The Best Observation Deck of NYC?


As the double decker bus tour of NYC, we get asked lots of questions about the city and its attractions. One of the most common questions we see comes in the form of a this or that situation. People always want to know which is really the best observation deck in NYC: Top of the Rock or Empire State Building. Well, the answer’s really not all that clear.

First, let’s look at the stats.

Number of Decks

  • Top of the Rock: 3
  • Empire State Building: 2

Number of Stories

  • Top of the Rock: 68th floor, 69th floor, 70th floor
  • Empire State Building: 86th floor, 102nd floor

So if your main criterion for your decision is height, the Empire State Building goes over 30 stories higher than the Top of the Rock. But you also have to consider what you want to see. Both of these buildings have incredible views of NYC, but when you go to the Top of the rock, you also get Manhattan’s most famous building in your view: The Empire State Building. Also, the Top of the Rock is closer to Central Park, which is one of the coolest aerial views around.

Ultimately, I’d recommend making your decision based on how you answer these questions:

Do you want to go during the day or night?

  • Day: Top of the Rock
  • Night: Empire State Building

Do you care more about the view of Central Park or the financial district?

  • Central Park: Top of the Rock (You can’t really see Central Park at night, though)
  • Financial District: Empire State Building

Do you want the Empire State Building to be in your pictures?

  • Yes: Top of the Rock
  • No: Empire State Building

Really, you should just do both and decide for yourself which is the best way to see the city from above. If not, here are some pictures to help you make your decision:

Top of the Rock Pictures

top of the rock nyc

top of the rock, central park

top of the rock

Empire State Building Pictures

empire state building panorama

click to enlarge panorama

empire state building

view from empire state building


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