In case the sweat you broke walking to your car this morning didn’t tell you, we’re in the full swing of summer. And nothing says summer quite like hitting up a sun-drenched rooftop bar and beating the heat with an ice-cold cocktail. As rooftop drinking has been the warm-weather happy hour of choice in America for the past decade or so, literally every state has a bar or restaurant that’s made the most of its elevated outdoor space. Some are breweries with views of the mountains, others swanky rooftop joints in big cities that make you feel a part of the skyline. But wherever you live, you’re guaranteed to have at least one great option; here is the best rooftop bar in all 50 states.
Battle House Hotel
When the historic, iconic Battle House was constructed way back in 1852, the founders obviously had only one thing in mind: rooftop pool parties. That kinda went by the wayside when the place served as a Civil War hospital, which later burned down in 1905, but the reconstructed version now boasts a rooftop bar with views out over the bay and Mobile skyline, complete with a big swimming pool to cool off on those hot Alabama summer weekends.
49th State Brewing
Nothing lets you know you’re in Alaska like sitting under the sun at a rooftop bar, gazing out at Cook Inlet and the Alaska Range in the distance… and realizing it’s almost midnight. But that’s totally the thing to do during summer when the expansive rooftop patio of this local brewery has some of the best vistas of any place in the city, available at almost all hours. On particularly clear days, you can even snag a view of Denali, though those are few and far between.
About this time of year, getting even a few stories closer to the sun in Arizona sounds downright painful. So maybe wait until sunset and enjoy the changing colors against the red mountains at this rooftop bar at the Kimpton Palomar in Downtown Phoenix. As you look at said sunset, cool off with a Papa Piña with Hornitos tequila, caramelized pineapple, lime, and agave, then relax on a comfy couch under purple evening lights and enjoy the sun’s absence.
Brand new to the swanky rooftop bar scene, Little Rock welcomed its first full-scale rooftop bar on the roof of the Hilton Garden Inn last year. And in the months since it’s been a roaring success. The bar has unobstructed views of the city’s downtown and the River Market neighborhood, with industrial grey furnishings contrasting with the Arkansas blue sky in the summer. The best bet here is to order one of the smoking cocktails as the spirit offerings aren’t extensive. But for a real summertime scene in Little Rock, there’s nowhere better to drink.
The Rooftop at The Standard
Tempting as it may be to go with someplace newer, or chicer, or somewhere in Sacramento to just piss everyone off, sometimes you just need to play the hits. The Standard is, as the name implies, the benchmark by which all other rooftop bars are judged. Nowhere else can you feel completely surrounded by Los Angeles, not just because of the iconic skyscrapers but also because of the models, aspiring entertainers, and might-be celebrities lounging by the pool on curved white chairs that might be the most famous pool furniture in the world. Other places might be newer, or more innovative, or maybe boast better views — but nothing else is The Standard.
The New Sheridan
There may be no prettier main street in America than the one in Telluride where meticulously maintained mining-era buildings line a perfect path to the towering San Juan mountains. The best place to see it all is on the rooftop of the city’s most historic hotel, the perfect place to kick back after a hard day of hiking and still breathe in some of the Colorado mountain air. Sure, Denver’s got some pretty swanky rooftop spots too, but no rooftop is as quintessentially Coloradan as the one at the New Sheridan.
If Cliff Clavin were still spewing useless facts from his barstool at Cheers, he’d undoubtedly mention that the largest year-round rooftop bar in New England is in Glastonbury, Connecticut, at Rooftop 120. Here, fire pits and sliding doors allow drinkers and diners to take in the downtown scenery year round. So, if you’re in the mood for a Rooftop Hurricane with Cruzan 151, SoCo, pineapple, orange, and grenadine in the middle of February, mother nature can’t stop you.
Big Chill Beach Club
If there’s one thing we know about Delaware aside from its abundance of credit-card banks, it’s that it has some pretty spectacular beaches. So it makes sense the state’s best rooftop bar would be inside the Delaware Seashore State Park. At the Big Chill Beach Club, you can watch the sun set behind the Indian River Inlet Bridge with a 360-degree view of the ocean and bay at night. By day, you can sip beers while you get your beach tan, minus the sand. A towering rooftop it’s not (it’s only on the second story), but that just means you’ll be close to the waves.
