Cocktails always taste better when paired with a view, and in the United States’ most popular cities, that means taking things to a terrace. But with rooftop bars popping up everywhere from New York City to Chicago to Seattle, it can be a challenge to choose the bar that best suits you. Read on to discover our favorite rooftop bars across the nation, then drink up these jaw-dropping views from coast to coast.
(As of August 2020, all bars on this list are welcoming guests. Please check each venue’s website for the latest updates.)
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
Seattle’s best-kept secret is its summer sun, which tends to peek out from mid-July through October. Soak it up atop the outdoor terrace at Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, where the view is phenomenal and the vibe is casual. At this PNW rooftop bar—part of the Motif Seattle hotel—you can settle your soirée around the bar’s outdoor fireplace or firepit table while sipping a local beer and munching from a menu featuring strictly regional cuisine. (Don’t miss the basil raspberry cheesecake from local bakery Sweet Nothings and More.)
If you go: Check Motif’s COVID-19 guide for up-to-date info.
Sugar at East, Miami brings the Far East to America’s Southeast with an intimate space and curated menu that reflect influences from China, Thailand, India, and beyond. At 40 stories above ground level, this Miami rooftop bar feels like a seductive jungle hideaway with its thick display of bamboo, ferns, and other greenery. As you sip Pan-Asian-inspired cocktails and snack family-style on steamed dumplings, you might only remember you’re still in the U.S. when you gaze at panoramic views of downtown Miami from your seat.
In all of its seasonal extremes, the Windy City may not seem the obvious destination for a rooftop bar—but the J. Parker at Chicago’s Hotel Lincoln will make you think otherwise. The bar (named for President Lincoln’s bodyguard) features a retractable roof and glass walls, so guests can enjoy sprawling views of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan even when it’s so cold outside that the lake turns to ice.
Top of the Gate
The Nixon-era Watergate Hotel is now a modern-day masterpiece, thanks to a $200 million renovation that includes a sprawling rooftop bar and lounge known as Top of the Gate. This bar is a go-to spot in the capital due in part to its innovative drinks like the Celebration, made with Avion Silver tequila and a grenadine spice mix, then topped with a float of sparkling rosé. But the terrace’s most attractive feature is its 360-degree view of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic landmarks, including the Pentagon, Potomac River, and Washington Monument.
Los Angeles, CA
Leave it to Los Angeles to craft the perfect rooftop blend of cool, laid-back, and funky all in one rainbow-colored space. At Hollywood’s Mama Shelter, or “Mama’s” if you please, a Mediterranean-inspired menu features lunch and dinner options, and there’s at least one cocktail that takes its name from a mom pun (like the Mama Is on the Roof, a mix of tequila, Aperol, hibiscus tea, and lemon juice). In pre-COVID-19 days, Mama’s offered rotating entertainment (drag-queen bingo and outdoor film screenings), but for now, travelers can kick back and enjoy a sunset cocktail as they drink in L.A.’s iconic Hollywood Hills.
This Mile High City rooftop bar and restaurant is famous for its innovative variety of gourmet global street foods, combining flavors from East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America with local Colorado ingredients. Patrons flock here for the food, but they stay for the bohemian vibe: Drinks, like the frosty Frosé, are served out of a 1975 hippie RV—better known as the Bar-V. Linger is one of the liveliest bars in the city; be sure to make reservations if you want to hit the rooftop’s weekend brunch. (Hint: You do.)
New Orleans, LA
Anyone who’s spent a sticky summer day in New Orleans knows the importance of cooling off poolside with a drink in hand. Alto—Ace Hotel New Orleans’s rooftop garden, restaurant, and bar—features a pool where guests can stay fresh while enjoying Italian-inspired plates such as a fried chicken Milanese sandwich topped with provolone. The rooftop pool bar also offers craft beer, frozen cocktails, and wine.
High Rooftop Lounge
Venice Beach, CA
Watching the sky fade to rainbow hues over the Pacific Ocean is memorable from the sand, but the experience grows notably more epic when enjoyed at the High Rooftop Lounge—Venice Beach’s only rooftop bar. The surf-inspired lounge located atop Hotel Erwin is SoCal to its core, serving cocktails with names like Lifeguard Lemonade and the Dude Lebowski.
Departure Restaurant + Lounge
Located above the Nines hotel in downtown Portland, this futuristic Pan-Asian restaurant and bar boasts two connected rooftop patios overlooking the Willamette River. At Departure Restaurant + Lounge, chef Jami Flatt helms the kitchen with tasty menu options like crispy pork belly dim sum, kushiyaki (meat skewers), and the largest selection of sake in the city. Of course, in true Portlandia fashion, the menu features vegan and gluten-free items—and entirely separate vegan and gluten-free menus are also available upon request.
New York City, NY
To experience a Mediterranean getaway without leaving New York, head to the rooftop at Hotel Hayden and order a drink at Mykonos Bleu. From the rooftop bar’s all-white decor and stone-tiled flooring to its small plates and drinks made with ouzo or mastiha, the atmosphere here channels an authentic Greek Isles ambience. The best part? You can enjoy striking views of the Freedom Tower and NYC skyline from the bar’s outdoor terrace or glass-walled indoor area year-round. Opa!
San Francisco, CA
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, El Techo—Spanish for “the roof”—serves Latin American street food and cocktails “del sol” on an open-air terrace, come rain or shine. Order a cerveza or a margarita with your empanadas and choripan (a chorizo-stuffed baguette) and be sure to save room for dessert: The alfajores (traditional cookie sandwiches loaded with dulce de leche) shouldn’t be missed at this rooftop spot.