Rockefeller Center is a commercial hub in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The 22-acre space has 19 buildings, 14 of which are Art Deco buildings commissioned by the Rockefeller family. Constructions for the hub began in 1931 and Rockefeller Center officially opened to the public in 1939. It was named the New York City Landmark in 1985 and later received the National Historic Landmark status in 1987.

Today, Rockefeller Center is home to an array of art establishments and entertainment spots including the Radio City on the east side of Sixth Avenue and a variety of office and retail spaces. Theatre enthusiasts waiting to enter the Radio City Music Hall will also be familiar with the pedestrianized Rockefeller Plaza walkway along the 50th and 51st Streets.

Rockefeller Center in New York - one of the highlights of 9 Best Things to Do for Couples in New York and 7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in New York (Read all about New York here)

What are the highlights of Rockefeller Center?

The famed NBC Studios, a subsidiary of the Radio Corporation of America resides in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where popular shows like The Tonight Show featuring Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live tapings still take place today. The rooftop observatory of 30 Rockefeller Plaza is a must-visit as it offers a grand view of New York City – from 70 storeys up. It’s especially beautiful at nightfall when the city’s structures light up in various colours.

Come Christmas, crowds often make their way to catch the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – a tradition that started in 1933. According to the Rockefeller Center, approximately half a million people would cross paths with the tree every day. An outdoor skating rink dating back to 1936 sits beneath this iconic tree. It’s open to the public from late November until early January. 

What to eat in Rockefeller Center?

No visitor to the Rockefeller Center will ever be left hungry. From casual restaurants to exquisite 11-seater sushi bars, you are always welcome to visit Rockefeller Center with an empty stomach. Seasonal food markets often take place in the hub, where you can sample a variety of homecooked meals and treats from aspiring chefs.

For a sky-high experience, you’ll want to book a meal at the iconic Rainbow Room. You can dine al fresco or sign up for an immersive culinary experience to cook alongside some of the restaurant’s expert chefs. Sampling menus change seasonally, so it’s best to check in with Rainbow Room for the month’s special when you visit. Post-dinner drinks are available at Bar SixtyFive, located on the 65th floor of 30 Rock.

Good to know about Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is about 10 minutes away from Times Square and Madame Tussaud's New York. It makes for a great stop in your day out to visit some of New York City’s finest sights.

The best hours to visit the Top of the Rock observatory at 30 Rock is an hour before sunset as you’ll get to watch day turn into night. In winter, this means taking the glass elevator up at 4 pm as the skies will turn dark between 5 pm to 5.30 pm daily. Do note however that there may be an additional charge to your ticket if you want to visit the observatory at dusk. 

You can reach Rockefeller Center on the New York City Subway system, with trains B, D, F, and M making a stop at the 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center. If you’d like to explore the city on bike, Rockefeller Center also happens to be one of the stops for the official bike-sharing provider, Citibike.

Rockefeller Center in New York

Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA

Open: 24/7

Phone: +1 212-588-8601

Elie Lam | Contributing Writer