Milwaukee is home to four beautiful seasons, each of which has its own unique charms (if you are open to them). But there’s an entirely new season that’s evolved over the past few years, and it might be the best of them all: rooftop patio season.
It's a season which seems to get better each year as more sky high patios appear, offering more places to take full advantage of our admittedly-short – but truly unrivaled – Great Milwaukee Summer.
In fact, with so many diverse rooftop options to explore, it seems a fine summertime challenge to attempt to visit them all!
As always, be safe, be considerate and tip well. Also be sure to check each venue's operating hours before you head out!
1. The Aviary
Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen
320 E. Clybourn St., (414) 455-8870
Take the stairs to the top of the building at Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen, and you’ll find a space worthy of its name: The Aviary, a rooftop space that offers amazing views of the city, a glimpse of the lake and bustling views of the highway and the Historic Third Ward.
The patio, which can accommodate just over 40 guests comes complete with a rooftop bar where you can order up Central Standard cocktails and more, making it the perfect place for drinks before or after dinner at the first floor restaurant.
1101 S. 2nd St., (414) 212-8843
The cozy rooftop patio at Braise restaurant offers delightful respite from the bustle of South 2nd Street in Walker’s Point. Among its charms is the patio’s view of the Braise garden, an operating feeder for the restaurant’s globally inspired hyper local menu. Rooftop availability is weather dependent (and the space can be secured for private parties), so call in advance to reserve your dining experience.
3. Cafe Benelux
346 N. Broadway, (414) 501-2500
Among the OG rooftop patios in the city, Benelux has been hosting guests on its well-appointed rooftop since 2011. Whether you’re in the mood for a few Belgian brews with friends, or something more substantial, this urban patio provides a perfect escape from the bustle of the city streets below.
20150 Union St., Brookfield, (262) 785-4490
5900 W. Mequon Rd., (262) 236-0107
Whether you’re sipping a fantastic beer or grabbing brunch or dinner with friends, the rooftop patio at Hollander Brookfield provides the perfect backdrop for an al fresco experience. You’ll find a similar balcony-style patio connected to the open air second floor dining space at the Hollander in Mequon.
6600 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 763-3793
Escape to the Northwoods while enjoying rooftop views at Camp Bar Tosa, where the patio is as grand as the bar’s cabin-esque decor. The patio offers a multitude of experiences: watch a sports game broadcast on outdoor televisions, warm up on cooler nights by the fireplace, or sunbathe with a classic old fashioned in hand. The experience is entirely up to you.
17800 W. Blue Mound Rd., (262) 261-6000
728 E. Brady St., (414) 271-6000
Looking for a rooftop experience that transports you? Look no farther than Casablanca in Brookfield where you can enjoy their menu of Levantine favorites, from kabobs and shawarma to hummus, baba ghanouj and falafel. Grab some friends, a few cocktails and a hookah and you’re all set. You'll also get a similar vibe at the Brady Street location where their second floor deck extends over the sidewalk for great people watching.
5811 W. Vliet St., (414) 305-1458
Higher doesn't necessarily mean better. And the rooftop patio at Charles E. Fromage might just be proof of that. The streetside patio is, after all, just a flight of stairs above the sidewalk on Vliet. Yet, while it may not boast an impressive elevation, it’s among the most adorable of the bunch. Located just above the equally charming venue, it’s a great place to gather with friends to enjoy craft beer, a glass of wine and snacks. You can also catch live music on the rooftop on select Thursday and Sunday evenings.
2108 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 539-4173
Since 2017, Good City has been offering folks one of the best views on the East Side with their rooftop patio, an open air beer garden that’s as beautiful for brunch or dinner as it is for a few afternoon brews. Whether you take a seat at the bar or gather with a group of friends at one of the picnic tables, you can’t mistake the energy at this fun, urban brewery.
730 S. 5th St., (414) 488-2555
There may not be a warmer, more welcoming place than Hamburger Marys, which offers a boost of color (and a drag show) at every turn. But you’ll get the same great vibe on their rooftop patio, where you can enjoy an abbreviated menu of appetizers and drinks during evening hours Wednesday through Saturday and on Sunday afternoons. Watch for special rooftop events as well, like HG’s popular Rooftop Tea Dance.
