Empire State Building
Start: Fifth Ave at 27th St
End: Park Ave at 54rd St
Time: 47 minutes
Distance: 1.9 miles
1 Blazing up isn't the only way to free your mind in this city, especially when you're in skyscraper-saturated midtown. Ascend to the roof garden of 230 Fifth (230 Fifth Ave between 26th and 27th Sts; 212-725-4300, 230-fifth.com), where views of the Flatiron and Empire State Buildings are second only to the glitzy clientele. You could enjoy a cocktail inside the posh 20th-floor lounge, but you're really here for the outside terrace, with an atmosphere that vaguely recalls Miami's South Beach. Park yourself under a palm tree or giant umbrella and sip a Spicy Mango (Patrn Silver tequila, mango juice and mango nectar; $14).
2 Make your way north on Fifth Avenue till you reach the neighborhood's most iconic (and NYC's tallest) edifice, the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Ave at 34th St; 212-736-3100, esbnyc.com). Spend a few minutes admiring the recently renovated Art Deco lobby before taking the elevator all the way up to the 86th-floor observatory ($14.70--$41.53). A glass-enclosed deck provides 360-degree views of up to 80 miles away, and a saxophonist entertains with jazz standards (Thu--Sat 10pm--1am). For an even bigger buzz, cough up the extra dough to check out the 102nd-floor observatory (prices vary), which towers 1,250 feet from the ground. You may be stuck indoors on this level, but the vistas are still magnificent.
3 Continue your tour slightly closer to the ground: The Lever House (390 Park Ave at 54th St, leverhouseartcollection.com) is one of midtown's only office buildings that allows public access, and it's home to a hedged-in conservatory. The lush green space is a great place to unwind while appreciating a bird's-eye view of the architecture surrounding you.
4 All the elevation has probably left you with a serious case of the munchies. Quell your hunger at Upstairs at the Kimberly (145 E 50th St between Lexington and Third Aves; 212-888-1220, upstairsnyc.com), which is set 31 stories above the ground. Take a break under a canopy of twinkling lights while savoring truffled mac and cheese ($12) and a tart Midtown ($16), a bourbon-based drink created by master mixologist Alex Ott.
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