ATXGuide

The Best Rooftop Bars In Austin

Where to drink when you want a view of the city.
The Best Rooftop Bars In Austin image

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Austin is a city that is quickly growing up—both in its status as a big city and in its density of tall buildings Downtown. Up until a few years ago, the closest thing that Austin had to a rooftop bar was the second floor of Maggie Mae’s on Dirty Sixth. These days, the buildings are higher, the rooftops are roofier, and the views just keep on getting better. If you’re looking for rooftop bars with views of the city, head to one of these spots. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Bar

Downtown Austin

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Located on the sixth floor of The Line Hotel Downtown, P6 is a rooftop bar and lounge with an excellent view of Town Lake and the Congress Avenue bridge. Head here for cocktails and light bites, or go right before sunset for a chance to view Austin’s famous bats emerging from the bridge without having to dodge bat sh*t. It’s mostly an outdoor space, but there’s also some indoor seating for when Austin inevitably hits one of its two weather extremes. 

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

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Perched on the seventh floor of the Marriott Downtown, Zanzibar feels more like a tropical oasis with an excellent city view rather than a bar on top of a hotel. Lush with plants and vegetation that blends in with the tropical shirts worn by a fourth of the guests, it’s the kind of bar where, at any given moment, you can probably hear someone half-jokingly say “Hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere,” while sipping on a mai tai and snacking on duck egg rolls and jerk chicken wings.

On the 20th floor of The Westin Downtown, you’ll find Azul, claiming the spot of the “highest view of Downtown” in the whole city. The entire space is lined by a see-through glass railing that might cause a bit of uneasiness as you look down onto the tiny cars below—just grab a seat by one of the faux-fire pits, order a margarita, and try not to get splashed by the hotel guests swimming in the pool just a few feet away. 

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

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Up on the fourth floor of The Thompson Hotel, Arriba Abajo is a swanky rooftop bar and restaurant full of little cabanas, cozy booths, and tons of plants that give the whole place the lush, lively energy of somewhere a little more exciting than Downtown Austin. The menu is made up of classic Oaxacan dishes and Mexican-inspired plates—including some very tasty chili-crusted prawn fajitas—plus desserts and every variation on a margarita you can imagine. Show up around sunset and look out over 5th Street, or grab a day pass for the rooftop pool and some light bites. 

If you dig deep into the “lore” behind Geraldine’s, you’ll find that it’s actually named after a famous Guinea hen that used to roam Rainey Street, back when the buildings were all houses and finding street parking was the norm. These days, the name is about all it has in common with “old” Austin, but it does provide some great views of the street and Downtown from the fourth floor of the Hotel Van Zandt. On the inside stage, you’ll find live music most nights, and outside there’s a pool and accompanying bar. Either way, you’ll be able to order from a menu of cocktails at a quality that’s definitely a few notches above the typical “hotel bar” standard. 

Most of Austin’s rooftop bars can be found within a few-block radius, which isn’t surprising given the density of tall buildings Downtown. Otopia is one of the few exceptions—instead providing a view of Austin’s skyline from The Otis Hotel by the UT Campus. A bit removed from some of the Downtown bustle, expect to find a few more families on this rooftop—including UT students and their parents—mixed in with whoever else might happen to find themselves by campus on a nice evening in search of a great view. 

Edge is one of the bigger rooftop bars we’ve come across in Austin, which just means there’s that much more opportunity to snag a cozy table when the weather is nice and people are out. Located on the fifth floor of the JW Marriott on Congress, there’s a nearly 180-degree view that spans from Town Lake to the State Capitol. Blue and purple underlit chairs give the whole place a modern feel, while plenty of desert palms and Austin-inspired cocktails—like Zilker mules and Soco margs—remind you that you’re just a few hundred feet over Downtown

photo credit: La Piscina

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Walking into La Piscina feels more like stepping into a Mexican villa than a rooftop restaurant on the fifth floor of the Austin Proper Hotel—complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and lush desert plants in a bright, airy dining room. Inside, expect more of a Mexican-leaning Tex-Mex restaurant, with sizzling fajitas, ceviches, and lobster quesadillas. But outside—on the open-air part of the rooftop—the menu is a bit smaller and more poolside-friendly, with a focus on cocktails, small plates, and raw seafood. 

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