Most non-Angelenos are unaware of the city’s rooftop bars because they know L.A. for its beach bars and celeb-filled hotspots.
But Los Angeles’ tall buildings offer views that only enhance the bountiful stunning scenery. Angelenos learned this long ago, inevitably turning rooftops into exceptionally buzzy scenes. If the bar features a pool or simply a killer view of the gorgeous Southern California landscape, expect an epic wait during prime hours. But it’s all worth it to enjoy a few cocktails while overlooking the City of Angels from a sky-top perch, assuming you pick the right rooftop bar. Check out a few of our preferred venues.
You don’t have to remember that the restaurant on the second floor is E.P. (a self-proclaimed “Asian Eating House”) and the rooftop bar is L.P. in order to enjoy yourself at this multilevel eating-drinking-entertainment hub in West Hollywood. No matter how you arrive at L.P., you’ll find a rambling venue split among multiple bars. As you explore the space while sipping cocktails like The Instagram Model or California Love, you may stumble on Frankie’s Private Bar, a more discrete area that provides some refuge from the buzz of the main bar. Or you might discover the Melrose Rooftop Theatre, where 150 prime seats host visitors for cult classics and newly released movies every summer.
Whether you’re in Miami, Chicago, New York, or L.A., if you find the Broken Shaker, you find the party. Even on a rooftop above the Freehand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, you’ll feel nestled in a tropical paradise, just like at the original Miami location. A blond wood bar, tropical and desert plants, and a mélange of psychedelic pastel decorations welcome you to an island retreat in the clouds. Snack on L.A.-appropriate wellness foods like the tahini-topped crudite, or go for something more filling with the brown butter Exchange burger. Whatever you decide to get (or if you decide to preserve your waistline for a dip in the pool), be sure to order a beverage from the “DTLA Inspired” menu—like the Agave Gracias with Ilegal mezcal, Braulio, Lejay Crème de Cassis, and piloncillo sirop.
It was a big deal when New York’s NoMad blew into L.A. in early 2018, but it was an even bigger deal when the rooftop opened later that summer. Now Angelenos can enjoy Daniel Humm’s extraordinary eats alongside Leo Robitschek’s cocktails outside in the gorgeous weather. Drinks skew summery with options like the Detox Retox, made with whisky, Venezuelan rum, pineapple rum, aged cachaça, coconut water, and Angostura bitters. Be sure to make a reservation and finish off your experience with a Milk & Honey ice cream sundae.
L.A.’s best rooftop bars are often downtown and in Hollywood, but margot breaks the mold, sitting atop the creative retail-office-dining development PLATFORM in Culver City. Far from the sceney hotel pools in DTLA, the margot space looks like an industrial chic warehouse that’s slowly succumbed to a relaxed jungle lounge. Pick something from the menu of tonic-based drinks, or go with a slushie, which is currently a frozen Negroni-Painkiller mash-up.
There are a lot of things to love about The Standard, Downtown LA scene, whether you’re here for the poolside waterbeds, roof deck, delicious drinks, stunning views, or some of the greatest people watching east of Silver Lake. This downtown setup is the epitome of rooftop drinking in the city, with its massive crowds, dress code after 8 p.m., and open-access pool tempting non-hotel guests to take a dip. Come for the drinks and stay for the DJ dance parties.
Skybar at the Mondrian sits upon a hilltop perch that provides unrivaled panoramic views of Hollywood and Central L.A. The Sunset Strip location, surging late-night DJ sets, and supremely chic crowd routinely land Skybar on Angelenos’ lists of favorite rooftop bars. The view, both outward onto the landscape and inward on fellow bar guests, is just too good to pass up.
It seems silly that in a city known for its gorgeous coastline and beach culture, most of the rooftop venues are located in inland parts of town. But not the High Rooftop Lounge. Minutes from Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, the Hotel Erwin’s rooftop spot combines seaside splendor with a fairly relaxed vibe and daily specials like Taco Tuesdays and Wine Down Wednesdays. As you kick back with a craft cocktail while looking at a technicolor sunset that meets the sea, you’ll forget all about those DTLA hotspots.