Ok, I get it, you’ve gotta go to Times Square when you first visit New York City. It’s an epic “bright lights, big city” moment and yes, it’s a good thing to do, at least once. What makes New York City incredible however is that it’s just a small island, complete with iconic, gigantic buildings and surrounded by water. If you want the very best views, your best bet is to leave the city. All the Instagram worthy views are just a few minutes across the water, totally worth the trip, and if you’d fancy a look at the majestic landscape from the ground up, you’ll wanna venture to one of these spots…

a city skyline with a body of water

East River Park, Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn

Hop the L train from 14th street straight across to Bedford Avenue and then head toward the water. You’ll experience a full frontal viewpoint of the city, with everything in picture from One World Trade to the Empire State Building, even the famous bridges. Sunsets are a must from East River Park, so grab a picnic blanket and hide a bottle of wine in your bag to take it in like a local. After the sun sets, Williamsburg is known for hip shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and concerts, making it very stroll worthy.

a city skyline at night with boats in the water

Maxwell Place Park, Hoboken, New Jersey

Hoboken is the mirror image view of Manhattan as seen from Williamsburg. A quick hop on the Path Train to Hoboken will plant you in a young professional neighborhood, with Washington Street as the center point for great dining and pubs, pubs, pubs. A quick walk to the water, toward Maxwell Place Park or the W Hotel will take you along an amazing waterside park, looking directly across toward Times Square and the west side of Manhattan. You’ll probably even see some helicopters landing along the skylines, just hopefully no planes in the Hudson…

a bridge over water with a city in the background

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge Park is the setting for almost too many iconic movie scenes. The only thing standing in your way of an uninhibited New York City view is the iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself, making for a perfect “I’m a local in NYC” photo. The park has everything you could need to enjoy a perfect picnic, rent a bike, take a jog or just snap, snap snap away with your camera. The surrounding Brooklyn Heights area is one of the oldest and greatest in New York City and absolutely worth exploring. Getting there is easy on most subway lines from Manhattan…

a bridge over water with a city in the background

Gantry Plaza Park, Long Island City, Queens

You know that bridge from Home Alone 2, which Kevin Mcallister drives over while listening to Darlene Love? You’ll be right near it, looking almost straight up from one of the closest ground level view of the Skyline. Just hop the N/W and 7 train across the water. You’ll have spectacular views of the United Nations and iconic East side buildings, like the Empire State Building, right in focus, seemingly a stones throw away. Do note, the East River is wider than it looks! While you’re over there, check out a unique part of New York, which is also home to many of the top film studios, where all your favorite TV shows are shot!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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