The 15 Best Places to Take Pictures in NYC
From uptown to downtown.
Skyscrapers, graffiti, fascinating passersby and surprising nods from nature—the Big Apple is a photographer's playground. If you're looking for the best places to take pictures in NYC, you certainly don’t have to search too far. From the bustling chaos of midtown and the penguin suits that fill the streets, to the grime, character and art of the Lower East Side—there is a magic to New York unlike any other city in the world.
Legends like Alfred Stieglitz, Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus and other photographers built careers capturing the undeniable—and irresistible—vibe that each borough offers. That’s why even though it’s touted as the city that never sleeps, for a professional photographer (or an active Instagrammer), it’s more like the shutter that never rests.
If your wanderlust has you jet setting to this iconic town soon, here’s where to take photos in New York City:
Soho & West Village
Whether you’re channeling your inner Carrie Bradshaw or striking a stoop stance, these two neighborhoods are among the best photo spots in New York. Sans-skyscrapers, the feeling here is more relaxed and local, with brownstones and delis on every corner. Still lively, these areas are lined with brick and greenery, juxtaposed against new construction. You can capture an action shot as you glance over your shoulder with a coffee in hand—or sit smugly on someone’s steps. (They probably won’t mind.)
Grab the L train to Brooklyn and get ready to be wowed by one of the best places to take pictures in NYC. It’s grimy and greasy—just like the greatest slice of pizza—but Willyburg also provides something else: character. From the waterfront view of the Manhattan skyline to the graffitied walls that lurk between buildings, it isn’t just the hipster culture that will fascinate you.
If you want to continue your wandering, Williamsburg's neighbor to the east, Bushwick is raising through the ranks of iconic destinations to witness amazing street art, alongside Wynwood Wall in Miami or Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia.
Some of the best photo spots in NYC aren’t in Manhattan proper—but right outside. Or in this case, in between the two most popular boroughs. Because it is often crowded with commuters and tourists, it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning. It’s here where you can capture an uninterrupted skyline at sunrise or sunset, complete with bright blue skies or the glow of lights from never-ending buildings at dusk. For added fun, consider biking across this massive structure so you can explore the view from many angles.
It’s a necessary evil for those professionals who commute everyday, but when you’re on the hunt for where to take photos in New York City, Grand Central can’t be missed. On the corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown, this landmark was built in 1871 and remains in nearly-pristine condition. Whether you watch the daily morning grind or the sun flooding into the terminal, you will feel transfixed back to old New York.
Even New Yorkers who’ve lived in the city for decades will make every effort to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or The Met, at least once a year. Whether you explore their seasonal rotating exhibits or admire the sweeping view of Central Park from the rooftop with a summer cocktail in hand, it’s definitely one of the best places to take pictures in NYC.
Chanel, Armani and Tiffany’s are just a handful of the legendary fashion houses who have their flagship stores in this high-end district. Running from the edge of Central Park past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue offers some of the best photo spots in New York. You can pretend you’re Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s or retreat to childhood as Eloise at The Plaza. With the heavy traffic, even hailing a cab on this avenue is Insta-worthy. (And expensive!)
Top of the Rock & One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower)
Though the Empire State Building is considered one of the most important skyscrapers in the Manhattan skyline, there are other high rises that offer amazing aerial views from thousands of feet above the bustling streets of the city. We suggest upgrading to the top-tier ticket price for either Top of the Rock or One World Trade Center, since both of these offer an astounding look of Manhattan from above. Paying to arrive before or after the crowds will give you more time to get your image just right—without 40 people popping through your frame. When you’re thinking of where to take photos in New York, it’s this expansive, jaw-dropping skyline view you’re dreaming of—trust us.
The Whitney Museum & the Museum of Modern Art
There are those photographers who love to capture street art, as well as those who want to be a part of the masterpieces created by the great creatives who came before them. That’s why these two museums, offering very diverse collections, are the best places to take pictures in NYC for art lovers. With interesting walls, imaginative landscapes and plenty of great lighting, give yourself at least half of the day to get lost in the beauty of The Whitney Museum & the Museum of Modern Art.
For a concrete jungle that’s defined by its bustling streets and dynamic landscape, Central Park offers a much-needed oasis from the madness. Separating the Upper West Side from the East, it’s easy to spend a full day admiring the blooms, fields and charm of this 840-acre greenery. Some of the best photo spots in New York are located here, including Strawberry Fields, Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bethesda Terrace and Wollman Rink—to name a few.
Though most photographers prefer the quieter times to double-down and focus on their work, one of the best places to take pictures in NYC requires a busy crowd. Enter: Times Square. As the heartbeat of the city that few locals venture to unless they have to, it’s home to the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, the live morning talk shows, the theater community and of course, the neon lights. Our best recommendation is to visit at nighttime, when you can see the glow, hear the mingle of countless languages and take some amazing shots.
With the New York Public Library on one side and the start of the westside skyscrapers on the other, Bryant Park is the place where many locals escape for their daily dose of Mother Nature. As one of the best places to take pictures in NYC, this greenery offers something for every season. From the ice skating rink and holiday market in the winter to summer festivals and outdoor movies in the summer, there are many reasons why so many people flock to this 42nd Street hot spot.
With Madison Square Park building as your co-star, the Flatiron District is easily one of the best photo spots in New York. In between Chelsea and Union Square, you will see a healthy mix of suit-wearing professionals and casual start-up entrepreneurs strolling through the avenues on their daily commutes. For one of those images that screams NYC, we suggest hailing a cab as you smile at the camera in front of the Flatiron building. Though locals may be annoyed—you’ll definitely find the shot Insta-worthy.
If you are looking for more of the best places to take pictures in NYC, download the Explorest app today. We provide detailed directions to locations and tips for capturing your travels around the globe.