Miami has grown a lot since the Golden Girls/Scarface era when it was one big retirement home with a coke problem. And the best way to discover all that Miami has become is with twilight drinks in this Asian garden atop the East Hotel. Sip on craft cocktails as you gaze south at the new Brickell skyline backed by Biscayne Bay, then look north to downtown and east to South Beach. Come here just before sunset to see the glorious teals and purples of Miami before sunset, then transition into its glittering lights come nighttime.
Few rooftop bars on the planet give you the chance to cheers a guy riding the top of a Ferris wheel. But this ATL rooftop at the Glenn Hotel doesn’t just have a massive view of the city skyline, it looks right out onto the iconic Centennial Park Ferris wheel. The menu here is also stacked with warm-weather cocktails; for a summer happy hour, go with the Glenntini — made with cucumber, mint, and green-tea vodka — or Stephanie’s Kiss, with jalapeno-infused vodka, ginger beer, pineapple, and raspberry liqueur.
While nobody was paying attention, tourist-heavy Honolulu developed a pretty solid bar scene for the people who live there. This is not part of that scene. This is a spectacular bar set atop the 19th floor of a Waikiki high-rise with views of Diamond Head and the ocean, everything any self-respecting tourist comes to Honolulu to see. The bar makes you feel like you’re sitting right on Waikiki beach but with cushy couches and fruity drinks in hand. A local hangout it may not be, but it’s one of the most epic-looking rooftop bars that rivals the best on the mainland.
Warfield Distillery and Brewery
Idaho is best known for three things: potatoes, mountains, and beer. The Warfield Distillery in Sawtooth National Forest is the best place to get your fill of all three. (The Idaho fries are on point.) Set in the center of downtown Ketchum, this building was the landmark Slavey’s bar for years until it fell into disrepair. Even before it housed one of the state’s best breweries and distilleries, it was known as a top-flight drinking deck. Now, you can enjoy craft beer made literally feet away as you relax in the sunshine after a hard day on the hills.
Unless you can make a year’s worth of rent in three months, rooftop bars in Chicago need to be able to operate indoors during the frigid, windy winter. At Cindy’s atop the Chicago Athletic Association, big rolling glass panels surround the brick-walled bar, making it feel a bit little like a 1930s indoor pool. From the deck, you’ll be able to look down into Millennium Park and see the famous bean. Nandini Khaund’s cocktail menu has a sort of apothecary theme with eclectic drinks like the Walk on Water, which is made with Letherbee gin, Cocchi Americano, tomato water, watermelon, and lime.
Sun King Spirits
Indianapolis is severely lacking in rooftop bars, so this new, hybrid bar/food hall concept from one of Indy’s most popular local breweries was extremely welcome when it opened this summer in the tiny suburb of Carmel. The brewery partnered with local distilleries to offer a unique collection of spirits, from bramble-berry-hibiscus-flavored vodka to Jamaican-style rum. It also features food from three of the city’s most popular restaurants: Mexican stalwart La Margarita, sausage purveyor Oca, and pizza-staple Pi. The space is open to all ages during the day, so it’s popular with families. It might not be as posh as rooftop bars in other cities, but on a sunny afternoon, it’s every bit as fun.
The nice thing about having a diminutive skyline is that a rooftop bar with a panoramic view doesn’t need to be much over two stories. That’s the case at Mullets — open exclusively during the summer — where you’ll spot downtown in one direction, the state capitol in another, and the convergence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers in another. It’s Iowa, so the crowd here is always casual, whether it’s grabbing drinks before a Cubs game at Principal Park or getting a cold beer after a long ride on the Great Western Bike Trail.
Industry Old Town
Kansas’s largest city is one of those places you find yourself having a great time and wonder why nobody’s in on how cool the city is. This is especially true at Wichita’s only rooftop bar, Industry Old Town, set among the stately brick structures of the namesake Old Town. The bar has a strong focus on local stuff with cocktails made from Kansas distilleries and loads of craft beer. It’s not at all trendy or pretentious, just friendly and fun like the city itself.
