Up on the Roof
Sensational rooftop bars are more than just places to enjoy a refreshing cocktail and bite. At these al fresco destinations perched high above city skylines, you might meet some new friends. You might discover a new favorite beverage. And you might take the most epic selfie you've ever taken with iconic landmarks in the background.
Across the U.S., best-of-the-best rooftop spaces also feature an intriguing twist, from swimming pools on high, to front-row views of baseball games, to (yes) igloos for sipping drinks in.
With summer on the horizon, there’s no better time than now to, ahem, elevate your food and drinks experience at these standout spots.
Lookout Rooftop and Bar at the Envoy Hotel, Boston
Enjoy panoramic views of the Boston skyline and the Boston Harbor by visiting the Lookout Rooftop and Bar on top of the Envoy Hotel. The beverage-only bar offers a cozy atmosphere with couches, fire pits and covered seating areas with built-in ceiling heaters.
But what's really mind-blowing is that the bar actually has igloos. During frigid Boston winters, these heated and lit spaces, which seat between eight and 10 people, offer a way to drink outside without freezing. The enclosures are only available Thursday-Saturdays on a first-come, first-serve basis. Worried about having to leave the warm, snug igloo for a drink refill? Don't worry — just flip a switch to alert your server with a red lightbulb.
If you want to order food to go along with your drinks, head downstairs to the Outlook Kitchen, which serves pasta, salads, steak and more.
Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel has a history of being a predominately male establishment. Yet the open-air rooftop restaurant above the hotel, Cindy's, is named after a woman.
Here, anyone is welcome to enjoy the eclectic selection of food — including oysters, potato gnocchi and grilled cobia loin — and drinks — from kombucha and mocktails to rose, beer and champagne, in addition to apothecaries and other custom creations.
But the highlight of Cindy's isn't something you can order: It's the panoramic views of Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and the Art Institute.
Sugar at EAST, Miami
Miami is known for its Cuban influence, colorful architecture, white sand and lively nightclubs. In an ideal world, it’d also be world-renowned for Sugar, the rooftop bar at EAST, Miami that soars 40 stories above the city and honors the Asian lifestyle.
In fact, the “Miami New Times” refers to this bar as an "Asian inspired jungle," thanks to its touches including massive lanterns and elegant wood accents. An Asian-inspired menu — featuring tapas, satay, tataki, sushi and Asian-style cocktails — completes the theme.
To add to the fun and urban atmosphere, DJs spin curated music playlists that provide a nice soundtrack for guests. With killer views of the downtown skyline and Biscayne Bay, original drinks and groovy tunes, what's not to like about this garden oasis?
The Nest at Thompson Hotel, Seattle
Downtown Seattle is home to Elliott Bay and Pike Place Market, both of which can be viewed from The Nest rooftop bar, set above the Thompson Hotel.
The vibe at The Nest is relaxed yet modish, with “Seattle Met” comparing it to Los Angeles’ hottest spots. Guests appreciate the bar's paradox of being a place where they can cozy up in a corner or socialize with friends.
Executive Chef Derek Simcik works hard to craft drinks and snacks that use seasonal produce and reflect the culinary customs and traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Items on the seasonal summer menu include confit boar ribs and shishito with smoked salt, plus craft cocktails and local beers and wines.
Note: During the summer, the bar reaches peak status, making reservations highly recommended.
Assembly at The Logan Hotel, Philadelphia
Nine stories up at The Logan Hotel is Assembly, Philadelphia's open-air rooftop deck. It overlooks the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, providing panoramic views that stretch all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, surveying the city's art and museum district. Chic seating and fire pits provide a romantic atmosphere, making this an idyllic locale to enjoy after-dinner spirits while watching the sunset.
The menu at Assembly features a small selection of foods like blackened corn guacamole, tuna tartare, pork street tacos and caprese toast. Accompanying drink options include red and white wines, bottled beer and signature cocktails. Happy Hour takes place Tuesday-Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and due to the popularity of the lounge, reservations are suggested. The lounge is also available to rent for private events.
ALTITUDE Sky Lounge at the Marriott, San Diego
In the happening Gaslamp Quarter, the best place to hit happy hour is ALTITUDE Sky Lounge, an elite rooftop bar above the Marriott hotel, 22 stories up. Among the lounge's standout features are a glass-wall balcony, a roaring fire pit and plush seating.
However, nothing beats the panoramic views of Coronado Island, Point Loma and the Coronado Bridge. Even better, if you time it right, you can catch the Padres playing a game at Petco Park, located directly beneath the bar. At night, the silhouette of San Diego's skyline is more defined, and looks particularly magnificent against the sun setting over the harbor.
While taking in views of the city, guests can choose from a selection of wine, beer and cocktails. Food offerings include flatbreads, sandwiches and burgers. ALTITUDE Sky Lounge is also available for private dining and special events, with the options of catering services or customized menus.
SkyLounge at the Glenn Hotel, Atlanta
Located in downtown Atlanta's Centennial Park District, SkyLounge sits above the Glenn Hotel and made Forbes Travel Guide's list of “Six Rooftop Bars to Visit in Atlanta.”
The venue offers guests the stunning, panoramic backdrop of downtown Atlanta’s skyline. The outdoor lounge features a terrace and awning to make the space more comfortable for visitors all year. During the cooler months, panels are used to enclose the space without interrupting the view. There are also two semi-private areas that can accommodate up to 25 guests for private events.
