Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
El Alma’s whitewashed rooftop patio is the stuff happy hour dreams are made of -- think seasonal margaritas and mojitos alongside queso fundido and tangy ceviche. Every day from 3-6pm, you'll find discounts on cocktail favorites like the Chilanga: a frozen margarita with orange and an extra bite from Valentina hot sauce, and a chile rim.
Rooftop bars aren’t all super scene-y and this gluten-free restaurant is a perfect example of a place you can have a bite and a drink and just relax. They have a super casual rooftop vibe and a fantastic happy hour with $3 off appetizers, $5 margaritas and other specials. Happy hour is all day Monday and from 3p-7p on other days.
Maybe you have friends in town who want to see 6th street on a weekend -- or maybe you’re just feeling adventurous for some reason. Either way, Maggie Mae’s is smack dab in the middle of the action; you can typically catch a band downstairs or bypass the tunes and go straight up to the top, leaving the street-level madness behind you.
Upstairs at Caroline has somehow managed to make a backyard out of a rooftop deck. With picnic benches, astroturf, bar games like foosball, shuffleboard, cornhole and giant jenga, koozies and cocktails, it feels a lot like one of your pals' backyard barbecues (but with better drinks, and a lot more out-of-towners). Make sure to look at their different daily specials and bring your pup on Sundays for 25% off your visit.
Bright lights, big city is what you get at the 77 Degrees Rooftop located atop The Rose Room. Downstairs is a wild dance party with elevated dancers and a DJ spinning everything that gets you moving. The rooftop is less stimulating but still features a dance floor, tapas, cocktails, and a hookah lounge.
Open to the public after 5pm, you’ll find this pool on the rooftop of the JW Marriot. In addition to crafty cocktails, beer, and wine, there's a full menu with tacos, salads, and light bites; you can also reserve a cabana before 5pm if you're a hotel guest, or enjoy the space after 5pm if you're not.
This East Fifth Street bar with a breezy rooftop is a fun weekend stop, only a few blocks away from the chaos of Dirty Sixth. Their string-lit rooftop has two bars to choose from, along with bar games (giant jenga, ring toss) and some silly playground-style add-ons like a seesaw. Pro-tip: Happy hour lasts until 8pm.
The WET Deck at the W Hotel Austin is the place to go for frivolous fabulous fun. To access the deck, buy a $15 pass… or take advantage of the AWAY “Lucky Locals” deal (from Mon-Thurs), which includes a 20% discount on services plus comped valet, access to spa and FIT gym, and complimentary access to WET deck. The can’t-miss days are Soundwave Sundays featuring DJs and Thursdays in the summer with live music, totally free after 5pm.
Mohawk’s rooftop is for two things: drinking, and drinking while watching bands. Plus, its got a solid view of the madness that can be Red River on a weekend. The tiered seat levels and additional bench seating on the rooftop mean you can escape the floor-level crush of people not in the know. Plan your rooftop time accordingly by checking out the calendar of upcoming shows.
Speakeasy is one of the OG spots downtown that's managed to evolve and hang on over the years. Terrace59 is the Miami-esque rooftop lounge upstairs, with white cushioned furniture, DJs, low lights, and great views. Dedicated bar and cocktail waitresses make this a welcoming spot for the graduated-from-Dirty Sixth crowd, and they even sell cigars if you’re feeling extra swank.
With its throwback airport theme, this hangout caters to a 30-something business crowd looking to grab a cold one downtown. You can definitely mingle downstairs, but the real action is upstairs with colorful retro chairs, misters, a hoppin’ bar, and fabulous views of all hot Warehouse district action.
The Hotel Van Zandt is home to this posh restaurant and music venue with an outstanding bar program: choose from house cocktails, a few classic standbys, and some specialty bottled cocktails (two servings each). Just outside the restaurant is the hotel’s rooftop pool with a striking view of Downtown -- unfortunately, it’s for guests only. Maybe spring for a room after dinner?
If you’re missing LA, Vegas, or NYC, Summit may be the place for you. This open-air, bottle-service-style bar has a posh feel and a huge dance floor -- the vibe here is the opposite of Austin casual, so make sure you’re dressed to impress. The experience is high-energy, when an emphasis on EDM, so plan accordingly.
The kind people at the Westin Austin Downtown have bestowed generous hours upon non-guests of the hotel. This is excellent news, as Azul is home to a wading pool, cabanas, strong summer sips (raspberry f’rose!), and the best views in town.