Top of the Rock in NYC: Travel & Photography Tips

If you’re visiting New York City you’ll want to plan a trip to Top of the Rock. With stunning 360 views of Central Park, One World Trade Center, and the Empire State Building it has some of the best views of the NYC.

View of the Empire State Building and One World Trade from Top of the Rock
View of the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center from Top of the Rock

In this post I’ll be going over my experiences at Top of the Rock, travel tips, photo tips, and of course Top of the Rock pictures.

Now let’s get into everything you need to know before visiting Top of the Rock.

Tips for Visiting Top of the Rock

Here are a few tips for planning your visit to Top of the Rock in NYC.

  • Buy tickets online to avoid waiting in line.
  • If you don’t have tickets it’s faster to head to the basement of 30 Rock and use a self serve kiosk to get a ticket rather than wait in the line at the entrance.
  • The top if windy so I don’t recommend wearing anything that can fly off your body (hat, etc).
  • Sunset is one of the best times to visit because of the views but also the busiest.
  • Tripods are not allowed but if you are there early enough you can put your camera on the edge of the top observation deck.
  • I consider the south view to be the best since you get a view of the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.

My Visit to Top of the Rock

Here’s a break down of everything I did on my visit to Top of the Rock.

Entrance to Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock entrance

After entering and heading up the stairs you’ll have your ticket scanned. After this and a bag security check you head into a small area with history of the building. There’s also a photo area where you can buy the tickets from the visit as well. After this area there is a short optional film you can watch.

Line to get your photo taken at Top of the Rock

After heading through the history of the building you can go up the elevator. The elevator ride is fairly short and has a few projections at the top of the elevator for you to see.

After you arrive on floor 67 you’ll basically given unlimited time to explore the 3 observation floors. The first floor is mostly inside with window views of the city. The second floor which is floor 69 has outside views of the city with large panes of glass. My favorite floor is the top floor 70 which gives you unobstructed views of the city. Since you’re not allowed to use tripods the very top floor has flat cement edges you can rest your camera on for long exposures.

North view from Top of the Rock
North view from Top of the Rock

In the photo above you can see the glass walls around the 2nd floor. You can also put your camera or phone between the glass to get a view without glare.

Manhattan view from Top of the Rock

By far my favorite view is from the top 3rd floor facing the Empire State Building.

Top of the Rock Photography Tips

  • Tripods aren’t allowed at Top of the Rock but you can use a small tripod like a gorilla pod on the ledges at the very top.
  • Get there early to ensure you get a spot on the top with a ledge to rest your camera on (I’d recommend 90 minutes before sunset).
  • Backpacks are allowed but will be subject to security scan.
  • Just about any lens works well here but I loved using my typical kit which includes a wide angle 15-35mm and 100-500mm telephoto. I think a 24-70mm lens would do well here too to get a wide range of scenes.
  • There are 3 floors of the observation decks, the floor you arrive on (67) which has window views of the city, second floor (69) which has views of the city with glass panes outside, and floor 70 which has unobstructed views of the city.
  • Commercial photography isn’t allowed, additionally professional video cameras aren’t allowed.

Want to improve your photography? read my travel photography tips.

Top of the Rock Pictures

Here are some of my photos from my trips to Top of the Rock in NYC.

Lastly, don’t forget to take a moment to simply enjoy the view and soak in the beauty of New York City from the Top of the Rock. While capturing incredible photographs is undoubtedly important, it’s also essential to take in the experience. By finding a balance between documenting your journey and immersing yourself in the moment, you can create meaningful memories when visiting.

Planning a trip to NYC?
Read: New York City Photography Spots

If you have any questions about NYC let me know in the comments below!

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