There are a few observation platforms in New York City, The Empire State Building , One World and Top of the rock are the best known. As a photographer, Top Of the Rock offers the best chance to catch some of the iconic scenes that the city is known for. The other advantage of the Rockefeller Center lookout is an unobstructed vantage point without glass impacting on the view. For others the tower still offers stunning views both inside and outside where you can see the city in comfort.
The best time to visit is before sunset to watch the sun set and the city to transform itself into a dazzling array of lights. The sunset timings are slightly more expensive and a lot busier but the view is spectacular. If you are planning this you can expect a 30 min wait until you can reach the top, Once you exit the second lift take the escalator to the top and then find the stairs to the very top of the tower. From here you can look towards Times Square, The Empire State, one world tower and out to the Statue of Liberty and many other landmarks. One of the highlights is seeing the Empire State Building lit up in Christmas colors.
Obviously it can be brutally cold on an exposed skyscraper in winter, every object of warm clothing is recommended for this experience. As to be expected the option to go to the very top is weather dependent and icing conditions will restrict access. Tripods are also prohibited so other options will be required to capture any longer exposure night images. I travel with a tripod base such as the Decade or Platypod, these are allowed into almost any venue.
During our stay we were often in and around Times Square. The "Square" is between Broadway and Seventh Avenue and was named in January 1905. It's certainly become a bustling and busy part of the city since the the original Long Acre Square, it's not for everyone but its a must see destination. The atmosphere changes dramatically at night and its when it all looks the best. Christmas crowds can be brutal though so be prepared for the show! We found our way into Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock at different times, but there are many shops, shows and restaurants to seen in the vicinity. There are always street performers and we even saw life sized snow globes as decorations for the holidays. The stage area above the ticket office is a popular place to see above the bustling crowd and busy traffic and most visitors venture up here for a better look.
Not far from Times square is historic Bryant park, named to honor romantic poet, and civic reformer William Bryant. It contains a Skating rink, Market and the Stephen Schwarsman building, This building houses the The NYC public library. The area is worth a visit and is a great place to see when walking around. https://bryantpark.org/blog/history
The architecture and the ceiling art inside the library are well worth a visit. The building has been seen in many movies (, Spiderman, The day after tomorrow) and is a nice place to slow down or get some respite from the weather. A beautiful christmas tree greets you after passing through security, we entered and then climbed up the stairs and passed through the McGraw Rotunda before entering the reading rooms. The Ceiling and wall art art in this, and the adjoining rooms is beautiful. Obviously the area is still a working library and a respectful mood is required once inside the research area’s. Once we absorbed our surroundings it was time to head out, there is a small cafe and a shop near the entrance and there are some unique items that are ideal as gifts.
Once outside Bryant Park at the rear of the building is a market, restaurant and Skating rink.The atmosphere at night here epitomizes NYC and has a genuine Christmas Holiday atmosphere. Great for a family atmosphere or date night in the city!