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The best rooftop bars in Chicago

Summer demands time spent on rooftop bars. Chicago offers many hotel bars and sky-high lounges, and these are the best.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
Diamond Jim

Chicago has no shortage of awesome things to do in the summer—by which we mean drinking on rooftops with a great view of the city. But even if all you can see is surrounding buildings, these spots are worth a visit. From a cocktail bar to beer bars, here are our picks for the best rooftop bars in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Beer gardens, rooftop bars and outdoor dining spots in Chicago

Best rooftop bars in Chicago

GreenRiver

This restaurant and bar from the group that brought Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog to New York has a terrace that seats 90, situated on the 18th floor of a Northwestern Medical Center building. With lunch service in addition to dinner service, you can while away the afternoon with Julia Momose's delicious cocktails.

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Streeterville

Fountainhead

The beer and whiskey-focused North Center bar has a rooftop bar that opens in the summer with tables and bar seating. There's a more streamlined food list, along with lots of beers on draft and in cans.

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Lincoln Square

Cindy's

The rooftop restaurant and bar at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel offers some of the best views of the city, with an expansive look at Millennium Park and the Lake. The drinks, from Nandini Khaund, are mostly balanced, and very pretty, while the American food is also mostly well-executed and comes in massive portions designed for sharing.

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Loop

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

In the summer, Gene's opens its glorious rooftop and serves canned beer, grilled sausages, potato pancakes and pretzels. The beer is icy cold, the sausages are showstoppers, and the only concern is managing to finagle a table big enough for all your friends.

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Lincoln Square

Drumbar

The gorgeous 18th-floor bar of the Raffaello Hotel boasts three prime sections: a handsome, dim interior full of tufted leather banquettes; a chic exterior deck lounge with open fire pits; and a narrow indoor-outdoor corridor where the marble floor and arched windows play against contemporary green stools. You'll be happy drinking the expertly made cocktails in any space, but in summer, the outdoor lounge is the place to be.

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Streeterville

Tanta

Recommended

The vibrant Peruvian restaurant has a rooftop space, where you can grab a bar seat and sip pisco sours or gather at four-tops with your group of friends.

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River North

Streeterville Social

The rooftop of Streeterville's Loews Hotel is a fun summer spot to sip cocktails and play games like pétanque and oversized jenga while taking in city views. The roof has two bars and two lounge areas, so there's plenty of space to spread out and relax over cocktails. The catch? The rooftop is only open in the summer.

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Streeterville

The J. Parker

On the one hand, the BOKA Restaurant Group’s year-round rooftop bar is unlike any other in the city: It boasts destination-themed cocktails, seasonal small plates from chef Paul Virant and sweeping, mesmerizing, breathtaking views of Lincoln Park from the 13th-floor roof of the Hotel Lincoln. On the other hand, it’s still a rooftop bar, which means on a gorgeous day, you might need to sacrifice your first-born just to get a seat.

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Lincoln Park

The Garage Bar & Sandwiches

When a bar boasts a rooftop deck, over 90 beers and a menu of 20-plus sandwiches, it’s safe to assume it’ll also boast an obnoxious River North crowd. There’s nothing of the sort at the Garage, a pretense-free neighborhood hangout on the Northwest Side. Darts and shuffleboard provide entertainment on the industrial-ish first floor, while the mellow second-floor roof deck has plenty of tables and (so far) no need to fight for one.

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Norwood Park

Joe's Bar

The 3,500-square-foot roof of this hard-partying, country music-playing sports bar is now outfitted with cedar booths and tables, for all-day dining and drinking.

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River North

NoMI Lounge

At seven stories, the garden at NoMI isn’t as high as some of the newer hotel bars in town. And yet this is still the premier place to get a drink above ground. Chalk it up to the Park Hyatt’s unparalleled service, or the snacks (if you can call pristine dishes like caviar and scallops “snacks”). The fact that the view isn’t all that exciting just speaks to the garden’s appeal—even on ground level, this place would shine.

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Streeterville

Vertigo Sky Lounge

You’d think the focus of this bar, which sits on the roof of the Dana Hotel, would be the view. But there’s a lot more to distract you—the roaring fire pit in winter and the classic cocktails—so the view pretty much takes a back seat.

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River North

Rock Bottom Brewery

This sporty brewpub offers a dozen house-brewed beers to sip while watching your team on more than two-dozen TVs while snacking on signatures like ale-brushed ballpark-style pretzels and jambalaya in a Creole tomato sauce. If it's nice out, head to the rooftop beer garden and sample through the taps.

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River North

The Terrace at Trump

What could make throwing down a hundred bones for two cocktails and two snacks worth it? At the 16th-floor terrace of Trump Tower, the answer is comfortable lounge seats and an close-up view of the Wrigley Building.

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River North

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