Rooftop Bars in Washington, D.C.

Fall may not involve the type of oppressive heat that makes many Washingtonians wonder why they ever decided to live in a former swamp, but it can still be hot enough to enjoy one of the best things about warm weather in D.C.: rooftop bars! When the clock strikes six, power off that laptop, put away the Blackberry and grab a drink from one of these breezy, open-air watering holes. It'll feel like summer?minus the killer humidity?in no time. (Pictured: The Beacon Martini Sky Bar)

Updated: September 08, 2010

The Best Rooftop Bars in Washington

Public Bar

1214 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Dubbed the "sky box" in keeping with this Dupont bar's sports theme, Public is said to have the city's largest covered rooftop, which includes two separate bars, lounge seating and an enviable view. Just make sure your glutes are ready for the long ascent up the stairs.

18th Street Lounge

1212 18th St Nw, Washington, DC 20036

There's not much of a view from this rooftop--its walls are too high--but if you're in need of some fresh air and a clear shot of the night sky, try this Dupont lounge, which attracts a more cultured, well-dressed crowd than the sports-loving preppies at Public a few doors down.

New Town Kitchen & Bar

1336 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

By far the biggest draw at this U Street Mediterranean restaurant is its glass terrace, a rooftop bar and dining area with a partially retractable glass roof that ensures the show can go on even with sudden thunderstorms. Cocktails are upscale--take a date and share a small plate.


2007 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Lines consistently form at this 14th Street hot spot, where locals vie for standing room in the rooftop beer garden, which serves more than 30 Belgian brews. A bar menu with burgers and appetizers is available, but save the eating for the downstairs dining room--the rooftop is a place to see and be seen.

Beacon Martini Sky Bar

1615 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

The Beacon Hotel's rooftop bar is an underrated summertime gem. Open seasonally starting May 4, the breezy rooftop provides a place to cool down while taking in sunset-backed views, and the fountains provide relief from unbearable humidity. Just don't plan to end the party here; it closes at 10:30pm.

Local 16

1602 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Consistently ranked one of the best singles bars in D.C., Local has become a fixture on the U Street nightlife seen thanks to its roomy rooftop bar. Go early--it gets ridiculously crowded, and the rooftop closes at least an hour earlier than the bar.


1811 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

Off the beaten path in Adams Morgan, Perry's doesn't get the foot traffic that some of D.C.'s other rooftop destinations do, so the experience is more relaxing. Reservations are accepted for dinner between 5:30pm and 7pm; so go early to snag a table and snack on sushi before the drinks start flowing.


2446 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Though the rooftop at this Adams Morgan bar is always open (covered and heated during the winter) it's a great spot to cool down during warmer months; start near the fish tanks on the main level and hit the rooftop when the going gets hot.

Clarendon Ballroom

3185 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Though the Ballroom is known as a meat market, there's no denying its fantastic and expansive rooftop bar, which also attracts people you wouldn't ordinarily find during a normal night of bump-and-grind on the downstairs dance floor. Because the bar itself is centrally located, it's easy to approach from all sides.

Nellie's Sports Bar

900 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Bedecked in string lights and in keeping with the bar's campy mix of decorations, the rooftop at D.C.'s first gay sports bar is reminiscent of a beach town surf shack. Order something with a tropical twist (mandarin vodka, anyone?) and it's as close the beach as you'll get in the district.

W Washington D.C

515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

If money's not an object, the view doesn't get much better than from this bar atop the W Hotel. It may have the hottest view and breezy digs, but this is no place for flip-flops--the W is for fashionistas willing to spend a pretty penny on quality cocktails.