When it comes to NYC photography, there are so many places around the city to take pictures. Whether you want to get those shots of the skyline, bridges, parks, buildings, or anything else that NYC has to offer, there will be plenty of opportunities out there.
This guide will go over 50 of the best photo spots in NYC to choose from during your time in the city. In addition to the photo locations themselves, you will also find plenty more helpful detailed guides about some of these photo spots in particular.
With that said, let’s get into the best places to take pictures in New York City!
What's in this article?
A few things to note before we get started:
→ Throughout this guide you will find 50 of the best photo spots in NYC. To better organize these locations, I have broken out these places into various sections (i.e. Central Park, Bridges, Piers, etc).
→ As you read through you will find linked guides to many of these locations. If you want to learn more about a particular place, feel free to dive into more details.
→ Be sure to check out the interactive map at the end of this photography guide to get a better idea of the exact photo spots mentioned.
1) Central Park Photo Spots
The 843 acre Central Park sits directly in the middle of Manhattan and is one place that has to be put onto any NYC itinerary
There is a never-ending list of photo spots in Central Park to choose from. Below you can find 15 of my favorite Central Park locations to get you started.
Located on the southeast corner of the Central Park, you will find The Pond. This water feature is surrounded by trees in all directions & has the Gapstow Bridge located on the northern side of it.
My favorite photo spots at the Pond are from the southern point looking north towards the bridge, and from the bridge itself with the Plaza Hotel in the background.
In addition, you can find a large rock on the eastern side of the Pond. Here you can climb up the rock to a higher viewpoint to enjoy the park from above.
While the park offers a lot of natural beauty, it also offers some manmade structures like the Wollman Rink. During the wintertime, it is turned into an ice skating rink. In the summer, you will find a roller rink, movie nights, and even sports games played on large screens.
Getting some photos from the elevated viewpoint on the northern side of the rink, will give you a great overall landscape shot.
The Mall & Literary Walk
One of the most famous photo spots in Central Park is the American Elm lined Mall & Literary Walk. While this straight pathway can bring the crowds in the daytime, it is a photographers dream when it is empty.
I would recommend heading out early in the morning around sunrise if you want to enjoy the Mall without the crowds.
This pathway is great in all four seasons with the leaves changing colors throughout. So, no matter when you go, you are sure to get a good shot. Check out some photos from all four seasons at the Central Park Mall below!
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
At the end of the Mall, you will find the Bethesda Terrace & Fountain area. You can enjoy a photo from above with the terrace, fountain, lake, and Ramble all in view.
After taking it in from above, head to the fountain itself for more great shots.
In addition, you will find the Bethesda Arcade, which heads below an underpass. The Minton Tiles make up the ceiling of the arcade and can make for a wonderful photo with the fountain framed between the arches.
When it comes to water features in the park, it doesn’t get much better than The Lake. This body of water winds its way throughout the middle of the park, and during the Spring to Fall period will have row boats all throughout.
All around the lakeside, you will find plenty of photo spots to enjoy. Whether that is heading into the Ramble, walking the western perimeter of the Lake, or just taking the view in from the Bethesda Terrace.
When it comes to Central Park bridges, it doesn’t get any better than the Bow Bridge. This bridge essentially connects the Bethesda area with the Ramble woodland area.
The bridge is certainly one of the best photo spots in NYC, however it can get quite crowded. This is another spot that I would recommend visiting earlier on in the day to avoid the crowds and get that perfect shot.
My favorite photo spot of the bridge is located at the base of it, where you can get a beautiful reflection on a calm day.
At the Conservatory Water, you will get the chance to grab some great photos of the Central Park nature in addition to the NYC skyline hovering out in the background.
Not only that, but you may also catch some motorized sailboats racing along the water. This can make for a unique photography capture in NYC.
The highest point of Central Park is up on Belvedere Castle. Here you will get elevated views of the park in various directions as you see the trees, fields, and more from above.
