NFT Map: 12
Website: www.rockefellercenter.com or @rockcenternyc
Rink Phone: 212-332-7655
Rink Website: www.therinkatrockcenter.com
NBC Tour Phone: 212-664-3700
Top of the Rock: www.topoftherocknyc.com
Perhaps you've been blinded five streets away by 25,000 Swarovski crystals. Or maybe you've glimpsed a gargantuan King Kong of a tree shooting seventy feet in the air and wondered how on earth such vegetation could grow in concrete. Regardless, you fall for antics, arrive in bewilderment at Rockefeller Center, and stay for the ice skating rink, services at St. Patrick's, and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. When there's not a huge pine tree to distract you, you'll note that Rockefeller Center occupies three square blocks with a slew of retail, dining, and office facilities. Midtown corporate just ain't the same without its magic.
The massive Rockefeller Center complex was begun at the height of the Great Depression and reflects the Art Deco architecture of the era. It opened in 1933 and it's notable that most of the iconic Rockefeller Center attractions and features actually date back to those early years: the tree tradition began in 1931, the Rainbow Room opened for business in 1934, the wintertime rink first welcomed skaters in 1936, and Radio City Music Hall and its Rockettes date back to the early days. NBC has been headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (i.e., "30 Rock" or the Comcast Building) since the very beginning; when you go, you'll recognize the Today Show exterior immediately, and Saturday Night Live
, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
and Late Night with Seth Meyers
all take place in the NBC studios on the lower floors of 30 Rock. NBC offers tours of its facilities; call or visit online for more information.
The Top of the Rock Observation Deck has jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of the skyline from atop the 70-story Comcast Building. In some ways it's a better view than that from the Empire State Building, if only because it features a great view of the Empire State Building. Top of the Rock is open daily 8 am–12 am (last elevator 11 pm). Tickets are timed entry and cost $27. Guided tours of Rockefeller Center are offered daily throughout the day and combined Top of the Rock/tour tickets are available.
Where to Eat
How hungry are you? Rock Center isn't a prime dining destination, but you won't starve if you find yourself in the area. For cheaper fare, try places down in the Concourse. You'll pay for the view if you eat overlooking the skating rink. For coffee, there is an outpost of Blue Bottle on the Concourse level. The Magnolia Bakery on 49th and Sixth is one of two architectural holdouts that refused to sell to the Rockefellers. Many restaurants in Rockefeller Center are open on Saturdays, but aside from the "nice" restaurants, only a few open their doors on Sundays.
Where to Shop
Much of the Rockefeller Center roster could be at a mall nearly anywhere, but there are some fun standouts in the crowd. FDNY Fire Zone
(50 Rockefeller Plaza) features both interactive fire safety exhibits and official FDNY merch. La Maison Du Chocolat
(30 Rockefeller Plaza) sells high-end French chocolate and boffo hot chocolate. Posman Books
(30 Rockefeller Plaza) is a family-owned independent bookstore. Teuscher Chocolates
(620 Fifth Ave) are Swiss chocolates in the truest sense: they're flown in from Switzerland.
To practice your double loop: The rink opens Columbus Day weekend and closes in April to make way for the Rink Bar. Skating hours are 8:30 am–12 am daily. Rates are $27 for each 90-minute session plus $12 skate rental. Season passes are available. If it all seems a little pricey, keep in mind that only 150 skaters are allowed on the rink at one time, making for a more intimate experience. And that setting, duh.