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Utopian Tailgate
Photograph: Sarah Zelman/Utopian Tailgate

The 25 best rooftop bars in Chicago

Lounge around in the sun with a drink in your hand at one of the best rooftop bars in Chicago

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Written by
Zach Long
&
Morgan Olsen
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When the sun is out and the temperatures are relatively warm, you'll find Chicagoans outside with a drink in their hand. And the only thing better than sipping a beverage on a patio is ordering a round at a rooftop bar. Chicago bars and restaurants with terraces and patios high above the streets have started welcoming back guests, including the brand new Chateau Carbide atop the Carbide & Carbon Building along Michigan Avenue.

Not all of our favorite rooftop bars in Chicago have reopened, but we've rounded up some of the best spots to sip rosé, frozen cocktails and craft beer while admiring the sky-high sights. Whether you prefer a small patio atop a great Chicago restaurant or an expansive rooftop that shares real estate with a Chicago hotel, the city's best rooftops come in all shapes and sizes. Scope out the best rooftop bars in Chicago and plan your summer imbibing accordingly.

The best of the city under one roof

  • Bars
  • West Loop

Named for Time Out's late founder Tony Elliott, Tony’s is the crown jewel of Time Out Market Chicago. The cozy all-season rooftop bar is decorated in vintage Time Out London covers, twinkling lights and handsome wood beams that stretch the length of the room. The space is anchored by a sprawling bar that serves a curated selection of wines, beers and signature cocktails. If the sun is shining, wander outside to take in skyline views and enjoy a meal on the breathtaking terrace.

Best rooftop bars in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Loop

The crown jewel of this luxury hotel in the West Loop is the Rooftop at Nobu, a sprawling outdoor terrace located 11 stories above the street. Complemented by east-facing skyline views, the rooftop's design is streamlined and minimalistic, with modern Japanese touches that are equally stylish and intimate. The menu includes a selection of shuko, or small snacks, like nori tacos, black cod lettuce wraps and lamb and chicken kushiyaki. Guests will also be able to order the hotel's signature hotel's signature yellowtail and black cod. On the booze front, expect a menu of wines by the glass and bottle, specialty cocktails and a wide range of sake.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

A rooftop bar on the third floor of a Renaissance hotel? It doesn't sound very exciting, but you shouldn't underestimate Raised, a stunning oasis perched above Wacker Drive in the Loop—an area that has been torn up by giant robots and monsters in various blockbusters. The garden-themed bar offers unique views of the Chicago River and the surrounding skyline, with clear shots of the Wrigley Building, Marina City and the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

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  • Restaurants
  • Argentinian
  • Loop

Even when it's a little chilly outside, this beautiful rooftop bar at the Kimpton Gray Hotel feels like a tropical paradise. You'll find comfortable couches and small tables set under a gigantic retractable glass roof that lets in some fresh air when the weather is nice. The menu here highlights South American flavors in drinks like the In the Morning, I'll Be Better, an addictive blend of plantain-infused Scotch, black walnut bitters, tiki bitters and smoke. Pair it with an order of the fan-favorite empanadas, which are stuffed with chicken, aji panca and aji amarillo salsa.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Loop

When friends ask us where to take cocktail-loving out-of-towners, one spot always leads the pack: Cindy's. The rooftop restaurant and bar at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel offers unparalleled views of the city, with an expansive look at Millennium Park and the Lake. But the real draw is a roster of excellent cocktails and clever spirit-free elixirs.

