You already know how we feel about rooftop hangs during New York City’s short spring season. But summer is coming, and when it hits, your building’s small roof space—crowded with neighbors left at the mercy of volatile air conditioners—simply won’t cut it.
Thankfully, the powers that be are already preparing for the waves of New Yorkers craving sunshine by creating hard-to-pass-up outdoor dining and entertainment experiences. Grab yourself a spiked seltzer and get climbing.
The Roof Garden Commission: Alicja Kwade, ParaPivot
Each season, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Roof Garden Commission chooses a new artist to headline its outdoor series. This year, it will spotlight two installations by Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade, marking her first institutional solo exhibition in New York. Her works, ParaPivot I and II, are meant to recall a planetary system, with two sculptures made of steel frames and spheres manipulated in such a way that they elicit a look of complete weightlessness. So to say Kwade’s artwork is “out of this world” would be accurate in more ways than one. Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at East 82nd Street), Upper East Side
The Terrace by Social Drink & Food
Just one elevator ride inside Yotel will transport you from the concrete jungle to the urban oasis you’ve been waiting months for: Social Drink & Food is aiming for a “resort-inspired feel” with seasonal craft cocktails, geometric seating in splashy colors, and Mediterranean-inspired bites. 570 Tenth Avenue (between West 41st and 42nd Streets), Midtown
The recently opened rooftop bar atop the Seaport District’s Pier 17 is like the new guy at school. He’s mysterious: The tagline “Indulge your vices” isn’t much to go on (but we’re willing to find out). He’s trouble: With a happy hour starting at 4 p.m., you’ll have to sneak out of the office early. And he’s hot: You’ll break a sweat sipping the smoky mezcal and serrano pepper San Luis Swizzle. In fact, the only thing prettier than his craft cocktails and small plates is the view of the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. 89 South Street (off FDR Drive), Seaport District
Cinema meets cityscape at this midtown rooftop bar (aka your new movie-watching go-to). Rewatch a timeless classic while lounging in one of the lawn chair recliners, or share a movie box (short rib nachos and spiked lemonade) with friends before viewing a long-awaited summer blockbuster. If you don’t want to ruin regular theatergoing for yourself, skip the screening and head to SkyLawn‘s weekly Throwback Thursday events instead for a healthy dose of nostalgia with music, food, and drinks that will bring you right back to your childhood. 60 West 37th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Midtown
If a big summer vacation isn’t in the cards for you this year, you’d hardly know it upon visiting Freehand’s vibrant rooftop bar, Broken Shaker, a Havana-inspired haven, rich with plant life and dazzling with tropical decor. Pull up a wicker chair and sip an herb-infused cocktail created by James Beard Award–semi finalists Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi (of Bar Lab fame), or take down a rack of smoked lamb smothered in pomegranate barbecue sauce and rose petals. (And starting in May, Broken Shaker is launching a weekend brunch!) Floral shirt and cigar not included. 23 Lexington Avenue (between East 23rd and 24th Streets), Flatiron District
The Ides Rooftop & Blue Room
Astonishing Tales of the Sea, Rare Jewel, Milan to Minsk: The posh, fanciful names of the aperitifs offered at the Wythe Hotel’s rooftop lounge match the Art Deco–inspired stylish space, from the antique mirrors and leather upholstery to the jaw-dropping skyline view glimpsed from floor-to-ceiling windows. After getting wowed by the creative cocktail selection, start planning any excuse for a party—which can be easily accommodated, whether a 60-person luncheon or a standing gathering of 200-plus. 80 Wythe Avenue, Greenpoint
Eataly? Yes, we’re fully aware that this Italian mecca for authentic cuisine and scenic views is one of the most well-known spots in the city. But it just premiered its seasonal interior and…It. Is. Breathtaking. It’s as if Serra by Birreria survived a greenhouse assault of pastel punches and floral explosions, and came out looking like a summer makeover worthy of its own Queer Eye episode. And don’t be one of those people who only goes there for the ‘gram; it’s practically unlawful not to spritz during the upcoming Serra Summer Fest. 200 Fifth Avenue (between West 23rd and 24th Streets), Flatiron
We saved arguably the best for last. Lest you think best is subjective, just take a look at the summer music lineup—packed with the finest underground music in the city and ridiculously fun dance parties—for proof of the fact. The rooftop isn’t even open for the season yet, but its first show is already sold out. And if you really hate music and dancing, Bushwick’s only outdoor music venue/nightclub/arts space also regularly hosts experimental happenings (of the film, craft, and culinary variety). 599 Johnson Avenue, Bushwick