Get a bird’s-eye view of L.A. from these vertiginous drinking spots.
In a city with 329 days of sunshine, al fresco boozing is always in style. That’s why it’s important to keep a back pocket list of outdoor terraces where cocktails come with a view. Here’s a rundown of L.A. roof decks where you can gaze at spectacular vistas with a proper drink in hand.
Right in the heart of L.A. you can find everything you need for a tropical getaway at Broken Shaker. This bar on top of downtown’s Freehand Hotel has an abundance of flora (palms), fauna (swan floats), and millennial pink and blonde wood accents, plus unobstructed views of most of the city’s tallest skyscrapers.
Come for the setting, but stay for the James Beard Award–nominated bar program, which features tiki cocktails like the Carrot Colada, made with carrot coconut orgeat. The global street food–inspired menu spans the gamut from chips with guacamole and a spicy peanut salsa to katsu sandwiches and Japanese shaved ice.
Anything goes at this rooftop, where you can drop a reasonable cover to access the retro red-and-white lounge and be a witness to a cross section of all walks of life. (Think Europeans lounging in Speedos, finance guys smoking cigars, and Burning Man types dancing to house music.)
Hit the pool—it’s one of the few spots where anyone, not just guests, can dive in—and play ping-pong, sunbathe on one of the waterbeds, or enjoy a frozen cocktail while taking it all in. If you’re in no rush, stick around until after the sun goes down to enjoy a great lineup of DJs from all over the world.
From the second you’re greeted with the hotel’s scent (a blend of basil, geranium, and thyme), the NoMad Hotel is a transportive experience—and nowhere is that more evident than at its rooftop bar. With its terra-cotta tiles, wrought iron lamps, and potted olive trees, this terrace might fool you into thinking you’re at an Italian villa—that is, if it weren’t for its arresting views of downtown L.A.
Although the café’s open all day, we suggest heading to the lounge area when it opens at 5 p.m. to admire the massive stone ogre statue—an homage to Pier Francesco “Vicino” Orsini’s Orcus—at the mouth of the pool. The menu features elegant poolside fare (such as artful crudités and exquisite prawn rolls), the beverages are fairly priced yet expertly made, and the environment feels fun and relaxed.
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Situated above the Ace Hotel right on the main strip of L.A.’s Broadway Theatre District, this rooftop patio epitomizes laid-back: There’s no cover, the servers don’t take themselves too seriously, and it’s filled with the kind of crowd that’s dressed casually yet perfectly on trend. Every vantage point is ’grammable, food is solid, and drinks are reasonably priced (try the LaCroix-esque Quench!, a mix of watermelon vodka and grapefruit seltzer).
Upstairs transforms into a workspace of sorts on weekdays, with locals on laptops at the bar or taking meetings over a tallboy at the fireplace. On weekends, the space is brimming with music lovers stopping in before a show at the Ace’s theater or jamming to the DJ.
From neon pink signs to macaroni print wallpaper, West Hollywood’s cheeriest rooftop has all the makings of a millennial wonderland. The cocktails—named after songs—include Walk This Way, a twist on boba with vodka, lychee, and mango pearls, and Where Love Lives, which marries mezcal with passionfruit and guava.
LP is first-come, first-served, so to avoid the long lines on Friday and Saturday nights, we recommend either catching happy hour or stopping by midday on a weekend to soak up some sun, admire the panorama, and be reminded of the beautiful and fun-loving city that is L.A.
Spire 73 is the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. The lounge looks like it belongs in Las Vegas, thanks to the glowing fire pits, water fountains, and surrounding glass panels that give the illusion of nothing between you and a staggering 1,000-foot drop. Mingle with business types after work, or be prepared to be patient on the weekends (expect long elevator lines, a cover, and a dress code after 8 p.m.).
The cocktails won’t blow your mind, and many of them top $20, but order one anyway and you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of most of the city, including the Hollywood sign, Dodger Stadium, Griffith Park Observatory, and the Pacific Ocean.
The terms “low-key” and “L.A. rooftop” rarely go together, but they manage to coincide at Filifera. This sleek Kelly Wearstler–designed lounge sits on the 22nd floor of the Hollywood Proper Residences, the luxury high-rise in the former CBS studio space on Sunset. You don’t need to make a reservation or buy a ticket to enter this relaxed yet polished space, yet you’ll still be treated to postcard views of Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Hills.
If you’re looking for a place to relax in Venice with a vista of the sand and surf for miles, your best bet is atop the Erwin. Drinks don’t come cheap, and High fills up fast on weekends, but it’s a lovely way to cap off a long day if you’re in the area. Settle into one of the sectionals with a glass of frosé and feel the Pacific breeze as you watch the sun go down.
Thanks to its unobstructed skyline views, this indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar in L.A.’s downtown historic core is one of the best spots to admire the city from above. Make a reservation to dine at the French bistro on the lower level, and enjoy steak frites as talented local artists play music. Afterward, head up one floor to the rooftop to end the night with a beverage amid the dazzling city lights and a vantage point that looks down on Pershing Square.
Friday and Saturday nights bring club scene vibes—think sizable lines, security in spades, bottle service, stilettos, and bodycon dresses. If that’s not your thing, stick to weekend brunch or weekday happy hour, when the already affordable tipples are half the price.
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The rooftop at Mama’s is like an adult rec room in the sky. It has a rotating list of activities on offer, from yoga to film screenings, plus chess and foosball. But you won’t get tired of the main attraction: 360-degree glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, Hollywood Hills, and downtown.
Among the potted palms and rainbow-hued daybeds, you can enjoy cheese boards, chicken sandwiches, and more than half a dozen Moscow Mule variations. For a wider menu selection, book a spot at the restaurant downstairs, then follow dinner with a drink on the rooftop, where you can close out the night under the glow of Mama’s iconic neon sign.