From the best rooftops bars to lounging in the city’s best parks, New Yorkers will go anywhere to take advantage of warmer weather. Perhaps the ultimate outdoor experience is taking in the waterfront views at one of the best boat bars in NYC as you imbibe a cocktail (or three) with menus that feature everything from freshly-shucked oysters to fun summer drinks. So hop aboard one of these boat bars, and you’ll quickly find out it’s one of the best things to do in summer in NYC.
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The best boat bars in NYC
Some boat bars can feel like a fraternity took over. That’s not the case with Grand Banks, which opened in 2014 with an oyster bar aboard a wooden schooner that you’d find circling New York’s waterways in the 18th and 19th centuries. Except this boat is flanked by Manhattan high rises on one side and New Jersey on the other as you sip rosé and slurp raw oysters.
Nothing says summer has arrived more than a lobster roll devoured while you’re on a boat. North River Lobster Company, a lobster shack docked on the Hudson River just a short stroll from Times Square, has rolled out a new food and drink menu for the season. You can order a lobster roll large enough to feed a group and wash it down with any number of the refreshing cocktails like the tequila-soaked Nautical Margarita.
Think of Pilot Brooklyn as the borough’s answer to Grand Banks. Off Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll spot the yellow-and-white striped awning on the schooner with an alluring oyster bar. The refreshing cocktails are more elevated than you’ll find on most boat bars in the city and like Brooklyn itself, more laidback.
The drinks may be no frills, but they’re cold and you’ll feel like you’re on your own island when you’ve stepped on the “Willy Wall,” the Manhattan Yacht Club’s floating clubhouse located near Ellis Island. Once you’ve stepped off the ferry, head toward the upper deck for an unbeatable view.
This sprawling 100-person barge joins the grand tradition of floating boîtes, offering seating onboard and on land. Cocktails play on summery classics, think riffs on pina coladas and other frozen drinks. But the barge is set to be more than just a scenic space for outdoor drinking: The team is also offering maritime programs such as kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding and community fishing.
This popular boat bar near Chelsea Piers feels weathered (and not just because it was once a floating lighthouse used by the Coast Guard and underwater for three years). The beers and burgers make it feel like a floating bar that it is, but if you’re looking for a raucous vibe, you won’t be disappointed.