Rooting for Rooftop Bars
Perhaps one of the best ways to stay hydrated during the warm waning day (and nights) of summer is at a rooftop bar, where you can soak in the warmth and the views. Here are some of the best rooftop bars in the area.
The Logan, Philadelphia’s Hotel, 1840 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The first thing you’ll notice about this upscale bar on the 9th floor of the hotel is the lovely views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and City Hall. The second thing is likely to be the sophisticated decor with sofas creating cozy seating areas around fire pits. Craft cocktails, beer, wine and champagne are all available to pair with charcuterie, cheese and small plates. Reservations are not required, but are recommended. $10 cover. 21+. Tip: This is the place to celebrate that big deal with a pricey bottle of Dom Pérignon.
This beloved 6-year-old bar is on the rooftop of what used to be Bok Technical High School in South Philly. Not even the valedictorians of yesteryear could have dreamed up this ingenious re-used of space and how fast it would become more popular than the cheerleading squad. Though the students are long gone, the building retains the character of a high school with long, locker-filled hallways, though now they house local makers. Those hallways aren’t accessible when the bar is open, but when you use the bar’s student-sized bathrooms, it’ll bring you back to your school days. The bar is only open in the summer so make plans to go and see the views - one of few public spots where you can see the city skyline from the south. There is a full schedule of events ranging from a drag brunch to workouts and pop ups by musicians, chefs, artists and makers. This year, for the first time, reservations are available. Some space is held for walk-ins as well. Tip: Make reservations just before sunset so you can see the daytime views, the sunset and the nighttime lights.
129 S. 30th Street
At this 1.2-acre rooftop park in West Philadelphia, you’ll find big grassy areas perfect for picnicking and a giant movie screen for watching movies, cartoons and sporting events. There’s a kiosk selling fast casual food, beer, wine and bottled cocktails. It’s atop the Cira Center’s 12-story parking garage where the views of the Schuylkill River and the city skyline are pretty enough to attract wedding parties posing for portraits. Programming ranges from live music to movie nights. Don’t wait, it’s only open during warm weather. Tip: Get parking validation after 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.
Motto Hotel, 1830 Ludlow
The bar on the rooftop of the Motto Hotel in Rittenhouse has quickly become a popular spot. What’s not to love, with its views of Liberty Place, white string lights, tasty but inexpensive tacos, guacamole and baskets of nacho chips that pair perfectly with margaritas, tequila- and mezcal-focused drinks? The grown up popsicles are the icing on the cake. Think rhubarb, strawberry, hibiscus or flan, caramel and sea salt or butterscotch pecan and mezcal. It has one of the city’s few retractable roofs, making it an all-weather destination. Open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Tip: Walk-ins only but service is speedy and the wait may not be as long as predicted.
This retro bar on the 3rd floor Rittenhouse restaurant has indoor and outdoor spaces and a fireplace, making it a fun place to visit year-round. The menu includes frozen cocktails, champagne, beer and wine, as well as a fun food. Tip: Jumbo lump pad Thai, Szechuan shoestring fries and a cheesesteak spring roll are its signature dishes.
401 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.
This ship docked on the Delaware River, just south of the Ben Franklin Bridge is the oldest and largest square-rigged sailing vessel still afloat. Grab a drink or seafood-focused eats on the deck for great views of the river and the skyline. Tip: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.
212 Bridge Street, Phoenixville
This casual, kid-friendly restaurant and bar is the ideal place to relax and enjoy craft beer, wine, whiskeys and cocktails. The menu includes crowd-pleasers like burgers, pizza and brunch foods. On Friday and Saturdays it is first come/first served. Tip: The menu includes vegetarian and gluten-friendly options.
217 West State Street, Media
In 2020, this bar was dubbed “the best rooftop in the area” by Main Line Today. The bar provides views of town and serves pan-Asian cuisine, including sushi, sashimi that pairs with premium sakes, Asian beers, champagne, wine and cocktails. Tip: Reservations are available.
Cambra Hotel, 219 S. Broad Street
From the 16th floor of the Cambria Hotel you have a breathtaking view of the Avenue of the Arts/South Broad Street, including the Kimmel Center to the south and City Hall to the north. This would have been the place to watch the Eagles parade. Next time, perhaps? The bar, which is 21+, has indoor and outdoor seating with a garden vibe. Order from a list of hot or cold appetizers, three entrees (Organic half chicken, Pan Roasted StripLoin or Pan Roasted Trout) and two desserts. Reservations are recommended. Tip: Happy Hour is Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.
102 E. Market Street, West Chester
Red lanterns adorn this rooftop bar where it’s first come/first served and no reservations are needed. Enjoy the views of downtown West Chester as you feast on sizzling fajitas, overstuffed burritos and tacos all washed down with margaritas. Tip: The exit is one way down a flight of steps.
123 Fayette Street in Conshohocken
The Conshohocken location of the Great American Pub is the original. It opened in 1991. On its rooftop bar choose from fun pub fare and a long list of cocktails like margaritas and motanical mules, wine and beer, bottled and on tap. Tip: The rooftop is first come/first served.
Lark (opening soon)
617 Righters Ferry Rd in Bala Cynwyd
The Residence Inn Philadelphia Bala Cynwyd in the Ironworks at Pencoyd Landing is already home to The Landing Kitchen, a new restaurant by Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi and will soon be home to a second restaurant. Elmi's second restaurant on the site, Lark, will be an upscale Mediterranean coastal eatery with a rooftop terrace.
When it comes to rooftop bars in the Philadelphia area, the sky’s the limit.
by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. Visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com for more tips. Looking for fun things to do? Need gifts? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse.
For more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including a list of newly-opened attractions, information about pop-up beer gardens and fun things opening soon: click here.