Sky High Pride: Unveiling New York City’s Top LGBTQ-Friendly Rooftop Bars
PHOTO COURTESY WESTLIGHT AT THE WILLIAM VALE
New Yorkers have a long-standing tradition of migrating upwards as the mercury rises, chasing the sunshine in the city’s multitude of rooftop bar and lounge options. There’s something thrillingly indulgent about raising a toast to the summer against the backdrop of the city’s iconic skyline, your hand cradling a meticulously crafted cocktail, and the metropolis sprawled beneath you in all its grandeur. This sentiment holds even stronger in the city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community, where a diverse array of queer-friendly rooftops offer not just stunning views and delicious libations but also spaces of inclusivity and celebration. So, whether you’re a local, a visitor, or just stopping over, join The Advocate and Out Traveler as we take you on a panoramic tour – in no particular order – of the top LGBTQ-friendly rooftops in New York City – each promising an elevated experience in its own unique way.
The Rooftop Pool at the TWA Hotel
PHOTO COURTESY TWA HOTEL. IMAGE BY DAVID MITCHELL
When it comes to effortlessly blending iconic architecture, unparalleled views, and a dash of nostalgia, the Rooftop Pool atop the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport is in a league of its own. A welcomed beacon for travelers, the hotel’s location is remarkably easy to access – and thoughtfully signposted – directly from the airport. A simple ride on the JFK AirTrain will lead you to this haven nestled among the hustle and bustle of the terminal. While their signature cocktails, such as their delicious Jet Fuel, made with cucumber mint vodka, Aperol, fresh lemon juice, and muddled watermelon, kickstarts (or continues) the vacation vibes, the star attraction is the infinity pool, meticulously purified every 30 minutes, surpassing most pools’ standard six-hour recirculation cycle. Perched on the 10,000-square-foot observation deck, the rooftop pool offers front-row seats to a mesmerizing ballet of international carriers taking off and landing on the runway. Regardless of the season, the rooftop at the TWA Hotel is an ideal all-year-round hangout spot. In the chillier months, the pool temperature is amped to 95 degrees, ensuring a warm retreat amidst the winter blues. This rooftop is a hidden haven for those with extended layovers in New York, those seeking a quick escape from the city buzz, and those not quite ready to end their vacation upon landing at JFK.
The Highlight Room at Moxy LES
PHOTO COURTESY THE HIGHLIGHT ROOM AT MOXY LES. IMAGE BY MICHAEL KLEINBERG
Situated on the 16th floor of the Moxy LES, The Highlight Room is a charming rooftop bar with a garden-like ambiance that immediately transports you to an enchanting oasis amidst the urban jungle. One of the standout features of this glamorous locale is the beautiful and luscious greenery that presides over the room, adding an air of tranquility to the buzzing New York City nightlife. The Highlight Room offers unobstructed, sweeping views of the iconic cityscape from its encased glass windows. To the north, you can admire the grandeur of the Empire State Building, and to the south, the inspiring Freedom Tower reaches toward the sky. These stunning vistas, coupled with an inviting outdoor space accentuated with verdant touches, ensure a unique and pleasurable experience. Whether you’re looking for a quick drink, a place to celebrate a special occasion, or to soak up the views, The Highlight Room offers a festive and serene ambiance, making it an unmissable gem in the Big Apple’s rooftop scene.
PHOTO COURTESY MAGIC HOUR ROOFTOP BAR & LOUNGE ~ TAO GROUP HOSPITALITY
There’s something truly enchanting about the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge. As New York City’s largest indoor and outdoor all-season rooftop bar, it beckons patrons with an engaging “urban amusement park” concept that embodies the city’s pulsating energy. Running until September 3, visitors can immerse themselves in the roof’s new Barbie-inspired activation: The Pink Bunny Beach. The venue’s famous putt-putt golf course will be decked out with pink lifeguard chairs, pink sand, and beach balls galore – all reminiscent of Malibu Barbie’s sunny shores. In addition to the rooftop being known for its photo-worthy pop-ups, their cocktail list reads like a playful homage to pop culture, featuring fun references that are as enticing as they are tasty. Try the We Were on a Break, an unmistakable nod to Friends, or perhaps the Moira Rose in tribute to Catherine O’Hara’s character on Schitt’s Creek, The Momager, presumably for The Kardashians’ matriarch, or their new Malibu Beach Bunny cranberry and Ketel Citroen cocktail to celebrate the Barbie summer season. With that said, one cannot overlook the star attraction of this spot – the exceptional view of the Empire State Building. Illuminating the skyline, this view pairs perfectly with the delectable cocktails and memorable company.
