25+ Best Skyline Views in NYC FROM A LOCAL New Yorker

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Skyline Views in NYC You Won’t Want to Miss

Part of getting the New York experience is seeing those epic skyline views of the city! As a local New Yorker who has lived, worked, and gone to college in Manhattan, finding the best views in NYC is one of my favorite things to do! In this New York City guide, you will find the best skyline views in NYC that you can enjoy for free along with views that are paid for.

We will start out with the best free views in New York City, because who doesn’t love free views? Then we will move on to where you can see some epic Manhattan views that require payment. 

NYC at night black and white photo from across the water
Skyline Views NYC

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Best Free NYC Views

Although Manhattan is an expensive city, there are a TON of really great free views! Here are some of the best places to see the NYC Skyline views for free or extremely cheap with the swipe of a MetroCard! 

First time in NYC? Check out these New York City tips from your favorite local!

New York Travel Skyline

The Highline

If you have been a long-time reader, you know I love the Highline! In fact, I add the Highline to almost every New York City list I have. It could be that I spent a lot of time walking the Highline in College so it holds sentimental value to me, or it really is an amazing spot!

Regardless, you can get some pretty good views of the city on this elevated train-track turned green space that expands 1.45-miles. I recommend starting your walk on the Highline from the Hudson Yards! 

Empire State Building in New York City
Empire State Building from the Highline

Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in NYC, one of the best free things to do in NYC, and above all, offers one of the best views of the skyline! From the Dumbo, Brooklyn side, looking towards NYC and you will be treated to one-of-a-kind skyline views! 

The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 and was once the longest suspension bridge ever built spanning 6,016 ft.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most instagrammable places in NYC

Brooklyn Bridge Park 

The great skyline views of NYC don’t stop at the Brooklyn Bridge! Once you enter the Dumbo, Brooklyn side, you have a plethora of different angles to enjoy great and free views in NYC! Some of my favorite and most Instagrammable NYC views come from Jane’s Carousel and Pebble Beach! 

Additionally, if you are visiting during the summer, you can be treated to a free movie at Brooklyn Park while having the NYC skyline all lit up in the backdrop! 

Address: New Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

NYC Most Instagrammable Palces include Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Promenade

If you haven’t noticed, sometimes in order to see the best views of Manhattan, you must leave the city. Therefore, another great free New York City view comes from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade! A local New York favorite, catch a sunset at this 1,826 ft. platform! Additionally, this is one of the best places to see the skyline in NYC at night!

Address: Montague St &, Pierrepont Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Brooklyn Promenade view from the bench with 3 people sitting on it and looking at the NYC skyline - Photo by berenice melis

Pier 57 Rooftop Park

You won’t want to miss New York City’s newest attraction that is offering another great place to enjoy all the NYC views! This BRAND NEW rooftop park is totally free with 80,000 square feet! On top of that, the Pier 57 Rooftop Park is now Manhattan’s largest rooftop park available to the public!

Besides epic views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and New York harbor, you can also enjoy a food court and relax at the two-acre Google Campus park space that is open to the general public. On top of that, if you’re lucky, you might get to visit the outdoor screening for the Tribeca Festival which will be hosted here!

Address: 57 Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10011

Little Island

Another free and new(ish) attraction that offers New York City views is Little Island at Hudson River Park. This park opened up in 2021 and is located on Pier 55! The artificial island park is a really unique addition to the city. This is because the park itself is built with tulip-like pillars that encompass 2 acres of lush lawns, gardens, an amphitheater, and more!

Address: Pier 55 in Hudson River Park West 13th Street, New York NY 10014

Little Island NYC skyline views from the amphitheater - Photo by Louis Colbee on Unsplash

Gantry Plaza State Park

Gantry Plaza State Park is easily an under-rated NYC gem that also happens to have incredible views of the skyline! Located in Long Island City, Queens, you can enjoy walking the expansive boardwalk along the East River.

The park offers tons of benches and lawns, the very cool Pepsi Sign, and great views, of you guessed it, Manhattan, including good views of the Chrysler Building! The Gantry Plaza State Park opened in 1998 and has 12 acres to explore! 

Address: 4-09 47th Rd, Queens, NY 10007

Gantry Plaza State Park boardwalk NYC skyline view

Central Park NYC Views

You can never go wrong with a stroll through Central Park, especially when it’s in search of NY skyline views! Some of the best spots to take a glimpse of the skyline are from Bow Bridge. Not only will you be able to enjoy this iconic bridge, but also view NYC’s reflection in the Central Park Lake. 

Another great spot to see the skyline from Central Park is from Gapstow Bridge and the nearby field! From here, you will get a completely different skyline view than at Bow Bridge which is equally as nice.

