And there you were thinking that New York rooftops were only places to drink on while you admired NYC at sunset. 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: outdoor movies, fitness classes and events for music lovers. So what are you waiting for? The warm weather is here, and it's time to get high.
RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do on NYC rooftops
Things to do on NYC rooftops
After a few identity changes (RIP, Xanadu and Sheltering Sky), the party pad atop the McCarren Hotel & Pool is back. Head there for a monthly Brazilian Sunset session (next up June 18) and a biweekly Sunday Let’s DubItUp series (both free), during which you can shake your hips to South African artist Xander Ferreira’s fusion of contemporary electronic and traditional African music. Williamsburg table master DJ PreSkool (of Union Pool) is this summer’s resident DJ, so the primo Manhattan skyline views and cocktails by award-winning barkeep Francis Verrall are just the icing on the cake.
There’s a lot going on at this Bushwick newbie. The former warehouse boasts a bar, rehearsal and performance spaces, artist studios and a locally sourced and always-evolving food menu (egg soufflé sandwiches, organic Colombian grub)—oh, yeah, and a 1,300-square-foot rooftop that hosts buzzy bands like BOYTOY.
The party doesn’t stop inside Williamsburg’s EDM mecca. Output’s tune-fueled rooftop and its view of the Manhattan skyline is prime for continued reveling or, at the very least, grabbing a lounge chair and some much needed fresh air. The 3,000-square-foot open-air space even hosts the occasional daytime affair curated by the likes of fave local promoter ReSolute. And there’s a full bar to keep you dancing to boot.
This alfresco series gives talented subway buskers a new type of platform: an airy venue and paying customers. The first concert of the season is June 10 ($30), and you can expect several performances that range from lively brass to experimental folk, with vibes that start off mellow and pick up fire as the night goes on. Who knows? You might even see the next bloggable act. Subway Sets alum Moon Hooch recently found its way onto the notable NPR Music concert series Tiny Desk. Enter at Clinton and Flushing Aves, building 3 (subwaysets.com).
Want to escape the madness of Manhattan streets? Solace from all the commotion sits several stories above on the wood-paneled terrace of the James NY, where the folks at SERENE set up shop each Thursday. (They know what they’re doing when it comes to finding your center, with staff titles like “curator of conscious well-being.”) For the fifth year in a row, they host all-levels yoga and meditation sessions in Soho, where you get sweeping views of One World Trade Center and complimentary mats and beverages. It’s a pretty Zen way to jump-start your morning.
City fitness sessions can sometimes be pretty intimidating. Yo Yoga! ain’t like that. Its midtown studio offers various levels of classes on its private roof deck, like the fast-paced Power Yoga and the fundamentals-focused Basics. The ambiance is made all the more chill thanks to decor touches like potted plants and string lights.
Both rooftops and brunches are lifestyles in their own rights, and thank heavens Juliette is in Williamsburg to give you a two-for-one deal. The French bistro’s upstairs patio is decked out with antique tables and chairs, umbrellas and a bar. The menu focuses on hearty plates like the roasted banana stuffed French toast and traditional French fare like a croque monsieur and a duck confit.
April Bloomfield’s festive Salvation Taco sits on Pod 39’s bottom floor, but the goodies of the colorful Mexican joint are best enjoyed at this two-story rooftop bar. Characterized by a brick facade, tall terra-cotta columns, twinkling string lights and a midtown backdrop, it’s Instagram heaven. Choose between two tacos—carnitas (rubbed Berkshire pork with avocado salsa) and chicken tinga—and wash ’em down with the Palomita, a cocktail with vodka, grapefruit soda and vanilla salt.
With two-and-a-half acres of agricultural utopia, a.k.a. rows on rows of fresh produce, Brooklyn Grange is the world’s largest rooftop soil farm. The urban garden is actually spread between two rooftops—a flagship in Long Island City, Queens, and a second outpost in Brooklyn Navy Yard—and grows more than 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots and other produce each year. Get a look at the farming magic via weekly facility tours, volunteer work and educational classes, during which you can learn about beekeeping and mushroom cultivation. It’s the true farm-to-table experience.
Arrive at the film and TV production company Broadway Stages in Greenpoint, and head up several flights of stairs to the company-owned garden in the sky that’s operated by a rooftop farm specialist. Cofounder Annie Novak just released a DIY rooftop farming book, and the space is a sprawling 6,000 square feet full of vegetables and herbs, there for area restaurants (like Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons) and you to purchase at the on-site produce market. Or, if you want to get your hands dirty, sign up online to help harvest and seed the site on the last Sunday of every month. Reap what you sow. Ya dig?