I recently spent my first night on Governors Island, and as I watched the sunset from one of the island’s highest hills, I was taken aback by how beautiful the city looked from a slightly different angle than I’m used to.
As shameful as it sounds, I sometimes take the beauty of New York for granted. It is often easier to talk about everyday inconveniences than to maintain a sense of awe or excitement. However, some parts of the city are still so breathtaking that they can bring things back into perspective.
Most of us are already aware of Manhattan’s popular observation decks, including top of the rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory and the latest addition, edge at 30 Hudson Yards. But for those of us who prefer less touristy places, there are plenty of options.
Although the Brooklyn Bridge is usually crowded (sometimes I prefer to watch the sunrise there when there are far fewer people), many of New York’s other bridges offer great views. The Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges can be great places to stroll or laze around, but the Ed Koch Bridge in Queensboro (which was never part of my daily commute) always seems to take me by surprise.
When my newsletter co-pilot, Michael Gold, wants to get away from the crowds, he likes to visit Elevated Acre, a quiet park in the Financial District that seems to be hovering over Lower Manhattan. When I have a similar desire for solitude, I usually head to fountain at Grand Army Plazawhere the water almost drowns out the sounds of the surrounding road junction.
If you’d like to sit a bit more than walk, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservation Movies with a view The series kicks off July 7 with Before Sunrise, which you can watch in front of the park’s Harbor View Lawn – a romantic couple, if there ever was one. Williamsburg Skyline Drive-in as well as Films on the roof there are also some pretty great sunset views before the shows.
And I know we’ve told you about them before, but I’ll repeat: the many New York ferries that run from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Governors Island, among many other routes, offer great views.
As for more timely evening activities, if you’re planning on catching the fireworks on the 4th of July, Macy’s has already released their guide to official viewing platforms on both sides of the East River. As always, it’s worth arriving early on the 4th, as many of these places are pretty packed by sunset.
Types and provisions
The two best ways to see New York City, how huge it is, throbbing with headlights and stoplights, people and buildings, is to look down on it or get out of it. Whether from above or nearby, here are some of my favorite places to drink, eat and take in the skyline.
panoramic room on Roosevelt Island (take the F train or tram) could be attributed to the hotel bar, but this would be unfair, as there are very tasty cocktails and a raw food menu. Located on the 18th floor of Graduate Roosevelt Island, this is the best place to watch a Manhattan sunset over an aperitif.
Mortadella sandwich (or any dish of the day), Italian soda and Jersey City pastries. Bread and salt have a great light picnic in the nearby Riverview Fisk Park, which offers great views of the New York skyline. But don’t forget to order on the go, because Rick Easton’s fantastic bread and pizza often sell out.
Even Bar Blondeau Williamsburg, Brooklyn didn’t have an amazing view, I would go there for his little plates, especially the boquerones and crispy, salty fries.
My favorite place to have an unusual cocktail and get a night view of Manhattan (both Brooklyn and New Jersey and beyond) is Story, a luxury cocktail bar on the 64th floor of 70 Pine Street, an Art Deco landmark near Wall Street. On the outdoor terrace, you can play “find the famous landmark” with friends.
Honorable mention: midnight market July 4 Fireworks Festival. This downtown Jersey City festival features a roster of food trucks offering all sorts of cuisines, a beer garden, and a day of set from local DJs including Funkmaster Flex, culminating in a 9:30 a.m. fireworks show. Registration is not required and admission is free, but arrive early to find a good spot along the Hudson River. And don’t miss the La Coqueta food truck and its birria tacos.
Korsha Wilson and Patrick Hayes provided reporting.