At the castle you can either just enjoy the view from the large outdoor terrace, or you can decide to head up into the castle itself. Here you will find two different smaller terraces that will give you even higher vantage points to take in.
A lesser known NYC photography spot is the Dene Summerhouse in Central Park. This wooden structure sits a top a rock on the eastern side of the park. Since it is located on rock of a rock, it gives you an elevated view to enjoy the park from above.
The summerhouse is a popular spot for engagement and even weddings, so don’t be surprised if you come across one of them during your time there.
The Ravine & Loch
Located at the northern end of the park you will find the less frequented Ravine. The best part of this area is the Loch stream that makes its way across the park.
Along the Loch you will find various lookout points with a peaceful Central Park trail that follows the stream.
At the eastern end of the stream, you will come across the famous Central Park waterfall – a truly hidden gem photo spot in NYC.
Feeding the Loch stream is a water feature called The Pool, in the northwestern part of the park. During foliage, these trees brighten up in various shades of yellow, red, and orange, making it the perfect NYC photo spot to enjoy.
If you are looking for another lookout point over the Lake, look no further than the Hernshead Rocks. The rocks make up a small peninsula on the western side of the Lake, where you can get some fantastic views of the NYC skyline.
During cherry blossom season, you will also be able to see some Central Park cherry trees located across the way on Cherry Hill.
The largest of water features in Central Park is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. All around the 1.6 mile outer loop, you will come across plenty of photo spots to enjoy.
On the eastern side of the Reservoir, you will come across cherry blossoms in the springtime, and views of the Central Park West skyline.
On the northern side of the Reservoir will be the best shots of the downtown NYC skyline, where you can see buildings such as the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, The Edge, One Vanderbilt, and One World Trade Center.
The western side of the Reservoir offers a cherry blossom tunnel during peak bloom, and is a favorite among NYC photography.
One of the lesser known photo spots in NYC is at Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. This immaculately maintained garden is made up of three sections. All throughout you will find fountains, grass fields, views, and plenty of flowers and trees.
Head to the top of the garden’s stairs to enjoy the best views from above.
If you are looking to get lost in Central Park during a photography session, head up to the North Woods. The main wooded area is located just north of the Loch mentioned before.
Here you will come across a never-ending maze of pathways that are surrounded by trees in every which direction. You will also come across the Blockhouse, which is the oldest structure built within the park itself.
2) NYC Observation Deck Photo Spots
Within Manhattan you will find five different paid observation decks. These decks give you the chance to head high above the city and get some of the best elevated NYC photo spots you can ask for.
Each one will offer a different type of experience and different views. I don’t think it is necessary to head to all of them, but you certainly should make your way to at least one of them during a visit.
The Edge is one of the decks that offer an outdoor observation experience. Here you will find a triangular shaped platform surrounded by glass.
You can enjoy some photos from the elevated staircase, near the glass, or even from indoors.
One highlight of The Edge is that it also offers an outdoor City Climb experience. Here you can walk along the exterior of the building for an exhilarating experience unlike any other in NYC.
One World Trade
The southernmost observation deck is at One World Trade Center. From the top of the building you will get the most wholistic views looking northbound and beautiful views of surrounding waterways.
Outside of One World Trade you will come across other highlights such as the 9/11 Memorial Pools & Museum, Brookfield Place, and the Hudson River Walkway.
Empire State Building
Located in the center of the city is the Empire State Building, arguably the most iconic building in the entire NYC.
On the top of the Empire State Building you will find both an indoor and outdoor observation deck.
If you are looking for a truly unique NYC photography experience, the Empire State Building offers sunrise shoots on Saturdays. Since this isn’t offered at the other observation decks, it is hard to go wrong here.
Top of the Rock
While the Top of the Rock building may be the shortest of observation decks, it still very well may be the best of any.
At the Top of the Rock you will find three different observation decks, with the highest one having uninterrupted views of the city (no glass in front of you).
