Ah, New York City – the city that never sleeps, and for good reason. The hustle and bustle of this vibrant metropolis are unparalleled, and there’s no better way to take in the sights and sounds than by visiting the roof top views in New York City.
I’ve been quite a while since I visited New York City, so when we went in April 2001 after the pandemic, our goal was to visit all the tourist highlights. To that end, we purchased one of those city passes with, I think, five events. It turns out that the rooftops tend to be the most expensive, and so that’s what we did.
We visited the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, the Edge, and the One World Observatory in just a few days.
No, this will sound so touristy, but it is the iconic Empire State Building. It’s a great reminder of all those wonderful movies I have seen shot there—the classic King Kong, An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle.
The best time to go to courses is during the week, but I recommend paying the extra and going up and seeing the sunset. It will be crowded, however. I think it has some of the city’s best views because of the location. You can look all the way around.
My other favourite, which I think is probably the most expensive, is the Edge. Just a warning: it’s bound to be windy. The glass floor can be a little disturbing when you go outside, but don’t worry, you don’t have to walk on it.
When we returned this year in the springtime, we spent four months in New York City. We didn’t do any other rooftops mentioned in this article, say for one. We enjoyed going to the Met, and as we got a season pass, we went quite often. Going up to the rooftop garden was a kick, but it certainly doesn’t have the views of the other places.
So, let’s look at the best rooftop views in New York City and weigh the pros and cons.
1. The Empire State Building
Of course, the Empire State Building is on the list – it’s a New York City icon, and the views from the top are breathtaking. From this vantage point, you can see the city stretching out, with views of the Chrysler Building, Central Park, and the Hudson River.
Pros: The Empire State Building offers one of the most comprehensive views of the city. You can take in the entirety of Manhattan; you might even see New Jersey on a clear day. It’s also an iconic tourist destination, so it’s a must-visit if you travel to NYC for the first time.
Cons: The lines for the Empire State Building can be incredibly long, so be prepared to wait. And, of course, getting to the top can be pretty expensive. However, you can save money by purchasing tickets online in advance.
2. The Top of the Rock
Located on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center, it offers another iconic view of NYC. The Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Hudson River are here.
Pros: The Top of the Rock is less crowded than the Empire State Building, so you won’t have to wait as long to get to the top. Plus, the views are just as impressive. You can also take advantage of the timed entry system, which allows you to reserve a specific time slot in advance.
Cons: While the Top of the Rock is less crowded than the Empire State Building, it can still be quite busy, especially during peak tourist season. And, like the Empire State Building, it can be expensive to get to the top.
3. The Edge
One of the newest additions to NYC’s rooftop scene, it offers an unparalleled city view. Located in Hudson Yards, the observation deck is 100 stories high and features a glass floor that extends out over the edge of the building.
Pros: The Edge offers a unique and thrilling experience with its heart-stopping glass floor and incredible 360-degree city views. And, since it’s a new attraction, the lines are generally shorter than some of the other rooftop destinations in the city.
Cons: The Edge can be pretty pricey with general admission tickets. Additionally, the glass floor might not be for the faint of heart, so if you’re afraid of heights, this might not be your best choice.
4. One World Observatory
Located in the brand new One World Trade Center, the One World Observatory offers stunning city views from the highest point in the Western Hemisphere.
Pros: The One World Observatory offers unparalleled views of the city from its stunning location atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. You can see everything from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park to the Empire State Building. The observatory also features a SkyPod elevator that takes you to the top in just 47 seconds, making for an exciting and thrilling ride.
Cons: The One World Observatory can be expensive, with general admission tickets starting at $41. Additionally, lines can be long, so be prepared to wait. However, you can skip the lines by purchasing a priority admission ticket in advance.
5. The Met Roof Garden
In the trendy neighbourhood of Williamsburg, Westlight is a rooftop bar on the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel. The bar offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and a stylish and modern atmosphere.
Pros: Westlight offers some of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline, and the bar is beautifully designed with a stylish and modern aesthetic. The bar also serves delicious cocktails and small plates, making it a perfect spot for a night out.
Cons: Westlight can be quite crowded, especially on weekends. Also, prices can be steep, so it might not be the best choice for budget-conscious travellers.
7. The Ides
The Ides is another popular rooftop bar in Williamsburg on the roof of the Wythe Hotel. The bar offers stunning Manhattan skyline views and a relaxed and trendy atmosphere.
Pros: The Ides is a hip, trendy rooftop bar offering some of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline. The bar serves up delicious cocktails and small plates, and the atmosphere is always lively and fun.
Cons: Like Westlight, The Ides can be crowded on weekends, and prices can be steep. The bar is also located in a remote part of Brooklyn, so it might not be the most accessible destination.
For More Information, Visit The Ides Bar’s Official Website
8. Refinery Rooftop
Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is a rooftop bar on top of the Refinery Hotel. The bar offers stunning views of the Empire State Building and a chic and sophisticated atmosphere.
Pros: Refinery Rooftop is a perfect destination for a rooftop bar with stunning views of the Empire State Building. The bar serves up delicious cocktails and small plates, and the atmosphere is sophisticated and stylish.
Cons: Refinery Rooftop can be pretty crowded, especially during peak hours. Also, prices can be steep, so it might not be the best choice for budget-conscious travellers. Finally, the rooftop bar is located in the heart of Midtown, so it can be pretty noisy and crowded, making it less of a peaceful escape than some of the other rooftop destinations on this list.
9. The William Vale
Located in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood, The William Vale is a luxury hotel boasting an impressive rooftop bar and a Westlight restaurant. In addition to its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the hotel also features a rooftop pool perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.
Pros: Besides its panoramic views of Manhattan’s skyline, The William Vale’s rooftop bar and pool offer a stylish and sophisticated atmosphere perfect for a relaxing day or night out. The bar serves delicious cocktails and small plates, and the rooftop pool provides a refreshing respite from the summer heat.
Cons: Like many other rooftop destinations, The William Vale can be quite crowded, especially on weekends. Also, prices can be steep, so it might not be the best choice for budget-conscious travellers.
10. The Roof at Public
Located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Roof at Public is a stylish and modern rooftop bar that offers stunning views of the city’s skyline. The bar is located on the 18th floor of the Public hotel and features a chic and sophisticated design.
Pros: The Roof at Public is an excellent spot for a rooftop bar with stunning city views. The bar serves up delicious cocktails and small plates, and the atmosphere is stylish and modern. Additionally, the bar offers a variety of events throughout the year, from live music to themed parties.
Cons: The Roof at Public can be pretty crowded, especially on weekends, and prices can be steep. Additionally, the rooftop bar is located on the Lower East Side, which can be noisy and crowded, so it might not be the best choice for those seeking a peaceful escape from the city.
- In Hell’s Kitchen: Visit The Press Lounge’s Official Website
- In Flatiron District: Visit 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden’s Official Website