Starchild Rooftop Bar & Lounge at CIVILIAN Hotel
PHOTO COURTESY STARCHILD ROOFTOP BAR & LOUNGE. IMAGE BY JASON GREENSPAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Sitting high above the city on the 27th floor of the midtown hotel CIVILIAN, Starchild Rooftop takes the New York lounge experience to celestial heights. With panoramic views of the city skyline and the Hudson River, Starchild doesn’t merely offer a place to drink, it provides a spectacular journey through sight, sound, and taste. One of the standout features is its transformative retractable roof. Within seconds, the space shifts from a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed haven to an open-air rooftop, offering the best of both worlds throughout the seasons. This flexibility and design celebrate the neighborhood’s dynamic energy creating a genuinely engaging atmosphere. Music is a crucial part of the Starchild experience. The custom Funktion-One sound system delivers an immersive soundscape, complementing the visual feast of disco balls and mirrors that adorn the venue. On weekends, Starchild resonates with the beats of legendary international DJs and promising emerging artists, spinning classic house, funk, soul, and disco tunes. Culinary delights are in abundance at Starchild, with a specialty cocktail service and tantalizing small bites designed to satisfy post-work patrons, theatergoers, locals, and corporate happy hour guests. Their espresso martini menu stands out, featuring five unique and delicious espresso martini concoctions.
Darling at Park Lane New York
PHOTO COURTESY DARLING
Positioned on the 47th floor of Park Lane New York, Darling isn’t just any rooftop lounge – it’s Central Park South’s only one, boasting unbeatable vistas of Manhattan’s skyline and the verdant expanse of the iconic park. Darling instantly enthralls with its enchanting atmosphere. Intimate and whimsical, the space features a bold lounge that wraps around an outdoor patio oasis, meticulously designed to showcase the sweeping views. A unique combination of exquisite design, elevated cocktails, and thoughtfully curated programming defines the Darling experience. Inside, you’ll discover a sprawling mural by En Viu, a testament to the property’s dedication to storytelling through visual artwork. But Darling is more than just a visual treat; it’s a delight for the palate as well. Their creative cocktail program is also a must-try, offering an array of imaginative mixed drinks. From Harry’s Old Fashioned and Park Lane Margarita to Darling’s illustrious Billionaire’s Row cocktail, each drink is an experience in itself. While the vistas are at their most spectacular during the day or on dry nights, Darling ensures the ambiance never wanes. With an ongoing DJ series and exclusive events, the mood is always lively, making Darling a perfect spot for a night of drinking and revelry.
LilliStar at Moxy Williamsburg
PHOTO COURTESY LILLISTAR AT MOXY WILLIAMSBURG. IMAGE BY MICHAEL KLEINBERG
Moxy Williamsburg has made a sparkling entry into Brooklyn’s dynamic hospitality scene with the Indo-Aussie-inspired LilliStar rooftop bar. This vintage-chic oasis, recently opened earlier this year, exudes an enchantingly playful vibe, showcasing an array of vibrant hues, lush greenery, and whimsical lotus hangings that transport you to a tropical paradise. The bar, curated by Bar Lab Hospitality (the creators behind Broken Shaker), seamlessly encapsulates the borough’s creative spirit, making it an irresistible attraction for trend seekers and travel buffs. One of the rooftop’s indisputable highlights is its sweeping view, framing the Manhattan skyline, the majestic steel trusses of the Williamsburg Bridge, and the striking Freedom Tower. Regarding their menu, the Buckwheat Noodles, Turmeric Cauliflower, and Guacamole are all great for sharing, and LilliStar’s Gnar Gnar tea, a unique twist on the classic espresso martini, is a must-try (you can request they make it without the condensed milk foam to veganize it). All in all, with an extensive outdoor space and a panoramic view, LilliStar has truly redefined the art of rooftop relaxation, making it an approachable yet unconventional retreat in this bustling neighborhood.
