If you’re over 21 and come around New York City in the summer, there are few better ways to meet up with friends & make some new ones than hitting up a swanky rooftop bar.
Whether you’ve clocked out for the weekend at your Wall Street job, roll around with the “cool kids” of the city, or just want to hang out with your friends in an open-air environment, a rooftop can be a great place to start your Saturday adventures.
There are a lot of buildings in the city, which means there’s a lot of roofs, so no matter how packed some of them get, you’ll find one by the end of the night. Some of them, though, stand out as the most lively, elegant, and enjoyable spots you’ll find in NYC.
The rooftop bars of New York City are typically known as modern spots, but the first on our list is known for a history that goes way back. The space was originally constructed in 1928, and it served as a home for working women in the area.
Throughout its history as a bar, it’s drawn all sorts of folk, including two notable Franks (Sinatra & Zappa, specifically). It’s attracted this crowd, and many others, with its ornate ballroom, vintage decorations, and beautifully designed cathedral windows.
As much as their history supports their reputation, their drinks are as modern as they come, and the establishment is known for some of the best around.
Shifting somewhere a tad more youthful, this hip spot sits atop the famed Standard Hotel & offers the sort of layout that stands out amongst the typical bars. An artificial grass lawn covers a good section of the rooftop, outfitted with colorful lawn chairs & couches for your relaxation.
You can get your fancy martini, of course, but you can also go for the pitcher if you had an especially rough week at the office.
And you know what pairs best with a pitcher of alcohol? That’s right, crepes. You have sweet & savory flavors as you progress through your night, and when you realize how hard it would be to find crepes on the street at 1:00 AM, you’ll give plenty compliments to the chef.
Feeling like you’re at a fancy destination has its appeal, but sometimes you want to reconnect with nature. Welcome to Gallow Green.
Described by one source as having “the feel of a garden party thrown at an abandoned farm,” the vibe of the place is an extension of Punchdrunk’s film noir interpretation of “Sleep No More,” which takes place inside the same hotel that houses this rooftop bar.
In a city that can sometimes get overwhelming with its man-made monuments, the luscious environment that the McKittrick Hotel offers to patrons can be more than welcome.
They also offer an assortment of food options for brunch & dinner, including chicken & waffles, steak, salmon crudo, and plates with assorted cheese & chocolate.
One of the main reasons people choose rooftop bars in the first place, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, is the chance at having the most iconic skyline in the world as a backdrop for their evening. As far as those go, 1 Rooftop Bar is considered the gold standard.
This prime real estate sits atop the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo, which already has some of the best possible views of Manhattan to begin with. Here, however, you’ll even get the best of that, with the added bonus of an elegant patio with a pool.
As far as specific sights you can catch from this roof, you can see the World Trade Center, New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty relatively up close, along with the many other captivating feats of architecture in Lower Manhattan.
As anyone who’s walked through it can tell you, the chaotic jungle politely referred to as Midtown is far more pleasant from a distance. The Knickerbocker Hotel, which has hosted John D. Rockefeller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, & other elites, understands this better than anyone.
That’s why they decided to turn their rooftop, which overlooks a good amount of Times Square, into one of the most reputable social spots in the city.
It’s named after the hotel that used to occupy the Knickerbocker building back in the 19th century, and welcomes patrons with a biergarten-like atmosphere.
If you tire of the common man, though, you can hop right into a private sky pod, which they built into the corners of the roof, and chuckle at the rabble from your new throne.
If you’re as into exposed brick as I am, you might want to sit down for this one. Sitting atop the Pod 39 Hotel, the Pod 39 Rooftop offers the sort of rustic & old-world vibes that are increasingly uncommon in the big city, especially in Midtown, where the bar is located.
The floor, along with the entire face of the building, is exposed brick, and impressive arches & columns surround the whole bar. While you’re sitting and admiring the architecture, along with the view, you’ll get the chance to enjoy some tropical flavors.
They mainly specialize in tropical cocktails, and they offer you the chance to grab a little snack from April Bloomfield’s Salvation Tacos.
While the weather affects the condition of most rooftop bars, Pod 39 is entirely exposed from the top, so make sure there aren’t any clouds rolling in when you drop by.
We’d like to finish off our list with somewhere special. No matter what list you check, no matter who you ask, Mr. Purple will always be mentioned in the conversation surrounding rooftop bars. Many agree it’s a top-notch place to be, and it’s not nearly as stuck-up as you’d expect.
Sitting atop the Hotel Indigo in the Lower East Side, it boasts one of the better views you could ever ask for from a place like this. The decoration is refreshingly cozy, yet minimal, and the aura of the whole establishment is youthful yet relaxed.
There isn’t a dance floor, but there are some beautiful outdoor couches, so we recommend this as a place where you either start your night or bring it in for a smooth landing.