15 Best Things to do near Rockefeller Center in NYC

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Chances are, if you are visiting NYC, then you’ll be checking out the Rockefeller Center at some point during your visit.

There are a ton of things to do near Rockefeller Center that will keep you entertained for days. 

The Rockefeller Center is in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

Construction of the Rockefeller Center started in 1931 with the first of its buildings opening two years later.

Views of Central Park Top of the Rock

⏱️ IN A RUSH? Here are my TOP 3 Things to do near the Rockefeller Center

🎟️ Go to the Top of the Rock

🖼️ Visiting the Museum of Modern Art

🌃 Seeing the billboard lights in Times Square

It’s a complex made up of 14 buildings, some of which including the ‘Top of the Rock’ observation deck and the Radio City Music Hall, will be familiar to many. 

Of the places to visit near Rockefeller Center there are some big New York City attractions.

There’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Time Square, Grand Central Terminal, and Central Park. 

Keep reading to check out the best 15 tourist attractions near Rockefeller Center.  

1. Going to the Top of the Rock

View from Top of the rock
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 2 min / 0.1 mile

One of the biggest attractions at Rockefeller Center is the ‘Top of the Rock’ observation deck.

This is one of the best New York City attractions because the view from the top is out of this world.

At 850 feet high you can get a striking view of the Empire State Building but also amazing views of Central Park.

If you look down to the street below you can even, see those iconic yellow cabs that look more like yellow ants from such a height. 

It is best to buy tickets for ‘Top of the Rock’ in advance of your visit. If you purchase the New York City Pass this is one of the free attractions, you can visit. Once at Rockefeller Center you’ll find the observation deck inside the building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. 

2. Visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patricks Cathedral in New york city
  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 2 min / 0.1 mile

Whilst most of the things to see and do in New York are modern, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a real historic gem.

Of all the places to see near Rockefeller Center you’ve got to check out this 19th century cathedral.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built in the 1800s. Built as a dedication to Ireland’s patron saint, this cathedral sits in stark contrast to its surroundings. 

You can enter the cathedral free of charge, though you are encouraged to leave a donation. Once inside you’ll forget you’re in one of the busiest, most famous cities in the world.

The cathedral has 21 altars and 19 bells, and the enormous organ has a whopping 7,885 pipes. 

The cathedral is located on E 50th Street and E 51st Street. From Rockefeller Center head east down W 50th Street and you’ll find this adorable cathedral. 

3. See a show at Radio City Music Hall

  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 3 min / 0.2 mile

Radio City Music Hall is a brilliant place to catch a show when in New York.

What’s better is Radio City is right around the corner from the Rockefeller Center, well it’s actually considered to be part of the Rockefeller complex.

The Radio City Music Hall holds a place in U.S. history and even became a New York City Landmark in 1978. 

Upon its opening, Radio City’s four-tiered auditorium was the largest in the world.

You can take the ‘Radio City Stage Door Tour’ which will show you behind the scenes of the theatre.

There are music, comedy, and theatre performances to see at Radio City. Artists such as Barry Manilow, Sting, and Stevie Wonder have all entertained people at this entertainment venue. 

4. Visiting the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

can of soup MoMa New York City
  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 7 min / 0.3 mile

From the Rockefeller Center you want to head north along 5th Avenue and then take a left on W 53rd Street. You’ll find MoMA on your right. 

MoMA has been a part of New York’s history since its opening in 1929.

From its opening, the museum has been forced to move locations and expand three times due to the growing demand of visitors. It wasn’t until 1939 that MoMA opened the doors of its current location.  

If you are into art or simply want to see some of the big-name art pieces, then you should check out MoMA. With more than 200,000 pieces in their collection, MoMA is a treasure trove of modern art.

With works by Van Gogh, Dalí, Picasso and Warhol you are bound to find something to interest your tastes. 

MoMA is a popular New York attraction so it’s best to book your tickets in advance online.

The Museum of Modern Art has a timed ticket policy because the place becomes so busy. Be sure to plan and be there for your reservation time so you can get maximum enjoyment out of this cultural attraction. 