Here you will also have the chance to actually view each one of the other major observation decks, which certainly are more iconic buildings to photograph.
Summit One Vanderbilt
Last on the NYC observation deck photo spot list is One Vanderbilt. This is the newest addition to the skyline, and offers guests beautiful views over NYC.
On the top few floors of the building, you will find art exhibits, glass floors, outdoor elevators and more unique experiences to take part of.
3) NYC Bridges Photo Spots
Some of the best photo spots in NYC are those that are around the bridges connecting Manhattan to Queens & Brooklyn.
Below are the four main bridges that head over the East River, each of which offers a unique perspective.
Also known as the Ed Koch or 59th Street bridge, the Queensboro Bridge heads over the East River and Roosevelt Island.
The best part of taking photos on the bridge is the ability to capture some photos of the famous red Roosevelt Island tram. Framing the tram with the bridge and city skyline is sure to be a fun photography session to take part of.
Out of the bridges on this list, the Williamsburg Bridge is the one that is the toughest to get shots on. This is because of the obstructed fencing that comes into play.
Even so, there are many cool photography shots to enjoy on the bridge. Whether that is taking photos of the walkway or the trains that make their way across, I am sure there is a great shot for you to find.
While the Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous of bridges, the Manhattan Bridge gives you the best chance to get views of the Brooklyn Bridge itself.
Having the chance to frame the Brooklyn Bridge in front of downtown Manhattan is the perfect photography spot when it comes to NYC bridge views.
If you head there during sunset, you will have the chance to really see the sky and skyline pop in color.
Last but not least is the Brooklyn Bridge. While I will touch upon plenty of spots to take photos of the bridge from afar, photography on the bridge is next level.
The best photo spots in my opinion are looking up underneath the steel cables. With the NYC skyline out back, it makes for a great location to photograph.
Since the bridge does bring the crowds, I would recommend heading over early on in the day in order to have a more peaceful experience.
4) Pier Photo Spots
Surrounding the riverside of Manhattan (both on the Hudson & East Rivers), you will find a whole variety of piers. Many of these piers have been renovated and restored over time into parks, playgrounds, sporting fields and more.
Here are some of my favorite piers in Manhattan when it comes to photography locations.
One of the newest renovated piers on the Hudson River is Pier 57. Here you will find a rooftop park with elevated views over the Manhattan skyline.
The best views are those looking southbound, where you will get Little Island, the World Trade Center, and more all in view.
Closer to the southern end of Manhattan along the Hudson River is Pier 26. The pier offers a whole variety to visitors including a City Winery, free kayaking, and a tide deck.
The views from the southern and western sides of the pier give you great shots of downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty.
Moving to the East River, you will find Pier 35. At the pier you will come across seating areas, swinging chairs, and some of the best views of the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges that you can ask for.
Heading there for sunset will give you the chance to see the skyline light up with the bridges and downtown skyline completing the frame.
Pier 17 may very well be the most popular pier in NYC as it sits right on the South Street Seaport. Within Pier 17 you will find restaurants, outdoor seating areas, and even a rooftop bar & restaurant.
The photography spots are never-ending here, as you get more great views of the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges from afar.
Just next door to Pier 17 is the lesser known Pier 15. Here you will find a small rooftop park with plenty of seating areas. It is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the views of the surrounding East River.
5) NYC East River & Hudson River Photo Spots
Since the prior section talked through some of the best piers to photograph from in NYC, below are some more highlights that can be found along the Manhattan waterfront.
South Street Seaport
While Pier 17 is a top place to find NYC photo spots, so if the surrounding South Street Seaport area. This area of downtown Manhattan is full of small brick buildings and cobble stone streets.
Everywhere here has a photo opportunity if you are imaginative enough. Head there after a rainfall, and you can get some beautiful reflections.
