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The view from The Empire State Building

There are many ways to see New York City but to get a feel for the size of the city you need to head to The Empire State Building or The Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Building).

Although we had been told to choose The Top of the Rock by those ‘in the know’, I’m a hopeless romantic and I wanted to see The Empire State Building too.  Think Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember, how could I not want to go to such a romantic setting?

We had a New York City Pass so fortunately we didn’t need to choose.

If you only have a limited time in New York you may not have time to do both so I’ll give you a run down on both and you can decide.


As you enter the Empire State Building you will be offered the opportunity to do a simulator experience. We decided to do the New York Skyride simulator ride.  It is an additional cost and in my opinion not worth it.  In saying that, it was the highlight of BJ’s visit.  The simulator ride is a flyover New York City.  BJ was wildly excited by the ride but after experiencing Soarin’ over California at California Adventure Park I feel the Skyride is clunky and not worth the extra cost.


Security is tight as you would imagine at a key New York land mark.  I suggest always allowing extra time for the security process at any New York attraction.

The Empire State Building observation deck is narrow compared to The Top of the Rock and we found it tricky to make our way to the edge to get unobstructed views.  We were travelling in April and it was still cold so I can’t imagine how busy it must be in the height of summer.  It took a bit of patience to get BJ and the wheelchair in a position to have a clear view of the city. The height of the ledges is good for a chair and the telescopes are at a variety of heights so these may be used from a wheelchair too.


View from The Empire State

The views from both buildings are stunning but at The Top of the Rock you also get to see The Empire State Building which is an advantage.


The rock

We tried to head up to The Top of the Rock to see sunset.  We underestimated the popularity of this time of the day and timed tickets meant that we only caught the tail end of it.  Ideally arrive early enough to see the view in daylight and then watch the sun set but keep in mind this isn’t a secret.   Hundreds of tourists had the same idea and although we had the New York City Pass we had to wait for our allocated ticket time before we could go up.  By the time we cleared airport style security the sun had already begun to set.

I definitely recommend trying to see New York from one of the observation decks by day and night.  New York is a stunning city and watching the lights come on around the city is a special experience.

The rock4

The viewing area at The Top of the Rock is wider and easier to get around.  Glass instead of wire is used to keep everyone safe at The Top of the Rock and as with the Empire State Building it is hard to get to the edge to have an unobstructed view.

The rock5

The rock2

Both attractions are worth visiting but I know that many people have limited time in New York and if this is the case it makes sense to choose just one.  The Empire State Building has the history, an old world feel and the movie history which drew me in.  The Top of The Rock is modern, easier to get around and the added advantage of a view of the Empire State Building.  If you have to choose one I would recommend Top of the Rock but consider getting a New York City Pass and you won’t have to decide.

For more information about The Empire State Building and wheelchair access head to their official website 


For more information about The Top of the Rock observation deck and wheelchair access head to their official website

We would like to thank New York City Pass for providing us with two complimentary passes to enjoy the city’s attractions.



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