The 17 Sexiest and Most Scenic Rooftop Bars in Austin
Fall is coming—fingers crossed.
Goodbye burning summer, hello warm, wonderful fall. Now’s the time for Austin to come alive again. We’ve suffered many months of AC-driven activity and our (rich) besties leaving for their Northern holiday homes, but now that’s all over. So, the time has come to reunite and rejoice over a stiff cocktail. Fall’s when the masses return to our pretty public spaces at all hours of the day; when Zilker Park is treaded with festival goers, and when the rooftops are lined with Igloo coolers while pumping Elton John dance collabs. Austin’s growing skyline is certainly giving us those corners to live life again, and most importantly, toast to it. Looking for a sexy sky-high spot? Here are the best rooftop bars in Austin.
As the Campus District’s only rooftop pool and lounge, this space is routinely busy with fun-lovin’ patrons atop the Otis Hotel, especially come DJ nights and Golden Hour (a.k.a. happy hour). Though you’re in the heart of college town, Otopia has a distinctly upscale vibe, that’s also approachable at the same time. Bar bites include plates of sushi and tacos, which we admit are on the small side, so you’d be wise to stick to their brilliant cocktails (including frozen varieties), beers, and wines instead.
Two-story Warehouse District queer bar, Coconut Club, is heaving with bodies every night and all weekend. The rooftop lounge often hosts drag events during the day, and come dusk always transforms into disco heaven. Welcoming all genders and orientations, this rainbow-colored Fourth Street darling is guaranteed to get the good times rolling, and simultaneously is social media gold (remember to walk the outside rainbow crossing on your way home).
Nido at The Loren Hotel
Want to check out a rooftop bar that none of your friends have ever seen? We’ve got a newbie on the scene for you. Nido at the new Loren Hotel is already accepting reservations in time for their October 3rd launch (and since that’s National Mean Girls day, there’s absolutely no excuse to stay indoors). Located across the river, expect to be treated with downtown views from the inside and out, a menu of modern American fare and a wide selection of wines and spirits.
Roll up to this spot and you’ll be greeted with a lone glass elevator facing the street. Enjoy the view on the way up before stepping into this trendy bar located atop the Austin Marriott Downtown hotel. From there, you’ll be able to kick back on the loungy terrace with an assortment of tropical-themed drinks. We recommend The Duke's Pearl, a combination of rum, passionfruit, pineapple, honey, and lime. Look out for happy hours that run Monday - Wednesday.
Formerly your run-of-the-mill rooftop parking garage, the P6 Lounge is now the happening watering hole complete with an intoxicating lakeside view. Located inside the always sexy LINE Austin, P6 offers Mediterranean small bites and seasonal cocktails alongside the opportunity to see South Austin from a new angle. If you’re feeling fancy, check out their Sunday Special, when wine bottles are $20 off.
Both indoor and outdoor poolside seating at Group Therapy offers all-day dining, snacks, and drinks—and there’s a lot to love about the beverages here because they are huge (everything’s bigger in Texas, you know). We’re talking full wine glass-sized pours of bubbles and pitchers capable of quenching a thirsty gang of four. Views overlook Republic Square and there’s usually live music from Wednesdays through the weekend.
Rules & Regs
For all the breeze, music, and sunshine, head up to Rules & Regs on everyone’s fave hangout, Fairmont Austin. The restaurant and bar serve brunch, frozen refreshments, and colorful tropical cocktails. It also has non-alcoholic ‘hangover cures’ teeming with trusted recovery agents like Kombucha and coconut water. Best for when the heat is too much to bear downstairs, Rules & Regs keeps things chill thanks to a cluster of shady—and scenic—palm trees. Tip: don’t miss their drag brunches or bingo events, which are always a scream.
El Alma Cafe y Cantina
El Alma’s casual rooftop patio is an all-year escape from the city, with prices that make you feel like you’ve been airlifted to a neighborhood cantina in Guadalajara. The menu offers seasonal Margaritas and Mojitos alongside Queso Fundido and tangy Ceviche, and the happy hour runs daily between 3 and 6 pm with discounts across the board including on the famed Mangorita, a frozen margarita swirled with tequila-marinated mango purée and served with an el chile rim.