Located right next door to Pier 57 is Little Island. This manmade park hovers over the Hudson River and is full of views, walking paths, and areas to relax.
This is another spot that can be very crowded on a day to day basis. I would recommend getting there nice and early for some top notch photography opportunities.
The few elevated parts of the island were my favorite when it came to capturing the best shots.
Running from 14th Street up to 30th Street you will find the High Line walkway. What used to be a train track now is a walking path full of art, nature, and views.
Throughout the walkway, you will come across some of the best photo spots in NYC. I loved those elevated viewpoints looking straight down the avenues and other views looking out towards The Edge & Hudson Yards.
Separated from the main High Line is a secondary pathway that runs around Hudson Yards from 30th Street to 34th Street.
While the main High Line is open year round, this section is generally just open during the warmer weather months (be sure to check for the latest).
A walk along this section will give you the chance to enjoy views of the rail yard station, Vessel, and the Empire State Building.
Located in Hudson Yards, the Vessel is an architectural wonder that was opened in 2019. While the structure is yet to reopen to the public, visitors still have the chance to walk around the internal base of the Vessel.
You will get the chance to capture some beautiful lookup shots and capture the winding staircases all around.
If you head all the way down to the tip of Manhattan, you will be welcomed to the Battery Park neighborhood, also known as just The Battery.
Here you will find a park and walkway that hug the southern waterfront of Manhattan. When it comes to the top views of the Statue of Liberty, this is certainly one of them.
Another great spot to take in those views of the Statue of Liberty (and downtown Manhattan) is from Governor’s Island.
Make your way down to the southern tip, where you should get a great vantage point out in front of the statue. There are also a couple of elevated viewpoints to walk up if you wanted to get vaster views from above.
Situated on the East River between Manhattan and Queens you will find the narrow Roosevelt Island. The island itself is home to over 10,000 people and also has the Cornell Tech campus on it.
If you want to take in some unique photo ops of the city, head on over to the western side of the island and make the walk down to the southern tip.
Here you will get some great shots of the Queensboro Bridge, East River, and Manhattan skyline.
The walkway is also famous for its cherry blossoms all throughout the spring time, so be sure to visit during blooming season!
Roosevelt Island Tram
While you can get to Roosevelt Island by subway or car, taking the tram would be my recommendation. The tram offers some of the best elevated views you can ask for over the city.
While it is a quick ride, be sure to keep that camera handy to capture the best shots along the way.
Connecting all the boroughs of NYC and even New Jersey is a network of water ferries that make their way along the waters.
While most people take water ferries to actually get themselves from one place to another, these boats can also be used as a cheap alternative to boat tours.
You still get some great vantage points of NYC, the bridges, and the rivers, and all for a cheap price.
There are plenty of routes to choose from depending on how long you want to spend out on the water.
6) Brooklyn Bridge Park Photo Spots
Located on the East River waterfront along the Dumbo & Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods, Brooklyn Bridge Park makes up nearly 1.5 miles of coastline.
Throughout the park you will come across piers, parks, views, restaurants, and plenty of top NYC photography spots.
If you are looking for the perfect sunset spot, head over to Pebble Beach. Along this small strip of beach, you will find plenty of places to set up your camera.
Out in front of you will be the Brooklyn Bridge hovering over the East River, with One World Trade and the rest of downtown Manhattan skyline in view.
Just across the way from Pebble Beach you will find Timeout Market. In the market there is a whole variety of restaurants and quick eats to choose from.
In addition to the food & drink, the market also has a rooftop area, where you can get an elevated view of the NYC skyline.
While there are 6 different piers along Brooklyn Bridge Park, I found the photography from Pier 1 to be some of the best there is.
The pier is much wider than the other piers along the waterfront and offers some of the best views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the south.
In addition, you can also find the Old Pier 1 just next to the renovated pier. There are a whole bunch of small wooden stumps jutting out of the water. It makes for a great NYC photo spot with skyline out back.