The lounge's award-winning bartender mixes up handcrafted cocktails that are perfect for enjoying after dinner or before painting the town red. The signature drink, often ordered by locals who frequent the bar, is the "Glenntini," a vodka-infused concoction garnished with cucumber.
Legal Harborside, Boston
Positioned on Boston's waterfront is Legal Harborside, the 20,000-square-foot flagship property of Legal Sea Foods. Located in the Seaport District, the restaurant has three floors, each with its own unique concept. The first floor has a menu full of seafood with an outstanding oyster bar. The second floor is a dining room suited for celebratory eating, with a menu to match. And the third floor, where the rooftop lounge is found, offers diners a sushi menu complete with sushi party boats, as well as 27 wines by the glass and specialty cocktails.
What makes Legal Harborside really stand out, though, is the retractable glass roof and retractable glass walls on the third floor deck. In inclement weather, the walls are enclosed and a copper-clad fireplace provides warmth and a cozy ambiance. Overlooking the Boston Fish Pier on the West Deck and the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on the East Deck, this rooftop hotspot offers incomparable views of the Boston Harbor and city skyline.
Top of the Gate at The Watergate Hotel, Washington, DC
Atop The Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC is the rooftop bar and lounge, Top of the Gate. In addition to offering a variety of specialty post-dinner drinks, the bar features views of the city's skyline that can't be beat.
Boasting 360-degree vistas of natural beauty encompassing the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument and the Key and Arlington bridges, this spot is ideal for catching a romantic sunset while sipping on your favorite cocktails, from frozen negroni to a champagne julep. A carefully curated rooftop menu features fresh salads and artisan pizzas.
The 15th floor attraction has received mostly positive reviews from guests who rave about the views, though there are complaints that it's pricey. But really, aren't amazing views worth paying extra for?
Spyglass Bar at the Archer Hotel, New York City
Inspired by the 1954 film “Rear Window” starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelley, Spyglass Bar in New York City is modeled after the glamour and sophistication of the 1940s and 1950s. Combining contemporary luxury with timeless elegance, the bar sits 22 stories above the Archer Hotel. Panoramic views of the city offer the ultimate New York experience, with the Empire State Building standing at the forefront of the scenic landscape.
On the menu at Spyglass are small bites and fruity cocktails. Wine, beer and frozen rose (aka the wildly popular frose) are also available and pair well with the beef sliders and tuna tacos. The bar can additionally be reserved for special events that accommodate anywhere from 30 to 100 people.
El Techo de Lolinda, San Francisco
In the trendy Mission neighborhood of San Francisco is a set of two Latin American restaurants — Lolinda and, on its rooftop, El Techo. The latter boasts an Argentine-inspired menu that includes items like Chicharrones, shareable skewers (chuzos), quesadillas and empanadas. Rinse down your grub with a glass of sangria, a pina colada, a margarita or Mexican beer. Hit happy hour from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Monday-Friday for drink specials.
Since San Francisco does have chilly evenings, El Techo uses heated tents and wind screens to make the customer experience more enjoyable. Best of all, El Techo touts covetous views of the city, the ideal backdrop for your drinking and dining experience.
Departure Elevated at the Halcyon, Denver
Skylab Architecture is responsible for the cutting-edge design of Denver's ultimate rooftop lounge, Departure Elevated. The space includes a stone bar and a refreshing swimming pool surrounded by curtained cabanas. Plus, the views — of the downtown skyline and the Rocky Mountains — are unbeatable.
On the menu at Departure Elevated is a wide selection of modern Asian fare. Executive Chef Gregory Gourdet cooks up dumplings, kushiyaki grilled meat, miso deviled eggs and hamachi poke. Globally inspired cocktails and Japanese whiskeys and sakes, as well as sparkling wines and non-alcoholic offerings, can be found on the drinks menu. And of course, no Asian-inspired culinary experience is complete without a serving of coconut sticky rice.
Departure at the Nines Hotel, Portland
The historic Meier & Frank Building in Portland, Oregon, houses the hip Nines Hotel and, on its top floor, Departure, a rooftop restaurant and lounge. From the restaurant, patrons delight in views of downtown Portland, the Willamette River, Pioneer Square and St. Johns Bridge.
Modern Asian cuisine is what's on the menu, including sushi, dim sum and yakitori chicken. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available. A late-night menu features a small variety of foods that pair excellently with a glass of wine, draft beer or the Asian drink choices — there are more than 30 specialty sakes to choose from. If hard liquor is more your cup of tea (pun intended), try one of the whiskeys instead.
Whiskey Row, Nashville
Owned by country-music superstar Dierks Bentley, Whiskey Row bar and restaurant has four locations — three in Bentley's home state of Arizona, and one in Nashville, Tennessee. The latter is the newest spot to open and is situated downtown. There are three floors that feature live music, a dance floor and a full dining menu. But the rooftop patio takes the cake. From the top, guests are greeted with views of Lower Broadway and the iconic Ryman Auditorium.
The rooftop is also where weekend brunch is served. American gastropub cuisine fills a menu featuring dishes like country maple French toast and a cheddar bacon omelet. For lunch and dinner, burgers, chicken & waffles and sliders are among the standout favorites.
And course, no rooftop bar is complete without a drink menu. Whiskey Row's is stocked with a variety of whiskey, wine, craft beer and signature cocktails.