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Five Best Seats in the City! Looking at New York’s Grand Views

This blog post was updated on September 5, 2018.

New York City has the ability to make you feel small merely by its size, scope and, intensity. However, sometimes feeling like an ant isn’t so bad in this city, especially while marveling at Manhattan from above at sunset or chugging down the New York Harbor with views of skyscrapers casting their morning shadows.

The best seat in this city isn’t always at the hippest restaurant or latest Broadway production. Rather New York’s best seats can come from a wealth of venues, from the top of iconic skyscrapers to the crowded commuter ferries.

The Empire State Building: Arguably offering the best view of New York City, the Art Deco beauty has long been a favorite of travelers, celebrities, and heads of state.

Around three million visitors come to the Empire State Building each year for a reason. The building offers two spots for visitors to perch, the 86th floor at 1,050 feet above the city and the 102nd floor observatory at 1,250 feet. There is a certain charm to the lower level with its coin-operated viewers, but those who go higher won’t be disappointed.

The Skyscraper Museum: The inside of a museum hardly seems like the best place to see New York City, but in a way, the Skyscraper Museum at 39 Battery Place provides the most insight into any view you take in of New York. The museum claims to be the world’s first and foremost vertical metropolis, where you can see a permanent exhibit on the evolution of the Manhattan skyline. Visitors learn more about the city’s architectural heritage and those who have shaped the view and the general composition of New York. From technology, design, construction, and investment to places of work and residence, if you truly want a different view of New York, you’ll get it here.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck: In an effort to steal the “best view” title away from the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck lends travelers more space to move about and get their perfect shot of New York. The observation deck sits at 30 Rockefeller Plaza across the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. As you stand on John D. Rockefeller’s gift to Manhattan, you might not be as high up as the Empire State Building but the views feel far from second-rate. The masses have caught on to this panorama in part because it features the Empire State Building in its view. Cameras also catch sight of Central Park and the Chrysler Building from this vantage point.

Staten Island Ferry: Most of New York’s best views come at a price, whether it is a $15 cocktail purchase at the rooftop bar or an admission fee steeper than the skyscraper itself. The State Island Ferry won’t charge you a nickel for its view, even though it has throughout its long history. The ferry goes in between St. George Terminal on Staten Island and the Whitehall Street Terminal in Lower Manhattan. A back and forth trip will lend the rider views of the New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the skyline of Lower Manhattan and even a few casual commuters.

The Airplane Window: Whether you are leaving or arriving out of Newark Liberty, La Guardia or JFK, New York’s main airport hubs provide some of the best views of the city. When you book your cheap flights to New York City, be sure you reserve a window seat. Some of my best moments overlooking the city come at night and up in the air, when you can spot Times Square and tolerate its crowds from afar. By day or night, the views out the airplane window truly showcase the sheer size of the city.


Where have you seen the best view of New York City?

About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at

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