Last Updated on September 16, 2023
Rooftop bars are truly a godsend when it comes to travel! They’re truly one of the best ways to soak in the views and the ambiance of a new city while providing the perfect environment to lounge and end the night while sipping on a few cocktails.
This is even more true when we’re talking about Santa Monica, one of the most famous cities in the Los Angeles County area.
Santa Monica, CA is ridiculously famous for many things but is perhaps most known for the beautiful Santa Monica Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, amazing food, delicious desserts, and some of the best weather you could ever ask for.
With the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica cityscape, it comes as no surprise that Santa Monica is home to some of LA’s best rooftop bars around.
With a great selection of fun and tasteful rooftop bars to pick from, there’s truly an option for just about any and everyone in Santa Monica.
And yes, that’s whether you’re in the mood for a nice calm evening with loved ones or a crazy night out with the guys/gals for some wild Southern California fun.
Without further ado, here are the best rooftop Santa Monica options you can find!
8 Best Rooftop Bars In Santa Monica California
Élephante is easily one of the most popular rooftop bars in Santa Monica and really in all of Los Angeles. This Italian restaurant, which is also one of the best rooftop restaurants in LA, is a fan favorite for locals and visitors alike.
It provides a picture-perfect view of the Pacific Ocean coast from the outdoor seating area up on the second floor.
If you’re hoping to see a celebrity or two, this is the perfect rooftop bar in Santa Monica CA without a doubt. You’ll often see actors, music artists, politicians, and other famous folks frequenting Élephante.
As far as visiting, Élephante is the perfect rooftop restaurant and bar whether you’re chasing sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean coast, celebrating a birthday, or just grabbing a few craft cocktails with the guys or gals.
The tropical and almost moody ambiance at Élephante makes it the perfect scene for just about any occasion you can think of. Just be sure to dress a bit smart casual or proper: people tend to put on nice threads for this rooftop bar.
As far as the food, Élephante doesn’t hold back on the flavor. They truly bring the flavors of coastal Italy to the heart of Santa Monica, with great dishes like Whipped Eggplant, Branzino, and Truffle Pasta.
When it comes to the drinks, Élephante’s open bar gives you countless options, whether you’re looking for specialty cocktails boutique wines, sparkling wine, beer, or just generally delicious drinks no matter how they come.
Be sure to try their signature cocktail called The Élephante, which is a perfect blend of passion fruit, lemon, almond orgeat, Montenegro, and Calabrian chili mixed with your alcohol of choice.
Address: 1332 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
2. Onyx Rooftop Bar & Lounge
Situated at the top of what was once Hotel Shangri-La but is now called The Beacon (owned by Sonder), Onyx Rooftop Bar is a very luxurious hotel rooftop that gives you views of the Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding area.
This rooftop bar comes with plenty of seating options (both indoor and outdoor), panoramic views of the city, good food, good drinks, and top-notch service that you’d expect from a luxurious bar like Onyx.
At this high rooftop lounge, you can enjoy some craft cocktails as well as classic drinks, enjoy really good food via small bites, and soak in those amazing rooftop pool views that only Southern California could offer.
Onyx Rooftop Bar is one of the best rooftop bars that offer an eclectic mix of party and liveliness as well as relaxation and mellow vibes.
Whether you want to enjoy a laid-back evening with nice sunset views or are in the mood to see what Santa Monica offers in the party scene, you can do both at Onyx, depending on the time of night/day (visit at night for the party scene).
To be honest, Onyx Rooftop Bar is a bit pricier compared to many other options on this list, but you truly do get what you pay for. From the beautiful sunsets, ocean views, and amazing craft cocktails to the good food and beyond, this rooftop lounge has it all.
Note: Onyx Rooftop Bar has a smart casual dress code so be sure to dress accordingly.
Address: 1301 Ocean Ave #1019, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website: ONYX Rooftop Bar
3. Calabra Rooftop at Santa Monica Proper Hotel
Calabra Rooftop at Santa Monica Proper is yet another of the best rooftop bars in Santa Monica. The convenient location at Santa Monica Proper Hotel makes this rooftop lounge a perfect option that is centrally located right in the heart of Santa Monica.
The chic and elegant vibe at Calabra Rooftop is the perfect atmosphere for a romantic night out with your significant other or a nice night out with friends for a few rounds.
If you’re wanting to grab a quick bite, then you’ll be in good hands. In fact, Forbes rated Calabra Rooftop as one of the best outdoor hotel restaurant patios in all of Southern California! Yes, they’re that good.
They serve up incredibly delicious Mediterranean dishes including baba ganoush, Calabra falafel, and chicken souvlaki, to name a few.
If you’re looking for tasty specialty cocktails, great food, an open outdoor bar area, and the best jaw-dropping views of Santa Monica, then Calabra Rooftop is seriously one of the absolute best rooftop bars and outdoor hotel restaurant patios around town.
Address: Santa Monica Proper, 700 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website: Calabra Rooftop
4. High Rooftop Lounge
While it’s technically in Venice Beach, it’s right in the Santa Monica area so it deserves to be on this list. High Rooftop Lounge is a beautiful open-air outdoor patio bar that, amongst other things, provides amazing service and a great overall experience.
