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.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Skyline Views in NYC You Won’t Want to Miss
- Best Free NYC Views
- The High Line
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Brooklyn Promenade
- Pier 57 Rooftop Park
- Little Island
- Gantry Plaza State Park
- Central Park NYC Views
- Tudor City Bridge
- Domino Park Williamsburg
- Staten Island Ferry
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- Roosevelt Island
- Shops at Columbus Circle Time Warner Building
- Liberty State Park
- Governors Island
- Skyline Views in NYC [Paid]
- Best Views in NYC Wrap-up
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!
Related: First time in NYC? Check out these New York City tips from your favorite local!
The High Line
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!
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.
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
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
Pier 57 Rooftop Park
You won’t want to miss New York City’s newest attraction which 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, 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
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
Gantry Plaza State Park
Gantry Plaza State Park is easily an underrated 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
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!
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!
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
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.
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
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 it 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
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 Star decorations 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 near 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
Last, but not least is the very fantastic 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.
Known as the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, enjoy views from 100 stories up! Located at the Hudson 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.
Hudson Yards Address: The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001 – For the Edge, enter at level 4.
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
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. This observation deck also has the best view of the Empire State Building.
The price for these views ranges from $35 USD – $83 USD. This sky deck is also a good option if it’s a rainy day in NYC!
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.
Usually, I recommend against the Empire State Building view because if you’re on the building, you won’t get to see the most iconic building in the skyline.
Tickets to the Empire State Building range from $44 USD – $77 USD.
Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
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.
From the indoor climate-controlled building, you will have 360-degree views of Manhattan. Tickets for this experience range from $38 USD – $68 USD.
Related: Best Observation Decks in NYC (Ranked)
Address: 117 West St, New York, NY 10006
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.
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 offers 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.
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!
Did you book your hotel yet? Here is a Detailed Guide on Where to Stay in NYC, including how to choose a neighborhood!
Did I miss any of your favorite NYC views or have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!