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How to Spend the Perfect Family Day at Rockefeller Center

By Paulina CajigalAug 7 2023
Arts & Culture
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School’s out for summer, and that means parents have their hands full with restless kids at home. If you’re searching for a way to curb all that energy, there’s no bigger playground in New York City than Rockefeller Center. Featuring a host of special events and programming — including Roxy’s Rock ‘n’ Read — the 22-acre campus is chock-full of kid-friendly activities, like the new Rockefeller Center Jr. Tour and roller skating at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace.

Guaranteed to be as much fun for adults as it is for children, here’s our complete itinerary for the perfect family day at Rockefeller Center.

10:30 am: Take the Rockefeller Center Jr. Tour

Head to 30 Rockefeller Plaza

Start the day on the right foot with the Rockefeller Center Jr. Tour, a brand-new tour created specifically for children ages 6 to 11 (and their accompanying adults). The kid-friendly guided walk through campus delves into Rockefeller Center’s rich history and iconic hot spots with an interactive twist — complete with a scavenger hunt and a special visit from Roxy the Owl. The Rockefeller Center Jr. Tour takes place daily at 10:30 am; tickets can be purchased here.

If all of that walking worked up an appetite…

11:45 am: Share a meal at Ace’s Pizza

When the tour ends at — spoiler alert — Radio Park, walk across the street to 30 Rockefeller Plaza; Ace’s Pizza is on Rink Level

We know it can be hard to find a place both children and parents love, but Ace’s Pizza makes family meals easy. As an exclusive Under 30 offer, you can order any large specialty pie and two fountain drinks for just $29.99, tax included. Not in the mood for pizza? Ace’s also has salads, sandwiches, and three different types of cheesy bread.

Since there’s always room for dessert…

12:30 pm: Grab something sweet at Chip City or Ben & Jerry’s

Stay on the Rink Level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza

There are endless options when it comes to snacks and sweets on campus. Featuring flavors like Nutella Sea Salt and Oatmeal Apple Pie, Chip City rotates its fresh-baked cookie menu weekly, so you can try something new every visit. If everyone’s in the mood to share, you can split an ice cream flight from Ben & Jerry’s, an Under 30 offering unique to Rockefeller Center.

Now that you’ve refueled…

1 pm: Rock and roll at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace

No need to travel far; just head outside Rink Level doors

In terms of quintessential American pastimes, there’s almost nothing more wholesome than roller skating. See who has the best moves at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, an open-air reimagining of the 1970s Los Angeles-based roller skating rink. Tickets, which can be bought here, include a one-hour session and a $10 skate rental. In the winter months, you can start a new holiday tradition by ice skating on The Rink under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

For the perfect family photo backdrop…

2:15 pm: Take in the sights at Top of the Rock

Take a quick walk back to 30 Rock; the entrance to Top of the Rock is on 50th Street

Top of the Rock is the only place you can catch an unobstructed, panoramic view of New York City. It has both indoor and outdoor observation decks, so you can still soak in the sights while taking a break from the summer heat. There are a few fun stops on your way to the Top, too.

General admission tickets, which can be purchased here, include access to New Frontiers, an interactive art series featuring work from emerging artists in New York.

If you’re looking for a hands-on, educational activity…

3:30 pm: Learn about fire safety at FDNY Fire Zone

Head a block down to the corner of 6th Avenue and 48th Street

It’s important that every family is prepared for an emergency, and the FDNY Fire Zone is the best place to learn about fire safety. The educational center teaches visitors what to do in case of a fire emergency through interactive exhibits and presentations, giving families everything they need to eliminate fire hazards and create their own escape plans. As an added bonus, kids can even meet a real firefighter and climb on a realistic fire truck. While general admission is free, tickets for the Fire-Safety Presentation are $6 for children and $7 for adults.

To commemorate the day…

4:45 pm: Pick up some souvenirs

These stores can be found between 48th and 51st Streets

There’s a store for everyone at Rockefeller Center — even kids. Voracious readers will feel right at home at McNally Jackson, and budding builders can find everything they need for their next project at LEGO. For those with specific tastes, there are endless possibilities at FAO Schwarz and Nintendo, expansive stores with multiple levels of interactive fun. To make the most out of your time, we recommend visiting the stores in this order: Nintendo, McNally Jackson, FAO Schwarz, and then LEGO.

Before you head home…

6 pm: Have a family dinner at Bill’s Bar & Burger

Turn left onto 51st Street as soon as you exit the LEGO store on 5th Avenue

The day wouldn’t be complete without a family dinner, so gather ‘round some good eats (and conversation) at Bill’s Bar & Burger. The casual eatery is known for American classics like hand-pressed burgers, cheese fries, and decadent milkshakes; the diner also has a wide selection of beer, wine, and cocktails for accompanying adults. With two floors and 400 seats, Bill’s Bar & Burger is perfect for families big and small.

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