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5 Rooftop Bars With the Best Views of New York City

Enjoy a spectacular view of the Big Apple from these must-visit bars.

U.S. News & World Report

5 Rooftop Bars With the Best Views of New York City

Cityscape from a balcony, Manhattan, NYC.

"You have to be up high to see and appreciate New York City for all that it is and its views." (Getty Images)

There's no better way to take in New York City's famous skyline than from above with a cocktail in hand. Across the city, rooftops serve as oases away from busy, noisy streets, offering a place to relax, catch up, dine or dance while taking in some unparalleled views – and perhaps even watching the sunset. With so many choices, which rooftop lounges should you try first?

"You have to be up high to see and appreciate New York City for all that it is and its views," says Chris Heywood, spokesman for NYC & Company, the city's tourism organization. "It's a not-to-be-missed opportunity. To understand the vastness and breadth and depth of New York, you need to get up high. You don't get to sense that if you're walking around. I've traveled the world to promote New York, and what I keep hearing is how great the rooftops are in this city."

230 Fifth

With large umbrellas to shade you from the summer sun and giant igloos to keep you warm during the colder months, the rooftop bar at 230 Fifth is popular year-round. Located in midtown, 230 Fifth is open seven days a week, rain or shine, from 4 p.m. till late (no admittance after 2 a.m.), with DJ-ed music and food served until midnight. Enjoy views of the famous Empire State, MetLife and Chrysler buildings. For $14, try the Pumpkin Patch Martini with cinnamon and nutmeg finishes, or a gin-and-cucumber mojito to cool off.

Top of the Strand

Top of the Strand.(Courtesy of Marriott Vacation Club)

Farther downtown, on the 21st floor of the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, New York City is where you can take in some fantastic views of midtown Manhattan, particularly of the Empire State Building only four blocks away. No worries about weathering the elements – Top of the Strand features a retractable glass roof that can slide back on warmer nights. There's an extensive cocktail menu, and for $15, you can imbibe unique beverages like the White Manhattan with gin, orange bitters, lillet blanc and orange blossom water. Top of the Strand opens daily at 5 p.m.

Pod 39 Rooftop

The Pod 39.(Courtesy of The Pod 39)

On the 17th floor of the Pod 39 Hotel, indulge in some Mexican food from Salvation Taco while you enjoy the views of the East River, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Freedom Tower. "Pod 39 is in Murray Hill, a neighborhood many visitors may not know about," says Jennifer Picht, things to do editor for Time Out New York. "It's got this Grecian look to it, it's very relaxed, and has some great tacos. It's a good place to throw back some tequila."

The outdoor terrace is open during the summer for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with cocktails available until late in the evening. Cocktails are $14 and include the Vida Caliente with mezcal, spiced butter and orange, served hot, and the Manzana of My Eye with brandy, apple cider, ginger beer and canela.

Salon de Ning at The Peninsula

Salon de Ning at The Peninsula.(Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)

Head to the top of The Peninsula New York hotel and you'll find two chic outdoor terraces with a Hamptons beach vibe. Open year-round, Salon de Ning offers views of Fifth Avenue. "Ours is one of the original rooftop bars in New York City," says Frederick Bigler, head concierge at The Peninsula New York. "When you're sitting up there, you're in the center of Manhattan with all those architecturally beautiful skyscrapers around. It's best in the evening when the city lights come up and the bar becomes alive." During colder months, there are heat lamps and blankets, Bigler says. "This is where couples come and snuggle and enjoy cocktails."

Signature cocktails include the Bird's Eye, a hot-pepper-infused tequila concoction with agave syrup, muddled raspberry and lime juice. Salon de Ning is open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Le Bain at The Standard High Line, NYC

If you find yourself wandering the High Line admiring the Hudson River and the sunset during the weekend, then it's the perfect time to head to Le Bain, a posh penthouse rooftop bar on the top floor of The Standard High Line NYC in the Meatpacking District. "The Meatpacking District is a great neighborhood for nightlife," says Isabelle Hogan, concierge at The Mark on Madison Avenue. "All the places there are very fun, funky and full of life, and you have great restaurants. You can be there at 11 a.m. or at 4 a.m. and there's always going to be somebody and something going on. It's a 24-hour neighborhood. You can't be bored there."

Le Bain is a discotheque with a plunge pool on the dance floor, plus a creperie, should you work up an appetite. Binoculars are on-site: On a clear day, you might see the Statue of Liberty. A great place to dance, Le Bain specializes in summery fruit drinks, and is open Thursdays and Fridays, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 4 a.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. to midnight, with later hours during holiday weekends.

To experience more of what New York City has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

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