Orange County is known for its beaches, sunsets and innovative cocktails. What happens when you combine these things? You get some of the best rooftop bars in the area. While the majority of these gems are found along the California coastline, the ones that aren’t have great appeal too. With drinks and good conversation, being in the open air alters the bar experience completely. Try them all to see which of these rooftop bars strikes your fancy.
1740 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
This picturesque rooftop bar is located above Mozambique Restaurant, a steakhouse and lounge found in Laguna Beach. Inspired by Portuguese sailors and their love for spices, Mozambique is full of warm, rich colors and European-influenced décor. But once you’re upstairs, none of that matters because you won’t be able to pry your eyes away from the amazing view of the Pacific. While you drink it all in, enjoy some actual drinks as well. Mozambique’s drink menu includes unique items like fresh guava, muddled grapes and passion fruit nectar. They also have carafes of homemade sangria, an extensive wine list, a Mozambique Mule and a Cucumber Jalapeno Margatini.
725 Baker Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Located in Costa Mesa, Mesa is not known for its rooftop view, but it does still have an interesting component to its rooftop bar. The entire room is not outside, but the roof actually retracts, creating an open-air experience that is unlike any other. Enjoy the breeze and some fresh air while you mingle and look at the night stars. Their boutique wine menu features reds, whites, champagne and sparkling wines from all over the world: Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, South Africa and, of course, California. They also offer craft beers and sodas as well as cocktails like The Clash—vodka infused with tangerines and chile—and the sake-and-pineapple-juice-filled Kurosawa. Some of their cocktails are barrel-aged, those these change over time, and they also have two artisanal shots called the Dragonball and the HoneyWhiskey.
422 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
The delicious cocktails offered at the rooftop bar enhance the vibrant, bustling atmosphere at Skyloft. Socialize with friends, new and old, as you take in the 180-degree view of the surroundings. On one side sits the ocean, while the other side offers views of the hills that are nestled over Laguna Beach. There is a lot of seating at this bar, but there are always a lot of people so expect a bit of a wait if you go later in the day. Make sure to munch on starters like stuffed avocado, mango shrimp ceviche, BBQ brisket sliders, calamari or smoked chicken wings before starting in on the drinks. Skyloft also offers a selection of soups, salads and other dishes, but their handcrafted cocktails and premium spirits are the main draw. They have standard whiskey drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan as well as more unique cocktails like the Mint Chocolate Cookie Martini and the Skinny Silver Fox, a blend of Patron Silver, citrus, agave nectar and cranberry juice.
Native Son Alehouse
305 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana’s Native Son Alehouse is home to a rooftop beer garden, something that is rather unique in Orange County. They pull from craft breweries, offering over 25 types of craft beer on tap. While Downtown Santa Ana doesn’t sound like an ideal place for beautiful rooftop views, the lights on the nearby buildings at night are something to behold and the beer garden is a very social, laidback spot. Currently, the tap house has options like the Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Lagunitas Aunt Sally, Valiant Crescendo, The Bruery Sour in the Rye, Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 and five different types of Sierra Nevada.
The Rooftop Lounge
1289 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Located atop Laguna Beach’s La Casa Del Camino hotel, The Rooftop Lounge sits right next to the ocean. Known for their spectacular happy hour deals that are perfect to accompany your view of the sun setting over the water, The Rooftop Lounge offers specialty drinks like tasty mojitos, which come in classic, strawberry, mango, wild berry, tropical and ginger flavors. They also offer a selection of Irish-themed cocktails like the Skinny Leprechaun, the Nutty Irishman and the Luck of the Irish. Don’t forget to try their appetizers too—the Mediterranean dips, cheese plate and bruschetta are particularly tasty.
16685 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 90742
Located in the Sunset Beach area of Huntington Beach, you’re likely to run into more locals than tourists at Harry’s Grill. The rooftop bar, which is located on the second floor overlooking Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean beyond, serves a variety of food, including Mexican dishes, burgers and fries, breakfast dishes and much more. But, the food is just part of the appeal. One of the best aspects is the relaxing atmosphere here, which is perfect for those looking to have a beer in the sunshine. They also serve mimosas, Bloody Marys and full bottles of champagne served on ice! Overall, this is a fun place and has a more relaxed, casual atmosphere than most of the luxury lounges on this list.