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  • Music
  • Rock and indie
  • Near South Side
  • price 1 of 4

You've probably gone to Reggies to see a rock concert or catch a shuttle to a White Sox game, but this South Loop club also boasts a rooftop bar lined with tables and umbrellas. Take a seat, enjoy the views across State Street and dig into the usual menu of wings, burgers, quesadillas and other pub grub while you sip a cold beverage under the sun.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Streeterville

With 36,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to roam with a cocktail in your hand, Navy Pier's Offshore is the largest rooftop bar in the world. (Really.) The all-seasons venue includes a glass-enclosed bar where you can order a cocktail and some oysters, as well as an expansive outdoor terrace outfitted with fire pits and a stage for live performances.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Set atop the Carbide & Carbon Building, this formerly private 24th-floor space is finally open to the public as part of the Pendry Chicago hotel. Chateau Carbide is a combination indoor and outdoor space that draw inspiration from the French Riviera, serving rosé, cocktails and a menu of sushi high above the streets of the city. In the evening, DJs spinning French house music get behind the decks, providing a soundtrack fit for the stunning architectural views of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River.

  • Bars
  • River West/West Town

Unlike the expressway of the same name, Chicagoans will actually want to hang out at the Kennedy Rooftop, located on top of the Hyatt Place Chicago in Wicker Park. Here, guests are afforded unobstructed skyline views that stretch from the John Hancock to the Willis Tower in addition to 7,500 square feet to roam. A lineup of craft cocktails pays homage to past presidents, like Reagan’s Orange Blossom with botanical vodka, orange juice, lemon, orange bitters and club soda. Access to the rooftop is first come, first served, so you'll need to show up early if it's an extra-beautiful day.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Lincoln Park

If you haven't crossed the J. Parker off your Chicago bucket list, grab a glass of sparkling rosé and get to work. With its mesmerizing views of the city and Lincoln Park, this year-round rooftop bar with a retractable glass roof is a must for entertaining out-of-towners. On particularly beautiful summer days, arrive early and be prepared to wait for a seat to open—reservations aren't accepted here. It's worth it, promise!

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Head to the 26th floor of the Virgin Hotel and you'll find Cerise, an indoor-outdoor rooftop where you can get lunch, dinner or a late-night drink. You can grab a burger or eat a salad before ordering a mezcal Old Fashioned or some sparkling wine to enjoy while gazing out at the city. On Fridays and Saturdays, you'll typically find a DJ spinning records in the evening—you'll probably want to make a reservation to ensure you get a table.

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Lincoln Park

Utopian Tailgate, a rooftop deck perched atop the Second City in Old Town, spotlights the many joys of tailgating—complete with tableside coolers of beer, stadium seating and cornhole. The 10,000-square-foot space comes from the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (the folks behind the Sixth, Homestead on the Roof and Apogee) in partnership with the famed Chicago comedy institution. The sprawling all-year space is decked out in greenery, bright colors and plenty of flatscreen TVs.

  • Restaurants
  • Loop

In a city full of sweeping views, everyone wants to be on top. But this tri-level venue is the tippy top of all rooftop bars. Located on the 22nd floor of LondonHouse Chicago, LH Rooftop affords guests stunning vistas of the architecture along the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue. Currently, the only way to secure a spot on the roof is by making a reservation. Once you're there, you can order a glass of bubbly and soak in the views.

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  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

It's hard to find towering rooftop bars on the city's North Side, but the Up Room (set atop Wicker Park's Robey hotel) is one of the few spots where you can sip a drink and look out over the city. Settle in 13 floors above the busy intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues and order a tropical cocktial, a flight of whiskey or a local craft beer. Tables are first come, first served—if you're lucky, you might be seated inside the building's prominent spire.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • River North

From the fifth floor of the Gwen Hotel in River North, you can enjoy some unique views of the city, including plenty of the skyline's architectural highlights. Hotel guests and visitors fill the terrace patio for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ordering everything from Belgian waffles to lobster fettuccine. The bar is the highlight of the space on the weekends, serving creative cocktails, local beer and a variety of wine.

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  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Loop

Not to be confused with the bath house River West, Aire is perched atop the 24th story of the Hyatt Centric hotel in the Loop, offering a spot where you can sip a cocktail while enjoying a 360-degree view of the surrounding architecture. Small groups can take a seat on couches or chairs beneath an umbrella and order shared small plates alongside cocktails, wine and beer. It's not a cheap spot for a drink, but you're paying for the high-above-the-streets sights.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

You won't find many sky-high rooftop lounges in Wicker Park, which makes the Up Room a special neighborhood destination. The dim, narrow bar offers small clusters of chairs and couches for groups, but you'll want to head outside to take in the sweeping views and the building's massive spire.