RT60 at Hard Rock Hotel New York
PHOTO COURTESY RT60
RT60, the stunning rooftop bar and lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel New York, is a game-changer in the heart of Times Square. Located on the 34th floor, this incredible venue offers an all-encompassing panorama of the city, courtesy of its north and south-facing outdoor terraces. The appeal of RT60 is further magnified by the striking decor, embodying the synergy of modern chic with a rock-n-roll undertone. This hotspot resonates with the pulse of music, embodying the glamor and grit of New York City that influenced iconic artists. As with all Hard Rocks, this hotel pays homage to the music industry, with memorabilia throughout, including pop icons Lady Gaga and Rihanna’s boots gracing the ground floor lobby. The design theme extends to RT60, where the rhythm of music permeates every corner, echoed by live DJ sets ranging from undiscovered talents to renowned names. The ambiance at RT60 is aptly suited for a post-work wind-down, with a cocktail menu as eclectic as the city it overlooks. Each drink is crafted to perfection, pairing harmoniously with their selection of tantalizing appetizers. This venue redefines the essence of an ‘after-work cocktail,’ transforming it into an immersive experience intertwined with the energetic soul of the music world.
Everdene at Virgin Hotels New York City
PHOTO COURTESY EVERDENE AT VIRGIN HOTELS NEW YORK CITY
Everdene, the third-floor terrace at Virgin Hotels New York City, is an extraordinary ode to adaptability and variety. The 4,500 square feet midtown terrace is a visual delight with its glass perimeter railing, diverse seating options, and verdant plantings. The venue, complemented by live music that enhances the vibrant ambiance, is masterfully designed to cater to a plethora of moods and occasions – be it a romantic date night or a lively dance party. The dynamic beverage program mirrors the bold character of the terrace, with cocktails crafted to perfection, while a stunning view of the iconic Empire State Building adds to its allure. The sprawling layout features multiple nooks, each bearing its unique charm – from the sultry shag room to the playful library adorned with color-curated books from Union Square’s The Strand and other accessories that pay tribute to the city and the Virgin brand. The vibrant lounge also offers a Sunday brunch experience that’s nothing short of spectacular. The Queen Supreme Brunch extravaganza, courtesy of the innovative House of Yes team, brings an electrifying dose of fun and flair to your summer Sundays and showcases the crème de la crème of New York City’s live acts, where you can expect dazzling performances from the city’s finest burlesque, drag, and cabaret talents. This exciting lineup of entertainers ensures an unforgettable, dynamic atmosphere that stands out from your standard brunch fare.
ART SoHo at Arlo SoHo
PHOTO COURTESY ART SOHO
ART SoHo entices you with its blend of trendy sophistication and laid-back comfort, creating an inviting and exclusive atmosphere. Its chic aesthetic and breathtaking city views, including the Freedom Tower, set the perfect backdrop for any social gathering. Positioned atop Arlo SoHo, hence the acronym “ART,” for “Arlo Roof Top,” this venue presents beautiful views of New York’s famed skyline, allowing patrons to bask in the city’s charm from a unique vantage point. The panoramic views, featuring glimpses of the Hudson River, add an enchanting element to the overall experience. The cocktail offerings at ART SoHo are as diverse and delicious as the city it overlooks. Each drink is expertly crafted and aesthetically presented, with a menu that effortlessly blends classic staples with innovative creations. Adding to the appeal is the well-curated selection of bites. ART SoHo caters to every mood, whether it’s a relaxed evening with friends, a date night, or a solitary moment of indulgence. Open weekdays from 4 p.m. and at noon on weekends for brunch, the venue keeps the excitement alive with seasonal events throughout the week, such as their Tuesday Fiesta Nights, Saturday DJ Series, and the Sunday Brunch Party, promising an unforgettable New York rooftop bar experience, but keep in mind, table reservations are highly recommended.