Then just a little further west from Gapstow Bridge, you will also find Umpire Rock which is another top spot for NYC skyline views! As you can see, it is hard to go wrong with Central Park as it is one of the best things to do in NYC! 

Central Park New York City Travel Sunset
Central Park in NYC

Tudor City Bridge

If you love Instagrammable spots that come with a view, then add Tudor City Bridge to your list. Popular for taking those Insta-worthy shots, Tudor City Bridge is the most popular to visit around sunset. Located near the Midtown Tunnel, this free New York City view will give you a great vantage point of the Chrysler building! 

Views of NYC from Tudor City Bridge Robert bye photo with chrysler building

Domino Park Williamsburg

Another excellent free NYC view comes from the lovely Domino Park located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This park opened in 2018 and is actually located at the Domino Sugar Refinery site. With 5 acres of lawns and benches, you will also be able to enjoy views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop. 

During the summer and fall in NYC, I would also recommend hitting up Smorgasburg which is an awesome food festival nearby. It happens on Saturdays in Williamsburg.

Address: 15 River St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Williamsburg, Brooklyn New York City Skyline view
Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Smorgasburg

Staten Island Ferry

I know it might sound hard to believe in New York, but the NYC Staten Island Ferry is free to ride and offers incredible views of Manhattan. Riding the ferry also gives you a great glimpse of the Statue of Liberty!

It takes about 30 minutes to get to and from Staten Island. Best yet, you can actually stand outside for the best views with the city in the background. Additionally, the Ferry runs all night and is located by the Battery at the Whitehall terminal. Find the Staten Island Ferry schedule here.

A great free activity in NYC is taking the staten island ferry to see the statue of liberty.
View of the Staten Island Ferry and Statue of Liberty

Green-Wood Cemetery

Believe it or not, the Green-Wood Cemetery is quite an attraction for locals and visitors. In fact, there are a handful of tours specifically dedicated to it! For those who love exploring cemeteries and want to see some free views of NYC, then this might be your perfect outing!

Opening in 1838, this National Historic Landmark is known to have some famous people buried here including generals, baseball legends, politicians, and more. The Cemetery spans a whopping 478-acres of winding roads, green spaces, ponds, and incredible 19th-century architecture. 

Address: 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Roosevelt Island

Located on New York City’s East River, Roosevelt Island is one of the best cheap views of NYC. The Roosevelt Island tram offers lovely views and takes the swipe of a MetroCard to enjoy it! The Tram runs around every 7-15 minutes. However, the views don’t stop at the Roosevelt Island Tram! Once you are on Roosevelt Island, you will still be able to enjoy some incredible views of Manhattan. 

Additionally, if you visit during the spring, you have the opportunity to see the Cherry Blossoms bloom with unobstructed views of the New York City skyline in the background! 

Address: E 59th St & 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10022

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash - Roosevelt Island view of NYC skyline views from the tram

Shops at Columbus Circle Time Warner Building

Near Central Park, the Shops at Columbus Circle offer a different view of NYC. Enjoy over 50 shops while also being able to look out giant glass windows revealing the New York City architecture.

One of the best times to visit the Columbus Circle Shops is during the holidays in NYC. This is when the shops put up their famous hanging Christmas Decoration Stars with the city shining behind them. 

Address: 10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

Liberty State Park

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away, you can enjoy some additional NYC views located in New Jersey at Liberty State Park. If you are a seasoned New York visitor and you are looking for some additional free views, I would recommend checking out this park. 

Liberty State Park offers a 1,212-acre park, with views of the Statue of Liberty, and is nearby the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial which was dedicated to those who lived in or had ties with New Jersey and lost their lives when the Twin Towers fell. 

Address: 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Views in NYC from Liberty Park. Skyline with freedom tower and other nyc buildings over the water.Photo by Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash

Governors Island

Last, but not least is the very awesome and cheap views you can get of New York City from Governors Island. For as little as $3 USD round trip, you can explore the expansive Island while being able to see some awesome views of the NYC skyline from all around Governors Island. 

This New York City island is also very popular for events, picnicking, bike riding, and National Monuments. On top of that, during the summer you can even check out some New York Lavender fields! Check out the ferry schedule here!

Skyline Views in NYC [Paid]

Now that we have gone through the pretty expansive list of the best free views in New York City, let’s get to some of the paid viewpoints. As you will see below, most of these views will be NYC observation decks. 

The Edge

Known as the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, enjoy views from 100 stories up! Located at the Husdon Yards, this Skydeck opened in 2020. A visit to The Edge will offer panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline that are truly one of the best! 

Consider visiting the Edge for sunrise or sunset. Additionally, if you visit at night, you can enjoy a glass of champagne with your view of the Manhattan lights! The tickets to see the views from here range from $38 USD – $73 USD.

