Summer, and therefore “roof season” has blasted past, and although the weather remains great long past Labor Day weekend, just when it cools off enough to really enjoy the evenings, many of the rooftop bars close. But many don’t! So while you may not have exhausted our list of best off-the-beaten path rooftops for summer yet, we recently asked Leslie Adatto, author of the book Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftops, the first-ever guide to public access rooftops, to share with us her top 10 for fall.
1. Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook
Brooklyn Crab has great views and great food, and when it’s a bit cooler out, they just roll down the clear plastic “windows.” You can take the Ikea ferry over there so it’s a fabulous day out.
2. Pupin Hall at Columbia University
During the academic year, every other Friday night, when the skies are clear (this happens, really!), you can ascend to the roof of Pupin Hall, where Einstein once did research, and look up through the giant telescope, or look down from upper Manhattan down toward the George Washington Bridge and over this magnificent city.
3. Ample Hills Creamery, Gowanus
At first glance, you might think that Ample Hill is about artisanal food and Brooklyn again, but nothing beats a year-round ice-cream parlor with a rooftop – even in the dead of winter. There are few combinations better than excellent ice-cream and a New York City rooftop, plus take in the unique environs of the Gowanus neighborhood.
4. The Ides at the Wythe Hotel
This indoor-outdoor bar has that view of the Manhattan skyline that you can only get from being outside of the city. Cocktails only at The Ides at The Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg – but the outdoor terrace is large and lovely, and when you get a little chilled, the indoor bar is stylish and hipster-cool.
5. Pier 15 Elevated Park
When you’ve had enough to drink and just want to be on a fabulous green, head to the Financial District’s double-decker Pier 15 (by SHoP Architects and a team that includes landscape architect Ken Smith), just next to South Street Seaport. Head upstairs and choose from the array of seating choices to enjoy this free and beautiful view of the East River and Brooklyn Heights.
6. Salon de Ning at the Peninsula Hotel
Perhaps the most expensive rooftop bar on this list, don’t go here to Salon de Ning at the Peninsula for the drinks but for the completely exclusive view it offers of the award-winning Ken Smith-designed rooftop of MoMA’s sixth floor gallery. The indoor area is really cozy with beautiful polished wood but be sure to go to the northwest corner of the outdoor bar and peer down to the MoMA roof – you’ll never see another one like it.
7. St. Cloud at the Knickerbocker Hotel
The landmarked Knickerbocker Hotel in the middle of Times Square was built in 1906 when just about all the tall buildings had public rooftops so people could cool off in the summer. This newly renovated roof has a close view of the New Year’s Eve ball, plus lots of comfy semi-private sections of the roof, great for small parties and a rooftop cigar lounge as well. Afterwards, explore in the Times Square subway station and locate the door that was once the private entrance into the Knickerbocker.
8. The Roof at the Viceroy Hotel
This is the only public access space Adatto has ever found that has a view right up the center of Central Park. Situated in the middle of W. 57th Street near Sixth Avenue, The Roof is a swanky bar about 20 stories up that has a great indoor area and a small terrace with breathtaking Central Park views. Try this when the leaves are turning orange, red and yellow.
9. Bar Hugo at the Hugo Hotel
Bar Hugo at the Hugo Hotel, the only bar on this list with a happy hour, also has an indoor/outdoor option, making this a fabulous year-round rooftop destination. A super-stylish rooftop bar on top of a brand-new boutique hotel offers views of the Hudson River from one side and of the city from the other.
10. Bar 54 at the Hyatt
Back to Times Square, Bar 54 deserves a mention because it has outdoor fire places, very “mod” indoor décor, great staff. It’s also the tallest full-time roof bar in New York City. (The Rainbow Room on the 65th floor is 11 floors higher but is usually open to the public only on Monday nights.)