New York by Drone: Tour the Empire State Through an Aerial Perspective

New York by drone
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  • Get to know the Empire State as a media, cultural and financial center, enriched with natural wonders in the forms of beaches, waterfalls, and lakes.

  • Prepare to be awe-struck when you drone tour some of the state’s most popular locations through drone videos and photos.

  • Familiarize yourself with the drone regulations and laws in place in the state and the entire country.

New York is probably best defined through its motto – Excelsior, meaning Ever upward. This atmosphere of constant growth and progress drives the Empire State. The state perfectly combines the stunning nature embodied in Niagara Falls and the breathtaking urban landscape with New York City as a symbol of this character. Of course, this is what makes the state a popular destination for drone pilots, who want to explore the state from a different perspective. Experiencing New York by drone brings with it a special set of blessings and challenges. This means that a lot of remarkable places are off-limits to drones, yet a drone operator can freely enjoy the vast territory of the state in the areas, which are green-lit for drone flights.

Credits to Ants Drone

New York: The Empire State of Mind

The state is the fourth-most populous state in the USA with vibrant, international communities living there. It’s located in the northeastern part of the country and it’s most famous for New York City, besides having a different capital city and the towering Niagara Falls.

Furthermore, it has a rich history ranging from it being one of the original Thirteen Colonies, forming later the U.S. to immigration and being the center of important economic, political and cultural moments. 

The state of New York boasts diverse geography. From islands, beaches, lakes, and mountains to a sprawling metropolitan area and gorgeous, picturesque towns and villages, there is something for everyone’s taste. Of course, the entire world knows of Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Appalachian Mountains, Long Island, and similar.Let’s take a look at some of these iconic New York landscapes, observed through a marvelous bird’s-eye view. Are you ready to travel to New York by drone?


Bridgehampton is a lovely and picturesque place filled with many spots you can visit by drone. If you’re a fan of the water and the beach, you can head to Ocean Road Beach. The area has some amazing beaches where you can capture magical sunrises, sunsets, and other specific moments that will look great from above. 

Moreover, you also have the Bridge Gardens at your disposal with plenty of green space. While you’re in the mood for spending time outside surrounded by nature, a good idea may be to head to some of the wineries that stretch for miles. The grapes enveloped in green vines are always an admirable sight to be captured.

drone shot of lighthouse at sunset
Credits to Joanna Steidle (Hamptons Drone Images)

Also, we shouldn’t forget the Montauk Point Lighthouse. The historic lighthouse was authorized while George Washington was President in 1796. Although on the inside it’s a museum that offers an insight into the history of the place, on the outside, it represents a spot with many scenic views. With the water in the background and the greenery that surrounds it, it promises some epic drone shots. The drone pilot, Joanna Steidle, has done a similar shot and received a lot of praise from the drone community. Moreover, once the raw drone pictures are edited in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you’ll have a sure winning shot in your hands.


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New York City

Credits to Casey Neistat

The number one question drone pilots have when they arrive in New York is ‘can I fly a drone in New York City?’ The short answer is – no, you can’t fly a UAV in NYC, because it’s considered illegal by the authorities.

True, the gorgeous skyscrapers, the bustling traffic, the spectacular Central Park, and more, are perfect to be seen by a drone. However, this isn’t possible. Most of New York City is off-limits to drones due to their closeness to airports. Also, most of this megacity has a class B airspace classification.

But, not everything is bleak. Some designated areas and parks in the city exist for drone operators to unleash their small metal friends. For instance, you are allowed to fly a drone in La Tourette Park (Greenbelt) in Staten Island and the Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Forest Park in Queens. Brooklyn, too, has similar parks like these, but they offer paid services. If you want to check them out, they are Calvert Vaux Park and Marine Park.

Logically, the regulators’ decision makes sense when you consider the fact that New York City has a population of a couple of million. It’s pretty robust and constricted with extremely tall buildings and big crowds of people. To prevent people from looking up for drones all the time and the safety of these buildings, it makes sense to have strict drone laws.

