Cool things to do on NYC rooftops
Don’t limit your rooftop activities to downing 40s, dude. Discover open-air spots where you can rock out, catch a flick, find your center, get dirty and okay, even drink—like an adult.
Tue Apr 29 2014
And there you were thinking that New York rooftops were only places to drink on while you admired Gotham's gorgeous views. Think again, bon viveur! We've put together a list of the coolest rooftop venues in the city, with nary a sniff of booze about them (okay, we've included one of the best rooftop bars in NYC, but it's a true class act). In fact, we'll go so far as to say there's something for everyone here: for movie buffs, fitness fans and music lovers alike. So what are you waiting for? The warm weather is here and it's time to get high.
For the movie buff: Rooftop Films
What’s up with that? For more than ten years, this outdoor gathering of indoor types (sorry, sorry, film buffs) has hosted screenings in a variety of creative locales—beaches, parks, plazas, farmland and roofs (duh). This year’s series will be held on two rooftops in the Industry City complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There’s something about looking out over the city from up high, soaking in the skyline, that makes the experience much more, dare we say, cinematic. Programming runs the gamut from tried-and-true cult faves to world premieres.
Get up there: Various locations, times and prices; visit rooftopfilms.com.
- Various locations, times and prices
For the music lover: Subway Sets
What’s up with that? You know that busker on your commute who’s actually good? This concert series, which kicked off last summer, brings those (literally) underground musicians way above ground and to a wider audience—not to mention much lovelier environs—at rooftop gigs. Past shows have been held atop the Brooklyn Grange and the Bowery Hotel, and acts include classical violinists, confessional singer-songwriters, bucket-drum-fueled jazz outfits and foot-stomping bluegrass bands.
Get up there: This year’s lineup is still being ironed out, but organizers tell us shows begin in July. Follow @SubwaySets or check subwaysets.com for announcements.
- Various locations, times and prices
- Critics choice
What’s up with that? Starting next month, Serene revives its open-air yoga sessions on the roof deck of the James hotel in Soho. Instructor Brigitte Bourdeau leads each hour-long Thursday class, walking a small group through vinyasa moves. (Mats are provided.) If you can’t locate your center while enjoying panoramic views of Manhattan, we fear you may never find it. And sorry, dudes: ladies only.
Get up there: The James New York, 27 Grand St at Thompson St (serenesocial.com). Thu 8–9am; $25. Starts May 1.
- 27 Grand St, (at Thompson St), 10013
- Price band: 1/4
What’s up with that? Find your green thumb at this 6,000-square-foot plot in Greenpoint, which boasts breathtaking views of Manhattan. Folks are needed for watering, weeding and turning compost, all in the name of nurturing organic fruits and veggies, some of which end up on plates at local restaurants like Paulie Gee’s and Eastern District.
Get up there: Volunteer season returns in May, so keep an eye on the farm’s website and Twitter feed (@rooftopfarmer) for sign-up opportunities. 44 Eagle St between Franklin and West Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (rooftopfarms.org)
- 44 Eagle St, (between Franklin and West Sts), 11222
- Price band: 4/4
What’s up with that? The hardest winter in the history of ever will be all but forgotten when the Met’s gorgeous haven finally reopens. This year’s commissioned installation, a collaboration between New York conceptualist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape artist Günther Vogt, promises to deliver even more visual thrills: One of Graham’s signature pavilions, featuring two-way mirrored glass, will be set within carefully landscaped hedgerows, creating a constantly changing reflective environment.
Get up there: 1000 Fifth Ave, (at 82nd St). Mon–Thu, Sun 10am–5:30pm; Fri, Sat 10am–9pm. Suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free. Opens Tue 29.
- 1000 Fifth Ave, (at 82nd St)
- Price band: 2/4
What’s up with that? Should you find yourself at the Bloomingdale’s flagship on 59th Street, you could combat shopper’s fatigue with Magnolia cupcakes and Forty Carrots fro-yo—or you could dine in a posh train car on the roof. Modeled after the Calais-Mediterranée Express, a luxury train famous for transporting wealthy passengers to the French Riviera in the ’20s and ’30s, the narrow space replicates a refined dining car—complete with white tablecloths and brass luggage racks. And while the Côte d’Azur may not be rolling past the windows, the view of midtown isn’t too shabby.
Get up there: 1000 Third Ave at 59th St, sixth floor (bloomingdales.com). Mon–Wed, Fri, Sat 10:30am–5pm; Thu 10:30am–7pm; Sun 11:30am–4:30pm.
- 1000 Third Ave, (at 59th St), 10022
- Price band: 2/4
What’s up with that? The chic nail salon’s newest outpost is just above Caribbean restaurant Miss Lily’s, but the vibe upstairs is less island party and more Zen hideaway—complete with an airy outdoor deck. As at the minichain’s other locations, manicures ($25–$40) and pedicures ($45–$65) feature a selection of top-shelf polishes, including RGB, Chanel and Tenoverten’s own lacquer line.
Get up there: Only pedicures take place outdoors, but mani customers are welcome to dry their digits alfresco—the patio is furnished simply, with a couple of benches, but we’ll take a breeze and sunshine over ho-hum drying stations any day. 132 W Houston St between MacDougal and Sullivan Sts, second floor (917-475-1000, tenoverten.com). Mon–Fri 10am–10pm; Sat, Sun 10am–8:30pm.
- 119 W 56th St, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves)
For the water baby: Equinox Printing House
What’s up with that? Rooftop pools in NYC aren’t hard to find, but like a shimmering desert mirage, they’re always somehow out of reach—either open only to hotel guests or serving as a mere backdrop for cocktails (no swimming allowed). This West Village branch of Equinox gym has what you’ve been thirsting for: a tranquil 15-meter pool and sundeck alongside the Hudson.
Get up there: We know what you’re thinking: Don’t you need to be a member? That’s one way to get in (memberships start at $175 a month). But there’s also a loophole: Book a treatment at the on-site spa and you’ll get complimentary access to the gym (including the pool) that day. Massages and reflexology start at $70, so work out those knots—then work on your tan. 421 Hudson St between Clarkson and Leroy Sts (212-243-7600, equinox.com)
- 421 Hudson St between Clarkson and Leroy Sts
For the Spin fan: Spin classes at Club Fitness NY
What’s up with that? New Yorkers’ biking obsession has spawned countless riffs on the two-wheeled workout, from cycle karaoke to aqua cycling. But this Astoria gym is the only place in the city to Spin under open skies (unless you count, you know, riding a two-wheeler).
Get up there: While classes are generally open to members only, interested newcomers can hop onto a bike with a free one-day guest pass. The 2014 season starts mid-May—just make sure you don’t show up on a rainy day (when classes are relocated to the indoor studio). 31-11 Broadway at 32nd St, Astoria, Queens (718-545-0004, clubfitnessny.com)
- 31-11 Broadway at 32nd St
- Price band: 2/4
What’s up with that? Rooftop drinking is NYC’s unofficial summer pastime—staring out at the city lights is even better with a cocktail in hand. Adding its services to Gotham’s already plentiful options is this just-opened spot. The swanky, nautically inflected lounge atop the 29-story Viceroy features a 1,200-square-foot terrace with postcardworthy vistas of midtown and Central Park.
Get up there: 124 W 57th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-707-8008, theroofny.com)
- Viceroy New York, 124 W 57th St, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves), 10019
You might also like
Here are the ten New York experiences you simply can’t miss.
Don’t fret, penny-pincher—each of these fun cheap date ideas will cost you $30 or less.
Tired of swamped tourist traps, huh? Check out these alternative things to do in New York.