one should you choose? No matter which one you choose, you won’t go wrong, but we’d recommend the Top of the Rock if we had to decide. There are several reasons that we would choose the Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building, although in the end it is probably a personal choice.

Outside of Rockefeller Center
View from the Empire State Building
On the Top of the Rock with the Empire State Building Behind Us
View from the Top of the Rock

The observation deck at the Empire State Building is an iconic experience that has provided views of New York City for almost 90 years. Featured in films such as King Kong, the Empire State Building is one of the most famous buildings in the world. If the history of the building wasn’t enough to inspire you to visit, the views from the two observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors definitely should. The observation deck on the 86th floor is an open air deck that will take your breath away as you look out over the city, the bridges, and the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. Going to the indoor deck on the 102nd floor provides even more stunning views as you look out through the thick glass windows.

Sign Near the Elevator in the Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty Off in the Distance
Looking Down from the Empire State Building
King Kong Poster as You Exit the Elevator at the Empire State Building

The Top of the Rock may not have the history that the Empire State Building has, but it has plenty to offer anyone who visits. First of all, the “Rock” in the Top of the Rock refers to Rockefeller Center, which is where you can find Rockefeller Plaza as well as the NBC Studios and store. Regardless of the time of year, there is plenty going on at Rockefeller Plaza, which provides an extra incentive for visiting Rockefeller Center. Go early in the morning and you can watch the filming of the Today show or come later in the day and go to one of the many restaurants in the area. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Top of the Rock provides amazing views of Central Park as you look north and the Empire State Building down to Lower Manhattan as you look south. There are indoor observation decks on the 67th and 69th floor, but the best views can be found on the outdoor observation deck on the 70th floor.

Views of Central Park from the Top of the Rock
Empire State Building from the top of the Rock
Walking Towards Rockefeller Plaza
Sipping on a Cocktail in the Garden Restaurant at Rockefeller Center

Clearly it isn’t an easy decision, which is why we would certainly recommend doing both the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building while visiting New York City. The main reason for choosing the Top of the Rock if you have to make a decision is due to everything that Rockefeller Center has to offer. Whichever observation deck you decide to go to, be sure to take your camera with you and leave your fear of heights at home. Seeing the New York City skyline from the top of one of these skyscrapers is something that you will treasure forever.

Another View from the Empire State Building
Standing on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building
Prometheus Statue in the Lower Plaza at Rockefeller Center


Creating Unexpected Results

Many of us point and click our cameras and cell phones as we are traveling and when we get a chance to look back at our photos, sometimes the photos capture something different than what our eyes actually saw. Often these are happy accidents where the images turn out to be quite special and other times we are disappointed because it seemed so special at the time. We usually use auto-focus when traveling since we don’t always have time to stop and manually focus, which means that the camera might choose to focus on something different than intended. Also, the lighting might change how the image appears once we get a chance to look back at the photo. For this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which is Horizontal Lines, we have decided to share some of our unintended results. Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a photograph after you go back and look at the pictures that you have taken that day?

Ice Skating on Sidewalks in Vienna
Standing in the 9/11 Museum Entrance in New York
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Ceiling in Cairo
Sun Setting on a Ship in Puerto Vallarta
Frozen Air on Stairs in Romania
Christmas Tree on a Restaurant Wall in Strasbourg
Longing for the Beach in India


Central Park in New York City

When visiting Manhattan in New York City, taking a stroll in Central Park is a must. Especially during the summer months, it is amazingly beautiful in the center of city of skyscrapers. You can take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, until they ban them, but we didn’t want to based upon reports we had heard about how the horses were treated. Until you actually see it from above, it is hard to believe how large Central Park actually is, which is over 843 acres. There are activities throughout the year, so it is worth checking out their official website before you come to New York to see what is happening when you are there.

Central Park
View of Central Park from the Top of the Rock
Walking in the Park
Sitting in Loeb Boathouse

In addition to special events and concerts, there is the Central Park Zoo and Belvedere Castle as well as a variety of statues located throughout the park. Renting a bike is a great way to get around and see even more of the park than just by walking its many paths. During the summer, there are many artists selling artwork or willing to paint your caricature if you have the time to sit for one. There are also ball parks and open spaces to toss a Frisbee or kick a soccer ball around. You can even rent a rowboat on the lake, which they have been doing for over 150 years, or take a ride on a gondola.

Gondola Ride on the Lake
Fountain by the Lake
Take a Stroll in Central Park

There are concession stands throughout the park as well, which is a great way to get an inexpensive meal, but there are restaurant choices as well. The most famous of which is probably Tavern on the Green, but we were warned that their reputation has fallen slightly in recent years. We enjoyed a Sunday brunch at the Loeb Boathouse, which has wonderful views of the lake and a delicious variety of food. If you are in the mood for some French food, there is Le Pain Quotidien, which features a variety of quiches, although we did not eat there.

Loeb Boathouse
Beautiful Green Trees in the Park
Getting a Caricature Done

Central Park is truly an oasis in the heart of Manhattan with so much to do that you can certainly spend a full day there. It is possible to get a walking tour of the park, which is a great way to learn more about the history of the park and see some its lesser known attractions.