New York City has the world's most famous and recognizable skyline, a sight to behold whether looking at it from up high or walking the City streets. In warmer months, visitors can stroll around parks or partake in rooftop drinking and dining while enjoying some of NYC's most spectacular buildings and vistas. But even when the temperature drops, there are cozy, inviting places from which to revel in the City's outdoor beauty. Read on for our picks of the best all-weather rooms with a view.
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
This 1842 landmark building was the summer office of former NYC mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Today it's a museum in which to experience 19th-century country life and to learn a bit about New York City history. Situated within Pelham Bay Park, the largest of New York City's green spaces, the Greek Revival museum looks out on inspiring, flora-filled landscapes.
Sea Shore Restaurant
City Island is a wonderful waterfront neighborhood to visit in the summer: a little bit of coastal community right here in NYC, complete with a marina full of boats and warm breezes off the Long Island Sound. But an off-season visit has its charms as well. At the aptly named Sea Shore Restaurant, you can look out at boats on the water (until the sun goes down) while dining on Maine lobster, king crab legs and New England clam chowder.
This expansive, bi-level beer hall serves up more than a dozen imported brews on tap plus wine, cocktails and a full menu of food (including a weekend brunch option). The top floor is enclosed by a greenhouse-type roof that allows you to enjoy the splendor of the surrounding buildings, nearby McCarren Park, Manhattan and the night sky in the evenings.
It may not seem like the most elegant place to grab a bite, but the Fairway supermarket in Red Hook boasts one of the best views around to go along with your inexpensive lunch. The grab-and-go café (within a full grocery store) bills itself as an “upscale” option for prepared foods, and while the fare is delicious, the real star here is what you'll see out the window. Sit in the enclosed outdoor patio and watch the boats go by along the harbor. In the distance you can't miss the Statue of Liberty.
The River Café
Known as much for its unparalleled waterfront and skyline views as for its inventive New American cuisine, the River Café is a New York City culinary legend. The restaurant sits below the Brooklyn Bridge, affording diners the opportunity to gaze across the East River at the Lower Manhattan skyline. It's a favorite for special events or an elegant brunch, lunch or dinner, with a menu of rich and delicious local foods like Hudson Valley foie gras, Niman Ranch strip steak and North Atlantic halibut.
St. Ann's Warehouse
The scenic archways lining the walls of the Tobacco Warehouse have long been a staple of the Brooklyn Bridge Park landscape, but rather than stand unused they now lead the way to St. Ann's Warehouse, which has taken up permanent residence inside the building. Come early for (or stay late after) a performance and admire, from a seat in Vinegar Hill House's Bar Jolie, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges stretching overhead and the views out toward the East River.
Brooklyn's stylish Wythe Hotel, located in Williamsburg, offers unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. Many of the 70 guest rooms in this converted 1901 factory provide gorgeous vistas—the west-facing accommodations look across the river; east-side rooms give glimpses of neighborhood scenes—and all visitors can enjoy the panoramic splendor gazing out the floor-to-ceiling, glass-paneled walls from inside the sixth-floor Ides Bar. In the warmer months there's also a rooftop option.
Empire State Building Observatory
One would be remiss to visit New York City and not include the Empire State Building on his or her itinerary. This 85-year-old structure is the New York City skyline's most recognizable feature. It's been included in television shows and movies, and has also been the site of many wedding proposals. The main observatory is outdoors on the 86th floor, but there's a smaller indoor option on the 102nd floor that's good for the colder months (and for those who want to say they went as high in the building as they could). Bonus: elevators run until 1:15am every night.
One World Observatory
One of the City's newest attractions, One World Observatory is located within the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere—standing 104 stories high. Hop on the elevator at One World Trade Center and ascend 1,700 feet in 60 seconds. You're let off on the 102nd floor; the main observatory is on the 100th; and dining options are on the 101st floor, in between. No matter the level, enjoy panoramas of NYC plus beautiful views of the City's waterways.
Landmark supper club the Rainbow Room closed in 2009 but was reopened in October 2014 under new management after undergoing a full restoration. Like Top of the Rock (see below), the renowned restaurant is housed within 30 Rockefeller Plaza; it offers breathtaking skyline scenery, quite the complement to a night out filled with fine dining, dancing and entertainment.
