If you’re a local or a traveler on a San Diego tour, you probably know that San Diego is famous for its gorgeous sunsets, pearly beaches, and breathtaking skylines (among many other things). And what better way to enjoy these sights than with a drink in hand, date or friends by your side, and a feeling of being on top of the world. No, we’re not talking about hot air balloon rides, another San Diego specialty; we’re talking about sightseeing from a rooftop bar. It’s truly one of the fun things to do in San Diego.
The experience of standing above a city is always tantalizing. When the spectacular view also includes all that San Diego has to offer, the experience becomes heavenly. But where should you go for the hot seats in town? Here are the best rooftop bars in San Diego and their accompanying view.
Photo Courtesy: Gregory Pierce Photography
For the local imbibers and honorary guests alike, The Nolen is the definition of high class among San Diego rooftop bars. Located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter at 453 Sixth Avenue, this spot is considered to have the second-best view of the city according to San Diego Magazine.
Enjoy tables with a fire pit centerpiece or sit at the golden bar for an unbeatable ambiance. The Nolen rooftop bar offers delicious bites to share and decadent signature cocktails seven days a week, with a special treat on Sunday. Please say brunch Sundays; please say brunch Sundays. Yes, The Nolen is open from 11 am to 2 pm for a brunch menu filled with exactly what you would want out of a morning extravaganza.
To make your mouth water, think Smoked Salmon Benedict and Chocolate Stuffed Croissant French Toast. Yeah, it’s that kind of morning. Nothing sounds more delicious than a weekend brunch here.
- The View: Hold your breath when you step off the elevator. Otherwise, you’re sure to lose it at first glance. From Petco Park to the Coronado bridge, there’s a reason the Nolen rooftop bar made it into the top 2 in terms of view.
- Happy Hour: Monday – Wednesday, 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Sunday, 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Altitude Sky Lounge
Photo Courtesy: Altitude Sky Lounge
The San Diego Bay has never looked better than atop the Altitude Sky Lounge. With incredible views from 22 stories up, this rooftop bar, located at 660 K Street, will have you wondering if you’ve reached the pinnacle.
Not only are the external views outstanding, but the interior décor will have you speechless. At night, the colored lights highlight the geometric architecture and tall grass surrounding the seating area, turning the atmosphere into an eccentric wonderland.
Enjoy bottle service, dinner, and of course, the full 360-degree spectacular view in style at Altitude.
- The View: On one side, you can watch the boats cruise in and out of San Diego bay. On the other side, you can peer directly into Petco Park and watch tiny ant-players run around the diamond.
The Rooftop by STK
Photo Courtesy: Sara Norris/Thrillist
By day, The Rooftop by STK is a sophisticated high-end bar with showstopping views and gourmet entrees. By night, particularly a weekend night, the bar transforms into an eclectic lounge and nightclub.
Located on 600 F Street in the heart of downtown, this San Diego rooftop bar will offer a delightful beginning to an evening in downtown San Diego. It has become one of the best upscale restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter. If you’re planning a night here, do note that there is an “upscale casual” dress code. So, no beach bum flip-flops allowed here.
- The View: Being right in the Gaslamp Quarter allows you surreal views of the Coronado Bridge and all of the nightlife in downtown San Diego.
Top of the Hyatt
Photo Courtesy: Top of the Hyatt
Located 40 stories up from the Hyatt Hotel, Top of the Hyatt is sure to peak your fancy. The name alone ensures that you’ll be in the upper echelon of classy food, drinks, and views. While their rooftop bar doesn’t allow you to feel, the breeze of the outdoors—it’s surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass—they do boast their views all year round.
Enjoy their decadent craft cocktail menu from Sunrise to Sunset. Sunrise offers fruit-forward drinks for those with a sweet tooth, like their Top Floor Mule—made with vodka, ginger liqueur, ginger beer, cucumber, and lime. And as the day turns to night, try their Sunset menu, offering spirit-forward drinks, like their Campfire Old Fashioned—made with High West Campfire, walnut and orange bitters, and bar syrup. If you plan to come here for date night, you and your date will be in for a treat once you see the romantic views during sunset.
Located at 1 Market Place, come sip in style and relish their panoramic view.
- The View: Gaze west toward Coronado island; gaze east toward the city. Being in a prime downtown location lets you get a sweeping glimpse of San Diego.
Earlier, we mentioned The Nolen was honored as the second-best urban view in San Diego. It was second to the one and only Mister A’s. Mister A’s has a famous lineage dating back to 1965, when the renowned entrepreneur and restaurant owner, John Alessio, or Mr. A, decided to open this rooftop restaurant and bar. Mister A’s is not only known for its views but also for being amongst some of the best fine dining in San Diego.
Though it passed ownership onto a new family, the first-rate dining quality has never faltered. Come enjoy their full lunch and dinner menu and stay for the sunset with a view rated number one for a reason. You’ll enjoy the food and drinks, but you might just fall in love with the stunning view.
- The View: Located on Banker’s Hill, Mister A’s offers a far-off perspective on downtown San Diego. Plus, being that they’re right next to Balboa Park, observe the beautiful strip of green from a bird’s eye view.
Upper East Bar
Photo Courtesy: Eater San Diego
Of all the rooftop bars in San Diego, the Upper East Bar stands out as something unique. The atmosphere makes one think of the Upper East Side in New York, with a vibe that belongs to designer brands and wealthy denizens of Manhattan.
It’s a hip spot that, once out of the elevator, will surprise you with its lack of red carpet or waitlist to get in. For the VIP exclusivity feel and the freedom to walk around and enjoy oneself, you need to visit Upper East Bar.
Book one of their poolside cabanas and marvel at the wonderful views in style.
- The View: Located atop the Solamar Hotel, enjoy being in the heart of a bustling city. And be sure to catch the sunset from inside the pool—highly recommended.
- Happy Hour: Thursday, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Touch the Sky in Paradise
For evening cocktails and a stunning view unlike any other, nothing can top the best rooftop bars in San Diego. If you’ve been looking to spice up an evening or impress someone with an incredible date night, be sure to consider any bars on this list. Depending on what flutters your fancy—a beautiful San Diego skyline over the bay or being enclosed in the soul of the city—there’s a San Diego rooftop bar with your name on it.
Come enjoy paradise at any of these options. And touch the sky in San Diego.
To enjoy more experiences on an elevated level, book one of our Signature So Diego Tours!
San Diego Magazine. San Diego’s Best Restaurants 2019. https://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/June-2019/San-Diegos-Best-Restaurants-2019/