This post was most recently updated on January 13th, 2022
Wondering where you can get the best views of San Diego? Try checking out the best of San Diego’s rooftops! Follow us on a tour of the best downtown San Diego rooftop “nests” where you can savor a birdseye view while also dining and socializing. It makes a perfect end to a day of exploring San Diego…or a great date night if you’re blessed to live in the area.
My husband and I thought it would be fun to see as many rooftops as we reasonably could in an evening, and order something small to eat at each one. Later in the post, you’ll see why that didn’t quite work out!
Keep in mind that you can check out San Diego’s rooftops in any order you like. We chose to see the ones closest to the harbor during daylight and sunset.
#1 The Nolen, 453 Sixth Avenue, 14th floor
You can access The Nolen from the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott, but there is also a “secret” elevator you can reach from the street.
Take the elevator to the 14th floor. If you arrive between 4 and 6 pm, you can enjoy discounted happy hour specials. Because we didn’t have reservations, we couldn’t be seated at one of the tables with the best views. But we were seated at a concrete circular table nearby. And there were still places we could stand to take great photos of the views.
I also enjoyed the simple but classy urban decor. A beautiful gas fireplace graced one wall. I liked the clean sleek lines, as there is no need for much when you have views like these.
The food here is fantastic, so I highly suggest you order something. We ordered the chile glazed meatballs and the butternut squash arancini. (I had to “google” what arancini was — they are stuffed rice balls, breaded and fried). We drank water, and I had a diet soda with our appetizers. You may think it odd that we were visiting a rooftop bar and not ordering an alcoholic drink. Odd, perhaps. But not that uncommon. The waitress didn’t seem to care at all.
#2 Altitude Sky Lounge, 660 K Street, 22nd Floor
We still had daylight, but just barely, so we hurried off to the next of San Diego’s rooftops so that we could be in place to see a spectacular sunset!. The 22nd floor of the Marriott Hotel is a wonderful place to be as the sun is washing the city with pink and orange hues. Find the dedicated elevator for rooftop visitors in the lobby; the other elevators require a Marriott room key to access the upper floors.
Oh my! The views are fantastic from the Altitude Sky Lounge, as you have nearly 360-degree views. In fact from this perch, you can even see some of the other rooftop locations: The Nolen and Upper East Bar. There’s even a section of the rooftop called ‘City Views’ – a colorfully lit lounge area and another patio where you can see downtown San Diego looking north.
Altitude Sky Lounge is not a restaurant, but you can order “room service” delivery from a menu. Just pick up the phone at the desk, place your order, and it will be delivered to the rooftop, when you will pay for your order. Served in a bag with take-out containers, utensils, and napkins, it makes for a fun rooftop picnic of sorts! You can order whatever drinks you like from the Lounge. We ordered one order of Potato Nachos. There were flatbread pizzas offered on their happy hour menu that were less expensive, but their ovens were not working properly when we were there. But we were not disappointed with the nachos! They were very flavorful, with cheese, guacamole, and more. One order was more than enough for both of us. In fact, we couldn’t eat any more the rest of the evening after eating this!
We liked the Altitude Sky Lounge, and especially appreciated the amazing views during sunset. What do you think? You can even see the baseball park!
Even after the sun went down, it was very nice.
Here’s a view looking north after dark. See more rooftops?
#3 Upper East Bar, 616 J Street, 4th Floor
Upper East Bar is a beautiful rooftop location atop the Kimpton Hotel Solamar. There’s seating, cabanas, a pool, a firepit, glam lighting, and small plates menu. I believe the pool is only available to hotel guests, however.
We stayed here only long enough to snap a few photos, but I liked the quiet ambiance here. It’s not pretentious at all, and it’s very cozy. And because there are plenty of buildings around you that are higher, you feel more like you are in the midst of the city. It’s like a little oasis!
#4 Rustic Root, 535 5th Avenue, 2nd Floor
The Rustic Root is a restaurant that happens to have a rooftop seating area and bar on its second floor.
Enter the door and follow the stairs to the second floor (there’s also an elevator if you need it). We found lots of fun seating areas and whimsical decor, like thse animal-shaped topiaries.
