If you are going to visit New York soon you will probably end up at the top of either the Rockerfeller Center or Empire State Building to get a glimpse of the whole city. Whilst I was in New York in February I went up both tourist attractions and definitely had a favourite.
The panoramic photos above and below are two pictures I took at opposite sides of the observatory deck. The Rockerfeller allows you to get a great view of New York including central park, which was snowy at the time we visited in February. We looked at the weather forecast for the week and chose the day that forecasted clear skies and were lucky to get a nice, sunny day.
Because we did the Rockerfeller Center in the day, we decided to go up the Empire State building at night. Seeing the streets and famous buildings of New York lit up was amazing and the views were brilliant. However the observatory deck has metal railings running around the whole building which took away from the view slightly and made it harder to take photos.
Both attractions had great customer service with staff always happy to point you in the right direction. Our time up the Empire State building was cut slightly short as one of the staff on the observatory deck came and spoke to us and asked if we liked live music. He pointed to a big bunch of lights and told us Kanye West was performing for the NBA All-Star Weekend Concert so we quickly made our way down and managed to catch the last songs of his set.
We did not have to queue for very long for either of the attractions which was probably down to the fact we were visiting in February and not holiday season. If you are visiting in summer, you should be prepared for long queues.
When I returned to New York in July I visited the One World Trade Center. We booked our slot but still queued for quite a while which was expected as it was summer. There was a lot of information about the building and how it was built throughout the experience and the views from the observation deck were unreal. Personally I preferred the outdoor observation decks of the Empire State and Rockerfeller but still enjoyed the One World Trade Center.
If you only had time to do one of the attractions whilst visiting New York I would recommend the Rockerfeller Center. If possible I would try to book a time around dusk allowing you to see the sunset and watch the city light up If you have time to do a second I would recommend the One World Trade Center and do one attraction at night and one in the day. All three attractions have similar prices with tickets for adults costing roughly $30 but ultimately whatever observation deck you end up visiting you cannot help but be amazed by the views New York has to offer.