John Street Park
There is one small portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park located on the northern side of the Manhattan Bridge. At John Street Park, you will be able to get the view looking southbound of both the Brooklyn Bridge & Manhattan Bridge in one shot.
If paying close attention, you should be able to frame the World Trade Center right between the base of the Manhattan Bridge (see below!).
While not technically part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront, there is a famous Dumbo viewpoint on nearby Washington Street that certainly should be checked out.
If you walk along Washington Street looking towards the water, you should be able to frame the Manhattan Bridge right in the middle of the street. In addition, the Empire State Building perfectly lines up underneath the bridge.
While this photo spot can certainly bring the crowds, it is well worth the effort to get there earlier on in the day to grab that photo.
7) Brooklyn & Queens Park Photo Spots
While Central Park certainly has some of the best photo spots in NYC, there are plenty of other parks around the city too. Below are four parks located in Brooklyn and Queens that offer some great photography options.
Hunter’s Point South Park
Located along the East River in Long Island City you will find Hunter’s Point South Park. When it comes to skyline views of NYC, getting across the river will be your best bet.
Not only will you get some great views of the skyline, but you also will be welcomed to a circular shaped park surrounded by cherry blossom trees in the spring. It is one of the best places for cherry blossoms in NYC.
Having the skyline in the background with the cherry blossoms in the foreground is a great photo to capture.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Deeper into Queens you will find Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Here is where you will find Citi Field, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the site of the World’s Fair.
The park is full of photo spots, including the Unisphere globe and the observation towers, which was made famous by the Men in Black movie.
If you happen to visiting during springtime, get ready for some beautiful blooming colors all around.
Marsha P Johnson State Park
The Williamsburg waterfront is a perfect photo spot to enjoy those Manhattan skyline views. In particular, the Marsha P Johnson State Park makes for some great landscapes.
You will have a sand filled beach and plenty of scenic rocks in the foreground of the East River. Beyond that will be everything from the Empire State Building to One World Trade.
If you head closer to the small peninsula out in the water called Hurricane Point, you should be able to take in a new perspective of NYC photography.
Louis Valentino Jr Park
Located all the way out in Red Hook, the small Louis Valentino Jr Park & Pier is a lesser known photo location.
What makes this spot so special is the views directly towards the Statue of Liberty. You wont get a better view facing the front of the statue, unless heading to Governor’s Island (more on that soon).
To make the most of this photo spot, time your visit when the sun will set behind the Statue of Liberty for a one of a kind shot.
8) Bonus: Manhattanhenge & Fireworks
Round out 50 of the best top photo spots in NYC is Manhattanhenge and the NYC July 4th fireworks display.
Twice a year in May and July, the sunset perfectly aligns with the city’s avenues. Essentially along every street, you should be able to look westbound and see this phenomenon occur.
My advice is to actually take photos over the few days after Manhattanhenge. The crowds can get pretty hectic on the day of, and for the most part you can get the same exact photo over the following days.
The best spot without a doubt is the Tudor City bridge that looks straight down 42nd Street.
July 4th Fireworks
The July 4th firework display in NYC is one of the best there is in the country. Over the course of 30 minutes, thousands upon thousands of fireworks are shot up in the air.
Each year the display switches between the East & Hudson rivers, so be sure to check the latest before heading out.
If it is over the East River, I would recommending heading the Brooklyn/Queens waterfronts (near Williamsburg and Greenpoint). During the years it is over the Hudson River, head on over to the NJ waterfront. This way you can always get the NYC skyline in view behind the fireworks.
9) Best Photo Spots in NYC Map
To summarize this NYC photography guide, I have included a map below that pinpoints these locations. If you have trouble figuring something out, be sure to write in the comments below & I will get back to you.
That about wraps up a guide to the 50 best photo spots in NYC. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to add them in below.
Also don’t forget to check out some of the other New York itineraries and guides up on the site.
Have fun out there and safe travels!