Clock Shadow Building, 138 W. Bruce St.
Over the years, the the Clock Shadow building's rooftop has been accessible to the public primarily via events like farmers markets, cocktail parties and the like. So, it’s probably fair to say that a good many have never experienced it’s beautiful 5-story view of Milwaukee’s South side, including the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower that inspired the building’s name. This summer, however, all of that has changed thanks to the desert garden themed “Indeed at el Jardín” beer garden, which is open to the public Friday through Sunday serving up Indeed Brewing Co. brews and snacks from Clock Shadow Creamery. Admission is by reservation only, so be sure to go online to make yours.
11. The Outsider
200 N. Broadway, (414) 291-3980
Nine floors up, The Outsider boasts the highest rooftop patio in the city, complete with lovely views of the Historic Third Ward neighborhood. Covered areas make it hospitable during light rains, and the menu of crafty cocktails and snacks offers an invitation to linger with friends. The terrace is also open year-round thanks to fire tables, heat lamps and an all-weather enclosure during colder months.
2597 N. Downer Ave., (414) 272-1745
The second floor terrace at Pizza Man on Downer offers a rooftop level view overlooking the quaint East Side neighborhood. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the iconic pizza joint’s newly refreshed menu of appetizers, pizzas and pastas.
13. Red Lion Pub
1850 N. Water St., (414) 431-9009
If secluded is your vibe, you’ll find it at Red Lion Pub, where the lush landscaped rooftop patio provides equal parts sun and fun (including patio games and occasional live music). Enjoy the upbeat vibe, views of Kadish Park across the river, plus English pub grub to enjoy alongside.
14. Red Star
1125 N. Old World Third St., (414) 988-0355
Offering a full glassed-in bar, plus room for 120 with varying seating options, the patio at Red Star (just above Uncle Bucks) is one of a kind. Gather with friends at the gas powered "fire bar," which accommodates up to 25 guests and take in the views of the Milwaukee river and picturesque skyline. The rooftop is currently open Friday through Sunday from noon to close, as well as during select Fiserv events. You can also stop by on game days the second floor Sport Club, a lounge-like environment with garage door style windows and a bird’s eye view of the Beer Garden.
15. Shaker's Cigar Bar
422 S. 2nd St., (414) 272-4222
Shaker’s offers not one, but two rooftop experiences. Head up to the second floor (open most days after 5 p.m.) and you’ll find a full service patio enhanced by a unique bar sporting a depression glass top repurposed from a former candy shop and antique tin facing from a ceiling that dates back to 1905. The second floor deck is also the site for Shaker’s infamous monthly themed dinners, as well as live music on select evenings.
On weekends, you can also take a spiral staircase to the Celestial fourth floor rooftop deck, which is outfitted with custom lighting. The deck can be reserved any day of the week for private events.
16. The Rooftop
Bottle House 42
1130 N. 9th St., (414) 988-1551
There’s nothing quite like The Rooftop, a third floor oasis offering views of the Pabst Complex, Downtown and Fiserv Forum. Guests will find open air seating, plus a covered area surrounding the bar that provides sufficient shelter against unexpected summer rains. Soft seating provides the perfect environs for hanging out with a beer or cocktail and visiting with friends.
17. The Sundeck
DoubleTree by Hilton
611 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 273-2950
This hidden gem located atop the parking structure for the DoubleTree Hotel might be the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of meetings or sightseeing in this historic city. Grab a seat at the full bar (featuring craft brews and cocktails) or lounge with friends and enjoy the city views. Patio guests can order food and beverage for delivery from the hotel’s Avenue Bar & Grill.
1037 W. McKinley Ave., (414) 226-6516
The stunning glass-enclosed Skyline Bar + Lounge, located on the rooftop level of No Studios features two outdoor patio spaces with beautiful unobstructed views of the city (from both inside and out). Grab a drink from the bar (which also features a curated selection of sakes) and enjoy the fantastic weather and amazing urban landscape.
337 W. Main St., Waukesha, (262) 522-6868
The rooftop at Taylor's Peoples Park, located atop the second story of the restaurant, is a popular dining spot which offers a lovely view of historic downtown Waukesha. It's the only rooftop patio in the area, so if the weather is fair and you’re hoping for a seat, get there early or expect a wait.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.