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7 perfect and stunning rooftops bars in New York City

One of the things I love most about New York City in the summer is going to a rooftop bar, because they provide not only incredible and beautiful views but also a fun vibe! Plus, it’s a thing that locals do. There are many rooftops around the city – dozens of them! I think it is the kind of experience that is worth including in your travel itinerary because it is something unique and also because of the beautiful and exclusive views of these places. It’s been a while since I wanted to make a post with my favorite rooftops in the city and finally, here we are!

But first things first, here’s what you need to know (if you are not new to the rooftops, skip it):

  • Dress code – in New York’s nightlife, you need to be careful about how you dress – some places have a rigorous dress code, and they can deny your entrance because of your outfit. Yep. And that happens with rooftops as well. But, there is no written rule for a specific NYC dress code that can be applied to all the rooftops in the city. Each place has its own vibes – and rules. So it’s always good checking the establishment’s website first to be sure. Overall, I would say that tank tops, sportswear, athletic wear, hoodies, caps, gym sneakers, and flip-flops should be avoided. It doesn’t hurt to think about your outfit with attention – because you’ll definitely want to take pictures and look good in them, right
  • Best time – sunset, of course – and remember that sunset time varies depending on the time of year, so do your homework and check on Google lol. And remember that, obviously, this is also the time when these places will be busy – after all, you won’t be the only one wanting to enjoy the end of the day with a beautiful view. This brings me to the next topic…
  • Reservations – Make a reservation! Not every rooftop offers this option, it’s worth remembering, but if there is a possibility: do it. On summer weekends, these places fill up. So, book in advance if you really want to guarantee a visit to a rooftop.
  • Age – rooftops are bars and in the US the minimum legal drinking age is 21. That is, those who are not 21 do not enter – not even accompanied. Some places, at certain times, make an exception – in this case, I suggest contacting them either through the contact form on the website or by direct message on Instagram (I have included information in the post of some that allow people younger than 21 if I have not included it is because there is nothing about it on their website). Oh, and if you are 21 or older: don’t forget your ID.
  • Winter – the vast majority of rooftops also operate in winter time – this is because they have open and enclosed areas. Of course, the experience and the vibe are not the same, but it does give you a taste of what it’s like.
  • Is the admission free? – overall, yes. Rooftops are bars. You pay for what you drink and/or eat.
  • Can I go up just to take a picture? Remember that rooftops are commercial establishments. At least, order a drink – there are always cocktails, wines and beers – and if you don’t drink alcohol look for “Mocktail” on the menu – these are non-alcoholic cocktails or ask the waiter if they can make a non-alcoholic version for you.
  • Remember: check opening hours on Google or official websites!

1. The Skylark

Probably my favorite rooftop because it combines an incredible and privileged view of the Empire State Building, amazing drinks and food, and an indoor and outdoor area, which makes it a great option for winter days as well. It features a first floor with an enclosed area and floor to ceiling windows and a small balcony (photo) and a second floor that is an expansive rooftop terrace, completely open, that operates from April to October. Drinks cost around $20 and the food menu includes a lot of bites, so you can order several options and share. They have guacamole, fries, sandwiches, flatbread, and other options starting at $16 – the food is really delicious!

The only negative thing about Skylark is that it only opens from Monday to Friday. The dress code is business or casual.

2. Refinery Rooftop

This rooftop is in Midtown, at the Refinery Hotel – not far from the hustle and bustle of Herald Square – and has a beautiful view of the Empire State Building and rustic decor, with a glass ceiling, outdoor area, and covered area – it even has a fireplace in winter. One of the highlights of the Refinery is that they are open for lunch and brunch – the menu includes salads, tuna, steak, and more. In addition, minors or those traveling with children can take advantage of that, as after 4:30 pm you must be 21 years of age or older to enter. Drinks start at $18 and the food menu has options that start at $18.

Open every day and the dress code is casual-chic comfort.

3. Westlight

I always say that for you to see Manhattan, you have to leave Manhattan. This rooftop is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the William Vale Hotel and has one of the most incredible views of the city. It’s fantastic – like, really jaw-dropping, you know? It has an extensive outdoor area in addition to the indoor room with beautiful decor and glass windows. Drinks start at $19, and the food options here are also tapas-style for sharing – from $9. They also allow under 21s until 6 pm. It is worth remembering that the Westlight is on the 22nd floor, and on the 23rd floor is The Turf Club, a summer pop-up bar with synthetic grass, games, and a special menu – however, this specific bar does not accept reservations; it is walk-in only.

4. Castell Rooftop Lounge

Nestled atop AC Hotel New York Times Square and walking distance to Broadway and Madison Square Garden, this rooftop has a very cozy enviroment and a beautiful and elegant decoration. From the enclosed area, you can have a view of the Empire State Building, and its terrace has an urban view and a cozy sitting area. Everything is delicious – from drinks, which start at $18, to food, also tapas-style, – sandwiches, flatbreads, guacamole, etc – from $10. Castell is open every day – and on Saturdays and Sundays, it opens before lunch. Sometimes there’s a DJ. If you just want a drink and then eat somewhere else, I strongly recommend Boqueria, a Spanish restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel.

5. JIMMY

This rooftop is in Soho, more in the Downtown area of Manhattan – and that’s why this place is different. While the rooftops that I mentioned earlier have Midtown views – aka Empire State Building – at JIMMY the highlight is the view of the Downtown area – that is, the One World Trade Center is the one that shines here. JIMMY has an enclosed area and an open area – where you can enjoy the Downtown views – in addition to a swimming pool (yes, it is not the only rooftop in the city with a pool). Drinks start at $19 and the food menu – also tapas-style – has options starting at $10.

6. Harriet’s Rooftop

As my main goal here is to feature varied options – and varied views – I couldn’t help but include Harriet’s Rooftop – which is located at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a hotel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the edge of the East River. The cool thing is that you can go to the rooftop after spending time around Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The view of the bridge and the southern part of the city is simply fantastic, especially at sunset. Drinks here start at $20 and food options start at $12 – there are appetizers and a few main courses. It is worth remembering that Harriet’s – unlike the other rooftops in the city – is all open, so it’s only possible to visit in the warm months. However, you can check out Harriet’s Lounge (see gallery) – an all-enclosed bar with huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows with the same view.

7. Panorama Room

Last but not least, completing this list we have one of the newest rooftops in the city, Panorama Room. This rooftop is special because it is located at the Graduate Hotel, a brand new hotel that opened on Roosevelt Island – the residential island between Manhattan and Queens and accessible via the tramway. At Panorama, the atmosphere is sophisticated and the view includes the east side part of the city and, of course, the beautiful Queensboro Bridge. It has an enclosed area and also a very wide-open area. It can be a great place to go after walking around the island. Please note that the Panorama Room is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. Drinks start at $18 and the food options start at $19 – and there’s also a special brunch menu (Saturdays and Sundays they open at 11 am)

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I hope you liked these suggestions – and if you know a great rooftop in New York City please leave a comment with your suggestion!

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