Things to Do at Rockefeller Center

Visiting Rockefeller Plaza, NYC

Learn how to avoid the holiday crowd, find unique gifts to bring home, and stake out your spot on the Today Show, all while visiting historic Rockefeller Plaza!

One of the most popular places to visit in New York City is Rockefeller Plaza. Home to the Today Show, 30 Rock, and the Christmas tree, the plaza is known worldwide as a symbol of the city. For many, the plaza represents prosperity in a time of despair; it was built by the Rockefeller family during the Great Depression as a symbol of hope and community. You never know what will happen next in Rockefeller Plaza – recent temporary installments have included a cranberry bog built by Ocean Spray (in place for only a day!) and the current 35-foot Electric Fountain (now through April 4, 2008).

Top of the Rock

The tall building that houses NBC Studios and the Rainbow Room is referred to as 30 Rock because of its address (30 Rockefeller Plaza). After being closed for almost twenty years, an observation deck was re-opened in 2005 after an expensive renovation. If you have the extra money to spend, the view is really spectacular. While waiting for the elevator inside the building, visitors can view an incredible “waterfall” of crystal by Swarovski that hangs inside. Once at the top, visitors can walk between the 67th and 70th floors and around the perimeter of the building to view the entire city below. An adult ticket is $17.50 and the observation deck is open from 8 am to 11 pm.

Top of the Rock

The Tree

The holidays don’t get much prettier than Rockefeller Plaza. Unfortunately, the area can turn into a real nightmare at this time as well. If you are going to see the tree, the best time to go is during the work week, if at all possible. 5th Avenue during the holiday weekends can be a pedestrian parking lot, quite literally. Your chances of getting a nice picture of the tree, much less of your family or friends in front of it, are slim to none.

During the week, however, you will be able to have a much more relaxed experience. Don’t forget to look directly across the plaza at Saks Fifth Avenue’s snowflake light display! About every twenty minutes there is a mini light and music show. Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza is expensive. Prices depend on the day and time but fluctuate between $14-17 for time and $7-8 for rentals. Skating at Bryant Park is free while rentals are $10.

The Today Show

The Today Show is a free event. That is if you want to get up at 5 am and stand in line for an hour or two beforehand. The show goes live on air at 7 am, Monday-Saturday, and 8 am, Sunday. Once ushered between the barriers that form the square you see outside of the studio, you can stay as long as you like. It is recommended that you visit during the warmer weather if possible – the cold New York weather will make your toes go numb quickly! Bring signs or wear colorful clothing to increase your chances of being on TV.


Rockefeller Plaza is filled mainly with chain stores at this point in time. You can find stores such as the Banana Republic and Ann Taylor in the immediate area. For some unique shopping, try the MoMA Store. It sells modernly designed home goods, jewelry, books, and more. Other notable stores are Librairie de France, a historic French bookstore, and Minamoto Kitchoan, an exquisite Japanese pastry shop. Both stores are great places to find one-of-a-kind gifts to bring home!

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