By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 18, 2024 at 3:01 PM

The Great Milwaukee Summer is HERE! Your guide to what you'll be doing, where you'll be drinking, who you'll be hearing and how you'll be getting a sweet tan this summer is on OnMilwaukee. The Great Milwaukee Summer guide is brought to you by Geis Garage Doors and Peoples State Bank

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 

The Aviary at Central Standard Crafthouse & KitchenX

Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen
320 E. Clybourn St., (414) 455-8870

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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. 

2. Bread Pedalers

Bread Pedalers RooftopX

1436 S. 92nd St., West Allis, (414) 509-5198

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Owned by sisters and professional bicycle racers, Skylar and Samantha Schroeder, this cleverly named bakery not only serves up delectable freshly baked bread and sweet treats, but a one-story-high patio on which to enjoy them.

And while the bakery's rooftop might not be the tallest in the bunch, what it lacks in height it definitely makes up for in character. Traipse past the eye-catching bicycle-themed mural on the side of the building and you'll find the stairs to the patio, which accommodates seating for 36 guests at a combination of picnic and bistro-style tables along with cozy soft seating.

3. Cafe Benelux

Rooftop patio at Cafe BeneluxX

346 N. Broadway, (414) 501-2500

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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. 

4. Cafe Hollander 

Cafe Hollander Rooftop Brookfield
Photo: Cafe Hollander Brookfield

20150 Union St., Brookfield, (262) 785-4490
5900 W. Mequon Rd., (262) 236-0107
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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.

5. Camp Bar - Tosa  

Camp Bar Wauwatosa rooftop patioX

6600 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 763-3793
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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.

6. Casablanca

Casablanca Brookfield Rooftop
Photo: Casablanca

17800 W. Blue Mound Rd., (262) 261-6000
728 E. Brady St., (414) 271-6000
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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.

7. Charles E. Fromage

Charles E. Fromage rooftop patioX

5811 W. Vliet St., (414) 305-1458
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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. 

8. Good City Brewing - East Side

Good City Brewing rooftop patioX

2108 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 539-4173
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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.

9. The Greenhouse 

The GreenhouseX

1101 S. 2nd St., (414) 212-8843

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The Greenhouse on Braise's rooftop is available by reservation only and can accommodate dining experiences of up to 13 people. Among its charms is the view of the Braise rooftop, an opportunity for a unique private dining experience and a delightful respite from the bustle of South 2nd Street in Walker’s Point. Two weeks' notice is requested for reservations, which can be made by calling the restaurant.

10. Hamburger Mary’s 

Hamburger Mary's rooftop patio
Photo: Hamburger Mary's

730 S. 5th St., (414) 488-2555
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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.

11. Il Cervo

Il Cervo PatioX

The Trade, Autograph Collection
420 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 279-6660 

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Located on the 9th floor of the Deer District's newest hotel, The Trade, Il Cervo not only serves up a menu of Italian fare including housemade pastas, pizzas and myriad entrees, but it does so against a stunning backdrop of Milwaukee.  During the winter, the city is in plain view thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. But the summer brings something even better. 

Il Cervo's wrap-around patio offers views of the Deer District as well as the surrounding city to the East. All told, the outdoor space seats about 60 guests at a combination of dining tables and soft seating (perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks).

12. Indeed UpTop

Indeed Brewing SignX

507 S. 2nd St. (5th floor), (414) 216-9007

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Indeed is known for its rooftop pop-ups and 2024 is no different. This year, their rooftop beer garden is located on the 5th floor of the Eagleknit building, just across the street from the tap room.

Guests can enjoy a rotating selection of Indeed brews both in cans or on tap, along with incredible views of Downtown and the Hoan Bridge. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available.

UpTop is open Thursday through Sunday throughout patio season with hours Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

13. MOVIDA @ Hotel Madrid

MOVIDA rooftop spaceX

600 S. Sixth St., (414) 488-9146
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MOVIDA at Hotel Madrid has offered an excellent ground level patio experience for years. But, thanks to a two-story addition, they now have another al fresco dining experience to offer: a four-season rooftop bar and patio with outdoor access and views of the cityscape. It's a great spot for open-air happy hour, dinner and weekend brunch!  The flexible space also features retractable walls, allowing for year-round use.

14. The Outsider 

The Outsider rooftop patio
Photo: Kimpton Journeyman

Kimpton Journeyman
200 N. Broadway, (414) 291-3980
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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.

15. Pilot Project Brewing

Pilot Project rooftopX

1128 N. 9th St., (414) 395-1070

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Have you checked out the spacious rooftop patio at Pilot Project, Milwaukee's only incubator brewery? There are plenty of reasons to put this sky high destination on your list of summer must-do's.

For one, the views of Downtown and Fiserv Forum are pretty spectacular. Better yet, they're accompanied by house-brewed craft beer, wine and snacks along with plenty of seating choices from barside stools and high top tables to lounge areas.  Guests are also welcome to purchase take-out fare from the downstairs restaurant to bring with them to enjoy on the rooftop.

16. PufferFish at Hotel Metro

Pufferfish PatioX

411 E. Mason St., (414) 272-1937

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The seventh floor rooftop patio at Hotel Metro is officially a permanent home for PufferFish, the tropical bar created by Lost Whale general manager J.C. Cunningham. 

Head to the newly renovated Pufferfish for urban rooftop views, both indoor or outdoor rooftop seating, refreshing tropical drinks and a menu of delicious island-inspired accompaniments from the kitchen at Oggie's.  

17. Red Lion Pub

Red Lion Pub Rooftop Patio
Photo: Eric Halvie, Red Lion Pub

1850 N. Water St., (414) 431-9009

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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. 

18. Red Star

Red Star rooftop fire bar
Photo: Kelsey Lawson

Uncle Buck's
1125 N. Old World Third St., (414) 988-0355

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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 open Friday through Sunday in the summer 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. 

19. Shaker's Cigar Bar

Aerial view of Shaker's Cigar Bar
Photo: Shaker's

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.

20. The Sundeck

The Sundeck rooftop patio at DoubleTree Hotel
Photo: DoubleTree Hotel

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. 

21. Skyline Bar + Lounge

Skyline Bar & Lounge rooftop patioX

No Studios
1037 W. McKinley Ave., (414) 226-6516

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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.

22. Taylor’s Peoples Park

Rooftop patio at Peoples Park
Photo: Taylor's Peoples Park

337 W. Main St., Waukesha, (262) 522-6868

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The rooftop at Taylor's Peoples Park, located atop the second story of the restaurant, is a popular dining spot that 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 Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.