Top 12 Hot Spots to Take Photos in New York City!


New York City has something for everyone, which is probably why so many people flock here at some point in their life to experience the magic for themselves. I have only lived in Manhattan for the last two years, but New York City is one of the few places I truly feel connected to. I travel for work and leisure often so sometimes I forget the beauty that is my own backyard, and I need to remind myself by going on a long walk. After all, NYC is the city at the heart of Penny & Dash and where I have spent the most time shooting content over the years.

After spending a considerable amount of time exploring NYC and all of its incredible views during random free weekends or when friends and family come to town to visit, I've compiled some of my favorites to share with you. This is my quintessential list of all of my favorite places to take pictures for my blog or for Instagram, places I take people when they come to visit me, and places where I visit time and time again because I know that they are no-fail hot spots. This is by no means the most comprehensive list, and everyone's tastes diff when it comes to what is Insta-worthy, but scenic back drops and skylines are my kyrptonite!

1. Brooklyn Bridge Park

While I prefer living in Manhattan over Brooklyn, I think the most beautiful skyline views are in DUMBO, where you can see all of downtown Manhattan and enjoy incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge. This waterfront park spans a whopping 85 acres and 1.3 miles, which means there plenty of scenery to go around for everyone. Brooklyn Bridge Park includes Brooklyn Piers 1–6, the historic Fulton Ferry Landing, and the preexisting Empire–Fulton Ferry and Main Street Parks. Every piers offers something different for everyone. Pier 5 offers free grills and dozens of picnic benches to the public (which was perfect for my family summer bbq last year), Pier 2 offers five acres of space for sports like basketball, handball, softball and much more, and Pier 6 has sand volleyball and a dog run for your precious pooch to enjoy too. I've spent time in most parts of this vast (as vast as a park can be in NYC), but my personal favorites are narrowed down to 2 - the Empire Fulton State Park, and Brooklyn Bride Pier 1.

Empire Fulton Ferry Park

My favorite view in all of New York is right here in this picture below. I come here time and time again because I know that there is nothing more stunning. Empire Fulton Ferry Park not only has the best views, but it is also the perfect grassy spot for a summer picnic, with dreamy panoramic skyline to complement. You have the entire unobstructed Brooklyn Bridge, all of downtown Brooklyn and the Freedom Tower, the Manhattan Bridge, and of course, the beautiful glass-encased Janes' Carousel. You can literally see it all standing in any spot at Empire Fulton State Park.

Brooklyn Bridge Pier 1

My first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn was at Brooklyn Bridge Pier 1, so it forever holds a very special place in my heart. I've taken countless photos herewith my family, Blake, and when we first started Penny & Dash and needed outstanding places to shoot in the city. Brooklyn Bridge Pier 1 is the perfect place for a stroll, whether you just got off the High Street Subway station or just came from walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. BBP1 is the most easily accessible Pier via public transportation and directly from the bridge, and it just so happens to also be the largest pier out of the six. My idea of a perfect date is sharing a delicious pie of pizza from Juliana's on Old Fulton Street down the block from the pier, strolling on the promenade, and grabbing an ice cream cone from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory to end the evening. I've done this so many times already; trust me, it's a no-fail plan.

The NYC Ferry also operates regular service to and from Pier 1, so if you're into views from the water, then this ride's for you!

2. Staple Street Skybridge

The iconic Staple Street Skybridge is one of TriBeCa's not-so-hidden gems located between Jay Street and Harrison Street on you guessed it, Staple Street. It's unique and unexpected streets like these that make me fall in love with New York City all over again. While you can find similar skybridges like this around Manhattan (I've spotted a similar view while on the High Line once), this beautiful one is the most beautiful backdrop of them all. Make sure to stop by whether you're conveniently in the neighborhood or plan your visit early in the morning to avoid too many people in your shot!

3. Chinatown

I love Manhattan's Chinatown so very much. In fact, when I was younger, some of my most vibrant memories growing up in New York before moving to New Jersey was in Chinatown when my grandparents would bring me with them to play mah-jong or to have dim sum. I truly never appreciated this neighborhood until the last couple of years once I began working. I would find myself here at least once a week, this time around, taking my grandparents to dinner and making them try different dessert places with me. NYC's neighborhoods are all distinctly different with their own unique personalities and vibes, but Chinatown is simply on a league of its own. Mott Street and Pell Street are the perfect backdrops for cool photos, and when Chinese New Year rolls around every winter, and confetti is flying for hours, you're bound to get an epic shot almost anywhere you walk.

4. Brooklyn Bridge

Every major city has its own special bridge, and I've mentioned countless times that the Brooklyn Bridge is by far my favorite in the world. There's just something about it's grandeur that takes my breath away every time. Whether you take the 20 minute walk across it or admire it from a distance at Brooklyn Bridge Park, it's always consistently magnificent. The best empty shots are always in the morning, so get there at the crack of dawn to have the entire bridge to yourself. It really is a much better and more peaceful experience when there aren't a thousand other people walking with you (even though you'd be surprised at the number of running groups that will pass by at 7am).

