We couldn't go all the way to NYC without going to the top of this iconic building. The views from the 86th floor are great but after going to the top of the rock prior to the Empire State Building we found the views from the rock better. From there you get a better view of Central Park and you get to look at the Empire State Building which provides a great backdrop for family photos and the city skyline.
We went up to the top deck (102nd floor) but if i had my time again I wouldn't bother and save my $$. It's the same view just from 16 floors higher and behind glass panels which doesn't help when taking photos. As there is only 1 lift up and down from the 102nd it can take some time to go up.
Also the photo they take on the way up and sell to you on your way out is a rip off.