10 Rooftop Bars | Free NYC Observation Decks

This post lists some of the best rooftop bars in New York City. They all offer stunning views, good atmosphere, and tasty drinks. So why not sip on a perfectly poured ‘Manhattan’ gazing at the shimmering lights of Manhattan!




In your search for great skyline views of NYC, rooftop bars are a fun (and less expensive) alternative to the observation decks: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and One World Trade Center, and, as of March 2020, Edge at Hudson Yards.

Our list is based on a combination of factors: the view, the price, and the atmosphere. The cost of drinks ranges the gamut from a $7 beer or $4 soda to $20+ dollar cocktails! Same for the atmosphere. Some are very casual and others are a bit formal. But all of them have beautiful views of different parts of NYC.

If you are interested in seeing more of NYC’s drinking establishments, see our post, Best Pub and Bar Tours in NYC.

TIP: Many rooftop bars have extended seasons into the winter using outdoor heaters. You may want to check the weather before heading out to a rooftop bar. See our weather overview by month.



The Jimmy 15 Thompson Street (see video above)

Hours: Mon-Wed, 5pm-1am; Thu-Fri, 5pm-2am; Sat, 3pm-2am; Sun, 3pm-1am Price: $$$

Located on the 18th floor of the James Hotel in SoHo, you’ll find the contemporary bar and lounge boasting a sensual atmosphere, The Jimmy. Perfect for a happy hour after work or a night out with friends, The Jimmy offers guest panoramic views of Wall St, the Hudson River, and Midtown.

The swanky setting comes complete with a rooftop pool to sit near or two working fireplaces for those cooler nights. Drinks are on the pricier side at an average of $18-$24 per cocktail; however, guests say they are well worth the money. 

Reviews: Guests give excellent feedback of The Jimmy, arguing the décor and view are worth the visit alone. One user wrote, “Sprawling views of the city, unlike any I’ve ever seen”.

Another raved, “One of my absolute favorite bars in the city, great service, accessible bar, the best views, and ambiance.”

While the drinks are pricey, users say they are very well prepared and strong. “The drinks here are incredibly well done. “Mixology at its best. My favorite drink is the Trophy Wife. Prosecco with peach purée. Delicious.”

TIP: Enjoy delicious food also? Find out about our Greenwich Village Tours, including our Food Tour. We also have a useful guide to Greenwich Village and an audio tour.

Brass Monkey  55 Little W 12th Street in Meatpacking District

Brass Monkey Roooftop

Hours: Every day 12pm-4am  Price: $$

What the Brass Monkey lacks in views it makes up for by being in one of the hippest parts of town – the Meatpacking District in Greenwich Village.

If that rings a bell to you, it might be from “Sex and the City” as the irrepressible gang of four did their dining and whining there. (For SATC fans, see our post Where is Carrie’s apartment. You can even take a SATC Bar Crawl!)

So, back to the Brass Monkey. The beer selection is the true standout- with over 100 domestic, import and craft beers and ciders. There is also a decent selection of wines and diverse cocktails that are more affordable compared to its competitors.

The Brass Monkey also features a gastropub menu that features starters, small plates and large plates; think burgers, fries, and wings.

It is a very informal and simple style, composed of wooden chairs and tables. It is one of the few remaining rooftop beer gardens with dazzling views of the Hudson River.

The age demographic ranges from the mid-20s to mid-30s. But the crowd is friendly locals; you can’t go wrong.

Reviews: Many guests compliment this rooftop bar for its extremely casual vibe, something rare amongst many of the rooftop bars in the city. They also seem particularly satisfied with the drink prices.

One reviewer of the TripAdvisor community writes, “Loved the rooftop bar for afternoon drinks! Hidden from the main street, a great bar that isn’t pretentious.” Another Yelper said, “Love the rooftop – amazing for drinks, sunsets, and summer. Reasonably priced beers from $7-10ish”.

TIP: The Brass Monkey runs along the side of the High Line, one of the best urban parks in the world and not to be missed. We offer a number of pay-what-you-like High Line tours. We also have a self-guided tour and an audio tour!


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The Pod Hotel 39  145 E. 39th Street

Pod 39 Rooftop

Hours: Sun-Thu, 2pm-12am; Fri/Sat, 2pm-1:30am Price: $$

The rooftop lounge atop the Pod 39 Hotel has stunning views of One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) AND the Empire State Building and is a perfect and easy-to-reach stop for a casual summer drink.

The atmosphere is very relaxed- brick archways covered in ivy, wooden stools for seating and a steal rustic bar featuring hints of Mexican tile throughout.