It was a very lively scene on the 2nd floor of Rustic Root, but we did find a few cozy nooks, too. The music was louder here, so it was a little more difficult to have a conversation, but we still enjoyed some great views. A menu is also available for ordering food and drinks.
#5 The Rooftop by STK, 600 F Street, 7th Floor
Our last stop among San Diego’s rooftops had a fitting name — The Rooftop by STK. The Rooftop sits on the 7th floor of the Andaz Hotel.
With a gorgeous pool and cabanas at one end, this is a very striking rooftop location. There’s some very cool art and murals here, and a great firepit to gather around on cooler evenings. Happy hour is 5-8 pm here, so you can visit a little later in the evening and still catch the discounted prices for food.
Night views are particularly stunning and definitely worth coming for!
is this all of san diego’s ROOFTOPS?
No, San Diego has more rooftop locations, but of course, we couldn’t make it to all of them in the same evening. Plus, these are located close to each other and make for an easy walk of less than 1 mile.
But there are two others I should mention: Top of the Hyatt, for very fine dining, and the Glass Door Rooftop Restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood.
Things to Know:
- We parked at the 6th and K Parkade where it is only $1.00 per hour after 6:00 pm.
- Even though many of these rooftops include dining, they are only for guests 21+.
I hope you enjoy your tour of San Diego’s rooftops. Let me know if you have any favorites I’ve missed!
**I’ve partnered with GPSmyCity, and this article can now be downloaded free by using this link. You may read it offline, or upgrade for a small fee to receive the article with GPS coordinates embedded. You won’t need the internet or data to be guided to all of these rooftops! I will receive a few cents commission, which helps to keep this blog going – thank you!**
Just like James Taylor sang it … Let’s go up on the roof!
I had no idea there were so many rooftop bars and lounges in San Diego that you could do a great tour from place to place! Good to know about the ones with better food options so you can plan a meal into the exploration!
I love done rooftops and going into trendy bars in Europe but never done any outside Euroland. There is something about a having a drink and capturing a great view at the same time. You sure did visit many rooftops and to be honest, it has given me a different perspective on San Diego and it does look a bit charming. Would love to check out some of these bars, I love the trendy-modern decor especially the Rooftop by STK, that would be top of my list. Also if it has an outdoor fire like I see in a couple of the photos, that is an added bonus.
It’s funny, because I don’t drink alcoholic drinks and everyone associates rooftop locations with bars. It’s good to know it’s an option for any adults, whether they drink or not, because the views are amazing!
I love visiting rooftop bars in new cities. It looks like San Diego has quite a collection. The firepit’s are such a great idea!
LOL what a great idea! I want to try a rooftop bar crawl in London now – we have some great ones!
It’s really interesting to see how different they all are – whatever ambience you are looking for you could find it on the rooftops of San Diego!
You’ve got a great list here and some great photos to prove what excellent places those are. Plus great food!
I’m a lover of rooftop views and patios, so thanks for this information post! That’s funny that it’s practically ‘odd’ that someone would go to a rooftop without drinking booze lol. Potato nachos look very yummy too!
Dining with a view is always an experience to cherish. This is a collection of wonderful places to spend the evening in San Diego. Though all the places seem to have their own distinct character, The Rooftop by STK had my attention riveted. Its ambience and quirk decor looks really impressive and holds the promise of great times.
All of these look like great additions to you roof top crawl, and I am a sucker for nachos so i think I’d probably make the same ‘mistake’ you did! I love the idea of ordering a picnic style snack to enjoy on the rooftop, it just adds to the adventure 🙂
How fun that you put together your own rooftop crawl! I love getting up on rooftops for fantastic views and I haven’t been to San Diego in probably about 15 years. Would love to go back and visit some of these rooftops you’ve recommended.
I love rooftops! There’s always something up there telling you something! I’d love to watch the sunset in the Altitude Sky Lounge with my delivered burger!
I so enjoyed this post! What a fun idea to visit several roof tops in one evening. Thanks for the great information! Perhaps you and your husband could do something similar with patios on the water? I am always looking for somewhere that we can eat on the water!