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Courtesy of Techo Beso
Photograph: Courtesy Techo Beso

The best rooftop bars in San Diego for drinks with a view

Take in coastal and urban views with a drink in hand at San Diego's best rooftop bars.

Written by
Kai Oliver-Kurtin

If you're drinking indoors in San Diego then you're doing it all wrong. The city's perfect weather (72 and sunny is the typical forecast) almost begs you to do everything outside, including eating and drinking. With a bevy of bars to choose from that either have a water view, cityscape view, or views of the ballparksometimes all threethere's always something impressive to fix your gaze upon. 

You'll find several rooftop bars located throughout the city, ranging from upscale to super casual to party central. Our list of the best rooftop bars in San Diego has you covered if you're seeking tiki cocktails, craft beer or shareable cocktail towers. If you're in the mood for romance, live DJs, or southern Italian vibes we also have just the spot for you.

Read on to see our recommendations for the best rooftop bars from the Gaslamp Quarter on up to Oceanside. No umbrella needed. And if you're seeking further recommendations while in America’s Finest City, go ahead and check out our lists of the best restaurantsbest beaches, best bars, best breweries, and best things to do in San Diego. 

Best rooftop bars in San Diego

Perched high on the 12th floor of Manchester Financial Centre in Bankers Hill, Mister A’s has been a classic San Diego institution since 1965. An upscale American restaurant, Mister A’s is perhaps one of the most popular places in San Diego for wedding proposals thanks to its jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the San Diego skyline. Its romantic vibe extends out to the patio, where you can watch airplanes land at San Diego International Airport. It can get windy up there, so plan to go early and enjoy the last bits of sunshine over San Diego Bay.

You won’t notice it from street level. Still, once you take the elevator up to the 14th floor above Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp/Convention Center, The Nolen offers sweeping views of downtown, Coronado and Point Loma. The Nolen's specialty is house-batched, barrel-aged cocktails aged in oak for at least two months, served alongside bar bites like flatbread and meatballs. While Sunday brunch is a popular time to visit The Nolen, happy hour delivers deals Monday to Wednesday from 4 to 6pm.


Located on the 40th floor of Manchester Grand Hyatt—the tallest waterfront hotel on the west coast—Top of the Hyatt has dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows framing panoramic views of San Diego Bay. It’s a great place to raise a glass and nibble on light bites during sunset (especially when it’s too cold to be outdoors) and transfix your gaze out over the water. 

Overlooking the University Heights neighborhood sign, Kairoa Brewing Company is a New Zealand-inspired brewery and restaurant serving its own beer, plus wine cocktails, hard kombucha, seltzer and cider. The food menu is a homage to the founders’ home country of New Zealand, with dishes like sausage rolls, lamb racks, and fish & chips, but there are also plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. The 10,500-square-foot space is designed like a modern farmhouse, with plenty of space for private events, a play area for kids, and fire pits for nighttime. A seat anywhere on the open-air rooftop patio is a great place for a pint.


Perched on top of AC Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, Teso Becho is Spanish for "rooftop kiss," and this bar might just be the perfect place to get a smooch. With chic pink umbrellas and a tropical vibe throughout, guests are transported to the beaches of Tulum, Mexico. You'll find a pool, main bar, and constant party vibe here thanks to live DJs spinning Thursday through Saturday nights. Order cocktails, wine and beer with small plates like sliders, wings and tacos. 

If it’s baseball season and you want to be part of the fun without battling crowds (or just need somewhere to pre-game), Fairweather is your best bet. Overlooking Petco Park, Fairweather serves tiki cocktails, mai tais, pisco sours and other concoctions from warm-weather locales that match its vibrant decor. You can order food from their downstairs neighbor Rare Form, which is known for its tacos and burritos.


One of Little Italy’s best nightlife hot spots, Kettner Exchange has a rooftop lounge and patio with views extending down to San Diego Bay. Since the restaurant was named for William Kettner, a congressman in the early 1900s who’s credited with bringing the military to San Diego, you’ll see nautical-themed decor like an early 20th-century map of San Diego Bay. Kettner Exchange has daily live music and eclectic food served as small plates, including spicy tuna crispy rice, duck meatballs, and roasted Chinese eggplant. Their creative craft cocktails are worth fighting for a spot at the bar to order, but keep in mind that the vibe here drastically changes between dinner service and the nighttime bar scene.

Situated on the top floor of La Plaza Center in La Jolla Cove, Catania serves up coastal Italian cuisine with views of the village below. The restaurant is a personal tribute—it was inspired by the owner’s 1,400-mile road trip through Italy. Catania’s patio dining and outdoor bar space occupy more than half of the restaurant’s seating to best capitalize on its top-floor vantage point. Catania has a minimalist design to not detract from the ocean views, which are best paired with their wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, craft cocktails and all-Italian wine list. Salute!


This three-story bar, live music venue, and Asian-inspired restaurant in Ocean Beach has expansive views of the beach and neighborhood below. Nosh on garlic salt & pepper chicken wings, kimchi fried rice and stir-fry noodles, or specialty cocktails like Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey drinks, mules or shareable 90-ounce cocktail towers. As the sister restaurant to the beloved OB Noodle House, the food here is definitely not an afterthought. Brunch service is especially popular at The Holding Company when groups gather on the rooftop for ube pancakes, loco moco and boozy drinks while taking in ocean views.

Rustic Root is a multi-level restaurant with an open-air rooftop patio that has its own dedicated bar, surrounded by life-size animal topiary bushes and street-style lights as a nod to its location within the historic Gaslamp Quarter. As its name implies, the restaurant serves rustic American cuisine such as hearty meat dishes, seafood and pasta, including their best-selling lobster pappardelle. Many patrons linger on the rooftop sipping cocktails, wine and beer while enjoying the lively people-watching on the bustling street below.

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Hidden within the Intercontinental San Diego Hotel, Garibaldi is a rooftop gem with views of the embarcadero, USS Midway Museum and Broadway Pier. This is an excellent place for summertime treats in the form of Southern Italian food and Italian-inspired cocktails. Pastas, pizzas and chilled seafood plates are paired with Negroni, Old Fashioned and Super Tuscans during dinner and brunch service. While you’re here, stop by Layoveron the fourth-floor rooftop deck next to the pool where you’ll find plenty of firepits, Adirondack chairs, slushy cocktails, paleta cocktails and light bites. This casual outdoor lounge views the San Diego International Airport and Naval Air Station North Island.

For craft beer with a water view, head to OB Brewery located in a prime spot along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach (credited with being the first microbrewery in this area). They have games like foosball and shuffleboard, plus fire pits for nighttime and daily happy hour specials. The casual, dog-friendly bar has rotating taps of beer brewed onsite, plus burgers, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. This three-story tasting room was designed to be the highest point in Ocean Beach, with views of the OB pier and beyond. Come for happy hour deals Monday through Friday from 3-6pm for $3 off draft beers and select appetizers.


San Diego’s largest oceanfront rooftop is at Cannonball, located within Belmont Park in Mission Beach. The Pacific Rim-inspired restaurant has sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri, plus salads and larger entrees. On the drink menu, you’ll find Japanese whiskeys, sake and other cocktails. Designed to feel like you’re at a swim-up bar with its aquatic-themed decor, the 9,400-square-foot space is suspended above the busy Mission Beach boardwalk. Every Thursday from 5-8 pm, Cannonball has live acoustic music on the rooftop during sunset featuring local artists.

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