The drinks are fun and mostly Mexican-inspired; the Sandie Trio features chili-salted watermelon.

Food is offered inside at Salvation Taco, guests have the option to order and take it along with them to the rooftop.

Reviews: The rooftop lounge receives very positive reviews from both the Yelp and TripAdvisor community. One user via Yelp comments, “The rooftop at this hotel is awesome. Great views of the city line especially the Freedom Tower.”

Another user writes, “At the top of the Pod 39 hotel is one of the most beautiful rooftop bars that I’ve been. Through beautiful archways and columns, you can see partially obstructed views of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.”

TIP: This happens to be a pretty decent hotel for the price. See our post on 25 Best Cheap Hotels in New York City.

Cloud Social 6 W. 32nd Street

Hours: Mon-Thu/Sun, 3pm-12am; Fri/Sat, 3pm-1am. Price: $$

Cloud Social

The real allure is the spectacular views of One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and the Empire State Building as well as others.

Another perk is a happy hour that runs from 3 pm-7 pm daily. Cloud Social offers guests some of the best-priced rooftop drinks in the Manhattan area.

The rooftop is larger than most, complete with an array of plush seating options including a more intimate balcony located on the eastern side of the bar.

The music is mellow and low during the day and a bit more hip and boisterous in the evenings.

Reviews: Users of both the TripAdvisor and Yelp community praise Cloud Social for their relaxed atmosphere, amazing views, and well-priced drinks.

One Yelp reviewer writes, “Very chill crowd, good vibes and of course beautiful ambiance. The bartender was super helpful and I enjoyed myself completely, will definitely go back when I visit.”

Another via TripAdvisor comments, “Impacted by the magnificence of the lights of the Empire State Building, it’s a cozy place where you can go with friends or your special one to get a couple of drinks.”

TIP: Thinking of going to one of the three observation decks? To help decide which is the best view and price for you, see our post comparing the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, or One World Trade Center Observatory.

Top of the Strand 33 W. 37th Street

Hours: Mon/Sun, 5pm-12am; Tue-Sat, 5pm-1am Price: $$

Top of the strand

Featuring a glass retractable roof, this rooftop bar on the 21st floor of the Strand Hotel offers year-round dramatic views of NYC’s skyline – including its neighbor, the Empire State Building.

The atmosphere is sophisticated yet comfortable, drawing in younger crowds. The drink menu boasts an impressive selection of martinis and house specialties like the Secret Garden composed of gin, Strega, elderflower, and mint.

Plush lounge seating lines the aisle to the bar along with bar stools that overlook the skyline facing a glow bar. This spot is ideal for an evening out with friends.

Reviews: Top of the Strand is widely considered one of the best rooftop bars in New York City. Reviews from both the Yelp and TripAdvisor community give great praise for the sleek, yet unpretentious vibe.

One user from Yelp writes, “If you’re looking for a good cocktail with a killer view of the Empire State Building, this is your spot…I could easily put this bar on my list of things to do in NYC, just because it wasn’t too crowded and the view really was spectacular.”

St. Cloud 6 Times Square

Hours: Tue/Wed, 4pm-12am; Thu-Sat, 4pm-1am Price: $$$

St. Cloud Times Square

Ok, to be upfront, this place will cost you. Bottled beers are $8+, snazzy cocktails $20 and wine starting at $14 a glass. Having said that, St. Cloud is easily THE rooftop bar to get an electrifying Times Square backdrop view.

The rooftop features 3 corner Sky Pods all a reflection of opulence. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

The plush, modern furnishings sit along a glass and marble barrier that overlooks the outrageously vibrant scene just below. The music is lounge-style. On occasion, live music can be enjoyed.

In addition to the many awe-inspiring cocktails, St. Cloud is home to a fine dining experience featuring small dishes and large plates.

Reviews: Guests on TripAdvisor and Yelp say the views of Times Square are unlike any other. One TripAdvisor user writes, “Breathtaking – a must-see while you are in NYC! You are in the heart of Times Square at an iconic landmark!”

Most say the staff is “awesome” and the “drinks were perfection!” It’s been described as “decorated beautifully, and the atmosphere is good too.”

TIP: Learn more about Midtown on one of our pay-what-you-like Midtown Manhattan tours. Be sure to check out our post 22 Things to Do in Times Square. If you were thinking of taking in a Broadway show, we have got lots of tips on how to get discount tickets.


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Mr. Purple 180 Orchard Street

Hours: Mon/Tue/Sun, 11am-2am, Wed, 11am-3am, Thu-Sat, 11am-4am Price: $$

Mr. Purple

Fifteen floors up Hotel Indigo in the Lower East Side, the view is spectacular and includes amazing unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower).

