If you’re anything like me, you love a good rooftop bar. Especially in a city like New York.
I visit New York City somewhat frequently because I’m lucky enough to have a good friend who lives there. Plus, the flight is less than two hours from Nashville, so it’s perfect for a weekend away.
After many trips to the concrete jungle, I’ve rounded up three rooftop bars that are sure to give you amazing views of the skyline and plenty of photos for Instagram. Let’s be honest, we all love a good photo for our feed.
653 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036 (Open: Sunday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Monday-Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.)
Press Lounge is a trendy bar that delivers 360-views of the city and the Hudson river. And makes you feel very “Sex & the City” while you sip on your cocktail.
This is my favorite rooftop bar in New York City. It’s located in Hell’s Kitchen, so there isn’t a Subway stop nearby. The Subway does not stop in Hell’s Kitchen.
To get there you can take a cab and get dropped off at the front door. Or wear comfortable shoes and take the Subway to the Times Square stop at 49th street. Once you exit the Subway, prepare to walk about 20 minutes.
The view is worth the walk. The first time I went to Press Lounge was a few years ago. We went at night after the sun went down, and I felt like I was in a different world with the glimmering skyscrapers lining the sky.
The second time I went to Press Lounge was just a few months ago, right before sunset, and I preferred that time of the day.
I recommend getting there early, and try to go on a weekday or non-holiday weekend if you can. This place gets crowded.
The first time I visited it was packed with people and the wait to get in was about 20-30 minutes. But the last time I went was on a Sunday evening around 5 p.m. There was no wait and it was not crowded.
There is also an indoor area (drinks are served inside) in case the weather is not ideal for being outdoors.
The cocktails are a bit pricey, but the view you get while sipping on your drink makes them worth the money. If you really want to be early 2000s Carrie Bradshaw, you can order a Cosmopolitan. I opted for a glass of rosé.
The Met Rooftop Bar
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028 (Open: seasonally and weather permitting, mid-April — October. 11 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. — 8:15 p.m. Friday through Saturday)
There’s more than art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. There’s also a rooftop bar that dishes up light bites (think salads, sandwiches and snacks), drink selections such as soda, wine, beer and some pre-made cocktails, and some incredible views.
At The Met Rooftop Bar you’ll get panoramic views of Central Park and the New York City skyline. Plus, the atmosphere is casual and unpretentious.
I still opted to get a glass of rosé the last time I went there and took a staged I’m-not-looking-at-the-camera photo because sometimes I’m not casual and unpretentious. We all have those days.
Because I love a good story, I’ll tell you about my first experience at The Met Rooftop Bar. My local New Yorker friend, Shannon, had been to The Met but she hadn’t been to this bar yet. We didn’t have much time, so we ran past the galleries and headed straight for the roof.
There’s only one elevator that reaches the rooftop and it’s in an obscure, not-easily-found location in the back of the museum. We ran around everywhere, including right by Monet’s famous Water Lillie’s painting, trying to find it.
I had been to Monet’s water lily garden in France, so I stopped quickly to look at the painting and then we continued scrambling to find that elevator.
The elevator is in the back left of the building, on the 5th floor, in the European sculpture and decorative arts gallery. I recommend asking someone who works there for help with directions because it’s not clearly marked.
So now I like to tell people that I saw one of the most famous paintings in the world by accident while looking for a bar. It happens to the best of us, right?
In my defense, I’d like to put it on the record that I have been to The Met several times and I’ve appreciated the art galleries on several occasions. And I’d also argue that the view from the rooftop is a work of art in and of itself.
93 Bowery, New York, NY 10002 (open 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week)
Rooftop 93 is a cozy bar located on the 19th floor of the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Chinatown. It offers stunning panoramic views of Manhattan from the upper deck.
I came to rooftop 93 with my friend, Shannon, for her 30th birthday. She had friends and family coming in from across the East coast, so she scouted out the best rooftops bars ahead of time and this was the winner, for obvious reasons.
I want to emphasize how much work Shannon put into planning her birthday. What I’m saying is that a local New Yorker visited several rooftop bars and did a lot of research to find the best one, so now you don’t have to. Steal her work. Run with it.
When you exit the elevator you’ll arrive at the main floor of the bar, the 18th floor, which is completely indoors. The main floor features floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can still get a great view of the city even if the weather isn’t ideal for being outdoors.
To access the rooftop bar, you’ll take the stairs in the back of the main floor up to the top deck on the 19th floor. There will be a bar on your right and seating to your left. The cocktails are a bit pricy, but that’s just New York.
I recommend getting here on the early side, as soon as they open, because the space on the upper deck is small. There are a few booths and bar tables, but we saw it become standing room only fairly early in the evening due to the limited seating available.
We paid the $800 minimum to reserve a table since we had a big group and it was a special birthday (we all just split the $800, it included bottle service). Call ahead to see what their current rates are and to reserve your table if you’re interested in this option.
We visited this bar in September, and it still got uncomfortably warm before the sun went down. As all rooftop aficionados know, the best time to be on the roof is in the spring and fall seasons when the temperatures are moderate.
There’s so much to see and do in New York City, but sipping on your cocktail from a rooftop bar is an experience you have to participate in at least once if you’re over 21 years old. Trust me, it’s magic.
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