Rooftop bars, much like puppies and awkward videos of a flailing Jeb Bush, are things that are universally loved. Open air, great views, and an abundance of alcohol make for a wonderful mixture, especially in the winter when we can relax and thank god we didn't choose to live in Chicago instead. And in San Diego, rooftop bars come with the excuse of watching the best sunsets in the US with a drink in your hand. Why keep wasting your days and nights ordering watered-down beers in sweaty, overcrowded dive bars? Instead, here are seven rooftop bars you should hit up this winter.
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On top of the San Diego Marriott, ALTITUDE is the tallest open-air rooftop bar on the West Coast at 22-stories up, meaning you get an unfettered, 360-degree view of the entire city. And since it's right next to Petco, you can watch Padres games from ALTITUDE's deck (the bar opens two hours before day games). There's no cover, meaning you don't have to actually pay to watch the Padres game; given how terrible they are right now, it's a bit of a blessing. But there is a dress code, so don't show up in sweatpants and your favorite T-shirt with your favorite expletive in block letters on it.
One of our favorite rooftop spots in San Diego, Amplified is just steps off the beach on the corner of Pacific Beach Dr and Mission Blvd. It's not the tallest building around, but it makes up for its squatness with its laid-back, ambient vibe and ocean breezes. The brewery itself makes incredible beers (try the Treble Tripel) and pairs them with excellent doner kebabs, which is a dangerously good combo.
Cannonball is just about the furthest thing from a hidden gem, but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable as hell. It's on Ocean Front Walk and, thus, is known to attract a pretty large contingent of tourists. But once you visit, you'll understand why it's become such a mainstay: The glass walls give you a complete view of the busiest stretch of beach in San Diego. The sushi, while not mind-blowing, is enough to do the trick.
Finding a rooftop pool bar in the heart of Gaslamp that doesn't get insanely packed and doesn't charge a cover feels too good to be true. The drinks at LOUNGEsix aren't the cheapest in the world but the cocktail program is solid, and when you have a rooftop view of downtown, who really cares?
La Jolla might straight-up be the most beautiful part of America, not just San Diego. Getting a rooftop view of downtown La Jolla and the Pacific along with knockout Italian food is what dreams are made of, and Catania offers that in spades. It's pricey, but the duck sugo orecchiette will be the best $25 you've spent.
Too often, lists like these neglect North County, which is outright silly. Just one block off the beach, Hello Betty presents stunning views of the Oceanside Pier. It can get crowded up there with people putting back oyster shooters and ceviche and beers, but head downstairs to the main kitchen for the best salmon burger in town.
Ignoring the fact that its name sounds like a rejected '80s single, RoofTop600 is a great time. It’s clubby, but hey, clubs aren't the worst thing every once in awhile, especially if they come with a kick-ass pool and a clear view to all of downtown.
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1. Altitude Sky Lounge660 K St, San Diego
2. Amplified Ale Works4150 Mission Blvd #208, San Diego
3. Cannonball3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego
4. LOUNGEsix616 J St, San Diego
5. Catania7863 Girard Ave Ste 301, La Jolla
6. Hello Betty Fish House211 Mission Ave, Oceanside
7. Rooftop600 at Andaz600 F St, San Diego
Perched atop San Diego's Marriott Hotel, the ALTITUDE is the tallest open-air rooftop bar on the West Coast. Clocking in at 22-stories up, the spot offers unfettered, 360-degree view of the entire city. And since it’s right next to Petco, you can watch Padres games from ALTITUDE's deck (the bar opens two hours before day games). .
The team at Amplified Ale Works focuses on super-fresh West Coast-style hop-bombs piped straight from the holding tanks to your pint. In true SoCal fashion, no style is safe from the bitter hop beast. Take Amplified's beachy Citravesa, a 5.8% ABV American pale lager dosed with a heap of tangy, grapefruit-like Citra hops. The twist? All the beers are brewed with Clarity Ferm, an enzyme that breaks up protein during fermentation, rendering the entire fleet totally gluten-free. So put down that cider, Mr. Celiac, and treat yourself to a God’s honest brewski -- you deserve it.
San Diego's largest oceanfront rooftop bar, located at Belmont Park in Mission Beach, is perched right above beer bar Draft. Take in the insane view of the Pacific while sipping on a crafty cocktail and eating sushi around a fire pit. It may be lauded as a tourist spot, but once you visit, you'll understand why it's become such a mainstay: The glass walls give you a complete view of the busiest stretch of beach in San Diego.
While its drinks may not be the cheapest, LoungeSIX in the Hotel Solmar is a swanky rooftop bar worth checking out. LoungeSIX scores points for never being too insanely crowded and the fact that it doesn’t charge a cover feels too good to be true. Expect great views of downtown, dope DJ sets, and strong, fruity cocktails.
Catania, located on the top floor of the La Plaza center overlooking La Jolla Village, was inspired by owners Arturo Kassel and Ryan Johnston’s two-week road trip through Italy. The fare focuses on Italian coastal cuisine, and in an effort to keep things authentically Italian, they’re sticking to an exclusively Italian wine & craft beer program.
Hello Betty pairs a stunning ocean view with a Baja-inspired menu that includes ceviches, oyster shooters, and delicious tacos filled with everything from pork belly carnitas to fried avocado.
This hip rooftop bar at the Andaz hotel is a solid option for some quality poolside lounging. Scope out a killer view of Downtown while you sip on cocktails and margs. Private cabanas, VIP bottle service, and outdoor dining are all available. Be sure to check out their series of pool parties happening all summer long.