The concrete jungle of a city where dreams are made of, as the songs say, is, according to many, one of the most wondrous and unique cities. You can still check out some aerial views and ‘cyber tour’ it using online footage and photos. For now, this can give you a glimpse of the atmosphere until you have a chance to visit it in person.

New York by drone - NYC
Credits to Professional Drone Services

Cayuga Lake and Ithaca

New York by drone - Cayuga Lake
Credits to Matt Champlin

You haven’t fully experienced New York by drone if you don’t drone tour one of its lakes. For instance, Cayuga Lake from above is a sight that you shouldn’t miss. No matter which period of the day, it has something unique to offer to its visitors.

It represents the second deepest and the longest lake of the Finger Lakes. Therefore, its significance only increased throughout the years. Mainly, the residents can pass it with water transportation and stay connected to the world beyond.

Also, it’s a place for recreation, swimming, pleasure boating, or even sitting idly on the shores and enjoying nature. So, you can grab your drone and come to find inspiration among the small waves and the frequent colorful boats that are speckled across the lake or simply stay at the shore and contemplate future content.

The neighboring city of Ithaca offers a plethora of captivating views of serenity, calmness, and the American idyll.

Long Island

New York by drone - Long Island

Credits to virginia___rose on Instagram

Speaking of the water, the next destination where you can take your drone is Long Island. This is a densely populated island located in the southeastern side of New York state. As it’s on the Atlantic Coast, it has some of the most amazing beaches in the state. 

Furthermore, there are multiple beaches with white sand where among other things there are some exciting surfing opportunities on the tall waves. Also, they have trails that wait to be explored and different types of plants and wildlife. Some of these beaches that both locals and tourists love are Jones Beach State Park, Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park, Montauk, and Coopers Beach.

Seal and whale watching are also an option in the designated spots. These include the Jones Beach State Park, Montauk Point, and Cupsogue Beach. 

Aside from beaches, in Long Island, you can go on a tour across the wineries as well as some famous mansions like the one of Gatsby, Teddy Roosevelt, and even the spy trail of George Washington.

Kaaterskill Falls

Credits to Ben Childers

Last but not the least, the state of New York can boast of Kaaterskill Falls. They are among the oldest tourist attractions in the USA and represent an inspiration for famous poems, paintings, and books. 

Located on Spruce Creek on the eastern side of the Catskill Mountains, it is comprised of two stages. The total height of both of them is 260 feet (around 79 meters). Therefore, Kaaterskill Falls are one of the highest in New York and the Eastern United States.

Having all of this in mind, they are a marvelous sight to witness and capture from all sides. The water flowing down fast and the rocks and greenery framing it are enough for epic drone footage.

Drone Laws You Need to Know Before You Experience New York by Drone

To begin with, the U.S. government’s official body regulating drones is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Its laws and regulations are in effect across the entire territory of the United States of America, of course, including the state of New York.

The federal government has specific rules for government employees who want to fly a drone, drone pilots who fly recreationally, and those who fly commercially. Basically, commercial drone operators need to obey the Part 107 – FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule. This includes taking and passing the Aeronautical Knowledge Test and getting a certificate. If you want to fly as a hobbyist, you have to sit for the TRUST Test, which stands for Recreational UAS Safety Test, and follow the rules. Some of them include the registration of your drone, altitude, the approximation to people, institutions, and architecture, within line-of-sight distance, and similar.

New York has a state-wide law regulating the use of drones. This is the OPR-PCD-018—New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation // 2015. One of the main rules states that you can launch, operate, and land a drone in state parks and historic sites only if you have a previously-written permit or approval from the agency. Moreover, there are a couple of local drone laws in New York, which you should read in detail before flying a drone in the state.

New York by Drone: A Few Final Words

We, at The Drones World, advocate for safe and informed drone flights with full respect to drone regulations and laws. Indeed, New York, as a state, boasts natural and urban beauty. So, make sure you are well-prepared before taking off.

Do you want to explore more of the United States? You can cyber-travel to ArizonaCalifornia, and Massachusetts. Also, you can check out Australia and Ireland by drone.

Have you ever flown a drone in New York? What’s your favorite location? We’re eager to find out more about your droning experiences.


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