The city that never sleeps: There’s no denying that New York is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. A vast concrete jungle, peppered with buildings from a bygone era and an expansive green plain, it’s no wonder why tourists and locals alike find it to be such a visual feast. Where do you head, though, to make the most of the sights? These are the top ten things to do in New York to get the best views in the city.
When one thinks of New York, the next immediate thought is most likely the Empire State building, and is a landmark that can’t be missed. If you’re after the best views in New York, this is undoubtedly the place for you. For the most streamlined visit, book your tickets ahead to skip the queues on the ground floor. The main, open air observation deck on the 86th floor is the obvious stop, and from here you’ll see a complete 360º view of the city (if you walk around the whole deck, of course) and to make the most of it, ride right up to the enclosed 102nd floor, for an even more jaw-dropping view.
There are few sights that represent New York quite as much as the Statue of Liberty. There are some great tour packages that allow you to get to the top of the Statue’s crown, which has some of the most unbelievable views of the city. Be warned, it’s a mountain of stairs to climb, but once you’re at the top, you’ll have a first-hand view of what Lady Liberty watches over. For extra cultural points, pair this with a visit to Ellis Island, New York’s first entry point for immigrants arriving in the country between 1892 and 1954.
Brooklyn Bridge must be one of the most loved structures in New York, not only is it a working commuters’ bridge, but it’s striking and an iconic piece of the Big Apple’s skyline. There are a number of ways to view the bridge itself, mostly from the river, but walking along it allows you to take in its beauty firsthand, as well as that of the islands it connects. At just over 1 mile long, it’s a gentle walk from one side to the other, which allows you the most spectacular river and city views. For the best view of Manhattan, start from the Brooklyn side.
As one of the most forward-thinking museums specializing in American art, the Whitney is a treasure trove for any modern and contemporary art fans. Art aside, the building, near the High Line public park, is as much a work of art itself with its gorgeous new-age design. Though the collections are the reason you’re visiting, the Whitney also has one of the best views of New York, particularly on the top floor and at the resident Studio Cafe on the 8th floor. Floor-to-ceiling glass affords you a view all year round, but when the weather is good, you can sit outside and take in the sights of the city, the Hudson river and the High Line.
It goes without saying, that if you want views, you’re going to need some height and what better way to see the skyline than from the sky? Helicopter rides are an adrenaline-pumping activity at the best of times, but also make for an unusual way of sightseeing. There are no shortage of companies who organise these, and they can include personalised tours of sights of your choosing, a post-flight cruise along the river or even one-on-one flying lessons!
While the skyline and cityscape is a main attraction, there’s something to be said for enjoying the view from floor level. This is why the Flatiron district, and the Flatiron building in particular, is so popular. Without trying too hard, you’re able to take in one of the Big Apple’s most iconic views. For the undisputed best angle, stand at the Flatiron public plaza for a front shot of the building and its famous flanking streets, Broadway and 5th Avenue (and speaking of 5th Avenue, don’t forget to visit Shimansky’s Diamond Experience store further uptown!). If you’re looking for a more relaxed viewing experience, grab a bite to eat and sit outside the Flatiron branch of famed Italian deli, Eataly.
In a concrete jungle such as New York, where skyscrapers are on every corner, it’s understandable that there are rooftop bars aplenty. Ophelia, situated on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower, however, has to be one of the most beautiful. In keeping with the history of the building, the bar is kitted out with 1920s and art deco accents and will inspire you to dress up – and maybe even pull out your best diamonds and jewelry. The cocktails are inventive without being pretentious and the food menu is small but mighty, meaning you can focus most of your attention to the dreamy sights of the East River and Manhattan skyline.
Often an overlooked tourist activity, the Staten Island ferry is a great (and free!) way to see picture perfect views of the city, as well as the Statue of Liberty. Intended for commuting, so it’s advisable to avoid rush hours, the ferry runs daily and the trips take roughly 25 minutes each way. This is ideal for the traveler who wants to take in the sights, but doesn’t necessarily want to stop off at Lady Liberty. You’ll see Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and Governors Island as well as the hilly terrain of Brooklyn and in particular, Brooklyn Heights.
The legendary penthouse at the top of The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking Disctrict of New York serves the type of cocktails that are synonymous with this city. They come with designer-dressed model hosts and waiters, a definite need for a booking, and a spectactular view over the High Line and Hudson River, that is at its best when viewed from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the bathrooms. If you are looking to treat yourself to the glamor of New York City nightlife, you would do well to kick-off your evening at the Top of the Standard. You could even stay for the club night that kicks off after 10pm.
Like the Flatiron, the 9/11 Memorial is a reminder to look up, as sometimes the best views are above us. Following the terror attacks in 2001, the city of New York set up this public space as a reminder of what was lost and to allow people to pay their respects to those who died. In the center of the plaza are the Reflecting Pools, set in the footprints of the Twin Towers, measuring 192 x 192 feet square and 30 feet deep, and are the largest manmade waterfalls in Northern America. Names of the 2996 people who lost their lives are engraved along the memorial, and while this is an incredibly moving experience, it’s been designed in such a way that it is still scenic. Spend some time in the square, looking up at the skyscrapers that have been built, and how such a devastating incident has led to the creation of a beautiful urban space.
We believe that all travels should be commemorated with a memento of your trip. For the final spectacular view over midtown New York, you could visit the Shimansky Diamond Experience on 5th Avenue – riding up to the 31st floor to explore the world of diamonds and precious metals. As you make your selection of unique jewelry to take home with you, you will enjoy wonderful views over the city, spectacular wine and the hospitality of VIP host – owner, founder and head designer, Yair Shimansky.
It’s quite clear that wherever in New York you go, you’re guaranteed a beautiful sight. Although, nothing is more beautiful than a carefully-selected diamond so be sure to stop into Shimansky’s showroom. You may actually be taking home with you, the most spectacular sight in New York.