This post is a guide to taking the Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry. We share insider tips such as the best time to take the ferry and where to stand for the best views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. This is #2 on our top 10 free things to do in NYC.
This post has all the details on how to get to Woodbury Commons Outlet by bus, train and by car, including special deals and discounts on transportation. Find discounts of 50% or more at over 200 stores selling apparel, footwear, luggage, jewelry, housewares, handbags and so much more! Be sure to read our guide on NYC on a budget.
This post is a summary of the various free, and almost free, options for you to get out on the waters of NYC. If you are considering taking New York boat tours, but are hesitant about the cost of a harbor cruise, then this post is for you. Though none of these options are “official” boat tours, each offers guests incredible views of the New York skyline, Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and more. And if you are looking for other ways to save during your trip to NYC, then check out our extensive budget guide to visiting New York and our definitive guide to free (and almost free) things to do in the city.
This may be the best known “secret” in the Big Apple. This is a free commuter ferry. It just so happens that this ferry offers one of the best views of the New York skyline including a pretty close look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Riding the ferry after our Lower Manhattan Tour is a great way to spend half a day without spending half your budget!
The ferry departs Lower Manhattan and takes approximately 25 minutes to reach Staten Island, where you could get off and explore or just get back on and return to Manhattan. The ferry departs from Whitehall Terminal. The Staten Island Ferry operates 24 hours a day, so consider making this also a fantastic thing to do at night for a sparkling view of the city.
This is the cheapest boat ride in NYC, after the free Staten Island Ferry. This is also a commuter ferry and costs the same as a subway, just $2.75 one way. The East River Ferry connects Lower and Midtown Manhattan making stops in Brooklyn and in Queens along the way. In the summer, the ferry also goes to Governors Island, located just near the tip of Manhattan.
This ferry service runs from Wall Street Terminal to Red Hook in Brooklyn. It’s free on weekends and $5 on weekdays. If you make at least a $10 purchase at IKEA (lunch?), then your weekday ride is free. It’s a great way to get to Red Hook Brooklyn and back without taking the subway.
4. Free Kayaking
Okay, so this option is definitely not a boat tour… but, it’s an awesome idea and it’s free! The Downtown Boathouse, one of the organizations that run the kayak rides is an all-volunteer organization. Donations are accepted. They have four locations: Pier 26, Governors Island, Pier 40 and Pier 96.
Perfect for a more adventurous soul, Village Community Boathouse offers guests the chance to participate in completely FREE community rowing sessions after dusk from April – November. On Sundays they also an additional rowing session at noon, as well as a variety of other activities intermittently throughout the year. During the winter, guests can join in for a free boat building lesson.
6. Paid Boat Tours and Cruises
There are many other boat tours and lunch/dinner cruises available that have upfront fees. Many of these companies offer combo tickets that combine boat, bus, museum, even helicopters all for one discounted price. Read our post comparing the different New York City boat tours/cruises and the combo ticket options.
This post is about how to get Statue of Liberty crown tickets as well as general tips on other tickets. Crown access is extremely limited and is often sold out weeks, even months, in advance, but there is still a small chance for last minute tickets. Also, check out our post on how to get to the Statue of Liberty.
Although it’s not too difficult to purchase tickets for the Statue of Liberty, crown tickets aren’t as easy to obtain. There’s only one way to see Lady Liberty’s crown, so tickets tend to sell out very quickly, as there are only approximately 500 per day in the peak summer months. With that in mind, we recommend purchasing admission for this service at least a month or two ahead of time. During peak seasons, you’ll want to consider purchasing tickets even earlier than usual.
Statue Cruises is the only tour company authorized to provide tours and admission to the crown. If you want tickets for this attraction, you’ll need to visit their website and book a Crown Reserve Ticket. Each ticket to the crown includes ferry service to/from the landmark, an audio tour of the grounds, and access to both the Ellis Island Museum and the Statue of Liberty Museum.
