You don’t have to be a heliologist to see how special sunsets are in New York City. It’s as though nature puts a pair of rose-colored glasses on you, reminding you of the magic of New York, rather than how gross, lonely, and expensive it can be. Whether you want to admire the sunset or you want to take the perfect golden hour photo, here are some of the best places to see the sunset in each NYC borough.
Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Manhattan
Roosevelt Island Tram
This will be the most beautiful public transit ride of your life, at least in New York. Make sure you sit or stand on the west-facing side of the tram because that’s the direction the sun will be setting in. In my opinion, the tram ride to Roosevelt Island is more breathtaking than the ride back to Manhattan. Plus once you get off the tram, you can join all the picnicking couples watching the sunset from the benches on W Loop Road. (If you’re trying to score points in the romance department, take notes.)
Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center
Watching the sunset from NYC’s tallest tower? It doesn’t get much cooler than that. The observation floor at the Freedom Tower has 360 degree views from 102 stories up in the air. Plus, unlike other observation decks in NYC, it’s not just about the views; there are plenty of opportunities here to learn about the buildings you’ll see and the construction of New York City in general. But be warned, all of this doesn’t come cheap; as of this writing, tickets start at $38.
The folks at the Edge know that they have, arguably, the greatest view of Manhattan at sunset. That’s why they charge you an additional $10 on top of their already hefty entrance fee to visit their observation deck at sunset. Do I think it’s worth it? That depends on whether you can get enough photos and have enough awe-inspiring moments to make up for the price tag.
Central Park is magical in the daytime, but when it’s cast in that pink-orange glow of sunset, it’s breathtakingly dreamy. If you’re looking for specific places in the park that will bring tears to your eyes with how gorgeous it is at sunset, this is the one time where the cliche tourist spots won’t fail you.
Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Brooklyn
When a park is named Sunset Park, you can bet that the views at sunset are stunning. It checks off all the boxes for classic NYC views: you’ll see the lower Manhattan skyline in the distance, the Statue of Liberty, and even Staten Island and New Jersey, if you’re into that. Heads up that if you want to do more research on Sunset Park, you’ll have to do some creative googling to get search results that specifically refer to the park and not the homonymous neighborhood as a whole.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Just because Brooklyn Bridge Park is a tourist hotspot, it doesn’t negate the fact that it has the best vantage point for seeing the lower Manhattan skyline and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. This park is so lengthy, with so many different vignettes within it, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a spot to appreciate the sunset that’s not overrun by people posing for the ‘gram (not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉).
Need I really explain why a 52-acre urban garden with various species of flora, winding paths, brooks, and waterfalls would be the perfect place to be at sunset in NYC?
Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Staten Island
Staten Island Ferry
Technically this is en-route to Staten Island, but it’s still a wonderful experience nonetheless. To make the most of this ride, sit on the right-hand side of the boat so you can see the Statue of Liberty in all her glory. On the ride going to Manhattan, you’ll want to do the reverse.
How fitting is it that a “mountain” named after controversial master builder Robert Moses would be one of the best places to watch the sun set across Staten Island? It’s especially poignant because Moses actually wanted to blast one of his trademark highways right through this very spot, obliterating the lush parkland that will surround you once you reach the mountain’s peak. Speaking of reaching the mountain’s peak, prepare your legs for a strenuous workout, as the climb up the mountain is steep.
Best Places to Watch the Sunset in The Bronx
Orchard Beach is at its most awe-inspiring right when the sun comes up and right as it’s going down. Sure, you can’t see much of the city from there, but I think the waves of Pelham Bay rhythmically crashing around you will more than make up for it.
Clason Point Park
If you want a waterside sunset with more of a view, Clason Point Park might be the place for you. From this tip of The Bronx, you can see the Whitestone Bridge, the northern edge of Queens, and Rikers Island way out in the distance. It’s no wonder why several neighborhood residents choose this as their go-to spot to ponder life. Plus, if you want your sunset viewing to be more mobile, you have the option of hopping aboard the Soundview Ferry, which docks at this park.
Sunset on a 28-acre estate with carefully manicured gardens and unobstructed view of the Palisades sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? The only caveat is that with its current hours (10AM – 5:30PM), you would have to wait until the colder months to witness a sunset here, as the sun sets after 7PM during the summer. But it’s worth the wait!
Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Queens
Gantry State Park
Yes, we have another waterfront park overlooking Manhattan on this list, but this one has has a unique view of Midtown Manhattan, plus a view of the Queensboro Bridge. If you want to take advantage of the golden hour photo op, this former dockyard and Pepsi bottling plant is home to two iconic signs — the Pepsi-Cola sign and the Long Island sign.
With Jamaica Bay behind you and the Atlantic Ocean in front of you, I can’t think of a more epic setting for a sunset that’ll remind you how small and insignificant you are in this vast, beautiful world.
What other places would you recommend as go-to places to watch the sunset in each NYC borough? Sound off in the comment section.
But before you go off to watch the sunset, if you like what I do here at Shiloh in the City and want to continue getting to know New York’s history, culture, and things to do with me, sign up for my email list and follow me on social media. Thanks for reading!