Roosevelt Island Tram
Enjoy aerial views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Queens, the East River, and more from aboard the Roosevelt Island Tram. The four-minute commute to Roosevelt Island from Manhattan can be secured with just a swipe of your MetroCard and yields some of the city’s favorite eye-in-the-sky sights.
Staten Island Ferry
Leave pricey sightseeing cruises to the tourists—the best boat to board for gorgeous views in New York City is free of charge and fluff. The final remnant of New York’s forgotten ferry system, the 25-minute Staten Island Ferry commute is old-school entertainment at its finest. On this gratis journey between Manhattan and Staten Island, you’ll enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, Ellis Island, Governors Island, and more.
If anything is worth the splurge, it’s a bird’s-eye view of one of the most famous cities in the world. Helicopter sightseeing tours, provided by companies such as Liberty Helicopters, typically last about 15 minutes and start at around $200. Viewing the city from above even the tallest skyscrapers in the Western Hemisphere, however? Now, that’s priceless.
For the best views of one New York island, you’ll have to go to another. Situated just 800 yards from lower Manhattan, Governors Island provides picture-perfect vistas of one of the world’s most famous skylines. For the best vantage point, take to the Hills on Governors Island, where you’ll also catch sight of Brooklyn, the New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty.
This view is one worth braving the tourist crowds for. From the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll have a 360-degree view of the New York Harbor, panoramas of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, a glimpse of Lady Liberty, not to mention up-close views of the bridge itself, a world-famous feat of 19th-century architecture.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Sight-seekers shouldn’t miss this Long Island City spot, where visitors are treated to a flawless scene of the famous Manhattan skyline. At Queens’ Gantry Plaza State Park, the 12-acre riverside property provides stunning sights, including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the United Nations Headquarters as seen from across the East River.
Top of the Rock
One of New York City’s most classic sightseeing destinations, the Top of the Rock provides stunning vistas of the city that never sleeps—but certainly snaps. This open-air observatory atop the famous Rockefeller Center is one of the city’s most photographed features, as is its view, which includes Central Park and Manhattan’s midtown and downtown areas.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Comprising 85 acres of East River waterfront in Brooklyn and 11 distinct sections, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an ideal destination for shutterbugs seeking the perfect shot. Whether you want panoramic vistas of lower Manhattan (Pier 1), views of the Manhattan Bridge (John Street), or Brooklyn Bridge sightings (Empire Fulton Ferry), this park provides the vantage point you’re looking for.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
For timeless views, this esplanade located in Brooklyn’s oldest neighborhood is the local’s pick. From the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which you may recognize from the classic New York film Annie Hall, you’ll take in the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and East River as you stroll its 1,826-foot-long path. Tip: Don’t forget to look behind you—the promenade also offers views of some of Brooklyn’s most magnificent mansions and townhouses.
One World Observatory
Not for the faint of heart, the view from atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere can be as dizzying as it is dazzling. For $34, you can secure standard reserved admission to One World Observatory, New York’s newest sight-seeing destination situated 1,250 feet (381 meters) above ground. Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and more can all be seen (and snapped!) from this popular attraction.