NYC View
December 2, 2018 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Where are some of the best non-touristy spots in NYC for a view of the city?

Girlfriend and I are spending the weekend in the city and I'd like to surprise her by taking somewhere where she can see how beautiful the city is from a height. I'm a newbie and I don't want to take her to a touristy (Empire State Building) spot where we'd have to pay $40 to enjoy it.

Does anyone know of any spots? Or any cheaper ones at least?
We can travel anywhere in the city.
posted by morning_television to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The Staten Island Ferry. It's free! You can buy beer or wine in the terminal. You can be indoors or outdoors on the ferry.

The Manhattan Bridge - southern/pedestrian walkway. Amazing views of lower manhattan. You also get this taking the Q train, but it's over faster.

There are some rooftop bars scattered throughout Manhattan, too, but they tend to be more expensive than they are good.
posted by entropone at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

The Whitney museum has a great outdoor catwalk where you can see the city. However, you do have to pay for admission.

The Pulaski bridge between Greenpoint and Brooklyn has some great fees of the city. They’re a little far.

The Roosevelt island tram is amazing. Take it and float up across the east river. Go wander around in Roosevelt island. It feels like the city is right in your face.
posted by suedehead at 2:44 PM on December 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Also, Transmitter Park in Greenpoint.
posted by entropone at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Outside of the Hoboken (PATH and NJTransit) train station, walking towards Newport, Jersey City.
posted by GreenTentacle at 3:06 PM on December 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, sorry, missed the "from a height" part...
posted by GreenTentacle at 3:07 PM on December 2, 2018

This is kind of expensive, but Manhatta in 28 Liberty St. is 60 stories up and has a bar that doesn’t require reservations, and for the price of an expensive drink, you can’t beat the view. I’d plan to get there when it opens at 5, because it fills up.
posted by LizardBreath at 4:01 PM on December 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Brooklyn Bridge is the classic, and free, but it is awfully crowded these days.

Just FYI, they have prix fixe weekend lunches at Manhatta now, $68 incl. tip. Obviously priced like the ESB or Top of the Rock, but at least you get a decent meal out of it as well. That would allow you an unhurried experience. My understanding is that the bar gets pretty crowded.
posted by praemunire at 4:32 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You could get drinks at the bar/restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental (the Aviary)--beautiful view over Central Park. I also love the view from the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, but it's not a skyscraper-height view.
posted by pinochiette at 4:35 PM on December 2, 2018

The upper floors of Bergdorf Goodman have some windows that peek over Central Park. The floor with the holiday decorations for sale is a beautiful site.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:37 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

well, this is not from a height but I very much recommend the cafe at the fairway in Redhook. They have a nice buffet there, sort of like the whole foods prepared foods buffet. you can get a snack and then you can go out on the heated porch and have a terrific view of the statue of liberty.. she's quite lovely from this fairway angle, and you can see the harbor and parts of manhattan as well. Parking is easy peasy if that's an issue and it's the opposite of touristy. If you are feeling extra cheap you can loiter about the olive oil sampling area and snack on tiny bits of bread and various flavored oils and balsamic, like a pigeon (or... I) might ; )

Another place I've been wanting to visit, but have not yet been to, is Wave Hill in Riverdale - not tops for urban city views, but gorgeous views of the hudson and palisades and the journey there could involve some nice scenery depending on how you travel.
posted by elgee at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2018

The Top of the Standard.
posted by airmail at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2018

Sunset Park in BK, where at its highest point you can see the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty — while you’re there, eat at the Chinatown, visit Green-Wood Cemetery and its monk parrots, and/or pop by Industry City.
posted by eyeball at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Roosevelt Island Tram! You can also get some amazing non-elevated views of the city from the park at the southern end of Roosevelt Island.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:21 AM on December 3, 2018

Top of the Metropolitan Museum has a nice skyline view over Central Park.
posted by greta simone at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2018

If you're looking at "from a height" you're already going to have a bit of a tourist draw. If you don't want to go with the Empire State building you're going to have to go the "rooftop bar" option, which is probably gonna be cold and your average cocktail is going to be about $15-$20, but hey. Here's a list from a site billing itself as a list of "cheap rooftop bars" in NYC.

I have a tangentially-related tie-in suggestion for you as well - maybe a fun day trip before or after you see the city from on high for real. It's not a from-a-height view of the actual city, but it'd be cheap, less-populated and is interesting in its own right - the Panorama Room at the Queens Art Museum. The Queens Art Museum is housed in one of the buildings that used to be part of the 1964 Worlds' Fair, and one of the exhibits was a scale-model panorama of the entire city. After the Worlds' Fair they kept the building and turned it into a museum and just left the model set up; every so often they add to it to reflect the changing city.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2018

Fort Tryon Park! Ok, so it's not the views of downtown Manhattan, but still pretty spectacular. And you can go to the Cloisters after.
posted by the twistinside at 5:57 PM on December 3, 2018

I was there in March and instead of Empire State we did the art tour of 30 Rock and included the trip to the top of the building. Great art, great stories and then from the top you can see the Empire State and the other direction you can see a lot of Central Park. Well worth it.
posted by drinkmaildave at 8:28 PM on December 5, 2018

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