Ticket Prices: $21.50 for Adults | $17 for Seniors | $12 for Children
Availability: Ferry departs daily from 8:30 am – 5 pm
Duration: As long as you want – most people stay for approximately 2-3 hours
As we mentioned before, Statue Cruises is the only company allowed to provide access to Lady Liberty’s crown. As a result, you won’t be able to find similar tickets from any other service in the area, and you cannot transfer tickets, so don’t buy anything off of 3rd party sites. Once crown tickets sell out, they are usually very difficult to obtain.
With that being said, it’s important to note that tickets sometimes get canceled. Whenever a guest cancels a crown ticket, it will quickly be placed back into their system.
Anyone looking for last minute tickets will want to keep an eye on their calendar. Although it’s not possible to get same-day tickets, you could get lucky and find admission within the next few days. If you’re planning on staying in New York City for at least a week, it’s entirely possible to get crown tickets before your vacation ends. Increase your chances of getting last-minute tickets by checking their reservation system regularly.
Guests who visit the Statue of Liberty have to follow certain rules for security purposes. These rules are even more strict for tourists who purchase a crown ticket. Before we get into the additional security guidelines, take a look at the main requirements for all visitors.
No food, drinks or backpacks permitted
No strollers allowed
Long umbrellas are restricted
Lockers are available to store bags and other belongings
TIP: If you plan on bringing a few things with you, check out our luggage storage post for more information on storing personal belongings and bags in and around New York City. You can store a bag for an entire day for just $6.
Anyone visiting the crown will also have to keep the following security requirements in mind. These restrictions are in place for the protection of all tourists. Most of these additional rules are straightforward and make plenty of sense.
Adults must show photo ID
Only 1 camera per person is permitted
Children must be at least 4 ft (1.2 m) tall
In addition to these security guidelines, it’s important to note that the stairs which lead to the crown are very steep and can be difficult for some guests to climb. There is no elevator access to the top, so seniors and parents with young children will want to consider their physical ability before purchasing crown tickets. This may also be a difficult climb and potentially dangerous if you are pregnant. That being said, these aren’t restrictions and you are welcome to purchase tickets as long as you follow their rules and regulations.
Although there’s only one way to see the crown, there are many ways to see the Statue of Liberty. In addition to their crown tickets, Statue Cruises also provides admission to Liberty Island, Ellis Island and the Pedestal. If you can’t get Reserve Crown tickets, we recommend one of the following alternative options.
Statue of Liberty Ground Ticket
Ticket Prices: $18.50 for Adults | $14 for Seniors | $9 for Children
Availability: Ferry departs daily from 8:30 am – 5 pm
Duration: As long as you want – between 2-3 hours on average
Access the grounds of Liberty Island and Ellis Island
TIP: You can actually get a pedestal ticket for free when signing up for a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty. Several companies offer guided tours of Liberty Island and Ellis Island, allowing visitors to see the historic monument up close and learn about it from a knowledgeable source. Click here to find out more about this option.
So what can you actually see from the Statue of Liberty’s crown? Well, if you look out over the water, you’ll get some very good views of the New York City skyline. As you look through the windows of the crown, you might be surprised at just how small they are. Lady Liberty may look huge from afar, but there’s actually a limited amount of room at the top of the monument. For a better idea of what to expect, take a look at the following video. Click here to see the views from the pedestal.
This post is a summary of the March weather in New York City. We offer tips on what to wear and things to do throughout the month in the Big Apple. Temperatures tend to remain relatively low towards the beginning of the month, but can rise to the mid 60’s F (17-18C) by the end of the month. March weather can be fairly unpredictable as it falls right in between winter, but hopefully, this post will help you prepare for your trip to the NYC!
This post describes how you could hear gospel music in New York, whether in Harlem, in Brooklyn or anywhere else. If this seems daunting, you might consider an organized gospel tour. We also cover several gospel churches on our pay-what-you-wish Harlem Walking Tour as well as on our audio tour of Harlem.
This post will provide all of the information you need to visit the Empire State Building, including an explanation of the various ticket types, which observatory to choose and how to avoid long lines. Click here to purchase tickets now.
