For many traveling to New York City, taking in sweeping views from the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock are bucket-list musts. While these attractions are definitely worth a trip with your camera, the truth is there are other lesser-known places offering jaw-dropping views, as well.
Whether you want to avoid the lines of the popular tourist attractions, are trying to travel on a budget or just want to see something different, the following places provide the views without the crowds.
Staten Island Ferry
For this reason, it’s best to head straight up to the top deck toward the back of the boat. Imbibers will be happy to know they can pair their vistas with a cold brew, served right on board.
Sure, its stone facade and turret are more whimsical touch than stronghold, but that’s perfect for Instagrammers who climb the narrow winding steps for aerial views of Turtle Pond, Delacorte Theater and other park gems.
Tip: This is a great time to use your phone’s panoramic setting.
Back on the ground, go for a stroll through the inspiring Shakespeare Garden, a fragrant four acres (1.6 hectares) of flowers, many mentioned in the playwright’s texts.
East River Park
Here’s how to do this Brooklyn park right and maximize your social media posts:
Starting on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, stroll over the Williamsburg Bridge. Make sure to look up for impressive architectural shots (note the abandoned Domino Sugar Factory and the 19th-century Williamsburgh Savings Bank); down for surprising street art; to the left for snaps of the above-ground subway passing by; and to the right to gaze over the East River.
When you exit the bridge you’ll be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Turn left on Bedford Avenue to head to the park. For a pit stop, pop into Martha’s Country Bakery at Bedford and 1st Avenues to grab a red velvet cupcake and art-adorned latte (definitely an Instagram hit!).
Once at N. 3rd Street, walk toward the waterfront. Turn right to stroll through the park, — or parks, as there are a few adjoining, including Grand Ferry Park, North 5th Street Pier & Park and the East River State Park.
The walk includes breezy piers, waterfront benches and Insta-worthy views of the Manhattan skyline.
Roosevelt Island Tram
Running between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, this 4-to-5-minute ride costs just a subway swipe.
You’ll take in aerial views of the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, the East River and the Queensboro Bridge (for a leg stretch, start in Long Island City, Queens, and then walk across this bridge to get to the tram).
It can get crowded, so wait toward the back of the line to be the last one on — and the closest to the glass for photos. More Instagrammable moments await on Roosevelt Island itself, where you can take in the Queens and Manhattan skylines from the waterfront.
Gantry Plaza State Park
If you were wondering whether it was worth it to explore NYC beyond Manhattan, Gantry Plaza State Park alone makes a visit to Queens a trip highlight. Located in Long Island City, the 12-acre (5 hectare) waterfront park features giant gantries built in 1925, which were used to load and unload barges.
Along with the Manhattan skyline, the enormous Pepsi-Cola sign is also worth a snap and share, especially at night when it glows bright red.
North River Lobster Co.
Pay just $10 to board this lobster boat at 12th Avenue & W 41st Street, which cruises around the Hudson River for 45 minutes. For the best views, head to the top deck immediately (it fills up fast).
Unless you’re set on going at sunset, it’s smart to go before the 7 p.m. sail. Bonus: Your Instagram followers will appreciate the mason jar cocktails and mouth-watering lobster rolls just as much as the impressive architecture.