It’s hard to get a sense of how big New York City is from the streets of Manhattan. I’ve rounded up my twelve favourite spots to marvel at amazing views of New York City – perfect for inducing those “pinch me I can’t believe I’m in New York” moments.
1. The Staten Island Ferry
Not only is the Staten Island Ferry your free ticket to cruising past the State of Liberty, you’ll also get sweet views of the Financial District as you leave Manhattan. You can still enjoy the view of the iconic skyline from the outdoor bar & cafe at the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
2. Press Lounge, Hell’s Kitchen
I seriously think that Hell’s Kitchen is Manhattan’s most underrated neighbourhood. There are a number of low-key bars and restaurants worth your time in Hell’s Kitchen but if you only make it to one, make it Press Lounge. This spacious rooftop bar has views over the Hudson River in one direction and to the Upper West Side in the other. Such a great place to watch the sunset with a drink in hand!
3. East River State Park, Williamsburg
Even if you’re staying in Manhattan, Williamsburg is seriously worth at least one day of your time in New York. One of my favourite parts is the sandy beach at East River State Park, which has a beautiful view of Manhattan.
4. Wythe Hotel Rooftop Bar, Williamsburg
One of the city’s most impressive views of New York City isn’t even in Manhattan. Take in views over Williamsburg, East River and Manhattan from Wythe Hotel’s stylish rooftop bar.
5. The Reservoir, Central Park
It doesn’t get much more silver screen New York than a jog around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The quickest way to get to this part of the park is to enter at the corner of E 90th St and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side, which is just a block north of the Guggenheim.
6. The Skylark, Midtown
This was the second stop on a Midtown rooftop bar crawl I planned one night for my boyfriend and I. I couldn’t believe the view when I got up to the roof and it was so nice watching the sunset over the Empire State Building. The Skylark gets pretty busy, so prepare to wait if you come too late in the evening.
7. The High Line, Meatpacking District
Walking the High Line is a great way to take in views of New York City neighbourhoods. The groundbreaking urban renewal project converted an abandoned railway track into a skypark, which stretches from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District. Start at the Chelsea End, so you can reward yourself with a cold drink at Santina, the bar at the end of the High Line in the Meatpacking District.
8. Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant, Upper East Side
If you can book a table by the window at Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant, you’ll be treated to views straight over Central Park. An Upper East Side institution, Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant is on the 7th floor of the eponymous luxury department store. It’s mostly tourist-free – except for this sneaky Australian, choking back the giggles while eavesdropping on the surrounding tables. Perks of dining solo!
There best three observation decks in New York City are at the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center and The Freedom Tower. I decided just to visit one during my stay in the city. I chose the Top of the Rock because the views included Central Park and the beautiful Empire State Building – something I would miss from the famous building itself. I’ve read opinions online that it’s cheaper to go to Bar SixtyFive, a few floors below the observation deck for the same views without the entrance fee, but after going to both, I’d recommend the observation deck for a better view and better value.
10. The Met Rooftop Bar, Upper East Side
I’m kind of obsessed with the views across the top of Central Park. The sight of fluffy green foliage against the ring of skyscrapers surrounding it just tickles me pink. Once you’re finished ogling the art in The Met, head upstairs to gawk at the view over Central Park. When I was there in late September, there was an art installation on a majority of the rooftop so it was pretty crowded and there were very few seats. Not somewhere I’d plan to while away an afternoon, but worth a quick drink stop.
11. The Lake, Central Park
One of my favourite views of New York City isn’t from the sky – it’s from the water on the Boating Lake in Central Park. Not to be confused with the reservoir, this lake is at the end of The Mall, behind Bethesda Fountain. We hired boats one morning before brunch at The Boathouse, overlooking the lake. Bring cash for the boat hire!
12. Top of the Strand Rooftop Bar, Midtown
Top of the Strand was the final stop on my Midtown rooftop bar crawl one night, as we inched closer and closer to the Empire State Building. The staff here are cool ( the complete opposite of too cool), which is a novelty in Manhattan and the views can’t be beaten.
Want more New York City? Check out my Top 10 Experiences in NYC.