5. Shopping on 5th Avenue

5th Avenue NYC
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 1 min / 0.1 mile

If you are looking for some of the best shopping near Rockefeller Center look no further than 5th Avenue. Walk east on W 53rd Street for just a minute and you’ll be on 5th Avenue. 

5th Avenue is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. They’ve got everything you could possibly want from a shopping trip.

From luxury brands like Prada and Gucci to the more affordable like UNIQLO, 5th Avenue has it all. 

5th Avenue stretches 10km from Washington Square Park to West 143rd Street in Harlem. It’s also known as “Millionaire’s Row” because of the number of luxurious mansions!

6. Checking out the lights of Times Square

Times Square in New york city
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 8 min / 0.4 mile

Visiting Times Square is one of the most iconic New York experiences and it’s less than 10 minutes from the Rockefeller Center. Times Square sits at the intersection of W 45th Street and 7th Avenue.

Head west on W 48th Street and then head south when you reach 7th Avenue. 

In 1904 Times Square was given its name after the construction of the subway station.

After just 3 weeks the first electric advertisement board appeared and thus the Times Square, we know today came into being. 

The light show that happens at Times Square lasts for three minutes and starts at 11:57pm every night. The show lasts 364 days of the year except for the notorious New Year’s Eve celebration. 

Times Square is well worth a visit at night, there’s an overwhelming number of things to see as well as copious people watching opportunities. 

7. Having fun at Madame Tussauds New York

  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 15 min / 0.8 mile

Madame Tussauds feels like one of those tourist things you’ve just got to do whilst in New York. It’s one of the best things to do around Rockefeller Center and you can be there in just 15 minutes.

From the Rockefeller Center you want to follow W 48th Street onto 7th Avenue (heading south). Then take a right onto W 42nd Street and follow the shimmering signs for all things wax works. 

Take photos with your favourite singers like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. Pretend to be a guest on The Tonight Show, join the Ghostbusters on their missions and enjoy a 4D Marvel superhero experience. 

With popular New York attractions it’s always best to book these experiences in advance so you avoid the long queues. 

Click here to see the latest prices.

8. Chilling at Bryant Park

Bryant Park in New york city
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 10 min / 0.5 miles

Bryant Park is miniscule in comparison to Central Park, but it has its own unique charms and an ambiance that makes it well worth a visit.

Bryant Park was first designed by Governor Thomas Dongan in 1686 and was declared public property.

The park used to have a reservoir but now it’s home to a sizeable area of grass and patio space to relax on.   

If you plan on grabbing a bite to eat go, take it to Bryant Park and enjoy lunch on the grass. Whilst you’re there why not charge up your phone at one of the outdoor charging tables.

Watch as office workers relax, people play table tennis and circus performers entertain. 

From Rockefeller Center you want to head south down 5th Avenue and take a right along W 42nd Street. 

9. Seeing a show at Carnegie Hall

  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 14 min / 0.7 mile

When you’ve done checking out the Rockefeller Center why not see a show at Midtown Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall. This world-famous concert venue is well worth a visit.

They host classical, jazz, and other popular music genres. An array of esteemed artists have performed at Carnegie Hall, including Tchaikovsky, Horowitz, Bernstein and even The Beatles. 

Carnegie Hall’s website is the best place to go to discover what’s on when you are in New York. As it’s such a well-renowned New York venue tickets for popular shows sell out fast so be sure to plan your trip in advance. 

Walk west along W 50th Street and then take a right onto 6th Avenue. After seven blocks take a left onto W 57th Street and right at the end joining with 7th Avenue, you’ll find Carnegie Hall. 

10. Discovering the iconic department store, Macy’s

  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 20 min / 1 mile

Macy’s is a high-end department store founded back in 1858. The department store is home to 570 independent stores.

Think of something you want or a retailer you want to visit, and chances are Macy’s has it. From Burberry to Coach and homeware to clothing, Macy’s has it all.

The store is so large it takes up an entire city block (34th Street and Broadway). 

It’s just a 20-minute walk from the Rockefeller Center to Macy’s and there are plenty of things to see on the way. Join 6th Avenue heading south past Bryant Park and then turn onto 34th Street. 

Be sure to prepare your wallets and any reluctant shoppers, you’ll be spending a fair few hours shopping to your heart’s content at Macy’s. 