This post explains how you can get free tickets for Late Night with Seth Meyers, including how to obtain standby tickets, tickets for the rehearsal show, as well as preparing yourself for entry. The show is taped in Rockefeller Center at 30 Rock, the same building as the Top of the Rock observation deck. You may also be interested in a Rockefeller Center Tour or an NBC Studio Tour before taping.
Top of the Rock is located 850 feet (260 m) above street level and has been offering stunning panoramas of the city since 1933 that include Central Park and the Empire State Building and more. It’s a wonderful experience with and requires some planning. In this section, we cover how to get here, best times to come, exhibits, and prohibited items.
How to get to Rockefeller Center
The closest subway is the B, D, F and M trains to 47-50 St, Rockefeller Center. Other trains nearby are the 1 train at 50th Street and the N, Q and R trains at 49th Street. The main entrance to Top of the Rock is on 50th Street in between 5th and 6th Avenues. Please use our Google map for directions to Rockefeller Center.
What to Expect
While Rockefeller Center opens its doors at 7 am, Top of the Rock opens up approximately one hour later at 8 am. Although this attraction is open until midnight, the last elevator to the top is at 11 pm. Guests can come to see the observation deck 365 days a year, 7 days a week.
According to several visitors, lines at Top of the Rock are typically very short and manageable. Guests report an average wait time of 0-15 minutes depending on crowd size. In comparison, you might spend up to an hour in line waiting to see the observation decks of the Empire State Building. For a more in-depth look at the differences between these attractions, make sure to check out our comparison.
Customers who went to Top of the Rock indicate that it is normal to spend anywhere from 1-2 hours at the observation deck. Once you are there, you should be able to take your time and enjoy the views for as long as you wish. It is recommended to set aside at least an hour for this activity.
Sunset is the most popular time to visit Top of the Rock. Even though several visitors indicate that this attraction almost never gets busy enough to increase wait times by much, you should expect longer lines and larger crowds from the hours of 3 pm – 8 pm. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting between the hours of 8 am – 11 am or 8 pm – 11 pm.
You might be able to save money on your tickets by buying them ahead of time (read about discounts below). But keep in mind, those tickets may not have a 24-hour cancelation policy.
Exhibits at Top of the Rock
When you arrive at Top of the Rock, you’ll discover several exhibits on your way to the observation decks. You may find that some of these activities are only available before visiting the top. Keep an eye out for the following attractions:
Mezzanine – Once you’ve passed through security, you’ll enter into a hall that might as well be the room of a museum. This Mezzanine includes a variety of photos and artifacts from throughout the history of Rockefeller Center. Learn more about the building before heading to the top.
Breezeway – This interactive breezeway features a display full of LED lights. Upon entering, you will be assigned a color which will follow you around the room. This is a fun little pastime while on your way to the top.
Radiance Wall – This art exhibit created by Swarovski features a variety of glass panels with blown glass, crystal clusters, and fiber-optic lighting. Guests who choose to take a little more time might even spot a few interesting shapes on the wall.
Theater – In addition to the other exhibits, you can also hop into this small theater to enjoy a short presentation about Rockefeller Center and the history of NBC. This is a fun and relatively short activity which can add to your overall experience.
Beam Walk – Based on one of the most famous images in the history of New York City, this attraction allows you to walk in the footsteps of the men who helped to build Rockefeller Center. Find out what it was like to walk along the steel beams as this building was under construction.
Sky Shuttle – Welcome to one of the most interesting rides you’ll ever take. Look up to see yourself traveling to the Top of the Rock in under a minute and enjoy the show as you go!
Joie Chandelier – This is yet another fantastic addition to Top of the Rock which was created by Swarovski. Comprised of 14,000 crystals, this is one of the largest and most impressive chandeliers in the world. From upside down, the Joie Chandelier actually looks like Rockefeller Center.
Security and Prohibited Items
All visitors must go through a security check. There are several items you cannot bring with you to the Top of the Rock. Most of these items are prohibited to keep everyone safe and secure.