Belle’s Cocktail House
Louisville certainly has no shortage of fancy, big-city rooftop bars. But nothing is more Kentucky than a rooftop bourbon bar, and that’s why the Bluegrass State nod goes to Belle’s. Here, guests can enjoy bourbon-based cocktails and an extensive selection of whiskeys on an intimate rooftop over downtown Lexington. The bar is named after famous madam Belle Brezing, and though the building is not where her landmark brothel once stood, you can learn a lot of Lexington’s sordid history by having a drink at the tavern named in her honor.
Above the Grid
New Orleans is really more about balcony bars, but this bar atop the NOPSI hotel in the old Public Service building gives the Big Easy a first-class option. By day it’s the hotel’s rooftop pool, but at night that pool turns a glowing blue as the lights of New Orleans come on around it. Above the Grid serves craft cocktails that are a welcome departure from the glut of Hand Grenades and Hurricanes on the streets below. Drinks like the Packing Heat — Xicaru mezcal, green tea, mint, and jalapeño — are especially refreshing on a steamy New Orleans evening.
While the red couches you recline on at 16 Bay View Hotel won’t have you sitting next to Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, don’t be too disappointed. The bar isn’t named after your favorite daytime TV show but rather the spectacular panorama out over Camden Harbor, where sailboats lounge in the water and little islands dot Penobscot Bay. It’s the kind of place that just looks like Maine, and when the sun goes down and it starts feeling like Maine, don’t worry — the tables are equipped with fire pits to keep you nice and cozy.
Baltimore might not have the biggest skyline in America, but it certainly has one of the most recognizable. This bar on the 19th floor of the Lord Baltimore hotel is an especially pretty place to take it in. As you relax on the couches enjoying classic cocktails, you’ll look straight up at the green roof and brick façade of the Transamerica building and the skyscrapers that surround it. And while the cocktail menu here isn’t groundbreaking, no other bar in Maryland has a sense of place quite like Baltimore’s first rooftop.
Take all the fire pits and waterfront views of The View in Maine and supersize them for the big city, and you’ve got New England’s preeminent rooftop bar. Pictures from the Envoy Hotel’s rooftop are unmistakably Boston, with the skyline and harbor seemingly butting up against the glass partitions that surround Lookout. As is necessary for a big city, the cocktail menu has elevated itself to match the setting with stuff like the Southie Riviera — made with Crop Meyer lemon vodka, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit, and prosecco — leading a menu of drinks that pair perfectly with the sights.
Maligned as Detroit might be, when it comes to cocktails and nightlife anyone who’s been there will attest that they’re doing it as well as anyone. Case in point is this 10,000-square-foot rooftop nightclub that feels like a little slice of South Beach got dumped in the rust belt. The purple-lit dance floor and VIP booths sit against the classic brick wall of the building next door, with a neon Music Hall sign hanging over it all. It’s not quite the gritty vibe one expects in Motor City, but that’s exactly what makes this downtown rooftop such a unique spot in Michigan.
Rooftop lawn bowling — it’s a thing. Or at least it’s a thing in this British-themed, second-story rooftop pub in Minnesota. This bar essentially surrounds a lush green bowling lawn like standing-room-only stadium seating. But if you’re not keen on watching other people toss balls down the grass — or doing it yourself — you can sip on some English imports whilst strolling by red phone booths and watching EPL matches. We’d say it feels like London in the middle of Minneapolis, but Minnesota summers actually involve the sun.
The White House
Finding a beachfront rooftop bar in Mississippi is about as easy as finding someone who’ll admit the SEC ain’t really all that. But if you’re gonna find an outlier in this state, it’ll be along the Gulf Coast, hence the spectacular rooftop bar at the historic White House Hotel. This Roman-columned gem fell into disrepair and was shuttered for 30 years until it reopened in 2014. Now it boasts panoramic views of the beaches and the Gulf of Mexico, making this little corner of Mississippi feel like a cool Florida getaway.
