NYCGuide

The Best Rooftop Bars In NYC

Where to drink when you want a panoramic view of the city.
The bar inside Panorama Room.

photo credit: Steve Freihon

Drinking a mimosa next to a chimney on the roof or your pre-war building can be nice. But you aren’t going to find panoramic views of the city or a dance floor with a disco ball up there. If that's what you want, try one of these rooftop bars. Some of them are relatively civilized spots where you can catch up with a cousin who’s forcing you to show them around town, and others have DJs, tropical themes, and swimming pools that you can fall into when you need some alone time.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Alice Gao

Bar

Williamsburg

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersDrinking Good CocktailsFirst/Early in the Game DatesOutdoor/Patio SituationPeople Watching
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There’s usually at least one annoying thing about a rooftop bar, whether it’s the line, the crowds after you get through the line, or the fact that it’s in Midtown. ElNico, on the 11th floor of The Penny hotel in Williamsburg, presents no such problems. It’s spacious, takes reservations, and has two huge terraces. There are also comfy couches in every shade of green among cacti and floor-to-ceiling windows. The house cocktails incorporate interesting ingredients, like an Old Fashioned with Sichuan pepper, and the Mexican dishes have unexpected touches: a carmelized onion tlayuda, for example, which is almost too pretty to eat.

There are a lot of bars with impressive views on this list, but none are like Panorama Room on Roosevelt Island. The next time you really want to wow your date, take the tram to this 18th-story rooftop terrace with 360-degree views of three boroughs, the bridges, and the East River. Most people stand at the outside bars (there are very few seats outside), but we recommend reserving a table inside, where you can actually sit down and still take in the view. The massive retro-futuristic space has floor-to-ceiling windows, an impressive art collection, and a great raw bar selection.

If you want to know what kind of view you could have if you threw a couple hundred million dollars at a penthouse on Central Park South, head to this rooftop bar on the 47th floor of the Park Lane New York. Darling has a central lounge area and an enclosed, covered patio with lots of greenery and a DJ playing disco and funk. That patio is where you’ll get the best views as you sip on a creamsicle cocktail and snack on bites like crispy chicken sliders and basil arancini.

The next time you grab a drink with your coworkers in Midtown, don’t just go to that dark sports bar under your office that’s always playing Huey Lewis and the News. Try Freehold Rooftop instead. Technically, this place is in Murray Hill, but it’s a short walk from Grand Central and Bryant Park, and it isn’t as stuffy and overpriced as most other rooftops in the area. The space is almost entirely outdoors, and it’s surrounded by charming brick arches, with a cabana-like bar area in the middle. Grab a frozen marg and a cheese plate, and mingle with some people who are still in their work clothes.

This FiDi bar feels fancy, but you can come dressed casually, and any photo you take here could go straight on a postcard. Since this place limits the number of people in the indoor lounge to around 35, it never feels crowded. The real reason to come to Overstory, however, is the huge outdoor terrace, which wraps all the way around in an uninterrupted circle and has a surprisingly large number of tables and chairs. Overstory doesn't serve any food, so stop here on a date night after dinner when you're in the mood to be outside.

If you’re looking for a nautical moment without leaving the city, the sixth-floor rooftop at the Rockaway Hotel is your best option. Just a few blocks from the beach, this bar has views of the Atlantic, with an indoor space on one side and an outdoor terrace on the other. We’d tolerate mediocre rooftop fare in exchange for the ocean view—but the food and drinks here are actually great. You’d think a rooftop by the beach would turn into Spring Break pretty quickly, but this place feels like a calm, beachside daytime spot, even when they turn the music up and the bar fills up towards sunset.

One downside to being a speakeasy with an unmarked door? People don’t know you’re there. Apotheke opened a Nomad location in 2022, and it’s still pretty under-the-radar. Their subterranean lounge is great for when you want to sit somewhere dark and listen to live jazz, but if the weather’s above 60 degrees, head to the little penthouse terrace where you can sink into an armchair and stare at the Empire State Building. Reservations aren’t tough to snag, so make one the next time you want to drink an impeccable cocktail in peace.

When it's warm outside and you want to drink beer, head over to Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. This brewery is at the northern tip of Greenpoint, and it has a big open-air patio on the roof with some picnic tables and a purely decorative stained glass water tower. They serve a bunch of beers that are brewed in house, and there are also some bar snacks like fried pickles, mozzarella sticks, and a hot chicken sandwich. The view won’t change your life (unless you’re really into looking at pricey new housing developments), but, as far as NYC rooftops go, this is one of the most pleasant ones.