Mr. Purple elicits a sleek and surprisingly unpretentious vibe. The long narrow bar features two terraces- one of which features a pool perfect to sit beside and sunbathe, while the other offers a dining area complete with fuchsia-purple chairs.

A younger, hipster crowd command the space; mostly mid-’20s to mid-’30s.

In addition to their glowing cocktail menu, which features affordable drinks in comparison to its surrounding competitors, the food menu is not to be missed.

It features a variety of both small and large plates with locally sourced ingredients. Mr. Purple is ideal for a happy hour or a night out with friends.

Reviews: Users via Yelp and TripAdvisor agree Mr. Purple’s combination of great views, food and cocktails makes it one of the city’s best rooftop bars. One Yelper writes, “The view from Mr. Purple and the vibe in the bar are absolutely incredible. A must stop in the LES.”

Another reviewer wrote, “Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed. I can’t wait to go back. The views are outstanding, the cocktail and drink menu is extensive, the staff is friendly and beautiful.”

Aeté Rooftop Bar 151 E Houston Street

Hours: Friday 8:30pm – 2:00am; Saturday 5:30 pm – 2:00 am Price: $$

Aete Rooftop Bar

A bit of a mystery- there is no website, they’re only open two nights a week and if you need to contact them you can email them through YELP. But with a great view of both One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and the Empire State Building.

The bar apologetically states that they have “no fancy complicated drink menu.” They do serve premium liquor in mixed drinks as well as a variety of beers that change weekly.

Fortunately, this informal approach to a drink menu leads to relatively decent prices for such a trendy neighborhood. They only take cash and they do not open when the weather does not allow for it.

Reviews: A reviewer on Yelp wrote, ” the views of the city are breathtaking and the bartenders are friendly and great at making drinks.” Others describe it as “cozy” which is a codeword for small.

However, there is ample seating, and if you get there right when they open, you should have no trouble finding seats. This reviewer said it all, “Amazing view of the city, great bartenders, good music, tasty cocktails, chill crowd, and comfy seats! What more can you ask for from a rooftop lounge in New York City?”

TIP: the Lower East Side has more than great rooftop bars. The LES has a fascinating history and fantastic food. Find out more on our pay-what-you-like Lower East Side Food Tour.


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Westlight 111 N. 12th Street

Hours: Mon-Wed/Sun, 4pm-12am, Thu-Sat, 4pm-2am Price: $$


Perched atop the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel is Westlight- a contemporary rooftop bar featuring sweeping views of New York City.

You’ll get 360-degree vistas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens and the bar even supplies binoculars for a better range of vision.

The locale is lavish yet casual making it ideal for drinks after work or date night. The cocktails are inventive and complement their small bites menu with options like Tequila Cured Salmon and Duck Carnitas Tacos.

Reviews: While it is very common to have to wait in line (assuming you haven’t made a reservation), users via Yelp and TripAdvisor argue it is well worth the wait.

One Yelper stated, “One word: Views. The views at this bar are absolutely incredible. Overall the ambiance cannot be beat.”

Another, via TripAdvisor, wrote, “Fantastic spot for food and drink, with amazing views of Manhattan. An interesting menu, great staff, and a very good wine list. A great place to watch the sunset!”

The Ides 80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th St.

Hours: Mon-Fri: 5pm-2am and Sat-Sun: 2pm-2am Price: $$$

The Ides rooftop bar

If it’s in Williamsburg, you can expect a crowd, especially at a rooftop bar with a view as magnificent as The Ides.

Located on the 6th floor of the Wythe Hotel, the outside patio has completely unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline which lies across the East River.

The indoor bar is a sight to be seen as well: a sleek, streamlined beauty, where you can sip on the bar’s selection of well-made classic and classic-leaning concoctions.

Drinks cost on the higher end of the spectrum but remember you are the view as well. Recently the made a “tips included” change so you don’t need to tip, but that will explain the higher price of the drinks.

Reviews: Reviews are mixed. The bar is described as “cool with a brilliant, laid-back vibe. Loved the music and the view is incredible!” There is no critique of the view. It is simply fantastic.

However, a number of reviews do comment on the staff, saying they can be rude, pretentious and generally not friendly. One reviewer said it best: “You can get a better atmosphere, better decor, better drinks, etc. elsewhere, but what you don’t get is a panoramic view of Manhattan.”

Overall, go there with the expectation of a great view and not much else. But keep an open mind and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Check out our offer a Williamsburg Street Art Tour and Williamsburg Food Tour!


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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.