Those mounds past the outfields at old-time ballparks used to be called “Cheapskate Hill” because you could watch the game for free from the top of the grass. While we’d hesitate to call anything at 360 “cheap,” the bar looks straight down into Busch Stadium, allowing you to watch the game without a ticket. Granted, the view’s not exactly front row, but it’s still a cool way to catch the Cards. If you’re not into baseball, this bar also has an excellent view of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River, plus a full menu that sadly lacks peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Casey’s Sky Bar
When you’re in a place called Big Sky Country, your rooftop bars must deliver. Nowhere in the state lets you drink under the big sky better than Casey’s. Though it’s not the rough, cowboy-country watering hole you might expect, this upscale spot overlooks the Whitefish main drag of Central Ave with big views of the Whitefish Mountain Resort and Glacier National Park in the distance. Plus fireplaces on the tables help fight against the crisp Montana air come nightfall.
Barry’s Bar and Grill
Nothing is more Nebraska than Cornhuskers football, so of course the best rooftop bar in the state is this spot overlooking Memorial Stadium. On game days, it’s a jam-packed sea of red and effectively ground zero for partying that’s not at a tailgate. The rest of the year, it’s still worth a visit as the Husker pride runs deep, earning this spot the nickname “The Nebraska Bar.” With a name like that, it would be hard to choose anywhere else.
Apex Social Club
Once upon a time, the swankiest rooftop venue in America, Ghostbar, stood in this very spot. But as The Palms faded, it did too. Until now. As part of the resort’s $620 million renovation, the rooftop club was completely redone and reopened as Apex Social Club. The one-time untz-untz discotheque is now a sculpture garden and lounge where four 3,000-pound “Psychogeographies” dot the deck, as well as other provocative artwork. You can interpret all of it or just look around the 360-degree view of the strip and the desert — easily the best rooftop vista in Vegas. If you’re not into the scene and more into the scenery, you might find this a marked improvement over the old version.
Bernie’s Beach Bar
When one thinks hot beach bars, there’s really no state that compares to New Hampshire. No? Well, if your only exposure to Granite State beach bars was Bernie’s — where the rooftop has live music all day, every day and front row seats to the boardwalk — you’d probably think so. It’s not cheesy background beach music either; Bernie’s is one of the best music venues in New Hampshire, so even on not-perfect weather days the rooftop is a worth a visit.
Rooftop at Exchange
Funny that the best view of New York City isn’t in New York at all but rather at this spot across from lower Manhattan in Jersey City. From the 10,000-square-foot rooftop, visitors get views usually reserved for ferry riders with the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and One World Trade all seemingly arms-length away. It’s a fairly new entrant to the Jersey City nightlife scene — which is a fairly new scene in and of itself — but it’s been a big hit with locals this summer. And with a retractable roof, it promises to offer those same fantastic views well into winter.
To enjoy sunsets against the mountains and views out over scenic Santa Fe, it’s hard to beat Bar Alto atop the iconic Drury Hotel. The bar is part of the hotel’s recent major overhaul and includes a swimming pool and craft cocktails like the Seaside Negroni, made with gin, cappelletti, Cardamaro, and seawater. It also serves food from the hotel’s hit restaurant Eloisa, so you’ll get some of Santa Fe’s famous cuisine with your sunset beverage.
New York City
Manhattan might have more rooftop bars than it does pizza shops at this point, so picking one is kinda like picking the best flavor or Skittles. But what sets Gallow Green apart is neither the lush plants filling the space — making it feel like a romantic little forest in the middle of the West Side — nor the gravel paths that run through the tables like a rooftop hiking trail. It’s that his bar atop the McKittrick hotel features live interactive theatrical shows like the mind-bending Sleep No More, a very creepy, very loose interpretation of Macbeth. It’s both bizarre and charming, and it’s one of the most unique experiences you can have in the city.
