This piece was updated October 4, 2018
Looking for next-level outdoor drinking destinations? Charlotte has rooftop bars covered with everything from flashy Uptown high rises to chill neighborhood hidden gems.
Address: 303 S. Church Street, Charlotte, NC 28208
Expect a wait at the elevator to get up to this swanky lounge and lawn on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. It has an indoor bar and dining area with a limited small plates menu of fancied up casual food like lobster corn dogs and cheesesteak “haute” pockets.
Outside, there’s a sprawling astroturf lawn with lounge seating and rocking chairs, bar seating overlooking Romare Bearden Park and a VIP section. Take note: The dress code is serious and they won’t hesitate to deny you access in “flip-flops, baseball caps, tank tops, sports apparel, sweatshirts, work or hiking boots and ripped clothing.”
Go when: You need to deliver on a special date night or celebratory happy hour
Address: 222 S. Caldwell Street, Charlotte NC 28202
The view from this 21st-floor restaurant and bar has to be one of the most Instagrammed in town thanks to the sun setting behind the buildings and the fire feature on the patio that really sets the whole thing off.
It’s a full-service restaurant inside with floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the bar area that slide open to the terrace the view. Evening is a major draw but don’t miss the only rooftop brunch of its kind Sundays 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Go when: Your out-of-town friends or family are here and you need to show off
Address: 18 S. McDowell Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
The 18th-floor outdoor terrace at the Le Meridien Hotel has arguably the best, most complete view of the city skyline plus the only 360-degree view at any of the major Uptown rooftops.
In the warmer months, your presence here doesn’t exist unless you take a photo of your Sparkle & Pop, a $14 glass of bubbly with a local King of Pops popsicle in it.
Go when: You’re looking for a lounge-y club feel but outside
Address: 400 S. Graham Street
Graham Street Pub is unique in its offering among Uptown rooftop destinations. For starters, it’s not soaring 20-some stories above the city. But you’ve got to hand it to them — the view from atop the single-story building is pretty spectacular.
You also won’t find dress codes, elevator lines or formal dining. Those are all great and certainly have their place, but Graham Street, on the flip side, is your new more casual rooftop alternative in Uptown.
Go when: You want a casual sports bar vibe with a view
Address: 220 E. Trade Street (22nd floor of the AC Hotel)
Located on the 22nd floor of the new dual-branded AC Hotel and Residence Inn, Uptown’s newest rooftop bar features a 2,400-square-foot indoor space with a large U-shaped bar and floor to ceiling windows. Outside, you’ll find 2,400 square feet of partially covered patio space with lounge seating and fire tables.
Want to stay awhile? There’s a penthouse suite across the hall available for rentals.
Go when: You need to kick date night up a notch (or 22 stories)
Address: 132 E. Trade Street (Omni Hotel pool deck)
The 41-year-old Omni Charlotte Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Uptown, recently wrapped up a massive $30 million renovation including major upgrades to the pool deck.
The addition of Coin Bar opens the Omni’s pool deck to the public 7 days a week with cocktails, small bites and a monster big-screen TV (22’x12′).
Go when: You want to feel like you’re on vacation
Address: 300 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
This smaller, off-radar rooftop bar is a gem. It’s in the heart of the city and only on the second floor so don’t expect dramatic skyline views.
They aim for a sophisticated vibe with bartenders in ties and vests and live jazz every Friday and Saturday.
Go when: You’re looking for craft cocktails on a roof without the 30-minute wait to get on the elevator
Address: 210 E. Trade Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
The EpiCentre’s rooftop bar hosts events like Alive After 5 (an after work party every Thursday from April through September) and a rooftop yoga series during the warm weather months. But it’s open and active year round.
Go when: You’re looking to party with a crowd
Address: 1327 S. Mint Street, Charlotte, NC 28203
The brewery’s recent renovation included the addition of a rooftop bar with 4 taps, a fire pit and Uptown views.
They also debuted a new flatbread pizza kitchen in partnership with Seoul Food Meat Co. so you can eat pizza and drink beer on a roof. Not bad.
Go when: You want a casual brewery experience beyond the standard warehouse-style taproom
Address: 1411-A S. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28203
The new bar and music venue took the old Gin Mill space when that bar moved next door.
Go when: You want a casual, no-frills rooftop experience with no wait and no dress code
Address: 11318 N. Community House Road, Charlotte, NC 28277
Rooftop bars aren’t only for the urban center. Your best suburban escape is at The Gibson. The latest concept from Bottle Cap Group replaces the former Brazwell’s Ballantyne location. It features American bar food, a full-service rooftop bar and a milkshake counter.
Go when: Commuting on I-485 all week has sucked your soul straight out of your body and you just need to not drive anywhere
Address: 1221 The Plaza, Charlotte, NC 28205
There’s a bar hut in the middle with prime stool seating and ample high top seating around the perimeter. Thanks to a jackpot location in the heart of Plaza Midwood, this spot is consistently packed when the weather is right.
Go when: You’re hanging out with friends
Address: 1212 Pecan Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205
This spot has you covered from the ground up with a ground level beer garden, main dining room and a second floor bar. But the best spot is on the rooftop terrace where you can catch Plaza Midwood’s best view of Uptown.
Go when: You want a casual brunch with a view; catch it every Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Address: 316 Rensselaer Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28203
The popular gay bar is located in a quaint Dilworth home with a double decker porch, creating a unique residential rooftop bar.
Go when: You want a rooftop bar that feels like your friend’s house party
Address: 1423 S. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28203
The Gin Mill moved into the old Amos’ Southend space in 2017 and spruced it up, including a new rooftop patio and bar.
Address: 208 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
The casual Irish pub has a second-floor outdoor terrace overlooking the courtyard at Hearst Tower.
Go when: You just want to drink on an Uptown rooftop without getting dressed up
Address: 575 Herrons Ferry Road, Rock Hill, SC 29730
This visually stunning restaurant is located in a renovated old pump house along the banks of the Catawba River and features the area’s only rooftop bar of its kind overlooking the water.
Go when: You’ll take a view of the Catawba River over Uptown buildings any day
Address: 36 N. Main Street, Belmont, NC 28012
Small towns have rooftop bars too and nearby Belmont’s Nellie’s Southern Kitchen does it up right with rocking chairs and a fire pit. The restaurant is owned by the Jonas family — as in THE Jonas family.
Go when: A small town, family-friendly rooftop with the chance for a Jonas sighting sounds like a perfect night out
Address: 2729 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28209
The rooftop oyster bar from the team behind Sea Level will open in South End in fall 2018. It’s in the new Harris Teeter shopping center on South Boulevard.