The Most Instagrammable Places in New York City
New York City is undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable places in the U.S., if not the world. Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed in Manhattan, making its already beautiful streets, parks, and buildings ultra-famous. In our see-and-be-seen society, getting the perfect picture for the ‘gram is at the top of many tourists’ lists. But between the rushing taxi cabs, hustling commuters, and sheer size of the island, trying to navigate the city and all of its hidden gems can be quite difficult. Good thing you’ve got me!
If you’re planning a trip to the city, it’s important to do your research first (especially if you’re a first-timer). New York is a truly magical place, but it can quickly lose its luster and overwhelm you if you aren’t fully prepared. So, here are a few tips and tricks to help you have the best getaway ever!
When is the best time to visit New York City for photos?
New York is beautiful any time of year, but most tourists enjoy the spring or the fall most. The Central Park autumn foliage is legendary, as are the cherry blossom blooms of spring. Winter can also be a magical time if you are trying to capture a Christmasy winter wonderland, but keep in mind that it is freezing in New York in the winter, and prices usually go way up around the holiday season.
How should I get around in New York City?
Hopping from photo op to photo op is fun, but if you’re taking taxis or Ubers, your bill is going to rack up fairly quickly. I highly recommend getting a weekly unlimited Metrocard – even if you are only staying a few days. The $33 you will spend on your unlimited pass will be more than worth it as long as you take a minimum of 12 one-way rides within the city (and trust me… you will!).
Where are the most Instagrammable places to stay in New York City?
If you’re looking for a unique, Insta-worthy stay in the city, check out one of the following hotels!
The Plaza Hotel – Where Home Alone 2, Lost in New York was filmed! This place is legendary (and luxurious!).
Lotte New York Palace – Any Gossip Girl fans out there? This is where Serena Van Der Woodsen lived!
NOMO SOHO – The entryway is a vibe, and their onsite restaurant is amazing, too!
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge – Just over the water, you’ll find some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline!
The Williamsburg Hotel – Another Brooklyn favorite is The Williamsburg Hotel, located in the most popular and hip neighborhood in Brooklyn!
JW Marriott Essex House New York – Think sweeping views of Central Park just a few blocks off of Billionaires Row…
Gramercy Park Hotel – JFK and Babe Ruth were regulars here, so you know it’s good!
Now, without further ado, here is my list of the most Instagrammable places in New York City!! To make things even easier on you, I have organized each spot by location, so creating your Instagram itinerary will be a breeze. And if you’re looking for more NYC content, check out my ultimate weekend itinerary or my packing guide!
The Most Instagrammable Places in Manhattan
Generally speaking, Upper Manhattan is anything above 59th street. This area is known for the wealthy Upper East Side, Central Park, and some of the best shopping on the island (yes, Manhattan is actually an island!).
Times Square is one of the most well-known (and touristy) spots in New York City. People travel from all over the world to see the bright lights and rushing taxi cabs. Snapping a photo here is a must at least once in your lifetime, but I don’t recommend that you spend too much time here as it is a huge tourist trap.
Spanning nearly 1.5 miles long smack dab in the middle of Upper Manhattan is Central Park. You can capture some incredible photos here, especially in the Fall!
Within Central Park sits Bethesda Terrace. This is a gorgeous photo spot both near the fountain and under the mosaic ceiling. Gossip Girl fans will remember Chuck and Blair getting married here at the end of the series!
Another Central Park favorite is The Mall, AKA, a really long walkway lined with trees and park benches. If you have seen any rom-com, like ever, you have seen The Mall!
You can find several different bridges and arches within Central Park, but one of the best for photos is Bow Bridge. Bonus points if you rent a rowboat and get a shot from the water!
New York City is filled with beautiful museums, one of the most popular and well-known being The MET. The inside of The MET is absolutely fabulous and well worth a visit, but The MET Steps are perhaps the most Instagrammable (especially for those Gossip Girl fans!).
The MET Rooftop Garden
A major bonus of buying a ticket to The MET is that it gives you access to the new rooftop garden! Not many tourists know about this, so you will be sure to get some beautiful, uninterrupted views of the park unlike anywhere else in the city.
Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed at Rockefeller Center, so it is a must on your Instagram tour of NYC! If you are visiting in the winter, be sure to capture the famous ice rink and towering Christmas tree. But skip the $100 ice skating if you are on a budget – head to Bryant Park to skate for free (just rent your skates if you don’t have any of your own!).
Top of the Rock
New York City is famous for its observation decks, but if you can only choose one, choose Top of the Rock. Top of the Rock has the best views of the Empire State Building as well as Central Park, and you can choose from multiple levels to take photos on!
JETSET TIP: Top of the Rock visits are timed, so you will likely be going up with a group. Bypass the first two decks and head straight to the top before anyone else to ensure that you get the best photos without anyone in the background!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
One of the most historic cathedrals in New York is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you are Catholic (or even if you aren’t), I highly recommend that you experience a mass here! But at the very least, you should get a photo with the cathedral’s gorgeous architecture in the background. Just be sure that you are courteous and respectful of any ceremonies going on inside of the church.
Radio City Music Hall
Midtown Manhattan is all about tourism and business. Some of the biggest tourist attractions can be found here, and it is also a hub for tons of businesses headquartered in Manhattan.
This completely free attraction is a piece of art smack dab in the middle of Hudson Yards. Walk up the 2,500 individual steps to the top if you’re up for it, otherwise, just grab a photo of the outside’s honeycomb-like architecture!
The High Line
The High Line is an old-rail-line-turned-elevated-park. Spanning just under a mile and a half long, there are plenty of photo ops along the way!
Getting hungry from walking along The High Line? Stop by Gallow Green for some great food, drinks, and photos! In the winter months, this restaurant turns into a wintery cabin (complete with fireplaces and themed cocktails!), but in the warmer months, you will find greenery everywhere you look.
New York Public Library
Any Sex and the City fans out there? This is where Carrie and Mr. Big almost got married! The New York Public Library is gorgeous both on the inside and the outside, and it’s totally free to visit.
Grand Central Terminal
“Gossip Girl here, and I have the biggest news EVER.” Have your Serena Van Der Woodsen moment right here in Grand Central Terminal! And don’t forget to look up at the beautiful mural of the constellations.
From one angle, it looks like a ship coming right at you. From another angle, it looks, well, flat! The Flatiron Building (and the Flatiron District as a whole) is one of the best Instagram-worthy spots in the city.
Empire State Building
There are great views of the Empire State Building all over New York City, but the view from the top is just as great as seeing the whole building. Don’t even get me started on how many movies and TV shows have been filmed up here!
Tudor City Overpass
The Tudor City Overpass is definitely not as well-known as many of the other Midtown Manhattan photo spots. This bridge can be found on the east side of Manhattan, right by the United Nations Headquarters and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
If libraries are your thing, you have to visit the Morgan Library! Some of the most beautiful artwork can be found here. It makes the perfect Insta-worthy backdrop.
Lower/downtown Manhattan is your swankier, more artsy area of New York City. You will find a lot more young professionals here as well as artists and creatives, and the vibe of these neighborhoods definitely reflect that!
Pietro Nolita is a little cafe just north of Little Italy. Countless tourists have snapped a photo outside, but don’t forget to go inside as well for an all-pink retro vibe!
Staple Street Skybridge
SoHo is an Instagrammer’s dream. Boasting cobblestone streets, cast-iron buildings, and some of the best boutique shopping in the city, you really can’t go wrong here! For some of the best photos, head to Greene Street.
Washington Square Park
Another NYC classic is Washington Square Park. The Washington Square Arch reminds me of Europe, and I love the little fountain just a few steps away from the arch, too. If you zoom in, you can even get the Empire State Building framed perfectly under the arch!
Here is one I bet you haven’t heard of unless you are an NYC local – Freeman’s Alley. This rugged, colonial American tavern is a great place to grab a bite to eat, and the alley it sits within is a great photo op as well.
If you find yourself visiting Ground Zero and the 9/11 Museum in the Financial District, be sure to stop by The Oculus, too. This structure was finished in 2016 and is a symbol of strength and resilience.
Shopping and a photo op? Count me in! Sezane changes its displays seasonally, but you can always get a good photo here IMO.
FRIENDS is one of the most famous sitcoms based in NYC, so chances are, you’ll want to stop by and get a photo here! It is located on the corner of Bedford Street and Grove Street.
