Élevé looks like it belongs in an Alice in Wonderland fever dream instead of in the middle of Downtown Charleston, but the art deco-look of the rooftop bar makes for a fun and unique ambiance not found elsewhere in the Holy City. The menu is pretty upscale -- though not terribly pricey, despite its location in the Grand Bohemian Hotel -- and it offers a healthy list of wine and specialty cocktails. It's a great spot for happy hour with friends or coworkers. Plus, being in a hotel, there's always the option to grab a room for the night (if you can afford it).
This rooftop bar at the Market Street Pavilion hotel offers some gorgeous views of both the Charleston harbor and Market St. With the infinity pool in the middle of the floor, tables setup with illuminated umbrellas, and doormen with top hats, this is definitely a bar worth getting dressed up for. Be sure to get there early to score a much desired table, but stay until after the sun goes down for the real show when the hotel puts plexiglass over the pool to create one of the coolest dance floors you've ever seen (!!).
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King St Historic District
Craft cocktails by starlight. What could be better? This place is particularly great for groups, as it has a number of large tables and couches set up lounge-style outside on the rooftop bar. It's an extremely popular spot in town, so make sure to get there early -- otherwise you'll be waiting for a long while just to get in (and then again for your drinks). Stars' frozen Bellinis are hard to beat, so you can imagine your frustration if you're waiting f.o.r.e.v.e.r. just to get one.
The Vendue Hotel markets itself as "Charleston’s Art Hotel," so everything from the tile floors to the artwork on the wall is impeccably decorated. The rooftop was remodeled a couple of years ago, now offering views of the French Quarter and the Charleston harbor. There's also some pretty tasty specialty cocktails with fabulous names (lookin' at you, Takes Two to Mango).
Update: Following a recent fire, the rooftop at Snapper Jacks has been temporarily closed. It’s due to reopen in mid-June, though, so mark your calendars accordingly.
When you’re at the beach and want to turn up, Snapper Jacks is definitely the place to do it, as the oceanic-themed rooftop is typically hopping with live music and loads of fun. Keep it simple with one of the frozen cocktails (think: the Snappers Colada made with Captain Morgan, strawberry moonshine, peach, mango, pineapple, and a splash of lemon), or get rowdy with some friends and order one of the giant fish bowls made to share.
The only thing better than the steaks at Burwell's is the rooftop bar overlooking the Charleston harbor. It's a great place to enjoy some appetizers or have a few drinks while waiting for dinner. This bar takes some serious pride in its cocktail list, with each tasting better than the last. If you're looking for one to get you through a warm summer night, the Blueberry Mint Smash (Reyka vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon, freshly smashed blueberries, mint) is delightfully refreshing -- especially with that view.
This place is one of those guilty pleasure bars where you can wear jean shorts unashamedly and eat your weight in fried seafood. Your best bet is to order a bucket of beers, climb up the stairs to the "crow’s nest" bar, and watch the boats go by on Shem Creek as country music is blasted at full volume. This is one of the more popular spots out on the creek, so, like many of these places, be sure to arrive early to avoid having to wait.
Charleston's newest rooftop bar offers stunning views of the sunset over the city and some of the best bar snacks of any local rooftop stop. The grilled oysters, hushpuppies (served with house pimento cheese), and crispy fried-chicken skins are undoubted faves to go along with a number of wines and beers. And let's not forget the handcrafted cocktails "made from recipes passed down over centuries."
This hidden gem is located on top of the Marriott on Lockwood. The rooftop bar was recently renovated with all new furniture and fire pits, so it's naturally become a hip spot to enjoy a nice cocktail with some friends. Stop by, take a seat (if you can find one), and order one!
King St Historic District
Cocktail Club, aka bar-where-you're-likely-to-run-into-a-Southern-Charm-cast-member, is pretty well known for the fantastic cocktails and upscale vibe (note: it takes "upscale" very seriously, as it's one of the only bars where the dress code is strictly enforced). Less well known, however, is the rooftop deck where you can order a few cigars to smoke under a clear Charleston sky. While the interior of the restaurant is very dark, the rooftop is well lit and a great place to escape if it gets a little loud inside (or if T-Rav shows up and starts a ruckus).
Isle of Palms
Located between Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms, the Boathouse at Breach Inlet offers fresh and tasty seafood and some breathtaking views overlooking the marsh and the Cooper River Bridge. You can order beer, wine by the glass, or cocktails on the roof before dinner, or just get a seat and enjoy the nice weather. Of course, if you're one of those people with a boat, feel free to park it at the dock and head to the Crow’s Nest for one of the best sunset views in all of Charleston.
If there's such a thing as a divey rooftop bar, Henry’s is it. It’s fun for when you want to enjoy the weather and have a few drinks with friends, but it does have some drawbacks: the interior of the restaurant is aged, the food is nothing to write home about, and the service is sometimes lackluster. But here's the truth: the rooftop patio is always a fun time. It's split into two different patios, so you get a variety Market St views as you sip one of the cocktails from the whiskey bar. On a weekend night, sneak over to NV, the nightclub attached to Henry's on the first level of the rooftop, and dance the night away.
King Street Historic District
The food is pretty basic here -- think upscale Applebee’s -- but the view of Marion Square and Downtown Charleston afforded to you at Carolina Ale House is hard to beat. The draft and bottled beer list is substantial as well, offering selections from Goose Island, Blue Moon, and other popular regional breweries. This is the place you go for a casual afternoon with cold beer, fried snacks, and your favorite sports team on the big screen TV.
Craft beer lovers flock to Revelry Brewing for great local beer and even better views of the city -- the bar’s location just north of the Cooper River Bridge means its patrons are treated to some pretty spectacular sunsets. It’s also one of the only rooftops on this list that’s dog-friendly, meaning that you can enjoy a pint of Gullah Cream Ale in the open air while chilling with your best friend. Because in dog beers, you’ve only had one.
The Hilton Garden Inn’s 45 Waterside rooftop bar is a kind of hidden oasis that most people (other than the ones staying at the hotel) don’t even know exists. The upscale, modern rooftop has a breathtaking (and relatively unique) view of the Ashley River and Charleston Marina, and the full bar is open year-round -- unless it’s raining or too cold -- from about 3 to 9:30pm. There’s also a full bar and a food menu featuring heavy hors d'oeuvres that’s perfect for treating yourself to a mini-staycation.