If you want a bird’s eye view of New York City go to either the Empire State Building or to the “Top of the Rock.” Both sites offer beautiful views of Manhattan, but each one has its advantages over the other. The Empire State Building’s Observatory now has extended hours (8:00AM – 2:00AM) from Thursdays to Saturday and regular hours (8:00AM-12:00AM) from Sunday to Wednesday. The Empire Building is best for views of downtown Manhattan since it is located on 34th Street and great for night photography because of the extended hours. Tickets to the Empire State Building Observatory are available online as well as in person; adults are $20.00, children are $14.00, seniors are $18.00.
In contrast, the “Top of the Rock” aka the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck offers an unobtructed view of Central Park and is great for viewing the Empire State Building. If you have not heard about the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck it is because it has been closed for the last 19 years. It was reopened in November 2005 and the Observation Deck is open from 8:00AM to Midnight everyday . The “Top of the Rock” is located at West 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and tickets are available online as well as in person; adults are $14, children $9, and seniors $12. In my opinion, the “Top of the Rock” offers a different bird’s eye view of Manhattan than the usual tourist pictures from the Empire State Building, but either site will not disappoint especially if you go at sunset.