NY Travel Tip: If you are planning on doing a lot of paid NYC attractions, I would suggest checking out either the Sightseeing Pass or the City Pass here which could save you money.

Hudson Yards Address: The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001 – For the Edge, enter at level 4.

NYC The Edge Instagrammable place
Photo Courtesy of The Edge & Related Oxford

Top of the Rock

For a long time, one of the most popular NYC observation decks was the Top of the Rock. This is because this NYC deck is located outside, has 3 stories, and includes a view of the Empire State Building. Now with The Edge and Summit One Vanderbilt, Top of the Rock has some competition for the best NYC views! 

Even for me, it is pretty hard to choose between these 3 New York City observation decks. So when in doubt, try to do all 3! If you are looking for the best sky deck with views of the Empire State Building, however, I think Top of the Rock still holds the number 1 spot and it is located right in Rockefeller Center!

Additionally, sunset is one of the best times (but also most crowded) times to visit Top of the Rock. Tickets to the Top of the Rock range from $30 USD – $125 USD (VIP). 

Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

One of the top instagrammable places in NYC is at The Top Of The Rock

Summit One Vanderbilt

Since I have already brought up this awesome observation building, why make you wait to learn more about the epic views you will see of NYC from Summit One Vanderbilt?! New York City’s newest observation deck just opened in the Fall of 2021. 

This NYC view is easily in the top 3 of the best observation decks you can visit. Located at Grand Central, Summit One Vanderbilt offers a very unique experience with glass elevators, ceiling-to-floor windows, and unique rooms that offer cool reflections of the skyline. 

I think this observation deck offers the best view at night out of all the Manhattan decks. The price for these views ranges from $35 USD – $83 USD.

Empire State Building

One of the most classic paid views of New York City comes from the famous Empire State Building. This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper opened in 1931 and is one of the symbols of New York. There are two decks where you are able to see views of the skyline.

One is from the 86th floor which is the main outdoor deck. The second is from the 102nd floor which has floor-to-ceiling windows. Tickets to the Empire State building range from $44 USD – $77 USD.

Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Macys window displays are one of the best places to see in NYC during December

One World Trade Center Observatory

At 100 stories up, the One World Observatory is another great place to experience a spectacular view of the NYC skyline. The immersive experience also allows you to enjoy dinner and drinks with a view if you so choose to. From the indoor climate-controlled building, you will have 360-degree views of Manhattan. Tickets for this experience range from $38 USD – $68 USD. 

Address: 117 West St, New York, NY 10006

One World Trade Center at night in NYC

The MET Cantor Roof Garden

Known as a New York City hidden gem, enjoy the views of the Metropolitan Museum Cantor Roof Garden. Many visit the museum without having any clue there is a rooftop bar on the 5th floor offering unparalleled views over Central Park. While the drinks can be a little pricy, the view is worth it after enjoying some lovely art. Updated: Temporarily closed – check to make sure they are open.

Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

NYC Rooftop Bars

One of the best ways to spend your night in NYC or a weekend brunch is at one of the City’s awesome rooftop bars. Besides indulging in some great New York food, you can also enjoy some of the best views in NYC!

One of my favorite New York City Rooftop bars that offer great views is the 230 Fifth Rooftop. Other very popular rooftop bars to also consider include Magic Hour Rooftop Bar, and Refinery Rooftop.

Helicopter Ride over the City

You may have thought the best views of the New York skyline views come from one of the observation decks, however, observation decks are no match to an open-door helicopter ride over NYC!

Likely one of the most thrilling and unique experiences you can have while visiting New York comes with the best views! You can even choose to do a helicopter tour at night! Find Helicopter tours here.

View of the NYC Skyline at night
Photo by Sven Becker on Unsplash

Skyline Views by Plane 

Well, this one is quite obvious, but flying in and out of New York City offers some incredible skyline views of NYC! Best yet, you probably will get to experience this while flying to the Big Apple on vacation or coming back home – so this one is basically a perk. When flying in, generally, the best side of the plane to see the city is on the left-hand side.

Best Views in NYC Wrap-up

This concludes some of the best skyline views you can enjoy in New York City for free and paid! I hope you have the best time seeking out all the views! 

Other guides you might enjoy: Massive 4 Day NYC Itinerary | NYC Accent Words | NY Slang Words | Things to do on Long Island | How to use the NYC Subway | 100+ New York Quotes

Did I miss any of your favorite NYC views or have any questions? Let me know in the comments below! 

Where to stay in NYC: MOXY NYC Times Square | Hyatt House Chelsea | Hotel Edison Times Square | New York Marriott Marquis | Lotte New York Palace | Made Hotel | 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Did you enjoy these Skyline Views in NYC? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Skyline Views in NYC Manhattan

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