Top of the Rock offers timed tickets, which usually means that there is less of a chance attending with huge crowds. But, before you pay full price, be sure to read our section on discounts just below.
Free for children under 6
TIP: If you want to avoid getting a timed ticket, you can also get a flexible date ticket which allows you to cancel up to 24 hours before your date of choice. This skip-the-line admission ticket will allow you to visit at any time within one month of the date listed.
That being said, some reviewers indicate that they were allowed to just walk right in without any issues (read reviews here). This is a great way to plan around the weather and pick the perfect time for your visit. There is no extra charge for this ticket.
6 WAYS TO GET DISCOUNTED TICKETS TO TOP OF THE ROCK
(1) – Save 10-15% off retail tickets to Top of the Rock with Trusted Tours with the code NYTO5. Trusted Tours, a 3rd party ticket seller, offers discounted tickets. This may be the best deal, if you are only interested in Top of the Rock and not in other city attractions. You will only see the full discount reflected at checkout once you enter the code.
(2) Access to the observation deck is included for free with the purchase of the New York Pass, the Sightseeing Pass, the CityPass booklet and the Explorer Pass. These passes can save you a lot of money if you are planning on visiting several attractions and usually include bus tours and boat cruises. We break down which tourist pass might be good for you if any.
(3) CitySights, one of the large hop-on, hop-off bus tour companies in town offers their FreeStyle Pass, which combines 3 days of bus service and 3, 5 or 7 attractions (including Top of the Rock). Price depends on the # of attractions, but you will likely get Top of the Rock for free.
(4) Rock Pass– Rockefeller Center’s own pass. $44/ticket gets you access to Top of the Rock as well as the Rockefeller Center Tour. Retail price for both would be $52 for an adult, so you would save $8 per adult and $2 per child (6-12). The tour is also part of most of the tourist passes. They also have additional passes that include Top of the Rock.
(5) AAA – Triple-A members get $3 off tickets. Must present valid AAA card when purchasing.
(6) Military Discount – Although not published, Top of the Rock offers a great military discount (at least as of April 2016). The price for military tickets is $15/adult/child with valid military ID. Each member of the military can bring an additional 3 people, who can also enjoy the discount. We recommend calling Top of the Rock to confirm.
(7) Bar 65 – is a very nice bar/restaurant located on the 65th floor. This is literally two floors below the first observation deck for Top of the Rock. Although they have a dress code (at least business casual), adult visitors who want to get a drink might want to consider a stop at Bar 65 for a very similar view of New York City. They serve excellent cocktails, and at $20/drink, it’s almost half the price of Top of the Rock. If you’re not interested in the exhibits and attractions at Top of the Rock, this could be a good alternative.
There are a few different observation decks to choose from in New York City. With a variety of options to consider, some visitors have trouble deciding on just one. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the reasons you might want to consider Top of the Rock over their competitors. In addition to Top of the Rock, you will also find observation decks at both the Empire State Building and One World Observatory. Although these are wonderful and historic locations to visit, there are some clear advantages to choosing Rockefeller Center instead.
While you might have to wait in line for up to an hour at the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock usually doesn’t have long lines or unreasonable crowd sizes. This makes it a lot easier to visit and enjoy your experience without worrying about long waits or too many tourists. Note: Read our tips on how to avoid long waits at the Empire State Building.
Great All Year Long
Although the Empire State Building only includes open-air observation decks, you’ll find enclosed decks at Top of the Rock. This makes a big difference during the winter season and bad weather. Who needs to worry about the wind or the rain when you’re enjoying the views from indoors?
See the Empire State Building
One thing you can’t see from the observation deck at the Empire State Building is the structure itself. If you want to get a good look at this historic building, Top of the Rock provides one of the best views in the city. A very popular photo (or selfie) is with the ESB in the background.
See Central Park
In addition to offering an awesome look at historic buildings in New York City, Top of the Rock also has one of the best views of Central Park from above. Experience one of the most famous parks in the world from an entirely different point of view.
