About the only thing better than drinking outside in the summer is doing so from a perfectly perched rooftop bar. Here, you sip like a king as you take in a sprawling skyline, people watching high in the sky like a vulture. And you do so as a cool breeze wafts through the open-air establishment. It is a thing of beauty.
Sure, every city has one. Most cities have many. Even small towns boast rooftop bars (a one-story roof is still technically a roof). But the best of them all offer some combination of incredible vantage point, airy atmosphere, and some tasty beverages. Here are the eleven best rooftop bars in America. If you need more options, feel free to browse our list of the best bars in America.
While we love downtown Portland rooftop bar Departure at The Nines Hotel, Rev Hall boasts an extra-special view. Set atop a former school on the east side of the Willamette River, the bar possesses arguably the best panorama in the entire city. It’s set up like a deck, often features live music acts, and is absolutely ideal for catching the sun dip below the scenic west hills. The bites are solid and the bar menu touts some fine house cocktails, wines by the glass, and plenty of local craft brews on draft. If you need to see to believe, check out the live cam on its official website.
Chic as can be and set seven floors up in downtown Austin, Group Therapy is an incredible amenity of the Hotel Zaza. There’s a pool, a rather glamorous indoor bar, and a cabana bar for those out in the open. Enjoy refreshing drinks like a guava Paloma, coconut mule, or spicy Bloody Mary made with Elote. Visitors get skyline views and the kind of attentive service and pampering one expects from a high-end country club.
Brooklyn, New York
A Mexican eatery nearly two decades old, Brooklyn joint Alma touts views that simply never get old. Better, they come with rooftop cocktails like an excellent house Margarita (the frozen one is equally good), Mezcal Negroni, or a Picante Azul, a mix of jalapeno-infused tequila, blueberries, lime, spicy sugar, and salt. Dig into some short rib tostadas as you stare awestruck at the most dramatic skyline in America.
Read more: New York City Travel Guide
Watr at the Rooftop
This Miami bar, part of the 1 Hotel in South Beach, is so unbelievably cozy that you’ll want to stay the night there. It’s a bit like being in a well-appointed yacht, with palm trees swaying, ocean views, and a cool and breezy atmosphere that comes off as effortless. Here, you’re treated to the unique one-two punch of coast views in one direction and Miami city views in the other. Chef Fernando Cruz cooks up some excellent nibbles as well, like short rib nachos, charred octopus, and truffle scallop rolls.
Described as the jewel of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy’s Rooftop is the Windy City’s finest. The views are endless, capturing the many structures of the city but also Lake Michigan and colossal Millennium Park. And given the inclement weather Chicago is prone to outside of summer, there’s an incredible terrace that provides shelter without sacrificing any natural light or viewing opportunities. It’s a breathtaking establishment with an equally noteworthy cocktail program, mocktail program, and beers from esteemed midwestern breweries, not to mention a sprawling wine list.
San Francisco, California
You may have to wait in line for a seat at this popular Bay Area bar but it’s always worth it. El Techo throws a mean brunch party and cooks up tantalizing Latin American-inspired street fare all other hours. We suggest a Oaxacan Old Fashioned or house sangria as you munch on fish tacos and pick out the many iconic buildings that dot the San Francisco skyline. You’ll feel a little like Charlie at the end of Willy Wonka as they sail through the sky in that magical glassy contraption.
It’s easy to forget that Hawaii is home to some serious cityscapes, at least in Honolulu. Set in the thriving Chinatown district, Tchin Tchin offers a cool brick backdrop and a rooftop courtyard draped in warm bulbs and surrounded by tropical plants. It’s not the most towering bar in the city but it’s located in its core and you can feel and see the surrounding municipal energy. You’re probably on vacation if you’re here, so treat yourself to some Champagne-battered lobster and an artisanal cocktail or short pour from a fetching spirits list.
E.P. & L.P.
Los Angeles, California
Aside from having one of the better names in the entire bar galaxy, E.P. & L.P. also flexes one of the most memorable views of Los Angeles. For the record, E.P. is the restaurant while L.P. is the rooftop bar. The West Hollywood spot overlooks the Sunset Strip and puts on a happy hour for the ages. Other pros, and there are many, include tasty tacos, refreshing frozen cocktails, and drinks by the pitcher, like Bad Medicine, a mix of whiskey, orgeat, lemon, and raspberries.
Oak & Ivy
Las Vegas, Nevada
One of the best perches in all of Las Vegas, AKA Sin City, also has one of the best drinks menus. Oak & Ivy specializes in whisky-centric classic mixology, so look out for seasonal creations like My Bitter Solution, a more intricate take on the Boulevardier. And if you can’t decide, just buckle up and let the extremely capable bar staff do their thing. You may be too distracted by the downtown views in the fore and The Strip beyond to make any educated decisions anyway.
It’s not open year-round but when the season does provide, South Philadelphia’s Bok Bar welcomes patrons to some spectacular scenery and sips. The setting is so picture-perfect you feel as though you can see all of Pennsylvania. Toast the view with a Victory Summer Love Ale, glass of Vinho Verde, or a Mifflin Punch, made of local vodka, passionfruit puree, lime, and club soda. The bar works with a revolving door of local food purveyors, too, so look out for eclectic bites to go with your drink of choice.
Linger is exactly what you’ll want to do at this popular Denver watering hole. The joint offers self-described “edible beats,” so expect a part-like atmosphere and plenty of quality food and drink to power you through. Easily one of the coolest features is the motorhome bar on the rooftop, set beneath a giant neon sign from yesteryear. The food menu is bold and flavorful and the bevies include a few wines and beers on top of a refreshing rooftop cocktail list, including things like a frozen Painkiller — a summer citrus cocktail — and a tumeric mule.
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