11 Exciting Attractions in Rockefeller Center
Are you planning to travel to New York City soon? You probably already have a long list of activities that you’d like to do during your trip that includes things like taking the ferry around the Statue of Liberty, visiting Times Square, seeing at least one Broadway or off-Broadway show, and, of course, shopping!
Of course, a trip to the Big Apple should always include visiting Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, NY is a vast complex with 19 commercial buildings spanning over 22 acres. It was conceived and funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1930. Today, Rockefeller Center is home to some of the most interesting, rewarding, and tourist-friendly attractions in New York.
Image Credit: Albert Haber
Rockefeller Center Attractions: Things Not to Miss
Whether traveling to New York City for business or pleasure, you won’t want to miss the wide range of things to see and do in and around Rockefeller Center. We’ve assembled some of the best for you to consider. While you may not have enough time in the day to enjoy all of them, pick and choose the ones that sound the most interesting for you and your family to enjoy!
1. Take Photos From Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock is a photo-op like no other. You don’t have to be an influencer to appreciate the spectacular views from the vantage point atop the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck. Download the Top of the Rock mobile app to make the most of your visit and enjoy unobstructed 360-degree views across the famous New York City skyline. Keep an eye on the weather—predominantly the visibility metric—so you can be sure to get the views you’re hoping for. Go all out and get a Rock Pass Ticket, so you can get the full guided tour, as well as access to the observation deck.
2. Get the Icing on the Cupcake
A visit to NYC wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Magnolia Bakery Rockefeller Center. Indulge your sweet tooth with one or more treats from their standard and seasonal menu offerings. They offer enticing Halloween cupcakes that are hard for kids and grownups alike to resist. Thanksgiving pies include all the favorites, like pecan, pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat. This is where you can find the Magnolia Bakery's world-famous pudding cups in flavors like banana, chocolate hazelnut, red velvet, and more. One bite and you’ll be hooked. If your mouth is still watering after you get home, you can order your favorite Magnolia Bakery treats online to be delivered.
3. Make Custom Mini-figurines at the New York Lego Store
Legos appeal to kids and adults alike. At the Rockefeller Center Lego Store you can get your hands on hard-to-find Lego elements and design your own customized mini-figurines. If you have a little one in the family who is serious about their building blocks, experts at this store are on-site to share advice and provide helpful tips and tricks. Even if you’re not a builder at heart, you’ll have fun checking out the store’s incredible displays with your loved ones. This location is open every day from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
4. Vogue in the Rainbow Room
The original home of quintessential New York glamor, the Rainbow Room is the place to come to show off your best form. Located on the 65th floor of 30 Rock, the Rainbow Room is one of the highest event spaces in NYC. Serving contemporary and classic American fare, this space would be perfect for your family reunion, baby shower, wedding reception, or other special event. This fantastic space has graced famous dignitaries, heads of state, stars of stage and film, presidents, millionaires, billionaires, and now…you! Reserve your event well in advance, and relish in the possibility that you could be sitting in the same chair that someone famous like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Spade, Paul McCartney, Joan Crawford and countless others sat in.
5. Attend the Lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
The lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree is older than the plaza itself, dating back to 1931. The first tree was erected at the Rockefeller Center a year before construction began. The tree is lit at the end of November, the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving, during the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. You can still view the tree through mid-January if you can’t make it to the actual lighting.
The tree is typically a live Norway Spruce tree, measuring between 69 and 100 feet tall. Once the perfect tree is found, it’s brought to Rockefeller Center, adorned with giant red bows as it passes through the streets of Manhattan. A combined effort of cranes, trucks, barges, and planes help make it all happen. The tree is lit every day from 5 AM to midnight. The initial ceremonial lighting takes place generally around 10 PM. Be sure to dress warmly, as winter temperatures in NYC can be pretty low.
6. Watch a Live TV Taping at NBC Studios
The Rockefeller Center is also home to NBC studios, where you can be in the studio audience while one of your favorite TV shows is being taped. Fans of Saturday Night Live, The Voice, and other network television shows can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of experiencing their favorite show as part of a live studio audience. Be warned though, because these seats fill up fast. People stand in line for hours hoping to be ushered in to take a seat. If you miss that opportunity, an NBC Studios tour is still available, giving you a different perspective on behind-the-scenes of your favorite NBC network shows.
7. Take the Art Deco Tour
For fans of Art Deco architecture, you can’t beat the Rockefeller Center Art Deco Tour. The tour covers the history of the Rockefeller Center, including the Art Deco building styles, which have been called “a city within a city.” Tours take place every day of the week, but they’re very popular, so reserving your spot in advance is recommended. Choose from times beginning at 10 AM, with the last tour starting at 7 PM. Note that this is a walking tour without rest periods in between stops. Also, if you plan to do the Top of the Rock observation deck tour, you can combine the two activities into one ticket price using the Rock Pass.
8. Show Off Your Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Skills
The Rink at Rockefeller Center is the epitome of the winter experience at Rockefeller Center. This oval-shaped outdoor rink has been featured in multiple hit movies, such as Serendipity, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Autumn in New York, and Elf, to name a few. The sheer romance of ice skating under the lights and the stars in one of the greatest cities in the world is an experience that you and your family won’t quickly forget. This pleasant and family-friendly activity is open to all ages, from your youngest child to your oldest family member.
During the holiday season, you’ll skate beneath the twinkling lights of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. If you have your own favorite pair of skates, bring them. If not, you can easily rent them on-site. The early mornings during the week are less busy, which might be best if you have youngsters who are beginning skaters. For family members who don’t want to skate, there’s plenty of seating. There are many nearby shops and eateries within walking distance after you’ve built up an appetite on the ice.
Image Credit: Albert Haber
9. Be a Part of History at Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall has been the iconic stage for greats like Dolly Parton, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Bette Midler, Tony Bennet, Aretha Franklin, and countless others. Today, it’s the revered music hall of choice, featuring modern musical performers like Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and more. Being in the audience at such an auspicious venue is something to cherish forever. If you act quickly to reserve Rockefeller Center tickets, you might even get yourself seats to see the world-famous Radio City Rockettes or The Nutcracker Musical when you visit NYC.
10. Enjoy Fine Dining at Limani
Indulge your culinary senses at Limani, located at 45 Rockefeller Center Rockefeller Plaza New York NY. As one of the finest Rockefeller Center restaurants, Limani will have you and your loved ones enjoying upscale Greek-Mediterranean food at its exceptional best. The chic surroundings include marble and azul glass art decor inspired by the blues of the Mediterranean Sea. The carefully curated menu includes delicacies like Mediterranean sea bass, lavraki a la spetsiota, steamed lobster and shrimp saganaki. Reservations required.
11. Walk the Channel Gardens
The Channel Gardens are a hidden respite from the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple. Part of the Rockefeller Center Complex, the Channel Gardens comprise a strip of six consecutive granite pools of water and fountains adorned with sculptures, all surrounded by a plethora of greenery and flowering shrubbery. The Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens are in the middle of the vast, 200-foot plaza promenade. Allow time to pass in slow motion as you and your family stroll past bronze sculptures of Prometheus, Atlas, and numerous mythical sea creatures. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may see holiday angels and fairy lights, tropical dragonflies, Easter lilies, whimsical pink ducks, and other seasonal decor.
There is so much to see and do at the Rockefeller Center that it’s impossible to list them all here. Whenever you travel to New York City by air, treat yourself to the convenience of having a spot just for your vehicle when you reserve a parking spot with The Parking Spot app. Plus, save on airport parking with The Parking Spot. Be sure to join The Spot Club today to take advantage of all the benefits!