Get out your sunglasses, white jeans and cell phones: rooftop season is here. These urban oases in the sky are great for any event: parties, after-work drinks and snacks, romantic dates and, of course, Instagrammable moments. Some of our favorites in Manhattan include Cantina Rooftop, The Crown, The Empire Rooftop, Gallow Green, Refinery Rooftop Bar, Roof at Park South and The Roof at the Public. In Brooklyn, Berry Park and Westlight are very inviting on a warm night. We’ve got 10 more ideas for you, including an awe-inspiring reason to head out to JFK even if you’re not flying anywhere. No matter your age, bring an ID since they’re often required for entry.
This brick-walled rooftop deck at the Arlo SoHo attracts a young crowd. Bars inside and out are manned by pros who can shake a cocktail with one hand while stirring one with the other. Despite their efforts, the line can be four-deep. Views include the sparkling Hudson River, the World Trade Center and surrounding old-school water towers. To eat are double cheeseburgers, crisp-fried artichokes and flatbread smothered with prosciutto, fig and brie.
For good reason, there is usually a line to get into Broken Shaker at the boutique Freehand New York hotel in the Flatiron District. Once you reach the 18th-floor rooftop, you’ll find cozy tables, semi-private nooks shielded by plants, striking Midtown views and well-made cocktails. The eclectic menu includes paleo-friendly beef jerky, arepas with avocado salad and Yemenite bread served with delicious Middle Eastern spreads.
Atop the Sanctuary Hotel in the heart of Times Square, Haven Rooftop offers stunning views of surrounding Theatre District skyscrapers. The glamorous, relaxed space has a retractable glass roof, so it’s open in inclement weather with blankets provided. Stop by after work or pre-theater for a glass of wine or creative cocktail and bites like tuna tartare and fried calamari. Dinner is served (steak au poivre, pan-seared salmon) as well as brunch (avocado toast, eggs Benedict). A business casual dress code is encouraged.
The Manhattan skyline sparkles across the East River from Lemon’s, the stylish indoor-outdoor rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. A limited number of reservations are accepted; to avoid a wait, come on a (generally) quiet Sunday night or right when it opens (5pm Monday–Thursday; 2pm Friday; noon Saturday–Sunday). Quality snacks come courtesy of Aidan O’Neal and Jake Leiber (Chez Ma Tante) and include eggplant caviar, grilled sandwiches and pale, creamy butter beans.
Monarch Rooftop Bar & Indoor Lounge
The Empire State Building looms large at this chic rooftop bar near Herald Square. There’s lounge-like seating, umbrellas for shade and heat lamps if it happens to get chilly. Make sure to dress smart, as no athletic wear is allowed. Look for cocktails and simple bites, such as short rib sliders, crunchy chicken tacos, guacamole and hummus. Renting the space is popular for holiday parties, corporate events, bachelorette parties and bar mitzvahs, so check ahead to make sure there’s space for your group.
Wraparound views of the East River and the Midtown cityscape are part of the pleasure of this plush speakeasy-style lounge on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower. Beautiful architectural details from the late 1920s, classy service and cozy seating arrangements add to the romantic experience. Cocktails are carefully made and can be paired with bites like hamachi tacos, spinach and artichoke dip and a charcuterie and cheese board for two.
The Pool Bar & Observation Deck
Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA Flight Center at JFK has been reimagined as a 1960s-era first-class hotel. You don’t have to be an overnight guest to lounge around the Pool Bar & Observation Deck operated by the Gerber Group (The Campbell, Kingside). There’s an infinity edge pool, sweeping views of runways and aviation-themed cocktails like the Mile High Spritz (as well as classic tipples and cold-pressed juices). Food is simple and healthyish: Caesar salad, sandwiches, smashed avocado with blue corn chips and a grain bowl with roasted beets.
Serra Fiorita by Birreria
There is often a line for the elevator to reach the 14th floor of Eataly NYC Flatiron, but if you want that shot of yourself framed by an extravagance of flowers and clutching a coral Aperol spritz, it’s worth the wait. Serra (“greenhouse” in Italian) is a seasonal Flatiron District rooftop featuring delicious things inspired by Italy, including soft gnocchi with basil pesto, rustic pork sausage with broccoli rabe and fried rice balls (arancini) stuffed with peas and prosciutto. A large selection of natural wine from Italian and local producers is also on tap here.
Social Drink & Food
Social Drink & Food is aptly named; it’s a friendly place to gather for wine and shareable plates. Nestled amid Times Square skyscrapers, the fourth-floor terrace of the Yotel New York has an outdoor bar and modern white furnishings where groups can cluster. Order some brisket eggrolls with spicy aioli and fried cauliflower with labneh tahini. It’s open seasonally but closed when it rains.
The Water Tower Bar
Although it’s not, the circular Water Tower looks like the real thing albeit one with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of the NYC skyline. This intimate, deluxe lounge sits atop the Williamsburg Hotel and is open until 4am Wednesday through Saturday. There is bottle service (mostly $500 and up) and ritzy cocktails (a recent example: one that used white-truffle-infused Aperol and cost $150), though several fall in a less stratospheric, if not cheap, price range. Fancy snacks include white truffle grilled cheese, steak tartare and tuna tataki with black radishes.