Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New York Stories: NYC Night Out

Towards the end of our trip to New York, we decided to have a night out. It was a pretty cheap one thanks to our New York Pass. All up we spent about US$25 each, including a taxi home.

We began the evening on the Circle Line Harbour Lights Cruise. This is a 2 hour cruise which takes you down the Hudson River, around the Statue of Liberty, and back up the East River to the UN Buildings. The cruise took place as the sun was setting over New Jersey - on the way out you get great sunset photos, and on the way back you get to see the lights of New York. It's a really beautiful cruise, and I got so many excellent pictures. The hosts are really knowledgeable about New York, though I did notice some are better than others (I enjoyed this so much I did it twice).

Hudson River. That's New Jersey on the left and Manhattan on the right

Lower Manhattan

The Manhattan Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

After the cruise, we hit The Press Lounge, a rooftop bar. It's just a few blocks from the Circle Line Wharf. The Press Lounge is exactly like the rooftop bars on TV. Fancy cocktails named after newspapers, rooftop pool, and amazing views over the city, and out to the Hudson and New Jersey. There are dozens of rooftop bars in the city - a quick Google is sufficient to find one. The great thing about The Press Lounge is it's right between the cruise and the next stop - The Empire State Building.

View from The Press Lounge over Manhattan towards Times Square
The last stop in our night was The Empire State Building. It's open until 2am. The last elevator is 1:15am. Despite these late hours, you'll probably want to get there before 11pm because the line is really, really long. There are actually 5 separate lines. You can skip them by paying an extra US$25. If I were to do the whole thing again, I would definitely pay the extra.

But regardless, the lines are worth it. The views are absolutely incredible. I've heard a lot of people say that Top of the Rock is better, but it's not. Visiting the Empire State Building is the number one most iconic thing I did while I was in New York. No traveler should miss this experience.

Looking West to the Hudson and New Jersey

That bright-white bit there? Times Square.

We finished the night with a greasy burger at Wendy's, then jumped in a New York cab for the finishing touch on a truly perfect night out in New York.

The Details
Circle Line Cruise (City Lights Cruise), Pier 83 - West 42nd St and 12 Ave.
  • Departure times vary. See the website for details.
  • US$34, or included with a New York Pass.
  • Hint: Get there 30 minutes before the cruise leaves to get on an 'overflow boat'. These boats generally have fewer people on them, meaning you get better photos.
The Press Lounge Rooftop Bar, 653 11th Ave
  • Open from 5pm, 7 days a week. Dress code applies, see the website for details.
  • Drinks range from US$11-23.
  • Hint: The minimum drinking age in New York is 21. Take ID, no matter how many Winters you have seen since your 21st birthday.
The Empire State Building, 350 5th Ave
  • Open 8am to 2am. Last elevator up at 1:15am.
  • Tickets are $23 to the 86th floor, or $47.50 for an Express Pass. Regular tickets are included with the New York Pass. Express tickets can be purchased from the website.
  • Hint: Get the express pass. Your feet will thank you for it.


  1. Those sunset pictures are so cool.

  2. I've got about 50 of them. On the day I took them it had been really clear, then a storm started coming over from Queens in the East. So the sun was bouncing off these dark clouds and creating some incredible photos. I'd love to take credit, but I got really lucky. It would have been hard to take a bad photo that night!


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