Undiscovered New York: Best rooftop bars

With so many drinking options in New York, it’s easy to get dizzy with all the choices. Here at Undiscovered New York, we’ve covered some of the Big Apple’s many drinking dens before. But there’s something particularly special about drinking in New York in Summer. Nothing better epitomizes those balmy nights than holding a chilled highball glass or beer in hand, watching as a fiery orange dusk melts into the humming yellow lights and steel grey of the skyline below. And if outdoor drinking is your goal, there’s nowhere better to do it than one of the city’s many rooftop drinking establishments.

Whether you choose to patronize New York’s many hotels with chic rooftop bars, or an al fresco rooftop museum space with some artwork to boot, New York boasts a surprisingly diverse assortment of outdoor drinking spaces. In a city crowded with skyscrapers and world class architecture, you’re also sure to be rewarded with not only a new perspective on the city but some killer views to boot. And while rooftop drinking is by no means a cheap pursuit, (your beverage will typically set you back $3-5 extra on average) if you choose the right spot and right happy hours it can be surprisingly affordable.

This week at Undiscovered New York, we’re elevating our look at the city to a new level. Just in time for Summer, join us as we take you up to five our favorite rooftoop drinking spaces. Ready to rise to the occasion? Grab your sunglasses and we’ll take you through our picks after the jump.
Rooftop #1 – The Pool Deck @ Empire Hotel
The neighborhood near New York’s Lincoln Center has long been regarded as a nightlife dead zone. That has changed in recent years with the opening of The Pool Deck at the Empire Hotel. In addition to boasting stellar views of the nearby Lincoln Center and Manhattan traffic artery Broadway,The Pool Deck is of particular note for its awesome vintage neon sign. Visitors can enjoy a cocktail right underneath the imposing red glow of this historic landmark.

Rooftop #2 – Bookmarks @ Library Hotel
The Midtown Library Hotel is a bastion of calm and cool in an otherwise bland area of Manhattan. In addition to the hotel’s literary decor, (the lobby is lined with shelves of books) visitors can enjoy some downright poetic scenery at the hotel’s rooftop Bookmarks bar. The mahogany paneling and fireplace will ensure your creative juices (or at least conversations) are flowing in no time.

Rooftop #3 – The Met Rooftop Bar
New Yorkers and visitors alike respect New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as a treasure trove of culture and creativity on the city’s Upper East Side. But not quite as many patronize the museum’s beautiful rooftop bar with stunning views of Midtown Manhattan and nearby Central Park. In addition to soaking up some alcoholic beverages, guests can take in outdoor art exhibitions from the museum’s diverse collections.

Rooftop #4 – Mé Bar @ La Quinta Inn
On first glance, the La Quinta Inn on Manhattan’s 32nd Street appears to be nothing special. But New Yorkers in-the-know pay this first impression no heed. Up on the roof of this nonchalant budget property is one of New York City’s most killer views of the nearby Empire State Building. Sip a cocktail while this iconic landmark rises above you like a massive steel giant, brightly glowing with its trademark lights. Anyone in need of a snack can order some delicious Korean food from the area’s many nearby eateries. Check Undiscovered New York’s recent look at Koreatown for more info.

Rooftop #5 – Rare View @ Shelburne Murray Hill
Hip New Yorkers have written off the Murray Hill neighborhood for dead. All the better for you – the Shelburne’s Rare View rooftop bar is the area’s secret weapon. Though this rooftop can get crowded during the post-workday rush, it offers blissful up-close-and-personal views of some Manhattan’s most famous architectural landmarks. As you sip your drink it will be hard to miss the imposing silhouettes of the nearby Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. It’s a free architectural tour of New York’s greatest hits, all for the low price of a refreshing beverage in a plastic cup.

Great American road trip: Wisconsin curds and Georgia O’Keefe

Even when whizzing through a state on the way to somewhere else, it’s possible to make observations. One can discover something new or remember a detail known, but forgotten.

As I am writing this, we are whizzing through Wisconsin on our way to Minneapolis after a night at La Quinta Inn in Madison. This is one leg of our road trip to Montana. No time on this leg for stops–except to pee and fill up on coffee and gas. We’re on a schedule with people to visit by dinner.

Still, I want Wisconsin to have more impact than the breakfast we had this morning which was just like the breakfast we had at a La Quinta in Denver two summers ago.

La Quinta Inns might be the same everywhere, but I’ve noticed a difference in barns. In Ohio, where I live, most I’ve seen are white. In Wisconsin, red seems to be the most common. I’ve also thought about the cheese curds that I bought near Wisconsin Dells three years ago when we also took this route. We didn’t have time to linger back then either.

At a rest area stop this afternoon, I picked up a brochure for Sun Prairie, the birthplace of Georgia O’Keefe. Sun Prairie is not far from where we are at the moment. Her grandparents who were Irish immigrants who settled here in 1848. O’Keefe was born in 1887 and grew up not far from her grandparent’s farm. According to the brochure, O’Keefe’s family’s house burned down in 1976, but there is a historic marker in its place. The town also has celebrations in her honor.

As we’re whizzing through Wisconsin, I’m noticing the scenery and can see why O’Keefe might have been attracted to New Mexico where she spent years painting the desert. Although Wisconsin’s land is covered with green lushness, the shape is similar to many of the hills in the Southwest. There is a craggy quality. Peel off the trees and you could be at the back of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque. Wisconsin and New Mexico are like the yin and yang of landscape.

Years ago, a woman I knew who lived in Albuquerque said she was moving back to Wisconsin, her home state, because New Mexico was too frightening and harsh because of its lack of trees. Wisconsin is like a mother, she said-with fewer sharp edges.

I’ve heard people from the desert who live in the Midwest speak of feeling boxed in and smothered by trees. They miss the vistas.

As we flew by the Dells’ exits, my son salivated over the water parks. Every hotel seemed to have one. “Can we come back sometime?” he wondered.

“Yeah, maybe.”

He’s heard a lot of maybes. Fortunately, hotel water parks are not particular to Wisconsin’s scenery. I sure wish we had found the time, though, to stop for those cheese curds.