Empire State Building vs Top of the rock


New York is famous for its sky-soaring skyscrapers and electrifying nightlife.

The city houses world-class observatories for visitors to enjoy the New York City skyline. 

With famous observatory decks like the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, visitors always find it hard to decide which one should they visit.

This article will help you understand the difference between the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building Vs Top of the rock – which is better?

Top of the Rock
Empire State Building

The answer depends on the experience and the view you prefer. 

There is no doubt that these historically important buildings offer visitors an experience of a lifetime. 

If you have your heart set on enjoying NYC, find out if the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building is your right choice. 

Let us give you an insider insight to get the best out of your New York visit.


Top of the Rock enjoys a prime location in Manhattan. 

Nestled at the top of Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock lies between Times Square and Central Park in midtown Manhattan. 

Empire State Building lies a mile from the Top of the Rock near downtown Manhattan. 

ESB lies close to One World Observatory, the Hudson River and NYC’s Financial district. 

Midtown and downtown Manhattan are some of the city’s most popular spots and can get crowded. 

Hence, make sure you book your tickets online before your visit. 


Top of the Rock and Empire State Building provides tourists with a holistic experience, observatories, and stunning views. 

However, which among Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building would provide the experience you want? 

Let’s compare the features of these attractions to find the right observatory for you.

Features of Top of the Rock

The 3-storeyed “Joie” chandelier, a masterpiece by Swarovski, welcomes guests in the Grand Atrium Lobby of Top of the Rock.

Swarovski also designed the Radiance Wall, which was filled with hidden animals and figurines made from crystals. 

Find informative facts about the Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock observatory with photos and artifacts at the Mezzanine Exhibit.

The famous Beam Walk brings back the “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” photograph of construction workers back in 1933 to life.

The interactive multimedia lets you recreate the scene on the replica beam. 

Top of the Rock also has a light show in the Breezeway room that follows your every step around the room.

Rockefeller Center also offers interactive tours into the history of the building. 

You can also look around the Channel Gardens, the Rink at Rockefeller Center or visit the Rainbow Room, Ribbon Sushi Bar and Brasserie Ruhlmann to satisfy your cravings. 

Features of the Empire State Building 

As you stride through the magnificent lobbies of the Art deco skyscraper, you will see the history of the Empire State Building unfold around you. 

The immersive cinematic experience offered in ESB takes you through the history of the building. 

From watching King Kong claim the ESB to setting up your NYC itinerary, there is a lot you can do in this colossal tower. 

Empire state building also offers an augmented reality experience called ‘The Scenes of New York.’

Watch the Grand Central Terminal, Coney Islands, the Statue of Liberty and more attractions through classic binoculars available at ESB. 

Observation decks

Hundreds of feet up in the sky, these observatory decks give a view of New York City and its skyline that you should not miss. 

Top of the Rock and Empire State Building are a few of the top observatory decks in New York City. 

But where should you go to enjoy the best view: the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building?

Perched on top of the Rockefeller Center, Top of The Rock has three observatories 850 feet above the street level. 

The 67th floor is accessible by a transparent elevator that displays the beauty of NYC.

Non-reflective safety glasses enclose the 67th and 69th-floor observatories. 

The 70th floor, at 850 feet in the air, houses an outdoor deck that provides a 360° view. 

Unlike the caged Empire State Building observatory, the Top of the Rock observatories provides an unobstructed view of the entire city. 

Empire State Building has two observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors. 

The main deck on the 86th floor is built 1050 feet high and is an outdoor observatory. 

The main deck has mesh fences that might photobomb your clicks. 

The top deck on the 102nd floor is a covered observatory providing an intimate viewing experience at 1250 feet. 

Even though the Empire State Building observatories are higher than the Top of the Rock, the view is similar. 

Empire state building vs Top of the Rock – where do you get the best view 

Top of the Rock lets the tourist relish the beauty of all the iconic structures of New York, including the Empire State Building, East River, and Hudson River. 

Due to its ideal location, Top of The Rock is the observatory most preferred by travelers to enjoy the city’s best views at any time. 

Spread over three floors, observatory decks of the Top of the Rock allow you to enjoy a magnificent view of New York in all its splendor.

As one of the top open observatory decks in NYC, guests witness an unobstructed view of Central Park and green scenery. 

A mile from the Top of The Rock, the Empire State Building displays the beauty of the NYC skyline by the Hudson river.

ESB’s view covers some of the most famous landmarks of new york including the Statue of Liberty, the One World Trade Center and Times square. 

Expected crowd

Unavoidably, crowds impact the visit as a whole.

The Top of the Rock receives only 2.5 million visitors annually compared to the Empire State Building’s 4 million.

This makes the experience in Top of The Rock less overwhelming for those who hate crowds. 

After 10 AM, the line at both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock begins to grow.

They anticipate more tourists in the summer than in other months.

Book your tickets online to avoid the hassle of queues.

Ticket Prices

Top of the Rock offers regular admission tickets to adults at $41. 

The price sinks for senior citizens and children to $39 and $35 respectively.

While kids up to 6 years of age are eligible for free entry to the Top of the Rock. 

Empire State Building tickets are comparatively costlier than Top of the Rock. 

Regular admission ticket to the Empire State Building is $45 for Adults, goes down to $43 for senior citizens and $39 for children of age 6 to 12.

 Infants up to the age of 5 years can visit for free. 

Apart from regular Empire State Building tickets, there are a lot of other ticket options available, providing experiences like ESB’s Night admission.

Featured Image: Esbnyc.com, Rockefellercenter.com

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