Though some might knock Charlotte for having about as much character as an airport terminal, it’s hard to deny it has one of the prettiest skylines in America. Don’t believe us? Check it out for yourself at this bar atop the Skye Condominium tower in Uptown, which doubles as a pan-Asian restaurant for renowned chef Rocco Whales. It’s best visited for after-dinner drinks as the long patio invites endless pictures of the surrounding buildings and fire pits keep you warm when the Carolina weather starts to dip. The drinks here tend toward colorful and fruity; try the Spicy Charlotte with Stoli Vanil, vanilla syrup, jalapeños, lime juice, and honey.
Let’s just stop for a second and marvel at the feats of engineering that allow a year-round rooftop patio… IN NORTH DAKOTA. The people who also run Humpback Sally’s downstairs designed this wood-and-wilderness space with four-season business in mind; strong sliding doors allow guests to get out on the patio in the summer while staying warm in an indoor beer garden in the winter. The cocktails are inventive with names like Swipe Right and Mexicali Blue. But when there’s homemade Zima on the menu, is there really anything else to order?
The Met at the 9 Hotel in downtown Cleveland feels a little more like Vegas than it does the Great Lakes with trippy, colorful hallways and showers in the middle of the rooms. It feels like a little slice of Sin City at this rooftop bar, which is not technically on the roof of the iconic 9 Hotel building but rather sits on the top floor of the hotel. Here, you can see both the city and Lake Erie while sitting on sleek couches amongst an attractive crowd. Just make sure you go in summer, or the first gust of wind will have you remembering you’re not in Vegas REAL quick.
Oklahoma is the kind of place that embraces simplicity, which is why the best rooftop bar in the state isn’t a bunch of plush couches, firepits, and craft cocktails; it’s beer on wood benches surrounded by red brick. The beers at Welltown taste refreshingly cold on a hot Oklahoma evening, and sipping one as the sun goes down over Tulsa might be the best way to end a workday in Oklahoma’s hippest city.
The thing about humanely raised, non-GMO, vegan, organic, fair-trade, no-juniper-berries-were-harmed-in-the-production-of-this-cocktail bars is that they don’t show up on rooftops, so Oregon’s best entrant is more of a classic lush rooftop bar. Departure is a pan-Asian restaurant with white couches, bright orange umbrellas, and views of the Portland skyline and Willamette River. In addition to bao buns and Asian tapas, it also serves homemade ice cream during the warmer months, allowing you to double up on summer refreshment with a scoop and a cold Oregon beer.
The kids who went to Edward W. Bok Technical High School probably never expected the roof of to someday become the coolest rooftop bar in the state. But such is how South Philly reinvented this old high school into a multi-use space that’s anchoring the neighborhood. The rooftop Bok Bar has the best city views of any Philly bar, and it doesn’t just sling delicious drinks. It also offers rooftop yoga classes, Cambodian dance lessons, Middle Eastern street food, and family Sundays when you’re welcome to bring your dog.
Rooftop at the Providence G
Providence might be the most underrated party town in America with five universities in the city and a bar density on par with nearby Boston. Its swanky rooftop offering is this lounge with a retractable glass roof and fire pits for cool fall nights. During the summer it can almost feel like the islands with fruity drinks and live reggae and Caribbean music — though the entire Providence skyline surrounding you might snap you out of that illusion faster than you’d like.
Up on the Roof
Much like it boasts more great restaurants per capita than any city in America, Greenville also offers the best selection of rooftop bars of any small US metro. The pick of the litter is this new-ish spot right on the south side of the Reedy River with its spectacular views of downtown Greenville, the river, and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. The whole space is covered in comfy chairs and big TVs, and it’s just as perfect for an afternoon of watching college football as it is for sunset drinks. It’s also one of the city’s best brunch spots, where Sundays filled with $25 bottomless mimosas often blend into Sunday nights — since skipping the sunset up here would be almost criminal.
Vertex Sky Bar
You need to visit South Dakota once to appreciate the understated beauty of the Black Hills. And no rooftop bar in the state shows them off better than this one atop the iconic Hotel Alex Johnson. The two-story venue has indoor seating for the brutal mountain winter and seating for 150 people on this rooftop deck. If you find yourself making a pilgrimage to Mount Rushmore, do yourself a favor and stop here for a drink on the way back. It’s far less crowded and not nearly as disappointing.
