New York. Christmas. The Rockefeller Center. The three are somewhat synonymous and during my Holiday season stay in the Big Apple I couldn’t not go up the Top of the Rock. Or could I? The weather had other plans…
‘Zero Visibility’?: Top of the Rock NYC at Christmas
Our tickets were booked for a 15:45-16:00 slot initially but after scrambling through the crowds and fantastic holiday lights displays, we were sadly informed that up the top of the Rockefeller was zero visibility. We asked the obvious and yes it does apparently mean exactly what it sounds like it means. Thankfully, the kind folks at the Rockefeller Center allow you to reschedule your tickets in this eventuality so we rebooked for 17:20. We figured if we didn’t make it up it wouldn’t be the end of the world – it’s not like there’s a lack of things to do in NYC.
The trouble was the low hanging drizzle clouds didn’t look like shifting and sure enough, we returned at 17:20 to be told the same thing. They let you reschedule as many times as you need, which is good, so we booked in for 20:20 and hopped on a city bus tour in the meantime.
Weather-wise, conditions seemed a bit clearer three hours later but it was hard to tell. Our bus tour ran late so it was 20:45 by the time we finally got back to the Rockefeller, but it didn’t matter: conditions were now near 100% visibility and we were ushered into the elevator!
The elevator carriage raced up the 70 floors to the sky, our experience enhanced by the cool visual effects on the transparent ceiling. Up top on the observation decks I expected something similar to Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne or Willis Tower in Chicago, but this place topped the lot…
Unlike the two aforementioned skyscrapers, the Rockefeller Center is not way above the rest of the city, its nestled within dozens of other iconic tall buildings, just peeping above them enough to give a glorious angle of perhaps the most iconic city in the world.
The view was familiar from movies, TV and all the tourism posters, but nothing could have prepared me for actually being up there amongst it. It was exhilarating to be up there in this concrete jungle of the sky. Whereas other skyscraper viewing platforms felt like being in a plane or skydiving, this felt like being in a whole other city up in the heavens. The vibrant golden lights of the buildings around me and the rush of the cold wind swirling around my face made me fall in love with New York even more.
From one side the Empire State loomed even more magnificently than it did from our Hotel Metro rooftop balcony, whilst looking north the lights parted to form a perfect rectangle of darkness down below – Central Park. When the freezing wind and rain got too much, we moved inside to enjoy the view through the glass in the warmth, although most of it was outside across two floors.
I’d definitely recommend a trip up the Rock – I chose it over the Empire State because I was keen to have the Empire State building in my photographs. There’s also a cool restaurant called Bill’s that we went to downstairs in the Rockefeller. That and Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square were my fave foodie spots.
Need to Know
Tickets bought in advance online were £19 each
You can rebook as many times as necessary if the weather isn’t good, so try to schedule it early in your trip to give yourself more days to reschedule for if you need to
Wrap up warm – it can be chilly up there!