It's sort of the holy grail of summertime after-work fun here in NYC, finding that perfect rooftop bar, with cool breezes, spectacular views, first-rate drinks, and a friendly crowd of fellow revelers. It helps, too, if you don't have to deal with impossible wait times or snooty staffers… and if the drinks don't cost a small fortune–call it a "view tax"—then all the better!
Find Your Favorite Rooftop Bar
Like any other choice of watering hole (or, in this case, watering aerie), your favorite rooftop bar is a personal thing, but here are some suggestions to get you get started:
- At night, and especially on weekends, Le Bain and the Rooftop Bar at the Standard Highline attracts the sort of crowd you would expect from a Meatpacking District hotspot, but if you go for an afternoon refreshment, the scene is chill, the people-watching pleasant, and the view among the best in town.
- Also making most lists around the internet is the Upper West Side's Empire Hotel, whose 12th-floor outdoor space offers lovely views of Central Park and Lincoln Center.
- The Ides at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg (above) also deserves a mention, because the drinks here are as excellent as the views of Manhattan on the other side of the river, but don't even try to coming here during any sort of prime time unless you want to get on line.
- For a rooftop bar with personality, you can't beat Gallow Green, atop the McKittrick Hotel, home to the smash, interactive theatrical hit, loosely based on Macbeth, Sleep No More. This feels like another world from the one down there on the streets, with vintage decor (including a battered rail car, which is by the way best seat in the house), lush greenery, and live old-time jazz.
- Speaking of personality, the Hudson Bar on West 58th Street is always good for a goof, with its fantastical decor and themed rooms. Plus, there's usually decent food available.
- And for a more minimalist approach–aka, nothing to distract from the jaw-dropping views of the Midtown towers and the Hudson River–the place to drink is the Press Lounge at Ink48. It's not cheap (none of these places are), and it's all the way over on 11th Avenue and 48th, but for a weeknight summertime adventure, this is definitely a solid plan.
All of these and more are just a few ways to spend your summer! Afraid of heights? Check out some of NYC's best destination parks or the artwork at the High Line this year! And let us know in the comments: What is your favorite way to spend your summer in NYC?