To get to the entrance to walk the bridge from the Manhattan side, you can take a number of subways to get you close to the entrance (Park Pl [2,3], City Hall [N,R], Fulton [A,C] Chambers [J,Z], 456 train to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall stop. The path begins at the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade when you exit. From the Brooklyn Side, the pedestrian walkway and bike lane begin at Tillary and Adams Street. The closest subway stops are Jay Street/MetroTech [A,C,F], Court Street [N,R], and Borough Hall [2,3 and 4,5].

5. Flatiron

I love coming to this the Flatiron District to shop and for some of the best workout classes the city has to offer, but this neighborhood is also home to the iconic Flatiron Building, Madison Square Park and the original Shake Shack, and Eataly is literally right across the street. If you stand in facing the Flatiron Building and turn around, you get a fabulous view of the entire Empire State building behind you. It's one of the best 360 degree panoramic views you can get in all of New York!

6. Central Park

I often joke that the most nature I get living in NYC is when I take a walk through Central Park. After all, it's a very true statement, and kind of depressing at the same time, especially since I grew up with plenty of space and grass to roll around in in my backyard. Central Park is a whopping 843 acres, which means "a walk in the park" only scratches the surface of all the things you can see and places you can visit for outstanding photo-ops.

Some of my favorites spots include the iconic Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Great Lawn, and Belvedere Castle. I also highly recommend checking off the bucket list item of taking a walk through the park on a snow day or rent a boat from the Loeb Boathouse for the perfect summer day.

7. Stuyvesant Street & E10th Street Intersection

The intersection of Stuyvesant Street and E 10th Street in East Village is one of my most frequented spots. Not only is it a close walk from my apartment, but it happens to be one of the most unexpected and unique intersections in what is otherwise a very predictable and gridded neighborhood. I come here every season, but I think it's most beautiful in the Autumn when there is plenty of beautiful foliage. It's such a great spot for street style photos, and I've found that it's not very crowded any time of the day, which is always a plus if you like empty photos like me.

8. Pietro Nolita

If you're ever looking for an all-pink backdrop, then this one's for you! I'm sure you've seen this iconic corner in your feeds once or twice before, but we just can't help it! This place was MADE for Instagram. Naturally, I chose this for my Valentine's Day photos since there's a graffiti heart wall and cute pink bench. All the work I really had to do was make sure my outfit didn't clash with the pink! Though I've heard mixed reviews of the food from those who've dined in this small Italian restaurant in Nolita, the exterior is really the star of the show. Also, my favorite color is pink and this place is PINK AF, inside and out. AMEN!

9. Washington Mews

Located between 5th avenue and university Place, Washington Mews is a private gated street just a few block north of Washington Square Park. The street actually gets its name from its origins as mews (rows of stables) servicing horses from homes nearby . For the last 70 years though, the converted staples have been used as private residences, offices, and NYU facilities. I often stop by for a few pictures because I love the charming cobblestone streets and the colorfully painted doors. The gates are always unlocked during the day (not sure if they are locked at night), so I've never had any issues accessing it! It's also usually pretty quiet throughout the day since people come and go all the time and it's not really a place where you can linger for a while since it's a private street after all!

10. Washington Square Park

Undoubtedly one of the best places to people watch and go for a late night walk, Washington Square Park is a classic place for everyone to enjoy (even your dog!). It's located in Greenwich village at the heart of NYU territory, and there's always something going on no matter what time of the day. Street artists, buskers, locals, students, dogs. You can find it all here! The fountain is usually off during the winter months, but even when the it's on when the weather warms up, you can still enjoy the views by sitting on the steps of the inner perimeter. So grab an ice cream, head to the fountain, and people watch for hours. You'll surely by entertained.

For those looking for fun events that happen in Washington Square park, there's a giant pillow fight in the park that happens every year. I'm not kidding! Click here for the 2019 event details.

11. Crosby Street - SoHo

Crosby Street has been a long time favorite shooting location for many fashion bloggers. I've seen plenty of photos taken at the intersection of Crosby and Howard Street, and at the famous green arch entrance of the NOMO SOHO Hotel on Crosby. During any time of the day, bloggers, professional and professional photographers litter the cobblestone streets to get the perfect shots. It's basic but its also classic!

12. Washington Street

Well it looks like we've come full circle and now we're back to where this list began-Brooklyn! Washington Street in DUMBO is one of the most photographed places in all of NYC, famed for it's perfect view of the Manhattan Bridge and it's even more perfect framing of the Empire State Building beneath (you can see it if you look closely in my picture below!). People flock here all day long to get their shots and for good reason. Whenever I come to this part of Brooklyn, I can't resist taking a walk down this street and taking another photo. One of my favorite things to do when friends come to town is walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, stop by Brooklyn Bridge Park, walk them down Washington Street and grab a hot chocolate (winter) or ice cream (whenever) after.

And that's a wrap! Thank you guys so much for checking this post out.Whether you're a local who spends too much time during the week working and too many hours of the weekend sleeping, or you're in town for just a few days, I hope it gives you some great ideas of places to check out in the city. Trust me, they're all great backdrops for photos, whether you need a new one for the gram, for Bumble, or to send to your mom to make sure she knows you're a thriving adult. Until next time!

Love,

Jess

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