When it comes to visiting New York City, acrophobia (the fear of heights or proximity to tall buildings) can really get in the way. While the old face-your-fears advice to “jump in head first” might not apply quite as well to a phobia of heights, it’s a well known fact that exposing yourself to the things that scare you is the only way to tackle them.
If there’s one place on Earth to nip that fear in the bud once and for all, it’s the Big (huge, giant, soaring) Apple. Here is the only itinerary you need to spend a day on top of New York’s most gravity-defying buildings and their mighty observation decks. You’ll be too distracted by the most instagrammable #views ever to care about the vertigo, we promise.
1.9am: get to the Top of the Rock
Roll out of your insanely comfortable bed at citizenM Times Square and head five minutes (or one block) to the open-air observation deck on top of the mighty Rockefeller Center. At 70 floors high, it's enough to get even the most daring visitors a little clammy under the collar. Getting there early and buying a ticket is a must, because no one wants to spend an entire day queuing, even if it is for the best views in the state.
2.11am: meet at the Met
Stroll up through central park to the Met. You can take a moment to marvel at the staggering collection of art, which spans 5,000 years, but then head to its very own roof garden. With its own rota of world-class exhibitions and events, this airy terrace features a restaurant, cocktail bar and sweeping views of Central Park and Manhattan’s skyline. Grab a quick coffee (it’s too early for a cocktail, even for us).
3.1pm: get high
Save your (shaky) legs and hop on the subway to 14th street for your next stop. If shooting 100 storeys up to the tallest building in the world sounds like a little too much too soon, warm up with The High Line, a linear park built on the disused tracks of an elevated railroad which snakes above the streets and treetops of Manhattan’s West Side. It is a savvy work of architectural design and landscape gardening, with wild plant structures, public artworks and plenty of curvaceous benches to sit and watch the city screech by below. As for how High? It’s around 30ft above the road. What’s that we hear you say? You’re right, it’s nothing!
4.2pm: scale 102 storeys
Hop off the High Line at the Whitney Museum, and search our city guides for a good lunch spot. You’ll need some sustenance for your next stop, The Freedom Tower. This is the main building of the reconstructed World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. It is, brace yourself, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth tallest on Earth. Which means one thing – unsurpassable views of NYC from its cloud-skimming, panoramic observation deck 102 storeys up. Deep breaths.
5.4pm: cross Brooklyn Bridge
OK, time to get out of Manhattan and catch your breath. While the high winds and shudders of a suspension bridge may not be every acrophobic’s fantasy, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge (one of the oldest and most written-about bridges in the States) is the ideal place to drink in views of the boats along the Hudson, the city skyline and even the legendary Statue of Liberty herself.
6.7pm: drink in the views
You probably need a stiff drink right about now. There’s nothing like a bit of Dutch courage to get you facing your fears (a doctor might disagree…). For some of the city’s best cocktails and views across the Hudson to glittering Manhattan, head to the top of Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel for a few tipples at bar/hipster haven The Ides. The best thing about it? It’s not a tourist attraction, so you can kiss goodbye to the queues.
7.9pm: see the lights
It’s time for the big guy. Hop on the Hunters Point ferry back to Manhattan (get some river selfies!). Best visited late at night, when queues are shorter and the city is lit up, this architectural emblem of NYC is even better in the flesh. The granddaddy of skyscrapers was completed in 1931, designed by William F. Lamb in an elegant Art Deco style. Until a few decades ago, this was the world’s tallest building, standing (antenna included) at a whopping 1,454 ft. Pay a visit to its open-air observation deck for soaring night time views across the city.
8.11pm: finish your day in the clouds
End your day with a stroll back through Times Square and rest your weary legs at citizenM’s cloudbar, the guest-only hotspot with some pretty good views of its own. With some pretty unique cocktails and cozy corners, it’s the perfect spot to scroll through your photos and upload one final Instagram. Don’t forget to tag us!