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Chicago Rooftop Bars

by Katie Hammel

For the ultimate view of Chicago’s city lights twinkling below, head to one of the city’s many rooftop bars and lounges.

From casual to see-and-be-seen, there’s a rooftop bar in Chicago for everyone. Here are seven of our favorites.

NoMI Garden at the Park Hyatt

NoMi Garden at the Chicago Park HyattRegarded as one of the best spots for an upscale, romantic dining experience in Chicago, NoMI really hits it out of the park with its seasonal Garden terrace.
Set on 2,000 square feet on the 7th floor, the terrace overlooks Michigan AvenueNoMi Garden at the Park Hyatt view and offers one of the best views of the John Hancock Building in the city.
NoMI’s attention to detail shines here, from the imported patio tables to the meticulously designed menu of small-plates. 800 North Michigan Avenue.

C-View at MileNorth Chicago (former Affinia Hotel)C-View rooftop bar at the Affina Hotel

C-View at Affinia Hotel rooftop barWith a South Beach vibe and a stunning (but not completely unobstructed) view, C-View is an indoor/outdoor space that offers reasonably-priced bar snacks and cocktails in a relaxed setting on the 29th floor.
The one gripe many patrons have is that there’s only one elevator that services the roof, but the views of the Magnificent Mile sparkling in the distance may be worth the wait. 166 East Superior Street.

ROOF at The Wit

Roof at The Wit Chicago rooftop barRoof at The Wit barOne of the newest additions to the rooftop bar scene, the cleverly-named ROOF at the Wit hotel, is the place to go for the city’s trendy young elite.
With 7,000 square feet of space, Roof can hold a total of 300 people (150 inside and 150 outside). Fire pits warm snuggly couples on chillier nights and telescopes stationed around the rooftop unleash the inner voyeur.
Over 20 varieties of small plates will keep you full while you sip on clever cocktails and gaze in awe at the view. 201 North State Street.

The Terrace at the Conrad Chicago rooftop barThe Terrace at the Conrad

Terrace at the Conrad viewThe Terrace at the Conrad hotel just oozes sex appeal. Sleek lounges and comfy daybeds invite you to snuggle up and stay a while, especially on Sunday nights, when you can watch Chicago-themed movies screened under the stars.
Cocktails are creative and the menu is inventive, serving up globally-influenced tapas with a modern twist. 521 North Rush Street.

ZED451

ZED451 on North Clark Street in ChicagoZED451 Chicato rooftop barOpening amidst plenty of buzz in the summer of 2008, ZED541 set the standard for over-the-top rooftop bars. The Brazilian steakhouse theme was familiar, but the extravagance of the outdoor area was not.
With low-slung wooden benches, an impeccable view, and even a make-shift grassy expanse for kicking back, it’s the perfect city summer retreat. 739 North Clark Street.

Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom restaurant and breweryRock Bottom rooftop beer garden in ChicagoWhereas many of Chicago’s rooftop bars are trendy, romantic, or luxurious affairs with low-lighting and a dress-to-impress scene, Rock Bottom’s rooftop beer garden is a like a good old pub transplanted a few stories above the streets. And therein lay its charms.
When you want a good urban view to go with your cold, sudsy brew, this is the place to come. The food is basic pub fare, the drinks are cheap, and the vibe is as casual as you want it to be. One West Grand Avenue.

The Terrace at Trump

Terrace at Trump view of Chicago RiverThe Terrace at Trump rooftop bar reflectionsThe Terrace at Trump on the sixteenth floor of the Trump Tower has views of the city that many have never seen.
From this chic oasis in the sky, you can take in an impressive eyeful of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, and the Chicago skyline, including the Wrigley Clock Tower and Tribune Building, dramatically lit right in front of you. There are L-shaped couches for cuddling and sharing a bottle of bubbly or trump-like high priced cocktails. 401 North Wabash Ave.
For more pictures and history of Chicago’s architectural heritage visit my Skyscraper City illustrated articles.
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