You know what’s better than crossing something off of your bucket list?
Crossing something off your bucket list when you’re not expecting to. And that, my friends, is how I came to see some of the best views of NYC.
For the longest time, I’ve heard that the views of NYC from the Top of the Rock can’t be beat. And I’ve seen tons of photos that proved as much. While a lot of people assume the best NYC views are from the top of the Empire State Building — and don’t get me wrong, those are impressive — if you’re standing on the Empire State, you don’t get to see the NYC skyline with its most iconic building.
Now, a visit to Top of the Rock doesn’t come cheap and without planning. Tickets cost about $45 for basic admission and even more if you add on various upgrades. And because it’s a popular tourist attraction, you have to reserve a time slot for your visit. You can imagine that tickets for prime time slots (sunset hours) go quickly, so you’ve got to have your plans together.
Along the way, as I maintained “Trip to Top of the Rock” on my list of NYC to-do’s, I heard about a little hack for seeing these amazing NYC views, without the high price tag or elaborate plans. While the Top of the Rock is great, there’s an equally great and far cheaper way see the iconic skyline.
Top of the Rock is on the 70th Floor, and just five floors below is Bar SixtyFive. You can reserve a table to eat at Bar SixtyFive and to take in the views to the south, west and north of Rockefeller Center. But you can also just show up at Bar SixtyFive for free and take in those same sights. There’s an outdoor terrace with downtown views — you just have to order a drink from the bar to gain access (which range from $6-$20).
And so, on a recent Friday night, when my mom had come over to watch the kids so we could go out for a friend’s birthday celebration, our plans got canceled at the last minute. The kids were asleep, and we considered sending my mom home. But then, we came to our senses and decided to take advantage of that free babysitting. And with an hour of daylight left, we headed down to Rockefeller Center.
I’d read online that people can start lining up for Bar SixtyFive before 5:00 p.m. when they open. So I was ready to wait in line. But we headed straight up without a wait, and the place wasn’t crowded at all.
And the views. were. everything.