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Some would say there are no better views, than NYC views. The skyline is one of the most iconic in the world, with all of those famous skyscrapers crowded into one tiny island.
Since landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square featuring as the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, it’s no wonder people come to the city for views.
Without a doubt, New York City is packed with countless places to take awesome photos on street level in downtown Manhattan, each offering different perspectives of the city that never sleeps.
But when it comes to the best of the best viewpoints in NYC, you’re going to need to climb a little higher…
- The Best NYC Views
- 1. The Edge, Hudson Yards
- Video: Views from the Edge
- 2. Top of the Rock
- 3. Empire State Building
- 4. One World Observatory
- 5. 230 Fifth Avenue (great bar too!)
- 6. Roosevelt Island Tram
- 7. Tudor City Overpass
- 8. Staten Island Ferry
- 9. Williamsburg
- 10. The Brooklyn Bridge
- 11. Manhattan Bridge
- 12. From A Helicopter Ride
- 13. Belvedere Castle
- 14. Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens
- 15. The High Line
- 16. Center Bar, Time Warner Building
- 17. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
- Final Word on the Best Viewpoints in NYC
- More New York travel Tips
The Best NYC Views
These are a just few of my favorite places to get stunning NYC views from all around the Big Apple.
1. The Edge, Hudson Yards
Taking in the panoramic 360-degree views of the New York City skyline and Hudson River from the Edge was our tween Savannah’s favorite New York attraction on this trip.
What makes the Edge different from other NYC viewpoints is that it’s the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere.
It is suspended in mid-air which makes you feel like you’re floating in the sky. It’s on our list of top things to do in NYC with older kids.
Up the thrill by walking across (or sitting down on) the glass floor and looking 100 stories down!
You can lean over the city by peering out the angled glass walls, and ultimate thrill seekers will want to scale the outside of the skyscraper and then lean out over the building on the City Climb attraction. Maybe next time.
Video: Views from the Edge
2. Top of the Rock
If you splurge on one view from above, Top of the Rock is my recommendation.
It’s located squarely between the Empire State Building and Central Park, and the 70th floor offers an excellent perspective on both. To avoid lines at Top of the Rock (or the Empire State Building or One World Observatory), buy a timed ticket online in advance of your visit.
3. Empire State Building
It’s the most famous skyscraper in the New York City skyline, and because of that, the view from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building can almost seem a bit eerie – the 360-degree views all seem to be missing an important piece.
There is also another viewpoint on the 86th floor, which is the main observation deck. This one can get a bit crowded, so it’s definitely worth getting the combined ticket to both decks so you can visit the one with less people.
Despite being completely touristy, it’s an incredible place to watch the sunset or escape from the chaotic streets below. Plus, it’s kind of the most unmissable thing you can do in NYC.
4. One World Observatory
Another one of the skyscraper observatories, One World Observatory is located at the top of the One World Trade Center, which is now not only the tallest building in NYC (sorry Empire State Building), but the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Although it’s all indoor (you might struggle with fingerprints or flash bounces on the glass if you’re taking photos), it offers a stunning view of Lower Manhattan and beyond, especially the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
5. 230 Fifth Avenue (great bar too!)
230 Fifth is perhaps the most iconic of NYC rooftop bars, with a fully enclosed garden (aka open all winter long) and an absolutely incredible view of the Empire State Building and the entire upper Manhattan skyline.
You’re definitely paying for the view in the drink prices, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be tempted to become a local here – but it’s one of those places that makes it worth playing tourist, no matter where you live.
Aim to get there at dusk so you get day and nighttime views. It’s also included on our list of bars in NYC not to miss (rooftop and hidden!)
6. Roosevelt Island Tram
The Roosevelt tramway is one of my favorite (cheap) views in the city, and it might be just because not many people know about it.
Roosevelt Island was originally known as Welfare Island, since it housed many hospitals – including a smallpox hospital, whose ruins can still be seen.
Now it’s home to a lot of construction and some much-needed open green space, and you can access it via subway OR a tram that goes over the East River.
It costs $2.75 to ride (free if you have an unlimited MetroCard) and it gives an awesome perspective of Upper East Side streets, the traffic on the Queensboro bridge and a peek at the Chrysler Building.
7. Tudor City Overpass
For a neat perspective of the Manhattan grid, head to Tudor City on the far East Side: the quiet collection of stately apartment buildings and tree-lined squares has a lovely overlook on 42nd Street.
It’s especially famed during Manhattan-henge, when the sunset aligns perfectly with the east-west streets. Bonus: a very good cameo by the gorgeous Chrysler Building!
8. Staten Island Ferry
If you’re looking for the best free views of NYC, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Staten Island ferry is 100% free!
Not only is the ride to Staten Island enjoyable, but it offers a killer view of the Financial District office buildings, including One World Trade. It also goes right by the Statue of Liberty!
