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.

Undiscovered New York: 5 reasons to visit the Upper West Side

Welcome to Gadling’s ongoing series, Undiscovered New York. Ask any New Yorker about their favorite parts of the city to visit, and you’re likely to get some fairly common answers. Anybody under the age of 30 will tell you that the neighborhoods south of 14th Street are the happening place to be. Brooklyn is an increasingly popular answer as well, with “cool” neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and “Brownstone Brooklyn” getting some love as well.

But I’m fairly certain nobody is going to tell you to go to the Upper West Side. You know what? They’re missing out on one of New York City’s best neighborhoods. Call me biased (I lived on the Upper West Side for almost 3 years) but this neighborhood located west of Central Park has a lot to offer, from fantastic parks, quirky attractions, unmatched cultural institutions, a burgeoning food scene and even some great nightlife.

It might be hard to believe, but dear reader, let me share with you 5 reasons why the Upper West Side deserves a few hours of your time during your next visit to New York.

Click below for Undiscovered New York’s top 5 reasons to visit the Upper West Side. I bet you’ll be surprised.
Reason 1: The Food!

If there’s anything you might have learned after reading Undiscovered New York, it’s that we’re pretty big on New York’s food scene. Perhaps then it’s not surprising that the Upper West Side is home to an increasing number of great food spots. First stop is Fairway – what might be one of the best grocery stores in the entire United States. Pretty much any delicacy known to man is available within the narrow aisles of this chaotic, wonderful supermarket. Imported olives from Italy and Spain, Beluga Caviar, bags of Ethiopian Arabica and freshly made New York bagels are just a few of the many delicacies on offer.

A little further north is the secret weapon of 96th Street – Super Tacos “Sobre Ruedas,” a tiny taco truck serving up cheap, authentic Mexican food to locals. For five bucks you can grab a goat tongue taco and a spicy chorizo along with a bottle of Mexican soda. The Upper West Side is also home to an increasingly great selection of new restaurants – try Kefi for some of the city’s best Greek food, Dovetail for some delicious New American cuisine and Barney Greengrass for top-notch smoke fish. Your last stop should be Grom for New York’s most authentic (and delicious) Italian gelato.

Reason 2: The Architecture
New York’s West Village might get all the tourists, but to really get a feel for some beautiful architecture one need only take a stroll on the Upper West Side, which is loaded with historic architectural gems. One of the neighborhood’s most famous structures is The Ansonia, a beautiful Beaux-Arts style former hotel at 73rd and Broadway. The building’s glitzy history includes stays by residents including Babe Ruth, the 1919 Black Sox and a former swinger’s club. Another famous Upper West Side building is The Dakota at 72nd Street and Central Park West, infamous as the residence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Beyond these two structures is an entire neighborhood of beautiful late-19th Century and early 20th-Century brownstones and apartments. Just pick a street and start walking.

Reason 3: The Culture
The Upper East Side might get all the visitors because of The Met, The Guggenheim and The Whitney, but the Upper West Side’s cultural amenities would put most large cities to shame. First there’s the American Museum of Natural History, home to all manner of dinosaur bones, insect specimens and a full size blue whale. But in addition to the Natural History museum, there’s a huge range of cultural options on New York’s Upper West Side. There’s also Lincoln Center, the beating cultural heart of New York and home to the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and New York Philharmonic, among others. Retro music fans can stop by the Beacon Theatre to see acts like Hall & Oates and B.B. King.

Reason 4: The Parks
Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? Why don’t you find out for yourself by visiting the real thing? The final resting place of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant can be found nestled on the Upper West Side’s Riverside Park. That’s not the only notable sight in this beautiful waterfront park which runs the length of the neighborhood. You’ll find joggers, sailboats and some awesome views of the George Washington Bridge. In the warmer months there’s the Boat Basin Cafe, a wonderful spot to enjoy a drink or a burger and take in the fabulous view. Just south of the Cafe is a collection of derelict piers and dock machinery which makes for a cool backdrop for photos.

Reason 5:
The Nightlife
If you want to go out in New York City, you should probably head downtown, right? Wrong. The Upper West Side has a surprisingly diverse nightlife scene. Jazz fans will want to stop by Cleopatra’s Needle, a swinging Jazz joint packed with fans and some of the city’s best musicians pret
ty much every night of the week. There’s not even a cover charge – just buy a drink or two and settle in for some awesome live music. There’s also a number of great spots to grab a drink, including wine bars like Vintage, which features a huge selection of locally produced wines from Upstate New York and and Long Island. There’s also plenty of watering holes up near Columbia University. It’s no all-night party scene but it will certainly hold your attention for a fun night out.