Most tourists in New York City head straight to the Empire State Building to get their sky-high view of the city. We did the same thing. We waited over 90 minutes in line, paid $16 and finally got out into the open air 86 stories above the street.
The next day, we discovered Top of the Rock. This is the observation deck at the top of the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center. The cost was $17.50, but there was no line and no wait to get out into the open air 70 stories above mid-town Manhattan.
Even though you are 16 floors lower than the Empire State Building, the view is better for two reasons:
- You get a perfect view of the Empire State Building (which you can’t get when you are standing on it)
- You get a perfect view of Central Park (which you can’t get from the ESB, because the GE Building is in the way)
So here is your travel tip of the day: Top of the Rock – better views and much shorter wait.
Of course, the Empire State Building is a spectacular example of Art Deco design. If you are in the area you should at least take a peak at the extraordinary lobby. You really will be impressed.
Now, if you have your heart set on making it to the top of the Empire State Building and you have a heavy wallet, you may want to consider the “Rock Star” admission. For $40 a piece you can cut to the front of the line and go right up. This is a legitimate offering and not an under the table tip to the ushers. Look for the signs and ask the ushers as soon as you reach the line.
Remember the line at the Empire State Building is always longer than it seems. As soon as you get through one room of lines, you encounter a bigger room with more and more snaking lines. This occurs repeatedly and on a several floors until you finally find yourself at the observation deck.
Have fun and good luck!