Dear Irving on Hudson is the perfect place to get to know someone who might become more than a friend one day. The views are great, the cocktails are well-made, and there are little "seating stations" that will make you feel like you're in your own little bubble as you try to figure out what the day's colors on the Empire State Building mean. This sister bar to Dear Irving takes up both the 40th and 41st floors of the Aliz Hotel Times Square, so there's plenty of space for big groups too. Most of the seating is indoors, but there are multiple open-air balconies.

There are plenty of rooftops where you can party in NYC, but Honey’s is the only one we know of that involves dancing in an urban garden above a micro-meadery. This taproom and restaurant in the middle of industrial Bushwick feels like a suitable option for people who have outgrown Mood Ring but still want to have a fun night out. Head up the big metal staircase to the rooftop garden after 10pm on a Saturday, and you’ll probably find a DJ and people swaying side-to-side between several rows of plant beds.

We especially like this Gramercy spot (at the top of the Freehand Hotel) because it feels like a big, cool cocktail bar that just happens to be on a rooftop. This place serves great drinks, and it looks like a 1960s tropical-themed lounge. There’s a large indoor space filled with potted plants and wicker furniture, as well as a wraparound patio with lots of tables. The only catch is that you might have to wait in line to get in, but it's not like you have to wear the right shoes in order to get admitted.

The Crown is the type of place where you might see someone walk in dressed in a full puffy NASA spacesuit (something we've actually witnessed). Pretty much anything goes at this rooftop bar on the 21st floor of the Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown. This spot has two outdoor areas with a huge indoor space in between where you and a few friends can dance while a DJ spins some Southern hip hop. Despite all the room, it can still get packed. Cocktails are $20, or you can get bottle service starting at $550 if your pseudo celebrity friend is paying.

If you want to party on a rooftop while you drink out of a small plastic cup and watch the sunset in Bushwick, Elsewhere is where you need to be. This is a big music venue in a warehouse with a few separate spaces, including a large rooftop where you can hang out and dance. We suggest you stop by at least once this summer if you don't want to be full of regret once the weather gets cold again. You can check the DJ schedule and buy tickets on their website.

A vineyard, but on a roof. That’s essentially what you’ll find at this rooftop wine bar in Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has rows of grape vines you’ll want to touch. It’s also one of the most unique rooftop experiences you can have in the city. To drink wine at a picnic table, on a bench swing, or in a hammock at Rooftop Reds, you’ll have to make a reservation. Summer 2024 is Rooftop Reds last season before the operation leaves Brooklyn Navy Yard for good, so schedule a visit ASAP.

Westlight is on the top floor of The William Vale hotel, and the view here makes most other rooftops feel like subway stops that sit above ground. It’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday, or the fact that your summer no longer involves explaining the difference between East, West, and Greenwich Village to an out-of-towner. Just make sure to book a table in advance. You aren’t the only one who enjoys sitting on a couch while staring at the Manhattan skyline.

There are many rooftop bars in Williamsburg, and most of them are pretty decent. But if you want to feel like you’re at a tropical resort filled with 100 of your well-dressed peers, head to Lillistar. At the top of the Moxy Williamsburg, this bar has an indoor area with a bunch of tables and DJ booth, as well as a big outdoor patio where you can hang out in a booth and watch the J train crawl its way toward Bushwick. The cocktails are interesting (and occasionally glittery), and there are few bar snacks like chicken wings and mushroom barbacoa.

If you’re looking for a rooftop with a live salsa band, plenty of socially distant tables, and more life-size props than a Disney ride, head to Zona De Cuba in The Bronx. This huge Caribbean restaurant has a colorful dance floor, gaudy chandeliers you’d find at an estate sale, and a booth made from the back of an old-school Chevy. They take reservations for dinner, and you can book a table on their website.

The Soho location of Arlo Roof Top (or A.R.T. for short) has string lights, graffiti art, and a pretty nice view of the Hudson River. The patio here is huge, and, while it has become a little busier in recent years, this place isn't too tough to get into. So if you want to sip a frozen drink and listen to loud electronic music without having to wait in a line at the door, this is a great option. A.R.T. Soho takes walk-ins, but you can also book a table online—and we suggest you go that route.

Vacations is the antidote to all of those Midtown rooftops with absolutely no chill. This neighborhoody Bushwick rooftop has everything you need to pass a few hours without the $30 cocktails and EDM soundtrack. They’ve got fruity cocktails (including frozen ones) for $12-$14, games and trivia nights, and a tasty pimento dip, among other great bar snacks. The fun playlists never get too loud, and there’s ample seating so you can walk in with a group. Come by during Happy Hour, or have your last beer of the night here before it closes at 4am.

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