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  • Restaurants
  • Logan Square

The rooftop at Lonesome Rose isn't very large, but there's enough room to share some drinks, tacos and truck stop nachos with a few friends. Owned and operated by Land and Sea Dept. (the folks behind Parson's), this Logan Square spot specializes in Tex-Mex fare, margaritas and some affordable brews. Just make sure you snag a reservation if you're hoping to sit on the rooftop, otherwise you may shed a few tears in your beer.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Streeterville
  • price 3 of 4

The Peninsula's stunning rooftop lounge has it all: sweeping city views, globally inspired cocktails and a roster of delicious, shareable snacks. Pair the super refreshing Elderflower Collins with an order of tuna tartare with mango, avocado, cilantro, yuzu and a soy-ginger marinade. Plus, Z Bar now offers several spirit-free options, including mocktails, craft sodas and teas.

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  • Bars
  • Near South Side

True to its name, the views at VU are epic from 22 stories above street level. Once you've secured a seat, order from a selection of classic cocktails (including large format options such as Adult Lemonade) before ordering a few bites for the table. With three bars and two patios spread across 13,000 square feet, there's plenty of room to spread out and relax in the sun.

  • Restaurants
  • Wicker Park

Etta's Bucktown location is know for its weekend brunch service and tasty wood-fired pizzas, but it's not a bad place to sit down for a drink if you're able to snag a seat on the roof. You can get solid takes on classic cocktails, peruse an expansive wine list or simply have a beer. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • River North

There's not a bad seat in the house at this sprawling year-round rooftop bar (complete with a retractable roof), which affords everyone a front-row seat to a postcard-worthy skyline view. Take in the vistas while sipping a cocktail, a glass of wine or a selection from the impressive mocktail menu. As the sun sets, refuel with wagyu beef sliders, spicy tuna rolls and chocolate lava cake.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop

The loungey, greenery-lined setup at this West Loop restaurant makes it easy to relax—and the sights of the surrounding neighborhood don't hurt either. Order a few Medditeranian dishes from the menu (the spicy hummus, whipped feta dip or the big eye tuna carpaccio are all surefire hits) and then explore the cocktail menu. Even the drinks with the cheekiest names are worth a try—our favorite is the favorite Aloe? It's Me with mezcal, aloe, green juice, lime and jalapeño.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Wicker Park

You don't have to walk far to find a bar on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, but Whiskey Business is the only spot to offer a sprawling rooftop space. You'll find party-ready drinks like Red Bull vodka as well as a slightly more refined selection of whiskey cocktails (it's in the name). Stop by on Monday and Tuesday nights to watch a movie on one of two gigantic screens on the rooftop.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • River North

There's no getting around it: Joy District is a scene. The perfectly manicured rooftop terrace is buzzing with bottle service, glasses of frosé and buckets of White Claw. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, show up for brunch early on the weekends; and if you're hoping to turn up, you'll find what you're looking for anytime after 5pm.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Loop
  • price 3 of 4

While the ROOF on theWit was once best known as a nightclub, it has changed its tune a bit over the past few years. Now, you'll find couches and small tables set under the retractable glass roof, plus a small open-air terrace with a view (and the most in-demand seats). The menu includes small plates, pizzas and lots of cocktail, beer and wine options. And though the late-night scene here may not be as raucous as it once was, you can still get a bottle of champagne for the table.

Find more of the best rooftops in Chicago

  • Restaurants

The best rooftop restaurants offer both great food and city views, whether you're gazing at views of the Chicago Loop or glimpses at neighborhood architecture. From one of the best Italian restaurants in the city to a spot for brunch in Chicago, here's where to head this summer.

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