The Best Rooftop Bars and Restaurants in San Diego

Altitude Sky Lounge View

Did you know that downtown San Diego has a height restriction on it’s buildings? It’s really because of the airport, but it makes the views of the city phenomenal! It also means that the word “rooftop” can be used very loosely. If you’re looking for the best rooftop bars in San Diego at hights that give you a unique view of the city, look no further! These locations are my favorite because of price point, happy hour deals, and casual feels.

1. The Nolen (Downtown)

The Nolen
Image via

Located on the 14th floor of the Gaslamp Marriott Courtyard hotel, this venue’s views are made even more exquisite by it’s central firepit. While this location is more on the expensive side, they have great happy hour prices on craft cocktails and small bites plates that will still fill you up. Happy hour deals happen daily from 4-6pm. Some of my favorites on the menu are the loaded crispy tots and the shishito peppers.

Cocktails are made with small batch local sprits from providers like Cutwater Spirits. Their bartenders are absolute artists and make the most gorgeous drinks. My go-to is “You Had Me at Aloe”, a tequila, mezcal, lime, pineapple, ginger, and aloe liqueur concoction. Enjoy a drink and you might even be able to catch sight of a baseball game or concert at Petco Park.

2. Cody’s (La Jolla)

Cody's Meg

My husband Mitchell and I come here most often of all the best San Diego rooftop bars and restaurants even though it’s the furthest drive from home. We love that their happy hour specials run for longer hours (4pm – close) so we can still make it there after work on a weekday. There are 10 food items all for $9 and giant portions! Select local draft beers, glasses of wine, and seltzers are all $5 too!

Our top recommendations are the crab artichoke dip, the garlic truffle fries, and the burrata toasts if you’re feeling cheesy and fancy. We usually get a few glasses of wine and beer and leave with spending less than $40 on a date night, which is a total win in our books. Can’t beat the coastal sunset there either!

3. Topside Terrace Kitchen + Bar (Little Italy)

Meg Topside Terrace

The classy Hotel Republique is the stuff of classy marble floor dreams and their rooftop bar and restaurant really takes it to the next level. While it may not be too high up, the surrounding tall buildings make you feel like you’re nestled in Manhattan. Dinner items are pretty expensive, so here, I recommend finding a dish to share with a friend. The Trade Burger and Baja Shrimp Street Tacos are surefire winners!

Topside Terrace makes many of their own simple syrups and creates a rotating seasonal cocktail menu that changes often so you can always try something new. Fields of Lavender (gin, honey, lavender simple syrup) was a recent favorite of mine.

4. Cannonball (Mission Beach)

cannonball rooftop
Cannonball burger

If you like breezy beach views and sushi, this is the San Diego rooftop spot for you. On the second floor, you get a sweeping view of Mission Beach from every single seat in the house! If you’re patient, you might get a peek of dolphins or seals on the horizon. A great family friendly location with affordable prices for beachfront property, Cannonball has a Japanese fusion menu with lots of fresh fish. Surprisingly, our favorite there is actually a delicious poblano pepper burger.

Hailed as San Diego’s largest oceanfront rooftop, it’s a great night out spot where you can walk along the Mission Beach Boardwalk or ride the Belmont Park rollercoaster. You should probably should do that before eating…

5. El Prez (Pacific Beach)

The most casual San Diego rooftop bar spot on this list, El Prez tends to be a college hang out spot on the weekends, but on weekdays when they have their best specials, it’s less frat-party feeling. We come here for cheap, unique tacos but primarily for the FROSÉ. I cannot sing it’s praises enough! Rosé + vodka + frozen berries blended together – what more could you want??

The best days to visit are on Taco Tuesdays ($3.50 tacos 3pm – 12am) or on Wine Wednesdays ($7 Frosé and $7 appetizers 3-6pm). This spot is very vegan and vegetarian friendly too. The rooftop overlooks Pacific Beach and even has lawn games like cornhole to play while you hang out!

6. Altitude Sky Lounge (Gaslamp)

Altitude sky lounge Meg
Altitude Sky Lounge View

A newly visited spot with INCREDIBLE rooftop views of the San Diego bay and Petco Park (Padres Stadium). Located on the 22nd floor of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp, you can see all the way over to Coronado and Point Loma. With reduced capacity due to COVID-19 precautions, there will usually be a line waiting outside of the hotel and you’ll get to go upstairs in the express elevator.

Mitchell and I accidentally went on a Friday during the ACLS playoff series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros that was happening in Petco Park. We waited in line about 40 minutes before being given a table upstairs and made it right in time for sunset! The drinks were incredible but the food was not great – I think mostly due to COVID special rules for food safety. We would definitely come back again for Happy Hour specials.

Honorable Mentions:

I have not been able to make it to personally try all of the best rooftop bars and restaurants in San Diego yet, but here’s a few extras that are on my list.

Mister A’s (Bankers Hill) is very expensive but offers sweeping views of the airport, the bay, and downtown San Diego. It seems to be more of a fancy anniversary celebration place than just a casual date night option.

Rustic Root and Kettner Exchange in downtown San Diego are also great spots for a more casual hang out and have really great brunch menus on the weekends. They may not have the best rooftop views, but they do have creative chefs that make the experience one of a kind.

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