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Photograph: Courtesy Rules & Regs

The best rooftop bars in Austin right now

The live music capital of the world has vistas for days. These are the best rooftop bars in Austin for drinks with a view.

Written by
James Wong
Contributors
Kelly Stocker
&
Lori A May
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Austin is not short of options when it comes to rooftop bars. The city is blessed with year-round sunshine, meaning there’s seldom a time when a rooftop is out of bounds. Fine, a couple of weeks in the winter can get a bit chilly, but that’s what fireplaces and blankets are for. And double fine, for a couple of months in the summer, the temperatures may peak on three digits, but that’s what umbrellas and pools are for. You see, Austinites will always make an excuse to enjoy the great outdoors, especially where good liquor and sexy views are concerned. You may as well join ‘em.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, be it a rave, a date, a photoshoot, or a happy hour with pals, do it up on the roof. The best rooftop bars in Austin are guaranteed to quench your thirst for fun close to the sun.

RECOMMENDED: The best bars in Austin

Best rooftop bars in Austin

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Congress Ave District

The vibrant décor at Caroline’s outdoor deck is perfect for sunny days lounging with friends, especially when making the most of a stellar happy hour menu with cheap tacos on Tuesdays and budget beverages all week. Try a Blood Orange Margarita or bourbon-based Maple Me Crazy, a perfect accompaniment to fun games like giant Jenga, Uno, Connect 4, cornhole, and foosball. Don't forget to check out Caroline downstairs (you are allowed to take your glasses and plates with you) for an awesome coffee counter, bar, and restaurant.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Convention Center District
  • price 2 of 4

Take an elevator ride up to the seventh floor of the Fairmont Austin, and you’ll find yourself at Rules and Regs, a sleek cocktail bar that spills out onto a patio offering stunning views of the Austin skyline. Well-balanced cocktails populate the menu, which you can sip on while lounging on the deck or at the happening indoor bar. The adjacent pool will have you longing for a dip, and the tropical vibe palms make you feel like you’re doing so off a Caribbean resort rather than a downtown hotel.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Bouldin
  • price 3 of 4

Head to El Alma’s rooftop, and you’ll feel isolated from the rest of the town in the best way possible. White stucco and giant umbrellas adorn the space, a popular happy hour destination every day of the week. Just order one of the very creative margaritas—like the Flaquita, made with watermelon purée—to understand why. Or kick back on the weekend by combining a brunch drink special with avocado and fried egg torta.

Perched upon the fifth floor of the Austin Proper, La Piscina is where to see and be seen when downtown. The fashionable crowd congregates here to feast over Texas-inspired Mexican goodies from platters to ceviches, alongside frozen margs, native Mexican spirits, and small-batch tequila & mezcal. As for the views: it’s Seaholm and Second Street District sophistication at its best.

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  • Restaurants
  • Tapas
  • North Burnet

Catch a breeze in swing seats or settle into modern lounge chairs at this relaxed triple-decker rooftop bar. Nibble on tacos or pineapple poppers while sampling signature cocktails like the Ruby Slipper—a satisfying mix of Bombay Gin, Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka, blood orange, lime, and agave. This hookah-friendly lounge occasionally features fire dancers during hot summer nights.

  • Nightlife
  • Downtown

This rooftop nightclub focuses on the late-night dance crowd Fridays and Saturdays. Doors open around 10pm, and there may be a line, but the party atmosphere and guest DJs make it worth your patience. The drink menu is standard and somewhat overpriced, but the draw at Summit is the energetic vibe as a place to see and be seen.

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  • Restaurants
  • Town Lake
  • price 3 of 4

Geraldine’s is located midway up the Van Zandt hotel. Named after a late, great guinea fowl that used to roam Rainey Street, this upscale bar and restaurant is anything but provincial. The rooftop bar serves the same crafted cocktails as the inside bar but alongside a beautiful pool. Grab a cocktail, take a sip and go for a dip—do not miss their classic G&T made with Hendrick's gin, cranberry, pink peppercorn, rosemary, and fever tree Mediterranean tonic.

Zaza’s Group Therapy by Republic Square is where to get yourself a nice big Texas-sized pour of wine, bubbles, and more. The restaurant and rooftop pool bar hosts live music many nights of the week, and on Wednesdays, they have big discounts on bottles. This is a classy spot with a somewhat low-key vibe and soft beats, making it a great place to chat with friends old and new.

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  • Bars
  • Market District
  • price 2 of 4

Located in the West Sixth street district, Green Light Social boasts a large interior and an adjoining rooftop deck overlooking the street. The bar carries local craft beers and liquors, in addition to offering a creative cocktail menu that includes a curious twist on a childhood lunchbox favorite. A cozy but modern vibe and a regular DJ make this a must-visit spot on weekend nights.

  • Bars
  • Blackland
  • price 2 of 4

Located above the iconic Mi Madre’s, this intimate bar focuses on mezcal while also serving agave and beer-based cocktails. Slide up to the bar for a guided mezcal tasting; After, be sure to order their frozen margarita with a homemade chili salted rim for the ultimate flavor combo. The casual space is sprinkled with specially commissioned art from Mexico and touches like scalloped metal chairs and succulents. If you find yourself waiting for a table, grab a taco downstairs.

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If you’re hanging around the Campus District, then make a beeline for Otopia on the rooftop of the Otis. This rooftop lounge is young glam, with sultry poolside cabanas, lots of special events, and of course, stunning sunset views. So much so that a Golden Hour accompanies it, one hour before sunset every Monday through Thursday, with deals on appetizers, cocktails, and wine.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Warehouse District
  • price 2 of 4

This bar, smack in the middle of downtown, is comprised of four distinct sections: the live music stage area that hosts a variety of bands, the swanky lounge area, the mezzanine (with a bowling alley), and the upstairs bar Terrace59. The rooftop is a lovely place to get a drink on a cool night. The cushioned patio furniture, bottle service, and DJ nights are eerily reminiscent of Miami—which we certainly don’t mind.

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