Situated at Hotel Erwin, the High Rooftop Lounge offers unrivaled ocean views of the Venice Beach and Santa Monica area without the worry of it being packed or crowded.
Instead, High Rooftop Lounge is more on the laid-back side while still offering many amazing specialty cocktails, amazing bar food bites, a large selection of craft beers, and everything in between.
You can definitely visit this rooftop restaurant and lounge without reservations on a first come first serve basis but make sure to make a reservation online for a window seat or one of the lounge sofas for an especially enjoyable and relaxing time.
Address: 700 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website: High Rooftop Lounge
5. The Venice Whaler
The Venice Whaler has a long history of being one of LA’s most popular rooftop restaurants/bars in Venice Beach for Los Angeles locals and visitors alike since 1944.
Sure, it’s not the tallest open-air bar in Santa Monica/Los Angeles, but that doesn’t stop this Venice Beach hot spot from being an easy favorite for many.
As far as its history, The Venice Whaler was actually frequented by many of the world’s most famous stars including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Doors, and many others.
It’s a very laid-back and minimal bar as far as its interior design and decoration, but its drinks are nothing short of amazing and creative. The margaritas here are absolutely amazing, and so is just about anything else you decide to drink whether it’s a craft beer or an Old-fashioned cocktail.
Beyond the amazing drinks, The Venice Whaler offers absolutely amazing small bites (try the World Famous Fish Tacos!), a lively atmosphere with live bands and live DJs, and picture-perfect views of Venice Beach and the surrounding area.
Again it’s not the tallest of bars in Santa Monica, but it is absolutely worth the visit. Walk-ins are welcome as they don’t take reservations.
Address: 10 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292
Website: The Venice Whaler
6. The Penthouse
If you venture over to Huntley Hotel right on 2nd Street you’ll find The Penthouse, yet another great on the list of the best rooftop bars in Santa Monica.
Technically a restaurant, The Penthouse is one of the best rooftop restaurants in the area and serves up some seriously good food. With an elevated dining experience, this upscale restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with delicious food options ranging from banana foster French toast to spicy rigatoni vodka.
They even have a dedicated weekend brunch menu and happy hour with $14 tapas and $12 cocktails. That’s a steal considering price averages at rooftop restaurants in Los Angeles.
As you’d expect, The Penthouse serves up a hefty list of beers, wines, and specialty cocktails as well. Especially if you’re a cocktail fanatic and love to test out new drinks, The Penthouse is the perfect rooftop bar for you.
The El Presidente (mezcal) and the Maplewood (whiskey) are absolute hits if you fancy those types of liquor.
To top it all off, Penthouse has some of the best ocean views when you’re visiting Santa Monica. Dinner, drinks, and a view? You can’t beat it.
Address: 1111 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Website: The Penthouse
7. Seaside on the Pier
As the name implies, Seaside on the Pier is a rooftop bar/rooftop lounge that is– you guessed it– situated right on the Santa Monica Pier itself.
This is a great rooftop bar that is naturally one of the best outlooks, with sweeping views of the pier itself (great for people-watching) and stunning ocean views as well.
If visiting the Santa Monica Pier is high up on your to-do list, then you’ll be glad to know that Seaside is open all day long, serving good food, craft beer, classic cocktails, and more in both the AM and the PM.
No matter what your itinerary is for your Santa Monica visit, Seaside on the Pier is one of the best centrally located rooftop bars in Santa Monica for enjoying stunning views while grabbing some grub and a cocktail or five. We’re not here to judge.
Address: 250 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website: Seaside on the Pier
8. The Bungalow
With a convenient location right above the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, The Bungalow has been easily one of the most popular rooftop bars in Santa Monica for quite some time. As you can expect, this means this rooftop bar tends to be pretty crowded on most days, but especially on the weekends.
This rooftop bar actually has two floors, with one of them being located atop the roof and the other being on the ground, right above the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.
No, it isn’t right on the Santa Monica Pier itself, but it’s only five minutes down the street and still gives amazing ocean views and an overlook of the surrounding city buildings.
It’s a bit on the pricey side since it’s so popular, but it definitely isn’t the most expensive by far. If you decide to hit up the Bungalow, just keep in mind that they have a smart casual dress code to match the
Oh, and try the Cardinal Sin cocktail if you’re a whiskey fan. It’s one of the best cocktails I’ve tried in Santa Monica, let alone Los Angeles.
Address: 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website: The Bungalow
Best Rooftop Bars in Santa Monica: Final Thoughts
The Santa Monica and Venice Beach area is home to some of the absolute best rooftop bars in LA let alone all of SoCal, with each providing stunning views, crazy good drinks, delicious eats, and fun and unique atmospheres.
To wrap it up, the best rooftop bars in Santa Monica are:
- Onyx Rooftop Bar & Lounge
- Calabra Rooftop at Santa Monica Proper Hotel
- High Rooftop Lounge
- The Venice Whaler
- The Penthouse
- Seaside on the Pier, and
- The Bungalow.
Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing convo over a few classic cocktails or ready to party, the rooftop bars listed above are truly some of the best rooftop bars in Santa Monica that won’t disappoint.
So, hit up a friend or two, and head out for a great time at one of these amazing Santa Monica rooftop bars!