Thanks to the 1910 Act of Congress, the height of buildings in Washington, DC, is heavily regulated. As a result, the district’s skyline is low and sprawling, with broad avenues, green open spaces and public squares – all thanks to the baroque city design adopted by George Washington’s prized urban planner, Pierre L’Enfant. 

From the right rooftop, expect sweeping views of the Washington Monument, the Potomac River, the US Capitol and, yes, even the White House. Here are the best rooftop bars in Washington, DC, for a bird’s-eye view of the city below.

Lady Bird at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel
New to the scene, Lady Bird at Kimpton Banneker Hotel, Washington, DC © Kimpton Banneker Hotel

Lady Bird

Lady Bird at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel is the newest rooftop bar in DC, perched above Dupont Circle. An homage to former First Lady Claudia Alta Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson, the design is inspired by Johnson's love of travel. Craft cocktails and light bites play a supporting role to the fantastic views of 16th Street's historic homes, embassies and churches, along with a great view of the White House. 

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Perch SW Rooftop Lounge
Perch SW Rooftop Lounge, Cambria Hotel DC © Perch SW Rooftop Lounge

Perch SW Rooftop Lounge

New in 2021, Perch SW Rooftop Lounge has some of the best views in the up-and-coming Southwest DC neighborhood. Atop the new Cambria Hotel, Perch SW's views of the Capitol riverfront, Audi Field and Nationals Park wow. New twists on comfort food include fun pizzas like Chicken Tikka and Pepper Barbecue Chicken along with an impressive lineup of craft beers and cocktails. 

citizenM Hotel Washington DC | Downtown, Capitol Hill
CloudM Rooftop Bar at citizenM Hotel Washington DC | Downtown, Capitol Hill © citizenM

CloudM Rooftop Bar

A much-needed addition to Southwest Washington, CitizenM hotel unveiled CloudM Rooftop Bar in September 2021. The upbeat, bright hangout is a burst of fun placed in the middle of the Federal Center with great drinks, food and panoramic views of the city. With a cocktail in hand, head outside for sweeping views of many of DC's highlights including the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

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Huge sliding glass doors are retracted at dusk to open up the indoor/outdoor space, with smart modern furniture and a firepit at Terazza rooftop bar.
Wrap up in a cozy blanket and take in the view over a cocktail at Terrazza © Dan Swartz

Terrazza

Washington, DC’s southwestern Wharf development offers many Instagrammable views, and the rooftop at Officina is no exception. Part of the three-level Italian culinary venue from Michelin-starred Masseria chef Nicholas Stefanelli, Terrazza presents a series of picture-perfect moments: planes landing and taking off in the skies above Reagan National Airport, and yachts sailing along the Washington Channel.

In the winter, the rooftop transforms into a cozy, enclosed winter wonderland with flannel blankets, fire pits and creative hot cocktails like A Toddy A Day, made with bourbon, Amaro, honey-ginger, lemon and alpine whipped cream.

The walls and artistically arranged minimalist furniture has been painted in pastel shades at Colada Shop rooftop bar.
Nibble on some classic Cuban snacks alongside your drinks at Colada Shop © Rey Lopez

Colada Shop 

Transport yourself directly to the charming streets of old-town Havana with a visit to Colada Shop, the Cuban hotspot situated just off DC’s bustling 14th St corridor. Vibrant interiors match the menu’s flavorful offerings of strong coffees and light snacks such as empanadas, pastelitos (pastries), croquetas (croquettes) and Cuban sandwiches.

Its main draw, however, is the year-round rooftop garden with colorful seating and flower-filled planters hanging off its pastel green accent wall. Listen to Caribbean beats while indulging on $9 house cocktails at Havana Nights, the shop's all-night happy hour every Thursday from 4:00pm until close.

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A forest scene with a full moon has been painted on the wall behind retro-chic furniture at Wild Days.
Wild Days hosts music and comedy shows as well as claiming stellar views of DC's K St © James Jackson

Wild Days

Located atop the Eaton DC, one of The District's most progressive hotels, Wild Days is one of the few rooftop bars offering uninhibited views of K St in Downtown DC. Throughout the week, the space plays host to a variety of musical events – from DJ sets to jazz performances to live music shows – and stand-up comedy shows. Turn up on a Friday or Saturday night and find the indoor area transformed into a large dance floor with a chicly dressed crowd dancing the night away.

There are handcrafted cocktails, a beer list featuring local brews, plus inventive fare like an outdoor-only s'mores experience.

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View looking down to the landscaped outdoor seating area at Top of the Yard; beyond the bar it's possible to see into the Washington Nationals' stadium.
Space at Top of the Yard will be at a premium on Washington Nationals' game days © Suites by Hilton Washington DC

Top of the Yard

For a free bird’s-eye view of a live Washington Nationals baseball game, head to Top of the Yard, the casual Navy Yard bar on the rooftop of the Hampton Inn & Suites. There are baseball-themed cocktails like a Triple Play margarita or a Ball Park Palmer with Jack Daniels Tennessee honey whiskey, honey, lemonade, iced tea and mint. And that’s not all. Fans of ballpark food will be thrilled with the snacks: choose from burgers, soft pretzels, nachos, cheese sticks, Old Bay wings and hot dogs.

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A bartender is shaking a cocktail while a group of people take in the views towards the US Capitol building at Summit rooftop bar.
Summit has unparalleled views of the US Capitol building © Sammy Todd Dyess

Summit

One of the latest rooftop bars to open in The District, Summit sits on the 11th floor of the sophisticated Conrad Washington, DC. This swanky outdoor bar offers monumental views of the US Capitol building and Downtown DC, making it one of the best vantage points in the city for Fourth of July fireworks. Sip on drinks ranging from a classic old-fashioned or margarita to their Aperol spritz on tap. 

The view from Whiskey Charlie down to the Washington Channel; to the left is a marina filled with yachts.
Whiskey Charlie is named for the Washington Channel's call sign © Christabel Lobo / Lonely Planet

Whiskey Charlie

The first rooftop bar to open on the 10th floor of the Wharf's Canopy by Hilton, the Whiskey Charlie gets its name from the call sign “WC” that’s given to boat captains entering the Washington Channel. The most impressive views from the outdoor deck occur at night when the US Capitol Dome shines brightly in the unobstructed distance, or in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom across the water in East Potomac Park. Get there early in the evening to grab a front-row seat of the enviable nightly sunsets while sipping on nautical-themed cocktails like the refreshing WC Mule made with vodka, ginger beer, Caribbean syrup and lime, or their playful Old Scalawag mixing whiskey, Grand Mariner, orange and walnut bitters.

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A sunset view looking out onto the Potomac River from the terrace of Top of the Gate rooftop bar.
These days the infamous Watergate Hotel is making a name for itself with its rooftop-bar views © Watergate Hotel

Top of the Gate

Located alongside the Potomac River, Top of the Gate offers excellent panoramic views of the Georgetown waterfront and the Washington Monument, as well as the Pentagon across the river. Perched atop the infamous Watergate Hotel, the bar closes during the winter months before reopening in the spring for dining and drinks.

A collection of colorful seasonal cocktails take their inspiration from the epic daily sunset hues over the Potomac – which just so happens to be the best time to stop by one of The District’s most luxe rooftop bars.

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This article was first published February 2020 and updated October 2021

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