The Fleur Room at Moxy Chelsea
PHOTO COURTESY THE FLEUR ROOM AT MOXY CHELSEA
The Fleur Room at Moxy Chelsea is a true gem, offering an immersive experience. It’s not just the stunning Empire State Building views that catch your attention; it’s the thoughtful blend of decadent botanical design and Italian romanticism that sets it apart. Located 35 stories high in the heart of Chelsea’s Flower District, The Fleur Room is a secret garden in the urban jungle. Natural light floods the space, giving life to the rich floral fabrics and copper-clad bar. The pièce de résistance, a giant water droplet chandelier, illuminates the room with an ethereal glow, beautifully complemented by the massive vintage disco ball that once dazzled at the infamous Los Angeles club, Vertigo. Despite its midtown location, the Fleur Room attracts a chic downtown crowd, creating a vibrant atmosphere; to get a table here, reservations in advance are highly recommended. The staff, dressed in floral-inspired ensembles, further enhances the space’s aesthetic. Another standout feature of this glass-enclosed lounge is its ability to transform into an open-air sky veranda. This unique attribute amplifies the breathtaking 360-degree views, extending from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building, making it a favorite spot for both celebrity patrons and city locals.
elNico at Penny Williamsburg
PHOTO COURTESY ELNICO AT PENNY WILLIAMSBURG. IMAGE BY ALICE GAO
Perched atop Penny Williamsburg, the newly opened elNico stands as a fresh rooftop bar and restaurant, providing guests with a lively Mexican culinary experience, curated drinks, and unforgettable moments. The elegant dining room and terrace, open for dinner and drinks daily, will surely mesmerize you with the panoramic vistas of the Brooklyn and Manhattan skyline. The culinary mastermind behind elNico’s inventive menu, Chef Fer Serrano, channels her deep Mexican roots and global kitchen experiences into each dish. Her menu is an intriguing fusion of cherished family recipes enriched by exotic ingredients and innovative techniques from her illustrious career. Though the menu is filled with enticing Mexican favorites, their mouth-watering guacamole served with totopos is a standout and a table must-order. The cocktail program features fresh, seasonal flavors crafted from locally sourced ingredients. With a particular emphasis on agave-based spirits, the drinks menu offers timeless classics and a diverse wine selection. The Café De Olla – elNico’s unique take on the espresso martini – is a highly recommended order for caffeine lovers. A unique non-alcoholic offering is their on-tap sparkling water – a rare but appreciated detail. The restaurant’s ambiance is further enhanced by its vibrant green and yellow color scheme and various plants scattered throughout, creating a lively and welcoming environment.
5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar at Margaritaville Resort Times Square
PHOTO COURTESY 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE BAR
The 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar at the Margaritaville Resort in Times Square effortlessly captures the perpetual merriment of the Margaritaville brand! Nestled on the 31st and 32nd floors of the resort, this delightful venue offers its patrons breathtaking views of the pulsating city of New York. From the iconic New Year’s Eve Ball to the serene Hudson River, the panorama from this rooftop is nothing short of spectacular. Whether searching for a quick snack before a Broadway show, craving a meticulously crafted cocktail, or simply seeking a refuge to unwind after a hectic day at work, the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar caters to all your needs. It’s an enchanting haven where the clock always strikes five, and the good times never cease. This place is not just a bar; it embodies the city’s vibrant spirit and is a destination that every NYC visitor should include on their must-visit rooftop list.
The Ready Rooftop at Moxy East Village
PHOTO COURTESY THE READY ROOFTOP BAR AT MOXY EAST VILLAGE. IMAGE BY MICHAEL KLEINBERG
The Ready Rooftop Bar, nestled in the vibrant heart of New York’s renowned East Village, embodies a convivial yet polished charm, offering visitors a sanctuary from the frantic pulse of the city. With its quirky design and distinctive food and drink menu, this rooftop bar perfectly captures the laid-back essence of a coveted New York City backyard. Framed by retractable glass walls and a rooftop, The Ready Rooftop Bar offers an uninterrupted, year-round panorama of the East Village and beyond. Its design exudes a distinct beer garden vibe, highlighted by features like bar shelves comprising a vibrant collage of multicolored crates and a hand-painted mural by En Viu. This artistic tribute overlays portraits of the neighborhood’s legendary figures onto a map of the East Village, giving patrons a taste of the local history. The space balances a friendly, relaxed ambiance and a sense of sophistication, with the bar serving up an impressive variety of frozen cocktails and tantalizing tacos. Expect a more youthful demographic here, an unsurprising aspect of its East Village location. Adding to the visual spectacle of the venue is the stunning view of the Freedom Tower, which can be enjoyed from pretty much every area of the rooftop.
