Best (Free or Cheap) Places for Photos with the NYC Skyline

best free places for photos with nyc skyline

Everyone knows that spectacular views of the New York City skyline can be had from the top of the Empire State Building, or even better, (in my opinion) the Top of the Rock.  I prefer the Top of the Rock, because it has views of Central Park, so I can just about see the exact spot where I got married from there, and of course, it has a view of the Empire State Building.  But not everyone wants to spend the money on the entrance fees.  So, here are few low budget suggestions on how to capture fabulous views of the New York skyline for free or cheap when you’re in town to get married.

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Brooklyn Bridge

In good weather, for fantastic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn and the expanse of the Hudson River, pose on Brooklyn Bridge.  The towers and the suspension lines provide great opportunities for artistic symmetrical photos, too.

Manhattan Bridge

This bridge is a little north of Brooklyn Bridge, and has the obvious example of having a great view of Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the skyline and the river.

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Gantry Plaza State Park

This Long Island City park provides an incredible view of Midtown Manhattan.  At sunset, you can capture the beautiful shades of light off the water, as well as seeing the sun drop behind the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This is a long park that provides views of Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge itself.  A photo taken from Fulton Ferry Landing will capture Brooklyn Bridge beautifully.  Again, it has a particularly lovely view at sunset.  This is a great option if you can find a restaurant in Brooklyn where you want to hold your reception.

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East River State Park

This small park on the bank of the East River in Williamsburg has a nice view of the Manhattan skyline, and is a convenient stop-off if you’re celebrating in one of Williamsburg’s hip restaurants or roof top bars.

The Met Museum Roof Garden

The Met is set just inside Central Park, on the East side.  The museum itself is full of a vast array of beautiful things, and the roof has a cocktail bar in the summertime.  The views over Central Park right down to Midtown are spectacular.

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The Rocks by Cop Cot in Central Park

At the very southern end of Central Park is the lovely Cop Cot, on top of a small hill.  Next to it, is a large rocky area.  Photos taken there will have the famous skyline of Central Park – the trees with the buildings of Central Park South behind them.

Bow Bridge and Cherry Hill in Central Park

The view from Bow Bridge is iconic.  The Lake with the trees around it and the buildings of Central Park West behind them is a world-famous view.  A photo taken from Cherry Hill can capture all that, and the bridge, too!

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Sheep Meadow in Central Park

If Sheep Meadow, close to the Tavern on the Green, is fairly free of people then a photograph taken there can look incredibly dramatic.  The wide open lawn with the trees behind and then the buildings of the Upper West Side behind is stunning.

Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is free, and goes between the downtown tip of Manhattan over to Staten Island, so gives a great view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

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North River Lobster Company

North River Lobster Company is a floating lobster restaurant at Pier 81 on West 41st Street and the Hudson River.  During the warmer months they charge $10 to sail and enjoy fabulous views of the West Midtown skyline.

The Brooklyn Barge

Over in Greenpoint, this is New York City’s only permanently floating bar.  During the summer, you can sip a drink or enjoy their bar food while looking over the East River to Manhattan.  It would be an awesome place to watch the sun go down after an informal wedding in Central Park.

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Bar Sixty Five at the Rainbow Room

This is New York City’s highest terrace bar.  Drinks are fairly pricey here, but they are cheaper than a ticket to the Top of the Rock, and it’s warm and cosy inside if you’re in town during the Winter.  It’s a great place for a drink after an intimate wedding in Central Park.  There are of course, lots of incredible rooftop bars to enjoy in New York.

The Aviary at Mandarin Oriental

Again, the drinks are pricey, but if you’re going to want a drink to celebrate your wedding anyway, then this bar on the 35th floor over looking Columbus Circle and Central Park is a pretty good place to choose!

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Jersey City’s Liberty State Park

If you choose one of the fantastic riverside restaurants over in Jersey City for your wedding reception, with a view over the Hudson River to Manhattan, then why not stop off in Liberty State Park for some views of the west side of Downtown Manhattan on the way.

The J Train

OK, it would be a bit tricky to get really picturesque photos of the skyline on a moving train, but this Subway line goes over the Williamsburg Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and there are some lovely views to enjoy if you choose a south-facing seat.

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River Cruise

Another way to enjoy the skyline of New York might be to take a river cruise.  Of course this is not free, but if you are looking for a reception location anyway, then the cruise allows your guests to enjoy the fabulous New York City skyline while you eat, which makes for a memorable experience.

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When I help couples to plan their wedding in Central Park, I also make a plan of timings with a route plan for the day to take in all the great locations for photos that they want to capture.  Contact me if you think you might need some help getting married in Central Park, or anywhere else outdoors in New York!

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