As the weather in New York finally thaws out, it's time to shrug off your winter coat and gather at one of these five rooftop bars and terraces with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. Best of all, these venues are open all year long, so you can always come back for another round or two.
230 Fifth (230 Fifth Ave., between 26th & 27th St.; tel. 212/725-4300; www.230-fifth.com)
You might walk right past one of the best spots in the city because it's in a nondescript office building. Fortunately, the view from the rooftop bar on the 21st floor is a knockout. During cooler months, a section of the wraparound terrace is heated. You can also borrow fleece robes and blankets for extra warmth. If it starts to rain, head down to the snazzy Penthouse Lounge on the 20th floor to admire the skyline from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
You don't have to be a bookworm to knock back one of the signature cocktails -- the Great Gatsby, the Capote, the Hemingway -- at this charming locale on the Library Hotel's 14th floor. Cozy up by the fireplace in the den, mingle on the glass-enclosed patio, or catch a glimpse of the New York Public Library from the poetry garden on the open-air terrace.
East meets West 55th Street at this 1930s Shanghai-inspired rooftop bar and terrace on the 23rd floor of The Peninsula Hotel. Decorated with chic Chinese-style furnishings, Salon de Ning has a dark interior bar and two large terraces with views over Fifth Avenue and the glittering Manhattan skyline. There's a separate entrance right next to the hotel.
Top of The Tower at the Beekman Tower Hotel (3 Mitchell Place, at 49th St. & 1st Ave.; tel. 212/355-7300; www.thetopofthetower.com)
This Art Deco treasure is on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower Hotel, which was built in 1928. The cocktail lounge has two open-air balconies, plus a grand piano encircled by glass-enclosed terraces. The views of the East River and midtown Manhattan are splendid in the setting sun and as the lights start to twinkle on surrounding buildings and the nearby United Nations.
Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge (44 West 63rd St.; tel. 212/265-7400; www.empirehotelnyc.com)
Rain or shine, the party continues on the Empire Hotel's 12th floor terrace, which has a fireplace and a retractable, glass-covered ceiling. You can also enjoy the view of Lincoln Center and the Upper West Side from the Penthouse Lounge's floor-to-ceiling windows. Since the space often has loud DJ music and private parties, try Monday nights for a mellower experience.
All of these bars and terraces can get crowded on the weekends, so it's best to head up during the week. The venues can close for private parties; check before heading out and up.