The Roof at the Viceroy Hotel
Wood details with brass finishes give you the sense of being on a yacht when inside the Roof at the Viceroy Hotel. But one look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows reminds you that you're in the greatest city in the world. The Roof provides stunning views of Central Park from its 29th-floor Midtown location. On a clear day, you can see past the park and into upper Manhattan. There's an enclosed space that's good for winter vistas, and in the warmer months you can access the terrace; gaze out at the beautiful scenery while you sip a cocktail and graze on light bites.
Salon de Ning at The Peninsula
East meets West at Salon de Ning, whose 1930s Shanghai vibe adds a bit of drama and a lot of glamour to your night out. And the views aren't too shabby either. Two outdoor spaces and one indoor area provide plenty of room in which to enjoy delicious cocktails and small plates, with Fifth Avenue views to boot.
Top of the Rock
Home to NBC Studios and the location where The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live are taped, 30 Rockefeller Center is a draw for many reasons. But its most jaw-dropping feature is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. The three-floor experience—which has both indoor and outdoor levels—offers 360-degree views of the City skyline, including Central Park, the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.
Upstairs at the Kimberly
Sitting 30 floors off the ground in a Midtown hotel, Upstairs at the Kimberly affords a different type of view than some of the taller buildings on our list. Rather than looking at the tops of the buildings while having a drink or a bite, you'll be surrounded by and looking up at them. Through an opening between two buildings is a wonderful view of the Chrysler Building—NYC's art deco gem. The 3,000-square-foot space at Upstairs includes indoor and outdoor rooms, so it can be enjoyed any time of the year.
As its name suggests, Penthouse 808 is a top-level venue, one that crowns the Ravel Hotel. The 8,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge offers indoor and outdoor dining. Both choices look out on the Queensboro Bridge, which towers overhead, and the Manhattan skyline. In the winter the outdoor section is enclosed and heated. The dinner menu consists of dishes with Hawaiian and Pacific Rim influences; once bottle service takes over, the place turns into one of the hottest nightclubs in Queens.
For an unconventional look at the City, visit the Queens Museum, where a three-dimensional map of New York City is on display. Walking alongside the Panorama, part of the museum's permanent collection, is a fantastic way to see the City from up above while being able to take everything in on a smaller scale. The model shows every building in New York City (its last major update was in 1992, though a few additions have been made subsequently), the entire NYC skyline built to a 1:1200 scale; for a bit of perspective, that makes Manhattan 70 feet by 15 feet and the Empire State Building 15 inches tall.
SHI specializes in Asian fusion cuisine, but the real appeal of the space—other than the chic ambience and ultrahip nightlife vibe—is the lovely Midtown Manhattan scenery in its line of vision. Located within a Long Island City condo development, the clublike spot includes an illuminated DJ booth, music at night and servers dressed in de rigueur black.
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Above Rooftop at the Hilton Garden Inn
Above at the Hilton Garden Inn is one of Staten Island's more upscale venues. It's a fantastic space for a private party and often the destination for weddings and other celebratory events. But there's also a nightlife component here: a club and lounge space for all your Saturday night needs. Small, shareable plates and drinks from the full bar provide accompaniment to a 10th-floor view of the beautiful greenery in the surrounding neighborhood of Bulls Head.
The wraparound wooden bar is the focal point of the interior at Angelina's Ristorante. But one glance out the windows of this luxurious family-owned spot and you'll espy something even more spectacular: beautiful waterfront views. A favorite for a night out, special events and private parties, Angelina's holds three floors, a backyard and an outdoor space. The comforting Italian food only adds to the warmth.
With a name like Marina Cafe, it's no surprise that this establishment offers waterfront dining. In addition to a seafood-heavy menu, the eatery claims fantastic sightlines of Great Kills Harbor, both from its outdoor dining space and from within the warm indoor dining room.
River Dock Café
The wow factor is evident at this Staten Island seafood restaurant, located within the St. George Ferry Terminal. The first thing you'll notice upon arrival is the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows highlighting the waterfront scenery outside. In addition to the Manhattan skyline (in the distance) and Hudson River, you can see the Statue of Liberty while you sip your drink from the bar and choose from an extensive food menu featuring raw oysters and clams; pots of steamed seafood; burgers, salads, and sandwiches; and fresh fish and steaks.
Staten Island Ferry
Hop aboard the world-famous Staten Island Ferry for a free ride and some memorable views in New York Harbor. The 25-minute voyage takes you from Lower Manhattan to the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, or vice versa. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it's one of the most punctual means of transportation in New York City. Along the ride you'll see the harbor, the Statue of Liberty and gorgeous looks at Lower Manhattan.