Another under-the-radar Instagram spot is Stuyvesant Street on the Lower East Side. Stuyvesant Street is one of the oldest streets in Manhattan, and since it runs diagonally unlike the rest of Manhattan’s grid, you can capture some really unique photos here!
The Most Instagrammable Places in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Bridge
By far the most Instagrammed photo spot in Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Bridge! For all the best views, walk the mile-long bridge early in the morning before all of the tourists arrive. If you go at sunset, be prepared to fight the crowds!
Washington Street (DUMBO)
This shot is one that was made famous by Instagram – it is the view of the Manhattan Bridge from Washington Street in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). If you get the right angle, you can even frame the Empire State Building under the arch of the bridge!
Pebble Beach is an incredible place to watch the sunset over the Manhattan skyline. This isn’t the type of beach you can swim or lay out at, but it’s still well worth a visit for the views!
Channel your inner child at Jane’s Carousel! So many fun photo ops here.
Coney Island Boardwalk
All the way on the south side of Brooklyn is Coney Island. Coney Island has retro amusement park rides, a great boardwalk, beaches, and a pier. This photo spot takes a little bit longer to get to, but if you have the time, I definitely recommend it!
The newest addition to Brooklyn’s parks is Domino Park. Stretching five acres along the waterline in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Domino Park opened in 2018 and has since become a popular spot for both tourists and locals!
Milk & Roses
Milk & Roses is unassuming on the outside, but the inside provides Insta-worthy walls of books, retro red booths, and even an open-air garden out back!
Maglia Rosa Cafe
Brooklyn is home to several art installations, many of which are actually on the outside of buildings. The outside of Maglia Rosa Cafe is no exception! For more murals like this, walk through Brooklyn’s Industry City or visit the famous Bushwick Collective.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers
Brooklyn Bridge Park is divided into eleven sections, or piers, but the best views are at Piers 1 and 2, especially if you happen to be in Brooklyn when the sun goes down. There is nothing like the Manhattan skyline at night.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Just outside of Prospect Park is the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. These gardens are popular for weddings and events, as well as tourists (or locals) trying to get that perfect outdoorsy pic without fighting the crowds in Central Park!
The Most Instagrammable Bars in New York City
Arguably the best rooftop bar with a perfect view of the Empire State Building is The Skylark. Choose to sit inside of their swanky cocktail lounge, or venture out on to the patio where glass walls give way to uninterrupted views of the city.
Some people say that 230 Fifth is overrated, but the views don’t lie! I recommend this place for brunch.
Sandbar Rooftop is a new rooftop cocktail lounge in Chelsea giving major Hamptons vibes. The blue and white color scheme really speaks to me, as does their chic cocktail list! They even have neon signs and wooden swings to help you get that perfect Insta-worthy shot.
If you are on a girls’ trip to NYC, Make Believe is a must! They have pink accents everywhere you look, and I’m not sure if there isn’t a single corner of the bar that isn’t Instagrammable. Plus, at night, they have the coolest local DJs keeping the crowd going!
When in Brooklyn, you have to go to Westlight! This Williamsburg bar is what summertime dreams are made of, and it’s pretty dang Instagrammable, too.
While We Were Young
Think pretty, pink, and chic! While We Were Young has a great menu, and the decor is oh so cute.
The Palm Court
Located in the Plaza Hotel, The Palm Court has been a go-to spot for both cocktails and afternoon tea for over 100 years. And you can see why! This place is the epitome of luxury.
Okay, now this is a really fun one that I bet you haven’t heard of!! Grand Banks is a floating oyster bar that just happens to be a literal sailboat. You will be the envy of all of your friends when you post a photo of you sipping champagne with that view in the background!
Although it’s tempting to try to hit all of these spots in one trip, I encourage you to take your time and make sure that you are actually enjoying the city with your own eyes, not just through your phone or camera lens. There are hundreds of new Insta-worthy spots just waiting to be discovered, but if you are only focused on checking off every place on this list, you’ll be too busy to see what’s right in front of you.
And don’t forget about the little things that make NYC what it is! Some of the most unassuming spots, like the subway, Upper East Side townhomes, or murals in Brooklyn, make the best Instagram photos. Get creative and tag me in your photos on the ‘gram so that I can see them!