Where to Get the Best Views in NYC — for Free!

There’s nothing like the views in NYC, whether atop a building with a birds’ eye view or from across the water with a skyline view of Manhattan. There are many places where you can get an iconic sight of the city — One World Observatory and the Empire State Building are two of the most popular — but why spend the ticket price if you don’t have to? Here are seven locations where you can get the best views in NYC for free.

1. Staten Island Ferry

NYC Ferry


The Staten Island Ferry, which consists of nine boats, runs between Manhattan and Staten Island from Whitehall Terminal to St. George Terminal and vice versa. The ferry leaves each terminal on the hour and half hour, and takes 25 minutes for a five-mile trip. Once aboard, you’ll have views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as lower Manhattan.

2. Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

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One of the most iconic bridges in NYC, if not the entire U.S., the Brooklyn Bridge also features an iconic view of Manhattan from its deck. Walk its length during the day or night and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view (in good weather).

3. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Keep walking across Brooklyn Bridge and you’ll see Brooklyn Bridge Park along the waterfront in both directions. Explore its many piers, greenways, playing fields and even beach (Pier 4), and enjoy the view of lower Manhattan from everywhere you go. Plus, you get to enjoy the amazing view of Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground.

4. Governors Island

Governor Island

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You can take the ferry from Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan to Governors Island, for an assortment of recreational activities with a view of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as the Statue of Liberty. While the ferry charges a fee most of the time, it is free for passengers on Saturdays and Sundays before noon. Children under 13 and military personnel ride for free at all times.

5. Central Park

Central Park View

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If you crave a view of nature while visiting New York City, Central Park has the best views for you, especially in the fall. You can take photos of nature with buildings as your backdrop at the Sheep Meadow, or get lost within the park so you forget you’re in a city at all. The North Side, or “top” of Central Park, is quieter and more serene. Check out the Conservatory Garden for something unexpected. The Belvedere Castle, at 79th Street, offers stunning views of the park. It is closed for renovations until 2019.

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art

People enjoying view at the rooftop

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There’s no question that the Cantor Roof Garden Bar atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers some of the best views in all of the city. Technically, the museum entry fee is whatever you want to pay, and you don’t have to purchase anything to get the view from the roof. However, if you’d like to see the Met continue operating for years into the future, there is a recommended donation amount. The view from above is simply a worthwhile, and worthy, bonus. The bar is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. If you plan accordingly, you’ll be able to see an amazing sunset over the city.

7. Times Square

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Sometimes the best view of NYC is in the thick of the action, and nowhere in the city sees more action than Times Square. Come on New Year’s Eve for the best view of the Ball with a million other visitors, or just people watch at any time of the year. There’s nothing like the neon billboards and a hot dog from a vendor’s cart to make you feel that you’re experiencing the “true” view of New York City.

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