Photo ops in the Big Apple: Where to Take the Best Pictures of NYC


Whether you’re in New York for the weekend or for the long haul, you know it’s a photogenic city—but some of the better photo ops may not be immediately evident. In case you’re wondering how to take photos that will spark memories, here are the optimal spots on land, water, and even the skies for your best shots of New York City.

From the Ground

Holiday photos are a specialty in New York City. In Central Park, the beautiful skating rink and the festively decorated horses and carriages are icons. Capture the holiday spirit there! The highly decorated department store windows change each year. They are a must-see and make a lovely backdrop for family Christmas cards. Look up and admire the largest Christmas tree in Manhattan, which rises up to a whopping 100 feet. Those golden angels blowing trumpets in Rockefeller Plaza will make you smile, so don’t forget to stop there too. Then head across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue. Inside, the flagship store has turned into a winter palace. On the fifth floor, you can get great photo ops at the interactive kiosk, where you can choose one of seven winter wonderland backdrops.

From the Buildings

New York City is fortunate to have plenty of photo ops at the top of high rises. The new One World Observatory takes you 1,250 feet up, higher than any other building in Manhattan. You get panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, and you can spot some landmarks too. Other places to get amazing views from up high are the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. You won’t wonder how to take photos up there—it will be obvious!

From the Sky

Very few people get to see Manhattan from a helicopter. This unique experience lets you zoom over the city, taking in the night lights, or picking out famed landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge in the daytime. Bring a good camera with a zoom lens for the best photo ops, so you can capture the details as well as the big picture. This is no ordinary helicopter ride. The helicopter sides are open, and you feel the wind coming through as you face out toward the Big Apple. That means you won’t have dirty windows or funky reflections between you and your camera lens. It also means you’ll want a strap on your camera, and make sure you know how to take photos before you go! These photos will be frame-worthy. Prepare for all your friends to ask you how you got those amazing shots.

From the Water

Manhattan is an island, so it’s hard to get a bad view of New York City when cruising its waterways! There are plenty of boat options, whether you take a Hornblower or Circle Line Cruise, day or night. Depending on your route, you get jaw-dropping views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park, and the United Nations. You’ll be going slow enough that you won’t miss any photo ops, but fast enough that you’ll cover plenty of ground (so to speak).

From a Bus

New York City has several sightseeing buses, which are a great option when you’re low on time. These routes take you past New York City’s highlights, and you can take photos from inside or the top of the bus. This is a great option for colorful pictures of Times Square and Broadway. You may also see the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chrysler building, the famed stores on Fifth Avenue, Central Park, and more. Many buses allow you to hop on and off, so you can get better photos and visit the locations if you have more time. Once you’ve captured the perfect shot of your subject, just hop on the next sightseeing bus that comes along—it’s the best of both worlds in a postcard-perfect city!

Saks Fifth Avenue

611 5th Avenue New York NY 10022

(212) 753-4000‎

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