Get More Done
Thanks to the short waits and timed tickets, you can actually plan on spending around 2 hours at Top of the Rock without worrying about this activity taking too long. As a result, it’s much easier to plan other activities for the day and rest assured that you probably won’t be late or run out of time. If you need more help deciding which observation deck to visit, check out our comparison of all three locations. If we have convinced you to visit Rockefeller Center, then visit our ticket and discount sections of this post. And remember, several tourist discount passes include both the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock as well as One World Trade Center, so you may not need to choose one over the other.
Discover the history, art, and architecture of this grand city space. The tours will be every 30 minutes from 10 am to 7:30 pm, excluding 6 pm and 6:30 pm. $22.50/person (with discount). Read our post which reviews this tour, which also provides a free, self-guided version. The tour is included for free with both the New York Pass and Explorer Pass.
This beautiful Art-Deco complex was built in the 1930’s by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He originally acquired the land because he had promised to build a new opera house for the Metropolitan Opera Company, who was looking to move further uptown. Rockefeller took out a 27-year lease on the propert27-year28 (with the option for three, 21-year extensions.) After the stock market crash of 1929, the Metropolitan Opera started to stall, wanting to hold out for a better lease. Rockefeller decided to commence building the complex without them. He then began what would become the most expensive private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Over 40,000 people were employed during the construction, which was completed in 1939. The complex today encompasses 22 acres and has more than 8,000,000 square feet of interior space. Today it is a favorite spot to visit for visitors, particularly at the holidays. Rockefeller hosts the famous annual Christmas tree, which ranges in size from 60 to 100 feet tall from year to year and is covered with over 30,000 LED lights! The tree is positioned in front of the central feature of Rockefeller Center: the GE Building. The GE Building is located at 30 Rockefeller Center, or “30 Rock.”
Both places are fantastic experiences! While Empire State Building is a classic tourist experience, Top of the Rock can offer some advantages, depending on the type of traveler you are. One of the benefits of Top of the Rock is that you purchase your ticket for a specific time slot. This keeps the crowds a reasonable size and cuts down on a lot of time spent waiting in line. It also makes it a little easier to plan the rest of your day so that you can get the maximum amount of time for sightseeing! Also, Top of the Rock offers great photo opportunities; including a great view of Central Park (during the day) and a great shot of The Empire State Building (can’t get a photo of it standing on top of it!) The observation deck is indoor/outdoor, so depending what time of year you are visiting it may be a better choice. If you are on a tight time budget or hate waiting in line, this may be a better choice for you.
TIP: Because your entry is timed, try to go a little before sunset. That way you can get day and night views in one trip!
Some Other Things to Know…
You can either select a time when you book your ticket online or choose to book for an unspecified time slot. If you opt for that you can redeem your ticket in person at Top of the Rock after your arrival in NYC.
Advance reservations aren’t required, but if you want a specific time and to cut down on the waiting, it is recommended.
If you show up late for your time, your ticket will still be honored and you will be worked into the next available time slot.
If you are early they will try to get you in as soon as possible. You may have to wait until your scheduled time though.
If you want to get a ticket the day of your visit, you can still book online as long as it is at least a half-hour in advance. Otherwise, you will have to get your ticket in person.
There is no time limit for how long guests can stay on the observation deck. Most people stay around 45 minutes to one hour.
The observation deck is open rain or shine, but guests will be told about weather and visibility conditions prior to entering. If the weather s bad and you decide to not go up, your ticket will not be refunded. You are able to rebook for another time, however.
The exhibit about Rockefeller Center is located on the mezzanine level of Top of the Rock. To control the crowd flow guests are only allowed to visit the exhibit before going to the observation deck.
You can purchase a ticket as part of both the New York Pass and City Pass. Check out our post on the passes!
This post will show you how to get free tickets for The View, including standby tickets, where and when you need to go on the day of the taping, and general rules for studio entry to help you plan your attendance. Be sure to check out our how-to guide about attending other NYC TV show tapings.