It’s a great alternative to the awesome but more expensive boat excursions, like a sunset sail or Circle Line tour. If you’re visiting Manhattan on a budget, it’s worth checking out.
One of the best ways to get a great view of Manhattan is to leave it. Going across the river to New Jersey or Brooklyn offers perspective on just how many skyscrapers are crammed into one tiny island.
Not many people think to go to Jersey City for views of NYC, which is why it’s still somewhat of a hidden gem.
I especially love the viewpoint from the Liberty State Park. There’s a teeny-tiny sandbank where teeny-tiny waves break, and it almost feels like you’re at the beach and not in between the two boroughs.
It’s right across the bay from Manhattan and offers incredible views of Ellis Island, Governors Island and the lower Manhatten financial district.
The park not only has amazing views but it has some beautiful memorials, such as the Empty Sky Memorial which is dedicated to New Jersey’s 9/11 victims.
10. The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of those can’t-miss activities on most NYC itineraries, and it doesn’t disappoint.
It’s best to go early if you want to avoid crowds, but it’s also one of the most special places to see the sun set in the city (especially with the Statue of Liberty in the distance).
I love the view when you look up as you actually walk across the bridge, but you can also get a great perspective from Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Heights promenade on the Brooklyn side.
11. Manhattan Bridge
Just like you get the best view of Manhattan from Brooklyn, I think you get the coolest view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge.
The pedestrian walkway offers a cool perspective of the FDR freeway and the bridge spanning to connect DUMBO and FiDi. Another excellent place to see the sunset!
Don’t miss this view of the Manhattan Bridge from the cobblestone streets of DUMBO.
12. From A Helicopter Ride
It’s not cheap, but if you’re up for a splurge a helicopter ride over Manhattan is one of the most incredible experiences.
Helicopter tours don’t last long – usually only about 15 minutes – but it’s such a cool thing to have a birds-eye perspective on even the tallest skyscrapers in this hemisphere. We recommend you go later in the day for gorgeous golden hour lighting!
13. Belvedere Castle
If you’re looking for the best views of Central Park, then you should climb up Vista Rock to the second highest point in the park, where the Belvedere Castle sits.
This miniature castle looks like a fairytale and has some in incredible views of New York City rising above Central Park.
It was built in 1872 by architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, with the intention of being a place where you can kick back and enjoy the views of the park.
In 1919, it was turned into a weather station until the 1960s when it was abandoned. It was restored in 2019 and now makes for a perfect viewing platform and space to chill out – back to how it was originally intended to be used.
14. Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens
Gantry Plaza State Park is a huge 12-acre park that sits on the East River of Long Island City, just across the river from Midtown Manhattan.
The former dockyard looks directly over the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and Flatiron Building, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park.
It offers the perfect blend of scenic river views and iconic Manhattan skyline views. Head to the old piers for the best views.
15. The High Line
For incredible views of Midtown Manhattan, head to the Chelsea neighborhood where you’ll find the High Line.
This quirky and cool 1.45-mile-long elevated path offers amazing views of the unique buildings of Chelsea.
It was built on a former railway line and is completely free to walk along. It’s also a great way to travel from Chelsea Market to the Edge.
16. Center Bar, Time Warner Building
The Time Warner Center is an office/mall that offers great views of Columbus Circle. Head to the Center Bar on the 4th floor for the best views from the expanse windows.
As well being a great place to see bars, the bar itself is pretty nice too. It often has a live pianist playing from the grand piano, and features plush furnishings.
It’s the perfect bar in NYC to sit back and enjoy some views with a sophisticated backdrop.
17. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Opening in late 2020, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt has quickly soared to one of the top viewpoints in NYC. While the views are exceptional, as you would expect from 93 floors up, the reason people visit this building is for the artistry and engineering.
The observation deck is made entirely out of mirrored glass, from the roof to the floor, meaning you have uninterrupted panoramic views of the city.
The space was designed by Kenzo Digital, who created this two floor observation deck to allow the Manhattan skyline to reflects around you. The result is kind of dizzying, but memorable.
There are also some playful silver balloons floating around the AFFINITY room which can be used as props for photos. It also has the largest glass floor elevator in the world.
Final Word on the Best Viewpoints in NYC
So there you have it, those are the best views of New York City, and as you can see, they do not disappoint with what they offer!
Whether you want to capture photos of iconic landmarks or you just want to take in the views of the Manhattan skyline, don’t miss these incredible stops on your NYC trip.
We hope this guide gave you some inspiration on where to find the best views of NYC and helped you plan your trip.
Make the most of your trip to NYC and check out the below top-rated tours of the city!
More New York travel Tips
Need more inspiration for your trip to NYC? Then you may enjoy these other guides…
- 16 Best Coffee Shops in NYC the Locals Love
- 15 Magical Things to Do in New York at Christmas with Kids
- 3 Day NYC Itinerary to Experience the Best New York Attractions
- 17 Incredible rooftop bars and hidden bars in New York
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