10 Chill Rooftop Hangouts in Washington DC

By Malee Oot

Even the most laid-back, welcoming rooftop hangouts feel like a secret club: a place only for those in the know, far removed from the chaos and grind of the city below. In DC, the arrival of spring comes with the irresistible urge to forgo work and soak up every ray of sunlight possible during waking hours, preferably with a drink in hand. Fortunately, some of the city’s most alluring watering holes also feature open-air rooftops — perfect for combating that winter-induced vitamin D deficiency. With the abundance of lofty, open-air hangouts in DC, the choices can be overwhelming. This is a cross-section of just some of the diverse local offerings, featuring everything from chic poolside lounges, to trendy night spots, to low key hangouts. So get out there, and let the spring sun worshipping begin!


2444 Wisconsin Avenue NW

On the sun-kissed deck of this warm and reasonably-priced Mexican eatery, it is easy to forget you are really just overlooking Wisconsin Avenue. The cuisine has a fresh, tropical vibe, with menu items aptly named for some of the planet’s most picturesque islands. Think the Nevis, with grilled shrimp with pineapple-mango salsa, cilantro, avocado and lime sour cream on a corn tortilla, or the Tonga, with pineapple fried rice tossed with scrambled eggs, bean sprouts, scallions, peas and carrots. On weekends, the place also offers an exceedingly reasonably-priced brunch menu, as much of it under $10 (11 am-3pm Saturdays and Sundays).

Le Meridien

1121 N 19th Street, Arlington

Directly across the river from DC, in the heart of Rosslyn, the Georgetown skyline is perfectly framed from the expansive 4,800 square foot outdoor terrace at the trendy Le Meridien hotel. Order drinks and cuisine from the menu of the in-house restaurant Amuse, which offers elegantly-presented snacks and light meals, while appreciating spectacular river views.

POV at the W Hotel

515 15 Street NW

Offering the trademark DC photo op, POV, the bar crowning the elegant W Hotel, boasts one of the most aesthetically strategic locations in the city, with a sweeping view that includes several of city’s most iconic landmarks. So — don’t be surprised to see a parade of patrons posing for pictures with the monuments as backdrop. The skyward watering hole also serves a high-end menu, from small bites like lamb chops and empanadas to full plates like crab cakes and steak frites. But the view doesn’t come cheap, with prices like $9 for import beers.

DNV Rooftop @ the Donovan House

1155 14th Street NW

One of the city’s sweetest seasonal escapes, the rooftop at the boutique Donovan House hotel offers not only a hip poolside retreat, but also features an Asian-street-food-inspired menu courtesy of the hotel’s in-house Japanese restaurant Zentan, a well-rounded beer and wine selection, and plenty of specially-crafted seasonal cocktails including booze-infused popsicles and slushies. Be on the lookout for opening dates, as it’s slated to open March 25 this year.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

2007 18th Street, NW

If you can bear to breeze past the veritable library of whiskey on display in the lower bar area at DC’s shrine to the water of life, head upstairs to the sizable rooftop at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. During the week, the relaxed open air terrace atop Jack Rose dishes up a menu of grown- up bar food like smoked whiskey wings, scotch eggs, topping-laden burgers and gourmet grilled cheese (and all ‘bites’ on the menu are half-price from 5–7:30 pm during the week). In warmer seasons, the rooftop area is even converted into a tiki-bar on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Brixton

901 U street NW

Declare it a pub day and head to the Brixton, U Street’s own quintessential British pub. Named for the famously vibrant and multicultural neighborhood in South London, the Brixton has something to offer drinkers of all stripes. With a cozy ‘lodge’ area, dining room, and airy rooftop, the place serves standard yet beloved British pub grub favorites like bangers and mash, sausage rolls, and fish and chips in addition to offering libations from across the pond, like Strongbow and Boddington’s on tap, and classically English concoctions like snakebites and Pimms cups. Best of all, on Saturday and Sunday happy hour extends from opening until 5 pm.

The Rooftop at the Embassy Row Hotel

2015 Massachusetts Avenue NW

The Rooftop at the Embassy Row Hotel is hardly a secret — the cloud-shrouded summer hangout is consistently ranked as one of the best rooftop pools in the country. For locals, the place offers a highly affordable and stress-free staycation from May through September. Anyone in need of a serious mental health day can spring for the $25 day pass and snag a cabana by the pool (seasonal pool hours are 7 am to 10 pm).

Biergarten Haus

1355 H Street NE

Declare it Octoberfest at any time of year and celebrate by swilling Bavarian beer and feasting on authentic regional cuisine al fresco at H Street’s Biergarten Haus. In addition to serving up snacks that oddly enough pair perfectly with beer, like pretzel rolls and potato pancakes, the place also serves authentic German dishes, including all the essential wursts (bratwurst, knackwurst, and bauernwurst) and of course wienerschnitzel (or egglplant schnitzel for the vegetarians). Beyond the food, the Bavarian-themed joint also features a regular line-up of entertainment options, showcasing everything from NBA games to international UEFA matches to Tuesday night trivia.

The Observatory

1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW

The Observatory, opening for the season in April, is an aptly-named rooftop hangout at the Graham, one of Georgetown’s poshest accommodations. It is perhaps one of the best ways to impress out-of-towners or a date with some of the most picturesque views of the city. Beyond the dazzling vistas, the rooftop lounge features a menu of refreshing cocktails like the Passion Bouquet (Absolut mandarin, passion fruit, rose syrup) or the Doves Over Georgetown (Avion silver, prosecco, sparkling grapefruit) and even has a cigar list (sourced from J.R. Tobacco). But, while the only item on the agenda may be drinking outdoors, think of the Observatory as a country club in the sky — it’s really not a board-shorts and flip-flops kind of place.

H Street Country Club

1335 H Street NW

Declare any day a Sunday Funday at the H Street Country Club, because drinks always taste better outdoors during daylight hours. Beyond the vast open-air space, this whimsical watering hole also features a lengthy list of tequilas, an assortment of games — including an indoor mini-golf course — and plenty of weekly food and drink specials (like on Tuesdays, where is it happy hour all night).

Originally published on www.upout.com/DC

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