New York City has arguably the best rooftop bar culture in the summer. I don't think you need to pay an admission fee to the Empire State Building to enjoy some of the best views of Manhattan. I hope you all get to check these off your summer bucket list soon! PS - also check out my recommendations on bars in New York in general.
1. LE BAIN
Everyone I take the Le Bain loves the chill vibe, amazing views off the Highline, and yummy drinks. It can get difficult to get in on weekend nights, so go early to ensure entry without waiting in a long line. My favorite time to go is on a weekend afternoon (the only days they're open during the daytime is Fri-Sun) and to watch the sunset dip over New Jersey. Be sure to call ahead and confirm their open hours or if they are closed due to a private event.
The rooftop bar at the top of this hotel is a great alternative to Le Bain (believe me, you'll want a back up in case your party doesn't get in). It still gets pretty packed on weekend nights, but has great couches and a comfortable vibe. It doesn't necessarily excel at drinks or decor, but has a good view over downtown Manhattan.
3. GALLOW GREEN
This gorgeous rooftop bar in Chelsea has hands down the prettiest decor. This is definitely one of my favorite bars in the city. In the spring it fills up with cherry blossoms and other flowers, and in the summer is full of green, natural details.
4. PRESS LOUNGE
This is my favorite Midtown rooftop bar. I love the panoramic view of the Midtown Skyline, and the minimalist/modern decor. I love going for drinks after work. The drinks can be a little expensive but you're definitely paying for the view.
This rooftop has a fun, relaxed vibe and the best view of the Empire State Building. This is a must-do place for those visiting New York for the first time. I love that they provide red Snuggies, such a lifesaver on the cooler windy nights!
A relaxed bar in Midtown Manhattan with perfect views of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. They also serve great food from Salvation Taco downstairs, meaning you can enjoy your drinks with a side of delicious guacamole.
This rooftop is only open from during late spring - early fall. Pay a small donation to enter the Met Museum, and ask for directions to the rooftop (it's not the easiest to find). Enjoy some art along the way! I love sitting on the turf, sipping wine while overlooking the park a Sunday afternoon. PS -- if you go in the fall, you might be able to catch an amazing view of the Park's foliage from above!
This bar on the top of the James Hotel in TriBeCa has an upscale vibe and a cool view of Downtown Manhattan. Resist the temptation to jump into the pool, though it's acceptable to dip your feet. I was pretty impressed with their drinks too!
9. Z NYC HOTEL
This rooftop in Long Island City has amazing views of Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge. It's equally beautiful in the daytime as the night when you can really see the city twinkle.
10. REFINERY ROOFTOP
I've mentioned this Midtown rooftop before, but I think it's worth mentioning again and again. Its retractable roof makes it great for any weather, sunny or even on a rainy summer day. It has one of the prettiest interior designs, drinks, and twinkly lights. It's a great place to take a date!