In Search of the Best View in NYC

Looking for a good view of New York City? There is no shortage of good vantage points from which to see the Big Apple, but many tourist attractions boast the best view around. I’ve been up to the top of Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building.

Here’s how they measure up:

Rockefeller Center
$27, viewing deck at 70 stories, 850 ft high

Rockefeller Centre

This was my first visit to see the New York skyline. We went around 8:30PM, as the sun was setting, which is noticeable in the changing colour of the sky in my photos. There are indoor and outdoor viewpoints, which was nice on that unseasonably cold April evening.

Not only can you venture outside or remain indoors, you can get the views from two different levels, perfect for photos at every angle.

I really liked my visit to the Top of the Rock because my photos include Empire State Building! It’s like the Eiffel Tower in Paris; you get a great view when you’re on it, but your photos look like they’re missing something.

This vantage point has an amazing view of Midtown, and pretty good views of what’s beyond.

Empire State Building
$25, viewing decks at 86 and 102 stories, 1,250 ft high

Empire State Building

The general viewing deck is on the 86th floor; there is an additional cost of $17 to visit the 102nd floor. I stuck to the 86th – I think the additional charge is a bit steep for 16 more stories.

When I got out of the elevator on top of the Empire State Building (ESB) the sun was shining and the view was spectacular (sorry, sun is not included in the price of your ticket). The first thing I noticed? How much shorter Rockefeller Center looked! That being said, the difference between Top of the Rock and ESB is the same as the two level options for the ESB. Not that big in the grand scheme of things, but it sure looks like a lot!

One difference I noticed straight away was the view I got of downtown and the Financial District. The streets between ESB and One World Trade Center are packed with mismatched buildings and cars. It was fantastic!  You could see right off the tip of Manhattan and the other boroughs all around. And New Jersey!

The Verdict

They were both sensational. If you ever get to do more than one, try it during the day and at night. If I had to choose, however, I’d have to go with the Empire State Building. While it’s nice to have it in your photos, New York is not lacking in other monuments and famous buildings to snap pictures of. The views were stunning, and they went on forever. If you like the feeling of being a tiny person in a big, big world, this is a great place to contemplate that thought. And it’s really pretty.

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