As you stroll down the streets of Chicago, you may hear laughter, the clinking of glasses, and the joyful sounds of a wine-fueled afternoon. Look up. The party is often on the roof. Chicago’s hotels and restaurants take full advantage of the city’s iconic skyline with rooftop bars designed for enjoying the vistas. These must-see spots are true urban oases; al fresco spaces that offer respite from the concrete jungle below. Some are mellow, appealing to date-night couples and a post-work crowd. Others are sophisticated, attracting the city’s social set, celebrities, and executives wanting to decompress with a vodka tonic after a hectic day. Then, there’s the more raucous, party rooftop. Outfitted with DJs, fire pits, and video installations, you’ll find crop-top clad models and their entourages dancing in the shadow of the city’s famed architecture. Not sure where you’d fit in? Read on for my favorite rooftop bars in the Windy City.
Visit T+L's Guide to Chicago Bars for more inspiration.
With its swanky teak bar, canopy of oversized sun umbrellas, and precisely pruned shrubbery, Nomi Garden feels like a Midwestern iteration of St. Tropez in the sky. Sip craft cocktails and nibble on shareable bites from this sophisticated 7th floor sanctuary, which offers an uninterrupted view of the Michigan Avenue skyline.
It’s a party atop this trendy hotel’s 27th floor. Open year-round (thanks to a retractable roof), this sleek 7,000-square-foot space is divided into four indoor/outdoor sections. With DJs spinning, a video wall, and a calendar of themed evenings, this Loop destination is perfect for guests looking for a lively, South Beach-style experience.
Io Urban Roofscape at The Godfrey Hotel
This massive new urban roofscape is glamorous, to be sure. There are three distinct indoor/outdoor lounging areas outfitted with Art Deco-style sofas, white canopies, and stainless-steel fire pits, all with dramatic views of River North. A retractable glass roof make this a year-round cocktail destination, so you can enjoy your margaritas, mojitos, and sangria come rain or shine.
The J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln
Perched majestically above Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the tony J.Parker bar offers spectacular views of the park’s zoo, the Gold Coast, and Lake Michigan. The food and drink menu complements the view with classically inspired cocktails and small plates designed by a-list chef Paul Birant, who helms the hotel’s restaurant downstairs.