When you live in a city with weather as gorgeous as San Diego, it’s hard not to want to sit outside and soak in the remaining rays of the day when you get off work or finish your to-dos over the weekend.
It’s probably why some of the best places to grab a bite and drink around town offer a rooftop to lounge on with views that just can’t be beat. These outstanding rooftops are even beautiful at night, showcasing views of San Diego’s vibrant night life and providing a sanctuary escape high above the city streets.
Here are some of the most beloved rooftop bars and restaurants across San Diego.
The rooftop of the Kettner Exchange is a prime location to drop by if you’re looking for cabanas and large tables for a group outing in Little Italy. The lounge menu offers decadent choices, such as the Drunken Noodles with laughing bird shrimp, a tender belly pork belly steam bun and the signature big eye tuna pizza. The cocktails at Kettner Exchange are also top-notch with everything from pina coladas to stiff bourbon drinks.
2001 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy. ketterexchange.com
Half Door Brewing Company
This popular hot spot - located right down the block from Petco Park - provides a lovely backdrop of the stadium both day and night. Half Door boasts delicious, local craft beer that really gives you a solid taste of what the San Diego beer scene is up to. Beyond the great brews, they serve brunch, lunch and dinner daily. There’s a variety of great eats, including the house sausage mac ‘n’ cheese, pork belly hash, crispy chicken sandwich and the must-try flourless chocolate cake.
903 Island Ave., East Village. halfdoorbrewing.com
Hello Betty Fish House
Views of the Oceanside Pier and fresh oysters? Don’t mind if we do. This dreamy rooftop offers up a wide variety of cocktails, margaritas, wine and local craft beer, with a rotating tap list. The menu comes straight from the sea at Hello Betty, with choices like the much-loved fish and chips, oyster shooters, steamed mussels and Baja stone crab cheese dip.
211 Mission Ave., Oceanside. hellobettyoceanside.com
Pacific Beach Alehouse
This brewery/restaurant offers up brunch, lunch and dinner at its restaurant, which also gives its patrons a stellar glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. PB Alehouse serves a variety of different burgers, sandwiches, flat breads, salads and tacos. There’s really something for everyone. The best part of this place, though? Fresh craft beer is provided from the on-site brewery, ideal for sipping on a sunny, San Diego afternoon.
721 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach. pbalehouse.com
This swanky rooftop bar opened up its doors in late 2015 and is located on the 14th floor of the Courtyard San Diego Gaslamp/Convention Center. Here you can find happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, where you can grab tasty classics such as an Old Fashioned or the Bee’s Knees, made with honey, lemon and gin for $6 each. The Nolen also keeps you fed with tasty items like the carnitas flatbread, crispy tots, tuna poke and beer braised sliders, to list a few.
The Nolen, 453 Sixth Ave., downtown. thenolenrooftop.com
This gem of a rooftop bar, located inside of Belmont Park, is the perfect post-roller coaster or surf session stop. Cool down with one of their refreshing cocktails, like the Water Cooler made with Tito’s vodka, fresh watermelon juice, lemon and cucumber. We highly recommend ordering up a few of their tasty sushi rolls (the lobster roll is killer) to share with a group of friends, too.
3105 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach. cannonballsd.com
Located in the heart of the Gaslamp, Rustic Root boasts views of downtown San Diego and a lively atmosphere. Order from their rooftop menu, which includes pork and quinoa lettuce cups, fried chicken sliders and the salmon tartare. Oh, and don’t skimp out on the drinks while here. One favorite at Rustic Root is the Spanish Sunrise, made with Espolon tequila, pressed lime, lavender tonic and grapefruit zest.
535 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp. rusticroot.com
El Prez Beach Bar & Cocina
If you’re in the Pacific Beach area, El Prez is an awesome option for Mexican food and rooftop views. Snack on bites like the bacon-wrapped shrimp, flautas or their famous El Prez guac made with red onions, cilantro, serrano peppers, cheese and pomegranate pearls. They serve traditional cocktails with a Mexican-twist, like the Tijuana mule that features espolon blanco tequila, muddled jalapenos and fresh lime juice.
4190 Mission Blvd., Pacific Beach. thewoodgroupsd.com
Fairweather at Rareform
Above Rare Form lies the restaurant’s rooftop patio, Fairweather. This spot gives its guests a nice side-view of Petco Park and the Padres, if you go on game night. The patio bar offers a cocktail menu created by Anthony Schmidt of Noble Experiment, including the popular Rum Row - an aged Old Fashioned with coconut bitters and banana liqueur. You can snack on roasted cauliflower, a classic pretzel with salt and cheese, or opt for the more filling, handcrafted sandwiches and soups offered here.
795 J St., Gaslamp District. godblessrareform.com