Feb 6, 2020 – With the opening of Edge, a new observation deck at Hudson Yards, this March, along with a reimagined Empire State Building and countless new and classic experiences, there has never been a better time to see New York City from above. Across the five boroughs, visitors can pair remarkable views with world-class art, urban farms, thrills, shopping and expertly crafted cocktails.
Find below recommendations on the best places to discover New York City from up high.
For vistas from iconic skyscrapers:
- Edge at Hudson Yards will open on March 11 as the tallest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere at more than 1,000 feet. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Hudson River and the New York City skyline, as well as walk across a section of see-through glass floor. Indoor spaces on the 100th and 101st floors will feature a champagne bar, restaurant and event space. For another nearby vantage point, climb the bronze spiral staircases of Vessel, an interactive public landmark at the center of Hudson Yards’ Public Square.
- The Empire State Building has been completely reimaged over the past year, boasting an interactive museum experience on the 2nd floor and a newly renovated 102nd floor observatory with 360-degree views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Another new addition is NYC: Above & Beyond, an interactive itinerary building experience that helps travelers plan their five-borough adventure in partnership with NYC & Company.
- Celebrating its fifth anniversary throughout 2020, One World Observatory boasts views from the tallest building in the western hemisphere. With three levels of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a café and bar, interactive guided tours and more, it’s a can’t-miss experience.
- With breathtaking views on three different levels, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers 360-degree views of New York City, including Central Park, from Rockefeller Center. Insiders know that the winter offers clear views and lesser crowds. A few floors below, Bar SixtyFive, across from the renowned Rainbow Room, provides a picture perfect option for dinner with city views and a new seasonal menu.
For a dose of culture:
- Take a stroll along the High Line, a 1.4-mile-long elevated walkway along Manhattan’s west side built on an old freight rail line. The newest portion, the High Line Plinth, features public art among sweeping views, with Simone Leigh’s Brick House currently on display until September 20.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and after visiting the reimagined British Galleries that open at the Fifth Avenue location March 2, head up to the roof for artwork, refreshments and splendid views of Central Park. Another branch of the iconic museum, The Met Cloisters, focuses on medieval artwork in a French-style monastery atop Fort Tryon Park, and features views of the Hudson River, the park and Inwood neighborhood.
- At the New Museum on the Bowery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, explore cutting-edge contemporary art plus top-floor views of Lower Manhattan through the Sky Room’s floor-to-ceiling windows and wraparound terrace. Though the Sky Room is closed on weekdays, nearby hotel rooftops for post-museum bites and drinks include Roof at Public Hotel, cloudM at citizenM New York Bowery and Last Light at Sister City.
- Recently launched tours of the Riverside Church Bell Tower invite visitors to step inside the tallest steeple in North America for panoramic views of the City and a look into the historic Morningside Heights church.
- The Whitney Museum of American Art offers outlooks from 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces. Look for the Hudson River, High Line and the trendy Meatpacking District below, as well as icons including One World Trade Center.
For drinks with a view:
- In picturesque Brooklyn Heights, head up to Harriet’s Rooftop at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge for inventive cocktails and cuisine alongside a rooftop pool and views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
- For a sophisticated rooftop crawl, visit Williamsburg’s best hotel bars and restaurants. With elevated cocktails and skyline views, explore these options within a five minute walk of each other: Lemon’s at the Wythe Hotel; The Roof at the Williamsburg Hotel; Summerly at The Hoxton, Williamsburg; and Westlight at the William Vale.
- Stunning sunsets overlooking the East River, Manhattan skyline and Queensboro Bridge await in Long Island City, Queens, with views from up high at the Boro Hotel’s rooftop bar and the Z NYC Hotel’s Savanna Rooftop.
- For a one-of-a-kind rooftop experience, head to the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in Queens. The hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and bar overlooks the tarmac, so visitors can see airplanes taking off and landing in real time. The pool is also heated, making swimming a delight year-round.
- There are no shortage of impressive rooftop dining options in Manhattan. Some new additions to the vibrant scene are the luxurious Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards, with an outdoor terrace at their restaurant Electric Lemon, as well as a separate outdoor space where guests can lounge in a pool overlooking the Vessel; Hendricks Rooftop at Hotel Hendricks, which includes both outdoor and indoor spaces for cocktails; Manhatta, a dazzling 60th floor restaurant by Danny Meyer in the Financial District; and the rooftop at Moxy East Village, a relaxed space with eclectic decor planned to open this spring.
- Empire Outlets, New York City’s only outlet shopping destination, offers incredible views of Lower Manhattan from its multilevel space and sustainable green roof in St. George, Staten Island.
- The Shops at Hudson Yards, one of the City’s newest hot spots, features amazing views of the Vessel, Shed and Public Square from Neiman Marcus and many of their restaurants, particularly on the fifth and sixth floors.
- Part of Saks Fifth Avenue’s $250 million renovations, L’Avenue serves Parisian cuisine in a two-story space overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center.
- The newly opened Nordstrom NYC Flagship, on Broadway and 57th Street, offers seven floors of attire, beauty products, home goods, restaurants, cafés and bars. Grab a drink at Broadway Bar to soak in iconic views of Broadway post-shopping spree.
- For retail, dining and even jazz music, visitors can head to The Shops at Columbus Circle. The fourth floor features multiple Michelin-starred restaurants with views of bustling Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Central Park.
For a green perspective:
- Brooklyn Grange’s urban farms at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens, offer visitors farmers’ markets, workshops, yoga and more along with three unique vantage points of New York City.
- Open seasonally from May to October, Governors Island offers a natural retreat from the bustle of the City via 7-minute ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. Climb the island’s man-made hills for views of the lush island, along with the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.
- One of New York City’s first green spaces, Green-Wood Cemetery offers programming and tours with views of New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Look for the bronze sculpture of Minerva waving at the Statue of Liberty across the harbor.
- The Javits Center boasts a state-of-the-art nearly 7-acre green roof—that includes gardens, produce and even honeybees—with arguably the best view of Hudson Yards the City has to offer. The space gives tours as well as serves as an example of New York City’s sustainability.
- A new addition to one of the most iconic places in NYC, visit the Statue of Liberty Museum, including a climb to the building’s green roof, which offers unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan and Liberty Island, including the statue herself.
For adventurers at heart:
- For thrill-seeking visitors, explore the Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure Climb & Zipline. This unique experience truly transports participants out of the concrete jungle, whether climbing through ropes courses among the trees or ziplining above the Bronx River.
- Coney Island’s famous amusement park Luna Park has rides for travelers of all ages and thrill levels, including new developments coming in 2020 such as a ropes course and zipline. Whether on the Wonder Wheel or famous Cyclone roller coaster, try to keep your eyes open to see the Atlantic Ocean and Brooklyn from up high.
- For adventurous eaters, the five boroughs provide endless dining options. Queens, the City’s most diverse borough, is particularly known for its creative global fare. Hop on and off the elevated 7 train, often called the “International Express,” for skyline views and an easy way to experience these cultural enclaves and cuisines.
- Costing the same as a subway ride, the Roosevelt Island Tramway provides spectacular views of Manhattan and Queens as passengers rise through the City then descend across the East River to reach Roosevelt Island.
- New York City’s highest natural point, Todt Hill in Staten Island, is accessible via the Greenbelt’s Yellow Trail, an eight-mile hike (one way) geared toward advanced hikers and nature lovers.
For travel across New York City’s five boroughs, visit NYC & Company’s website, nycgo.com.
For images corresponding to this story, visit the NYC From Up High Library.
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