Upstairs at Caroline
Upstairs at Caroline is an absurdly fun urban backyard party overlooking Congress, complete with picnic benches; astroturf; bar games like foosball, shuffleboard, cornhole, and giant Jenga; koozies; and, of course, all the cocktails. There are always tons of weekly specials including $2 Taco Tuesday, Sunday Yappy Hour (bringing along your pup gets you 25% off your bill), and Thirsty Thursday with $7 draft cocktails from 4 to 7 pm.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
77 Degrees Rooftop
This three-story rooftop patio atop the Rose Room is a non-stop Vegas-style dance party, complete with dancers and DJs galore. There’s an outside dance floor and loads of seating to enjoy tapas, cocktails, and bottle service. Soak up the bright lights, hard beats, and big crowds on weekends—in other words, live it up.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Edge Rooftop + Bar
The rooftop of the JW Marriott is open to the public after 6 pm, and features a wide selection of crafty cocktails (the Piña Colada is everything), beer, and wine plus a full menu of tacos, salads, and other light bites. The vibe is stylish yet relaxed, with comfy lounge chairs surrounding fire-pits in case the temperature takes a dip. One side has views of Ladybird Lake and the other overlooks the city skyline, so you truly can't go wrong.
There ain’t no party like a W party. The WET Deck downtown is accessible to non-hotel guests who purchase a day pass on the W Austin’s website. Slurpy delights include Frosé and Frozen Cola, and cabanas and daybeds are reservable for a fee and minimum spend. DJ Fridays and Sundays happen every week, and special events regularly take place here, keep your ear to the ground during festival season.
How to book: Reserve online.
Terrace59 at Speakeasy
Speakeasy is one of those rare OG downtown spots that's managed to weather the storm over the years and even evolve along the way. Terrace59 is the Miami-esque rooftop lounge upstairs, with white cushioned furniture, DJs, low lights, and epic views. Dedicated bar and cocktail waitresses make this a welcoming destination for the graduated-from-Dirty Sixth crowd, and they even sell cigars if you’re feeling extra swank.
How to book: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
Hotel Van Zandt is home to this upscale restaurant and bar, known for hosting talented live music on select nights. The performers are always top tier (we’ve never witnessed a bad set), and adjacent to the stage is a glittering rooftop pool and fireplace for added ambiance. The bar serves cocktails, beer, and wine, and they’ve also been known to run enticing specials like Whiskey Wednesdays. Keep an eye out for sizzling parties with guest DJs, and their cute winter igloos.
Summit Rooftop Lounge
Transplants missing LA, Vegas, and Miami make a beeline to this open-air, bottle-service emporium. The swank interior sports a posh feel that, combined with a huge glitzy dance floor, evokes a vibe that’s quite literally the opposite of Austin casual—meaning, of course, guests arrive dressed to impress. The experience is high-energy, with an emphasis on EDM, so plan accordingly and don’t forget to hydrate.
How to book: Reserve online.
Azul Rooftop Pool Bar + Lounge
Hovering 20 floors above the pavement, Azul Rooftop boasts some of the best views in town alongside a massive selection of cocktails to help enhance the panoramic entertainment. The rather low-key deck also has a wading pool, cabanas, fire pits, and a wealth of space to snap those coveted sunset pics.
Reviews have been mixed since the Thompson opened in Austin earlier this year. The big blowout launch was initially a riot, yes, but many locals have since criticized the property’s (overpriced) food and beverage outlets. Nevertheless, their fourth-floor rooftop pool and bar are a sexy choice for a drink. Paying tribute to Texas’ diverse plant life, you’ll step into an oasis of Southern shrubs, including a living green wall. Once you’ve got your selfies, head elsewhere for the real party.
James Wong is a Libra who spends his time pretending to be a vegan, watching wildlife clips, and booking plane tickets. Born in London, lived in Tokyo, and now residing in Austin, his greatest achievement is giving Posh Spice a hug in 2016.