DCGuide

The Best Rooftops in DC

Our favorite spots for dinner with a view.
The Best Rooftops in DC image

photo credit: Atlas Restaurant Group

Aside from the Washington Monument, DC’s not well-known for its tall buildings. But we still have quite the selection of rooftop patios and bars. And lucky for us, they have pretty spectacular views. For days you want to settle in with a glass of bourbon while you admire the Potomac while the music drowns out all forms of critical thinking, here are the best rooftops in DC.

THE ROOFTOPS

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Navy Yard

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You can see home plate from the Top Of The Yard, which we think is reason enough to head to this Navy Yard spot on game day. But come here any night when there isn’t a game scheduled for a surprisingly calming experience—if you grab a seat by the glass overlooking the Anacostia River, you can watch sailboats and rowers glide by under the setting sun. The drinks are just fine, but they’re cheap for a rooftop, topping out at about $12. When the crosswinds blow just right, the heat from the giant fire pit in front of the television hits you before a cool breeze does, keeping the temperature perfect all night.

photo credit: Hi-Lawn

Hi-Lawn is the summertime hangout spot for adults who want to play outside all day. The Union Market rooftop, which is covered in astroturf, has lawn games like cornhole and wooden picnic tables where you can relax (just reserve a table beforehand if you want an umbrella). They also host trivia nights and live music events. Get juice boxes full of your favorite spirits at the bar, but skip the small bar food menu and grab something from one of the stalls downstairs. And if you bring your own blankets, you can enjoy it in true picnic style.

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Without overstating the obvious, you come to Vue for the view. Formerly known as POV Rooftop, the downtown restaurant and bar at the Hotel Washington has some of the best aerial looks of the city. Stare at your date—or the monuments, we’re not judging—while eating citrusy cuts of ceviche and a buttery sea bass. Be sure to make reservations beforehand (a few days before on weekends, day-of on weekdays) to snag seats by the window overlooking the city.

This rooftop spot located at the Pendry Hotel looks like something from the set of a James Bond film. While you won’t find 007 swirling a martini under the pendant chandeliers raining down from the ceiling, you will find well-dressed hotel guests (no tuxes) looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the stunning view of the Wharf. Grab a sunset sour (the bar’s take on a whisky sour made with Japanese whisky) before heading over to the patio fire pits for the kind of romantic evening only Ian Fleming could write.

On weekdays, Whiskey Charlie feels like feral ground for congressional interns and recent grads entering the workforce. The snug rooftop overlooking the Wharf is located on the penthouse floor of the Canopy Hotel. Be prepared to stand around avoiding eye contact and rubbing shoulders with the strangers as you wait for your $20 cocktail. If you're balling on a budget (interns whose parents cover their rent don’t count), you'll want to stick with draft beers and seltzers, which are $7 and $6 respectively.

Lucha Rosa has everything you need to unwind on a Friday evening. A DJ pumps a mix of reggaeton and R&B at the Moxy Hotel rooftop bar as a crowd of 20 and 30-somethings lounge on bubblegum pink velvet couches tossing back drinks so smooth, they couldn’t possibly be strong (they are). Which is why you may find yourself feeling a little twirly after three glasses of something called a Bed of Roses, a cocktail made with lots of tequila and rosé.

You've had a long week, so why not unwind with watered-down cocktails and a little adult attention on the penthouse floor of the AC Hotel? Swap your office attire for your favorite designer outfit before heading to Ciel Social Club where folks are grinding to Doja Cat's latest single rather than enjoy the rooftop views (it's just downtown). It's the kind of place you're bound to meet new people—even if it's just a Meta policy specialist you're never gonna speak to again.

This is one of the most relaxing rooftops in DC. From the top of the Watergate Hotel in Foggy Bottom, you can see almost every major landmark in the city, from the Potomac River running alongside the hotel to the National Cathedral up the hill. There’s a small food menu (don’t get anything other than the $17 truffle fries), but most folks are here for the views. Sip a $25 cocktail while you catch up with friends around a firepit or swing by with a date before dinner.

When you need a rooftop situation with drinks that cost around $16 (versus the standard $25 rooftop cocktail), head to Rooftop Kitchen in Tenleytown. The neighborhood restaurant is basically a patio in the clouds—no fancy views here, just the sky. Sit on some giant furniture with all of your homies when you’ve decided to skate out of work a little early. The menu is as basic as the view, but crispy-ish buffalo shrimp does a good job of soaking up a smoky mezcal Wahakan Hat Trick, which tastes even better with the addition of fire bitters.

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