New York City has some of the most impressive views in the world. The skylines are why millions of people visit every year. Despite popular belief, you do not have to live in a high-rise luxury building to enjoy them, although I still have that classic Tribeca loft on my wish list. Here are 6 of my favorite spots to see the best of the city.
All photos by the author.
1. Brooklyn Bridge
The best thing about walking over the mile long Brooklyn Bridge is the two for one deal that you get; seeing lower Manhattan and Brooklyn at the same time. In addition, if you look all around you, you are surrounded by the intricate design of the bridge, cabs ripping through lanes below, the harbor, Manhattan Bridge and in the distance, Lady Liberty. During the day, the bridge is packed with tourists and sometimes overzealous bicycle riders, but there is enough space and time to take a stroll at your own pace. At night, the bridge is less crowded and you get a beautiful light show of all of the brightly lit buildings around you.
2. The Highline
One of the most unique things about The Highline is that you are walking above the city while being engulfed by it. The Highline, which was built on an abandoned railway track, takes you on a 20 block trek from 14th street in the Meatpacking District all the way to the newly constructed Hudson Yards along 10th avenue and 34th street. The walk is a joy as you are consumed by landscaped gardens, sleek, wooden benches and rotating art installations done by the city’s most talented artists. It’s a boardwalk through the city and in addition to the beauty of The Highline, you get amazing views adjacent and below of some of the city’s most popular and expensive neighborhoods.
3. Brooklyn Heights Promenade
It took living in Brooklyn for 7 years to discover the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. A walk through the manicured streets of Brooklyn Heights, which is the oldest neighborhood in Brooklyn, led me to a large boardwalk surrounded by a sweeping view of the lower Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. If you want to impress a first date, this is the place to visit as there is something sweet and romantic about strolling past historic mansions and perfect lawns while looking into Manhattan. As it is isolated from the rest of Brooklyn, it almost seems like a secret hideaway which is why I can understand how it is a favorite destination for tourists, lovers, families, joggers and Brooklyn residents. Start with the sunset and by night the Promenade glitters with the glow of New York City lights.
4. Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island still remains much of an enigma to the average New Yorker. While technically considered part of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island was formally a place for insane asylums and prisons. With housing in New York a constant merry go round, today the island is packed with high rise condos and new luxury developments. Located under the Queensboro Bridge in the East River, the ride on the brightly painted red tram to get to and from the island is where the fun and the views begin. Using your metro card, you can take a cool glide over the Upper Side East and East River. It’s a 360 degree picturesque view of Manhattan. Once you land on the island, take the free bus that will drive you along the two mile stretch where you can essentially look back into the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
5. Staten Island Ferry
Until I can afford my fantasy hot pink yacht complete with black marble floors to cruise around New York, the Staten Island Ferry is a great substitute. The big orange ferry transports close to 100,000 people daily between St.George on Staten Island and Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan. It’s a fun 25 minute ride that provides you for FREE, some of the most sensational views of New York Harbor, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I find the most amazing part of the trip is seeing lower Manhattan actually receding as you pull away towards Staten Island. The best time to go is sunset where the whole area is cast in an orange glow. A great first date pick.
6. Top of the Rock
While I am not big of sites that are too “touristy”, a trip to the 67th-70th floor in Rockefeller Plaza is worth the crowds as well as the $30 admission fee. The Top of the Rock has the best panoramic views of New York City. You can visit as early as 8am to watch NY come alive at sunrise or as late as midnight to understand the meaning of city lights. There are three main floors with both indoor and outdoor decks to view NYC and, on a clear day, the outer boroughs. Take your time; I was there for five hours as there is so much to see and take in.