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15 of Our Favorite Rooftop Bars in the U.S.

For unique drinks . . . Cindy’s
15 of Our Favorite Rooftop Bars in the U.S.
Cocktails always taste better when paired with a view, and in the U.S.’s 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 overwhelming to choose the bar that best suits you. Read on to discover our favorite rooftop bars across the United States, then drink up these jaw-dropping views from coast to coast.
By Dana Brindle, AFAR Contributor
Courtesy of Cindy’s
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    For unique drinks . . . Cindy’s
    For unique drinks . . . Cindy’s
    Chicago, IL

    Of all the worthy reasons to patronize a rooftop bar, the most basic is to satisfy one’s need for a delectable drink. For this driving factor, head to Cindy’s in Chicago. “Spirit Guide” Nandini Khaund heads the bar (or “original pharmacy,” as the menu reminds) crafting her Potions + Elixirs with inspiration from around the world. The Grey Garden—made with Tito’s Vodka, Dolin Blanc, crème de violette, Emperor’s jasmine pearl tea, and lemon—is a fan favorite, as is the Pillar of Hercules, a fruity concoction of Bruichladdich, manzanilla sherry, Mallorca melon shrub, hibiscus, mint, and lemon.
    Courtesy of Cindy’s
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    For a trendy crowd . . . The Ides Bar
    For a trendy crowd . . . The Ides Bar

    Brooklyn, NY

    Many NYC rooftops bars have notoriously killer views, but few compare to the stunning scene at The Ides Bar. The top-level bar at Williamsburg’s waterfront Wythe Hotel is an institution in New York City class—its industrial cool interiors ooze a modern, sophisticated vibe that consistently attracts lines down the block. While the crowds come for a multitude of reasons—classic cocktails, local DJs, and a delicious locavore menu—they stay at this Brooklyn bar for the postcard-worthy view. 

    Courtesy of Wythe Hotel
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    For fun and games . . . Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
    For fun and games . . . Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
    Seattle, WA

    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, you can challenge friends to shuffleboard and ping-pong while sipping a revolving selection of local beers or playful cocktails. Once the games have ended, settle your soirée around the bar's outdoor fireplace while you munch off a menu featuring strictly regional cuisine.
    Courtesy of Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
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    For live music . . . Acme Feed & Seed
    For live music . . . Acme Feed & Seed
    Nashville, TN

    Situated just steps away from Nashville’s honky-tonk scene on Lower Broadway, Acme Feed & Seed hosts live performances seven days a week. Each floor of the multi-level restaurant and bar offers tunes spanning from country to funk, but the the rooftop's 360-degree views are tough to beat. Throughout the summer, the rooftop bar hosts special weekend events including morning yoga classes and late-night DJ dance parties. Be sure to pack an appetite along with your dancing shoes; the city’s famous hot chicken pairs perfectly with every drink.
    Courtesy of Acme Feed & Seed
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    For a change of scenery . . . Sugar
    For a change of scenery . . . Sugar

    Miami, FL

    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 lush 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.

    Courtesy of EAST, Miami
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    For weather-proof dependency . . . J. Parker
    For weather-proof dependency . . . J. Parker
    Chicago, IL

    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.
    Photo by Eric Kleinberg
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    For a taste of history . . . Top of the Gate
    For a taste of history . . . Top of the Gate
    Washington, D.C.

    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 Silver Fox, a boozy shaved ice concoction made with condensed milk, almond milk, and pineapple Bailey’s. 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.
    Courtesy of The Watergate Hotel
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    For some extra quirk . . . Mama Shelter
    For some extra quirk . . . Mama Shelter
    Hollywood, 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 Mama Shelter, or "Mama’s" if you please, a Mediterranean-inspired menu features breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner options, and every cocktail takes its name from a mom pun (like the How I Met Your Mother, which combines vodka, Aperol, red grapes, mint, lemon, and wheat beer). Rotating entertainment at this rooftop restaurant and bar includes foosball, drag-queen bingo, and outdoor film screenings—all set against the iconic backdrop of L.A.’s Hollywood Hills.
    Courtesy of Mama Shelter
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     For an urban escape . . . Gallow Green
    For an urban escape . . . Gallow Green
    New York City

    One step into this fairytale-like garden enclave and Manhattan’s chaos feels worlds away. The sanctuary—er, rooftop bar—is perched atop Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel, a spot famous for hosting the interactive theater production called Sleep No More. Order the drink of the same name: a tropical concoction of cacao-infused Banhez mezcal, pineapple bitters, La Croix coconut soda, and lime. Gallow Green is also renowned for its buffet-style weekend brunch with live entertainment, so buy a ticket, eat your fill, then drink the magical day or night away.
    Courtesy of Gallow Green
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    For a mountainous meal . . . Linger
    For a mountainous meal . . . Linger

    Denver, CO

    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: Dishes are served out of a 1975 hippie RV—better known as the Bar-V—alongside funky cocktails like the frosty Frosé. But there’s a reason that Linger is one of the liveliest bars in the city; be sure to make reservations if you want to hit the rooftop’s weekend Beats and Brunch. (Hint: You do.)

    Courtesy of Linger
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    For a poolside party . . . Alto
    For a poolside party . . . Alto
    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. AltoAce Hotel New Orleans’ rooftop garden, restaurant, and bar—features a pool where guests can stay fresh while snacking on Italian-inspired plates and seasonal cocktails. The rooftop pool bar also offers a rotating tap, frozen drinks, craft beer, and fine wine.
    Courtesy of Ace Hotel New Orleans
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    For a spectacular sunset . . . High Rooftop Lounge
    For a spectacular sunset . . . 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 the Lazy Sunbather and A Day at The Beach. If you forgot sunscreen or sunglasses for your outdoor day-drinking festivities, you can order them off the menu (seriously).
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    For river views . . . Departure Restaurant + Lounge
    For river views . . . Departure Restaurant + Lounge
    Portland, OR

    Located above The Nines hotel in downtown Portland, this futuristic Pan-Asian restaurant and bar boasts two rooftop patios overlooking the Willamette River. At Departure Restaurant + LoungeTop Chef finalist Gregory Gourdet helms the kitchen with tasty menu options like crispy pork belly dim sum, Ishiyaki steak, and the largest selection of sake in the city. Of course, in true Portlandia fashion, entirely separate vegan and gluten-free menus are also available upon request.
    Courtesy of Departure Restaurant + Lounge
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    For some Greek island vibes . . . Mykonos Blue
    For some Greek island vibes . . . Mykonos Blue

    New York City

    To experience a Mediterranean getaway without leaving New York, head to the rooftop at Hotel Hayden and order a drink at Mykonos Blue. 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!

    Photo by Oleg March
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    For an al fresco fiesta . . . El Techo
    For an al fresco fiesta . . . El Techo
    San Francisco, CA

    Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, El Techo—which translates to “the roof” in Spanish—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, 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.
    Courtesy of El Techo
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