Picture this: Commuters shuffling along the sidewalk, the sizzling grill of a street vendor, and a local hailing a taxi at the top of his or her lungs. These sights, smells, and sounds on New York City’s streets are all too familiar for group travelers visiting “The Big Apple.” But have you ever experienced New York City from the sky? Thousands of feet above the city streets, groups can see New York City from a different vantage point atop some of the highest and most spectacular lookouts in the city.

Hold your breath, take a step, and revel in the breathtaking views from must-see observation decks.

1. Empire State Building Observatory

Empire State Building
Empire State Building
Credit: Julienne Schaer/nyc & Company

Groups can soak in sweeping views of the never-ending cityscape by day or take in the sight of shimmering lights at night in “The City That Never Sleeps” from the top of the Empire State Building Observatory. Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the iconic New York skyscraper stands 1,250 feet tall and gives groups an equally iconic view of the city at both the 86th-floor observatory (1,050 feet tall) and the 102nd-floor observation deck (1,224 feet tall).

Immersive exhibits on the second and 80th floors give visitors a unique look into the Empire State Building’s history, including the story of its construction and the people who shaped its legacy. Discounted tickets for groups of 20 or more can be purchased in advance online and by contacting the group sales office at sales@esbonyc.com.

2. High Line Observation Deck

Two stories high and with hundreds of stories to tell, High Line Observation Deck is a unique New York City vantage point. This public park built on top of a former historic freight rail line runs at rooftop level above Manhattan’s West Side.

The 1.45-mile multiuse paved trail takes from 30 to 60 minutes to walk on foot. Visitors can stop to rest and sightsee on the High Line’s observation deck. The open-air platform gives guests a view through glass windows at the bustling neighborhood below.

Free 90- and 45-minute walking tours are available for individuals or small groups at select times and days throughout the year. Private group tour reservations are welcome when booked in advance. Groups must contact the High Line at least three weeks ahead of the desired date to schedule a tour at tours@thehighline.org.

3. Top of the Rock Observation Deck

At the pinnacle of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, groups can explore a three-level observation deck at one of New York City’s most well-recognized institutions and architectural masterpieces. The Top of the Rock observation deck towers 70 floors above Rockefeller Center with unbeatable views of the entire city, including Long Island, Central Park, and beyond.

Top of the Rock’s observation terraces face all directions, offering panoramic sights of the city. For a cocktail with a view, groups can also visit Bar SixtyFive on the 65th floor with views stretching 30 miles beyond the window-enclosed bar.

Top of the Rock offers discounted prices for groups of 10 or more and special experience packages for groups of 20 or more. Book in advance online or by contacting groups@topoftherocknyc.com.

4. Edge Observation Deck

Brace yourself for shaky legs. Terrifying for some and thrilling for most, the Edge Observation Deck is the highest sky deck in the entire Western Hemisphere. The Edge is located in Hudson Yards—the city’s new- est neighborhood—where groups can take advantage of over 100 diverse restaurants, shops, and public parks.

The suspended viewing platform soars 100 stories above ground level and requires courage to look down through a glass floor. Out in front, the 360-degree views through crystal clear safety walls offer a seemingly endless skyline and a picture-perfect photo op of the Hudson River. Discounted rates are available for groups of 15 or more when booked in advance online.

5. One World Observatory

One World Observatory
Credit: Tagger Yancey IV/NYC & Company

See the Statue of Liberty from a bird’s-eye view at One World Observatory, one of the most spectacular sights in all of New York City. Climbing 102 stories in 47 seconds, the SkyPod elevator takes visitors to the top of the One World Trade Center for a unique vantage point unlike any other in the city.

Groups can also experience dinner with a view from One Dine, the observatory’s restaurant, and One Mix, its bar—both located on the 101st floor. Sprawling sights across New York City by night and day will dazzle groups while they dine or enjoy a specialty cocktail.

Groups of 10 to 50 can take advantage of 15% off the observatory’s standard, combination, and all-inclusive experience ticket pricing when booked online in advance.

Article by Erica Zazo
Main image: Empire State Building; Credit: Julienne Schaer/nyc & Company