Best rooftop bars photo
(Rock and Roll Hotel by Craig L. Moran)

Best rooftop bars

Fritz Hahn  |  Updated 04/08/2013

As much as we all love bars with patios from April through September, bars with rooftop decks are a completely different proposition. There's something about the views, the breeze and being away from idling street traffic that makes for a more enjoyable experience.

 

Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill

Arlington, VA

Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill's spacious namesake deck has lots of seats, flatscreen TVs and room to move, plus a landscaped area with greenery and benches. The small, central bar offers a dozen beers on tap, ranging from Bud Light to Dogfish Head. Be aware of two things: There's a three-story climb to get to the roof, and bathrooms are located one flight down.

 

Biergarten Haus

Washington, DC

The long wooden tables and benches in Biergarten Haus' beer garden can hold hundreds, but they're best suited for large groups. So its owners created a rooftop deck with a small bar and rows of tables made from old barrels. Each can seat groups of two to four, and everything else is in the Biergarten formula is unchanged: Liter-sized mugs of German beer, shade from a chestnut tree, and German flags fluttering overhead.

 

Clarendon Ballroom

Arlington, VA

We know what you're thinking: The Clarendon Ballroom has been an Arlington fixture for almost a decade. It's tired. It's not the hotspot it was X-number-of-years-ago. All true. But the sheer spaciousness of the deck means it's one of the only places where you know you can meet a group of friends outside for cheap drinks after work, and you always have the option of hanging out longer.

 

DC9

Washington, DC

Looking for a place to meet for happy hour on U Street? The spacious rooftop at DC9 isn't as crowded as some of the neighboring roofs and patios, and the weeknight happy hour deals -- $3 beers-of-the-week and $3 rail drinks until 8 p.m. -- make it a convenient place to congregate.

 

Donovan House Hotel

Washington, DC

The Kimpton Hotel group took over the Donovan House hotel in April 2012, and while the DJ-fueled summer rooftop pool parties that made Donovan a scenester destination are in flux, the public is still allowed to visit the rooftop bar, which has extraordinary views of the 14th Street corridor, downtown and Northeast D.C., all the way to the National Basilica.

 

Eden

Washington, DC

Most rooftop bars on this list don't offer bottle service or sell bottles of vodka for a few hundred bucks each. That's not the case at Eden's Garden of Eden, where DJs crank hip-hop, house and reggae beats while champagne corks pop. The decorating scheme is D.C.-by-way-of-South Beach, from the LED screen overhead to the bamboo and greenery planted along the walls.

 

El Centro D.F.

Washington, DC

There are multiple bars on El Centro's large, tiered deck, which means you won't wait long for a margarita. That's key when the seven-day-a-week happy hour includes $4 margaritas (rocks or frozen), Mexican beers and sangria from 5 to 7 p.m. The roof has been tented so that it can be used year-round, but there's still a nice afternoon breeze.

 

Nellie's Sports Bar

Washington, DC

From Sunday afternoon dance parties to mid-week happy hours to bustling Saturday nights, Nellie's roofdeck is a hive of activity.

 

P.O.V. Roof Terrace and Lounge

Washington, DC

No rooftop bar in Washington can match the views from the W Hotel's P.O.V. The White House is so close you can practically see through the windows; the Washington Monument is right over your shoulder; and at night, the monuments -- as far away as Arlington House -- glow with soft white light. But these postcard-quality views come at a price: Reservations are required, waits to get to the roof -- just to the bar -- can be long, and cocktails aren't cheap.

 

The Red Derby

Washington, DC

The views from the roof of this pretense-free neighborhood bar aren't much to shout about -- rowhouses and more rowhouses -- but the people are friendly and the drinks are cheap: Until 8 p.m., specials include $1 Natty Boh and Schlitz cans and $3 whiskey shots.

 

The Rock and Roll Hotel

Washington, DC

The Rock and Roll Hotel is known for concerts and crazy dance parties, but its rooftop deck may become as much of a draw this summer. The decor is eclectic: pew-like benches, an ornate table that looks like it should be holding hats in your great-aunt's front hall, vintage tiling around the bar. While the bar area is covered by a large tent structure, much of the rest of the roof is open to the elements. Two things to be aware of: The roof opens at noon on Saturday and Sunday. And unlike the bar downstairs, the rooftop offers draft beer.

 

1905

Washington, DC

While 1905's dining room is a dark, atmospheric French bistro, 1905's rooftop has a more casual, almost beachy feel. There's plenty of room to stand around with friends, and good views of the neighborhood. (Notice the Washington Monument in the distance?) The draft list is strong on local craft beers, while cocktails are light and seasonal.

 

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