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Up on the roof

Top rooftop bars in New York City!


It’s that time of year again! Rooftop drinking season in New York City. Many bars will advertise a “rooftop” with “sweeping views” of the Big Apple, but unless your idea of sweeping is watching someone else do exactly this through an apartment window, you may be left wanting. Here is my list of rooftop bars that are young, fun and conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, for some of the best views!


Awesome burgers downstairs and amazing city views upstairs? Yes please. Rare is most definitely my favorite rooftop experience in the city. Their Chelsea location will give you a more panoramic view, including the Empire State Building, while the more compact Lexington location boasts a great view of both the Chrystler Building and the Empire State. It will be hard to keep Jay-Z and Alicia Keys out of your head while enjoying a martini at these Rare Views.


Here, you will pay an arm and a leg for a vodka soda, and the views are less than sweeping. Pros? An awesome specialty drink menu, upscale décor and no line to get in, ever. If you are looking to avoid crowds and get fancy holding a drink called The Hemingway while sitting in a leather chair, Bookmarks is the place to go. With the bartender’s heavy pour, you probably won’t mind so much about the view anyway.

230 Fifth

This is probably the most well known rooftop bar in NYC, and therefore the most crowded. Get there before 9pm and not on a holiday/weekend to avoid waiting in a massive queue. Upstairs, snuggies are offered to you on chillier nights, along with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Drinks? You guessed it. Very expensive, and not as good as at Bookmarks…

AVA Lounge

On top of the Dream Hotel on 55th Street sits this rooftop bar with a very Miami Beach feel, complete with white couches, wicker side tables and expensive mojitos. You’ll find lots of locals here (post-work bankers and the like) enjoying a view sans the more famous landmarks, but nonetheless, sweeping. After 10pm there is typically a wait at AVA.

As a rule of thumb, if the drink menu is A) available online and B) reasonably priced (for New York, of course), the view probably sucks. Higher drink prices typically equal better views, but there are some exceptions (Bookmarks being one of them). If the weather’s clever, get out of those stuffy bars and enjoy your drinks up on the rooftops above!

Rebecca Jaymes is a local singer in NYC. To find out more about Rebecca, head to

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