For New Yorkers, access to a good rooftop can make or break a summer. Whether you’re getting your tan on or enjoying a quiet nightcap with a view of the skyline, time spent on the roof is a quintessential part of summer in New York City. And for visitors, there’s no better or easier way to join in the rooftop revelry than by hitting up some of the best rooftop bars in NYC.
For sweeping views of downtown Manhattan, head up to the 21st floor of 50 Bowery in Chinatown to grab a drink at The Crown. You’ll have no problem finding a good vantage point while you enjoy the Asian-inspired cocktails with two separate terraces to hang out on. The bar’s rotating menu celebrates street food around the world, so if you come back you can sample something brand-new.
In Chelsea, New York’s famous Sleep No More, an immersive theater experience, takes place among the rooms of the old McKittrick hotel, but on the roof Gallow Green is becoming one of the best new rooftop bars in NYC. With its lush overgrown garden, you might even forget you’re in the middle of city. Grab a drink before the show or make a plan for weekend brunch.
Pod 39 Rooftop
At the top of the Pod 39 Hotel, you’ll find a rooftop bar that stands out among the concrete with a gorgeous backdrop of red-brick pillars and arches framing city views. Grab a drink, take a selfie, and sample the menu, which features light bites from the taqueria below.
As Brooklynites are well aware, the best views of Manhattan can be found on the other side of the East River. At the William Vale Hotel, you can ride the elevator all the way to the top of Williamsburg and find yourself at Westlight, a modern bar, restaurant, and observation deck. With a spacious wrap-around terrace you can enjoy the view from either the indoor restaurant from one of the outdoor tables.
At Ophelia, a sultry cocktail lounge, you’ll find the style and glamour of old New York. Located in Midtown East, this is the perfect spot for a classed-up date night. As you soak up the atmosphere, you can order a signature cocktail and appreciate the 360-degree skyline views from the outdoor patio.
For an incredible view of the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the sun setting over the Hudson River, The Skylark is the rooftop bar that offers the most bang for your buck. With multiple levels in addition to its spacious rooftop, there’s plenty of room to find your picture-perfect moment. Unfortunately, the lounge is closed on the weekends for private events, so make sure to plan to visit Monday through Friday.
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
If you want less stuffiness and more fun from your rooftop bar, check out Magic Hour at the top of the MOXY Hotel. Decorated with whimsical circus elements and featuring two separate outdoor areas, this bar will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a private carnival in the center of Manhattan. It even has its own miniature putt-putt course. For even more fun, head out late on Thursday night for the weekly Circo Thursday party.
1 Rooftop Garden & Bar
Back in Brooklyn, you can get the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge at the 1 Rooftop Garden & Bar at 1 Hotel. Non-hotel guests can take advantage of this relaxed venue after paying a $20 entrance fee. The bar also features a plunge pool, but unfortunately this is exclusive to guests of the hotel.
If you haven’t visited an Eataly yet, a trip to the Italian food market’s New York outpost in the Flatiron District is a must. And if the weather calls for it, don’t miss the fantastic rooftop bar on top—Birreria. With craft beers from Italy and homemade brews as well, this is a great place to indulge in Italian food and get your beer buzz on in the center of the action.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who loves nothing more on a night out in New York than a craft cocktail and a good view. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.