11. Discovering beautiful views of NYC from ​​SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 11 min / 0.6 mile

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is a relatively new observation deck that offers visitors not only incredible views but also a brilliant interactive experience.

The Vanderbilt building is the fourth tallest skyscraper in New York, standing at 1,401 feet. 

Whilst you can visit the observation decks at the ‘Top of the Rock’ and the Empire State Building, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt offers an immersive experience.

There are large floor-to-ceiling mirrors, fascinating art pieces and most importantly an epic view.

If you have the chance and love viewing New York from above (let’s admit it who doesn’t) then it’s well worth checking out all the city’s observation decks for a complete view of the city. 

From Rockefeller you want to head south on 5th Avenue and then take a left on E 42nd Street. This New York attraction is right around the corner from Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. 

Click here to see the latest prices.

12. Checking out the stunning ceiling of Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal in New york city
  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 10 min / 0.5 mile

Another of the best things to do around Rockefeller Center is to check out Grand Central Terminal.

This is perhaps one of the most famous train stations in the world and there are plenty of things to discover inside.

For example, did you know there’s a secret tennis court? Or that the terminal clock is valued at around $20 million? 

Remember to look up and check out the terminal’s ceiling. The ceiling was created by five architects. The mural on the ceiling was based on Johann Bayer’s 1603-star atlas Uranometria. 

Just two months after its completion an observant commuter noticed that the design was completely backwards with west being east and vice versa.

Years later when the ceiling needed restoring, they repainted the entire thing but decided to keep the backwards orientation! 

Even if you don’t plan on catching a train you should check out this spectacular architectural gem. From Rockefeller Center head down 5th Avenue for five blocks and then take a right on E 45th Street. 

13. Checking out the iconic Chrysler Building

Chrysler in New york city
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 14 min / 0.7 mile

This iconic Art Deco-style skyscraper has been part of the New York skyline since 1930. At its time of completion, the Chrysler Building was the world’s tallest building.

Today 11 other buildings in New York alone stand above this former champion. 

If you are looking for what to do near Rockefeller Center, why not wander the streets around the Chrysler Building and take some awesome street photos.

Whilst you can go inside the lobby of the Chrysler Building you can’t go any further. It’s used as office space, so the building is best viewed from outside.

It’s easy to get to the Chrysler Building from Rockefeller, just head down 5th Avenue, take a left onto E 45th Street and a right onto Lexington Avenue.

You’ll notice the Chrysler Building is right across from Grand Central Terminal. 

14. Going to Central Park

Lake in central park in New york city
  • Walking distance from Rockefeller Center: 14 min / 0.7 mile

Did you even visit New York if you didn’t go to Central Park? If you are looking for things to do near Rockefeller Plaza, then Central Park is just 10 blocks away along 5th Avenue. 

Central Park is more than just your average park. You could probably spend a solid week exploring its grounds and still not see everything.

Visit the inhabitants of Central Park Zoo, check out the beautiful Loeb Boathouse, and ride a horse-drawn carriage around the park. 

For fans of Gossip Girl head to Bethesda Terrace, the location of Chuck and Blair’s quick fugitive-style wedding.

Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, Naumburg Brandshell and the Hands Christian Andersen Monument should also be on your Central Park bucket list.

At 3.41 square km don’t underestimate the size of this park. After exploring all the other things to do near Rockefeller Plaza you may want to consider renting out bikes to explore the park.  

15. Visiting New York Public Library

New York Public Library in NYC
  • Walking distance from the Rockefeller Center: 10 min / 0.5 mile

Whilst the New York Public Library (NYPL) has buildings all over the city there is one main building that is the most well-known.

If you ask any local for directions to NYPL then they will know where you are talking about. Yes, it’s the building with the lion statues outside!

The library first opened in 1911 and has been serving the people of New York with their literary needs ever since.

Inside the library you’ll be overwhelmed with its beauty, it might even have you contemplating going back to school just for an excuse to study.

Be sure to check out Astor Hall, the McGraw Rotunda, and the Rose Reading Room when you’re inside. 

The New York Public Library actually sits right next to Bryant Park. From the Rockefeller Center head south down 5th Avenue and you’ll find the library just after W 42nd Street.

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