Everything you need to know about visiting Rockefeller Center (48th to 51st Sts, New York, 10111).
With 19 high-rises built on 22 acres of prime Manhattan real estate, it’s easy to take this National Landmark for granted. Yet when business tycoon John D. Rockefeller broke ground on the massive complex in 1930, it helped the city weather the Great Depression by employing an estimated 40,000 with construction work. It’s even said that the first Christmas tree at the center was erected by the workers several years before the giant evergreen would become a tradition. These days, thousands are employed within the buildings and tourists come from all over to admire the original Art Deco structures and shops surrounding Rockefeller Plaza.
Flock to 30 Rock
Even without the beloved sitcom that shares its name and location, 30 Rockefeller Plaza is by far the most famous of the buildings—and that’s by design. As the tallest of the lot, 30 Rock was always meant to be the centerpiece, and it shows, from the murals in the lobby to the 70th-floor observation deck with views of Central Park and the Empire State Building, this place is far from subtle. It also happens to be home of NBC. If you’re lucky, you might get tickets to see a live recording of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night with Seth Meyers or even Saturday Night Live. If you do, celebrate your good luck with cocktails at the Rainbow Room, the swanky restaurant with panoramic views and gorgeous decor on the 65th floor.
Join a tour
You don’t have to be a tourist to appreciate the wide variety of tours offered around these parts. Find out the history of the Atlas or Prometheus statues and those powerful murals on a Rockefeller Center tour focused on art and architecture. Or see how one of the city’s most famous venues operates and meet the Rockettes on a tour of Radio City Music Hall. Television fans will love the NBC studio tours where you can see how broadcasts get made.
Have a Plaza palooza
All year-round, Rockefeller Plaza serves as a pedestrian oasis for the neighborhood otherwise crowded with towering commercial skyscrapers. In warm weather, grab a seat by the well-maintained gardens and appreciate large-scale art installations by celebrated artists like Jeff Koons and duo Elmgreen & Dragset. When December rolls around, brave the crowds to see the gigantic holiday tree rising up to 100 feet tall. Bring a date to the ice rink for a romantic experience lit by the evergreen—it’s well worth the lines and price tag.
Our New York editorial team is constantly updating and reviewing the best attractions, activities and venues across the city, so that you're always in the know, with the best of NYC. at your fingertips. Rockefeller Center was most recently updated with new tips on June 30, 2017.