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The 9 Best Spots to Watch the Sunset in New York City

Category Attractions

|by Mark Robinson |

From cruises to rooftops

Sunsets can transport us, taking us to a fantastical alternative reality for a few breathtaking moments each day. The world that is familiar to us melts into something of heightened magic, a place of reflection and release. New York City can be one of the most enchanting and romantic places to enjoy a sunset, but what are Manhattan’s best places to catch one? We have a few suggestions that we know you will want to try. 

Here are the best spots to watch NYC’s vibrant sunsets (Photo: iStock)

Here are the best spots to watch NYC’s vibrant sunsets (Photo: iStock)

On a Cruise on the Hudson or East River
Sunsets on the water can be magical. Fortunately, New York City offers a host of boat launches for tourists (and locals) to see the city from the Hudson and East Rivers, as well as New York Harbor. Taking a boat trip such as the Circle Line Tour assures a variety of vantage points for sunsets, a kaleidoscope of color and light as the sun says her daily farewell.

Top of the Rock
30 Rockefeller Plaza is, of course, an iconic destination in NYC for being NBC’s NYC home, and the locale for taping such shows as Saturday Night Live and The Today Show. It also happens to be a well-positioned for some terrific sightseeing. Visit “Top of the Rock,” which boasts “sweeping, unobstructed views” of Central Park, as well as mid-town and downtown skyscrapers. With both indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, the extra $10 ticket price tacked onto your $36 ticket during sunset hours is well worth the unfettered vista you will enjoy.  

Battery Park
For that maximum “sunset over the water” experience, an unforgettable place to watch a New York City sunset is in Battery Park. Looking out over New York Harbor, with the Staten Island Ferry and Lady Liberty acting as a silhouetted backdrop, you can grab a bench near the water and drink in the golden and orange glows as they reflect across the water.

Gondolas to Roosevelt Island
It takes a little timing and planning, plus a look at the Farmer’s Almanac for the daily sunset schedule, but if you can get it right, riding the gondolas to or from Roosevelt Island at sunset is an ethereal experience. With even better planning, you can make it a part of day spent on the island, a location packed with history, walking paths, architecture and even a lighthouse.

By Helicopter
Here is an idea that you may not have considered, but is well worth the price. Why not book an aerial sunset excursion, careening in and out of some of the city’s most magical buildings and sites, all via the thrill of a helicopter ride? Adrenaline Helicopter Rides offer 15, 20 and 30-minute tours around the city.

Brooklyn Bridge
Many tourists may not know this, but you can actually walk across the famed Brooklyn Bridge. How romantic would it be, then, to take your significant other by the hand and watch the light of day slip away as you cross the East River? Or, you can always start in Brooklyn and watch as the Manhattan skyline begins to glow as the sun settles in the West. For double the effect, you can always make the trip in both directions. Either way, it’s an awe-inspiring sight.

The View: Atop the Marriott Marquis Hotel
The Marriott Marquis Hotel sits smack dab in the middle of New York City’s Theatre District, overlooking Times Square. Atop the hotel is The View, a rotating, fine-dining experience that affords some of the Big Apple’s most-stunning views. Dine in comfort as the establishment turns to reveal a glorious sunset as Broadway begins to light up just beneath you.

The Staten Island Ferry
As mentioned before, on the water is a nonpareil opportunity to say goodnight to the sun. For those who might find it too expensive to take an organized sunset cruise, you can always take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry as that fiery ball dips behind the horizon. It may be crowded, depending on the time the sun sets, but you can still enjoy the sight as you travel across the salty water.

The Empire State Building
And finally, and though it may be a cliché, watching the sunset from the viewing deck of the historic Empire State Building is definitely worth enjoying at least once in your lifetime. The iconic building is famous in its own right, but add the opportunity of standing atop its majesty and watching the day wane, there is arguably no better way to wind down after a day in the Big Apple.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at


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