With the 2017 eclipse’s line of totality passing right over Music City, rooftop bars became the hot new thing to open. But despite the slew of new entrants last year and plenty of rooftop music venues, this classic still takes the title. Why? Because it’s got a bar in a bus. Taking a cue from the St. Louis City Museum, the Bobby Hotel hoisted a 1956 Greyhound bus onto the roof and made it the centerpiece of its rooftop bar, which also includes a swimming pool, a checkered-floor cocktail bar, and views over the Nashville skyline and 4th Ave below.
If any state can pull off an infinity pool looking out over sprawl and an interstate, it’s Texas. The NYLO Hotel on Dallas’ southside has done this masterfully, mostly because the view in the other direction is of the Dallas skyline, and at night it’s an almost-peaceful escape from what can sometimes be hectic nightlife in the Big D. The grey wood deck is open to people of all ages before 9:00 PM, too, so if you want to take your kids up there for some fried pickles, a fried chicken sandwich, or a kale and Asian pear salad if they’re doing the Whole30 thing, they can enjoy the view right along with you.
Back in the day, Ogden was the most dangerous city in America — a cross-country railway stop full of outlaws, drifters, and mobsters. Most of that old-west insanity happened on 25th Street, which now serves as Ogden’s main drag, full of historic buildings and Wasatch Mountain views. High atop the 25th Street edifice that was once the town’s biggest brothel, this rooftop bar has spectacular views of both the street and the mountains, with a cocktail menu of drinks named after old Ogden legends.
This bar set right on the Connecticut River offers an outdoor second floor with firepits and stunning views that might not look like a rooftop but is still better than most alleged “rooftops” elsewhere. While the local beer and spectacular scenery are great, the most unique thing about Whetstone is that it juts out onto the river and into New Hampshire, giving you the Instagrammable novelty of having a drink in two states at once.
Rooftop pool parties are the kind of thing you expect to end up at if you go to a fine academic institution like the University of Miami. But Virginia Commonwealth? Yes, as of this year when this rooftop drinkery opened up on the roof of the Graduate Hotel. The Graduate is, expectedly, just a few minutes from VCU and boasts a big sexy rooftop pool looking out over colonial Richmond. Though it hasn’t drawn girls in bikinis and high heels quite yet, give it time. Richmond parties harder than you’d think.
If you weren’t somehow aware that Seattle had gone from blue-collar Jet City to a tech hub full of rich people, one trip to the Nest will teach you real fast. The bar on the roof of Seattle’s Thompson Hotel sits right above Pike Place Market with Elliot Bay and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance. No rooftop in the state captures the summertime majesty of the Pacific Northwest quite like the Nest.
Though a beautiful place full of world-class nature and vacation-worthy recreation, nobody ever accused West Virginia of being on the cutting edge of trends. That’s why the best rooftop bar in the state isn’t so much a bar as a fine-dining restaurant that probably won’t kick you out if you want to sit there and just order drinks. This spot on top of the Clarion Hotel Morgan serves up steak, seafood, and other fancy restaurant staples alongside an extensive wine list. It’s still a beautiful setting to take in the place they call Almost Heaven, and what the state lacks in rooftop bars, it makes up for in rooftop scenery.
Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling when you see the cocktail menu here doesn’t include anything called Two-Bit, Sodapop, or Ponyboy. But you’ll stay golden when you order something else and relax on one of the cushy beach-house chairs on the top floor of the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. The views stretch out over the classic Milwaukee skyline and out to Lake Michigan. While drinking in Milwaukee is always a good time, it’s particularly pretty when you do it here.
Jackson Hole might not be the wild-west outpost it once was. Then again, rooftop bars were never really a thing in the wild west, so it makes sense that Wyoming’s boujee-est city would also be home to its best rooftop bar. With an emphasis on local craft beer and simple public-house cuisine, it feels far less pretentious than most Jackson Hole nightlife spots. There’s also views of Snow King Mountain to look at while you drink, which reminds you that despite the money, you are still very much in Wyoming.
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