Tatau Pool Lounge & Bar at Hotel Indigo Williamsburg
PHOTO COURTESY HOTEL INDIGO WILLIAMSBURG. IMAGE BY DAVID CHOW
Hotel Indigo Williamsburg, an integral part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts portfolio, boasts a stunning pool, deck, and terrace offering breathtaking vistas of both Brooklyn and Manhattan on their newly revitalized Tatau Pool Lounge & Bar. Ensconced in tranquility on the fourth-floor terrace, you’ll discover a unique, elongated pool design, blending ample space and serene environs with panoramic views of the neighboring landscape. This rooftop retreat offers a refreshing alternative to the city’s more frenetic pool experiences, ensuring an atmosphere that hums with vitality, underscored by music and seasonal culinary delights. Expertly crafted by Bushwick’s renowned interior design firm, Cl-oth Interiors, the hotel’s pool terrace features a chic bar & lounge, bridging the gap between classic and contemporary aesthetics. This space mirrors Williamsburg’s own metamorphosis from an industrial powerhouse to a bustling cultural hotspot. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the exception of private events, the pool provides an exclusive retreat for hotel guests, its access included in their stay. The general public can also experience this idyllic setting by purchasing individual daily passes starting at $100 for weekdays and $150 for weekends.
The Lookup at the Kixby
PHOTO COURTESY THE LOOKUP AT THE KIXBY
The Lookup, located atop the Kixby, has made a recent – and triumphant – return to New York’s rooftop scene for the first time since 2019. With the illustrious Empire State Building serving as its dramatic “backyard,” this rooftop bar promises a captivating experience. The creative minds behind the acclaimed Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, Julie Mulligan and Chris Barish, have collaborated with the Kixby to bring The Lookup rooftop to life. This partnership aims to offer an experience that balances sophistication and relaxation. The bar’s menu, a stunning ensemble of smart bar bites and innovative cocktails, is a testament to the expertise of renowned mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer, formerly of Seamstress and The Dead Rabbit, alongside Black Tap’s Beverage Director, Christian Orlando, ensuring the cocktail creations at The Lookup are nothing short of extraordinary.
PHD at the Dream Downtown Hotel
PHOTO COURTESY PHD ROOFTOP LOUNGE AT THE DREAM DOWNTOWN
Residing at the heights of the vibrant Dream Downtown hotel, PHD Rooftop Lounge is an exquisite destination that promises a captivating fusion of stunning vistas, sumptuous bites, and delectable cocktails. Offering panoramic views of the Hudson River and the iconic Empire State Building, the 12th-floor lounge is a mesmerizing observation point that captures the city’s skyline in all its glory. Equipped with two full-service bars and a fully operational DJ booth, PHD boasts a youthful yet upscale and exhilarating atmosphere. This timeless rooftop lounge and nightclub is resplendent in luxurious touches, including rich Italian Portoro marble, Macassar ebony, nickel-finish walls, and glimmering amber Venini glass chandeliers, ensuring guests have multiple areas for an Instagram-worthy post. The confluence of these elements fosters an atmosphere of refined elegance, encapsulating the quintessential New York City spirit on this rooftop. PHD seamlessly blends style, service, and vibrant nightlife, making it a destination that simply cannot be overlooked.
Westlight at The William Vale
PHOTO COURTESY WESTLIGHT AT THE WILLIAM VALE
Perched on the 22nd floor of The William Vale, Westlight is a rooftop bar that strikes the perfect balance between elegance and vibrancy. Under the expert stewardship of James Beard award-winning Chef Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group, the bar presents an exciting menu featuring a selection of snacks inspired by global street food and artisan cocktails, including refreshing takes on classics like the Spicy Sunset margarita and the Mezcal Julep. The Vale Cinema Series, featuring monthly film screenings one floor up at the Turf Club rooftop, will kick off on June 26 to celebrate Pride with a Hedwig and the Angry Inch screening. The cinema series allows guests to savor movie-inspired snacks and specialty drinks while reclining on the lawn or in comfortable lounge seats, all against the backdrop of NYC’s iconic skyline. Downstairs at the Vale Pool, where the views are just as stunning, you can enjoy delightful poolside refreshments, relax on comfortable cabanas and loungers, or take a refreshing plunge in Brooklyn’s longest outdoor hotel pool. Limited day passes are available for non-hotel guests.
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