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Several conversation areas of tables, chairs, and side tables lined up on a plaza separated from the lake by a railing.
Offshore Rooftop at Navy Pier is Chicago’s — and the world’s — largest roof deck.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Where to Drink Outdoors Downtown in Chicago

When the weather gets nice, it’s time to grab a drink in the fresh city air

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Offshore Rooftop at Navy Pier is Chicago’s — and the world’s — largest roof deck.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

There are few greater joys in the spring and summer in Chicago than drinking outside. Downtown Chicago is a particularly good area for taking advantage of the all-too-fleeting nice weather with its abundance of posh rooftop lounges with stunning views, sidewalk cafes for spectacular people watching, and laid-back bars right on the Chicago River. Bring some friends and maybe your pooch and sip a cocktail — or a coffee, if you’re working — at one of these nine spots for outdoor drinking.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Porter Kitchen & Deck

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The riverside bar’s lower patio is lined with heat lamps to ward away any residual chill during happy hour. From 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, you’ll find $9 old fashioneds, $8 margaritas, and $7 Moscow mules. You can also drop in and try to secure a spot at Punch Stand, a seasonal concept on Porter’s deck with lounge seating and tropical cocktails like mai tais and banana painkillers.

Edie’s All Day Cafe & Bar

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Open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Edie’s has become a haven for remote workers since it opened in August 2020. Reserve a spot on the patio that wraps around the corner of Wells and Huron streets and you can type away while sipping a latte flavored with house-made lavender syrup or cold brew sweetened with Cinnamon Toast Crunch-infused oat milk. Stay for lunch and order a prosciutto and fig pizza. When you’re ready to clock out, treat yourself to an espresso martini or a ginger paloma. Dogs are welcome, and Edie’s sells custom treats made with pumpkin and peanut butter. A second location is scheduled to open this summer at Hubbard and Orleans.

bar avec

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This is just the second season for bar avec, which opened in May 2021 on the eighth floor of the same building as avec River North. Modeled after the casual drinking spots on the coasts of Spain and Portugal, the plant-filled space serves Mediterranean wine and beer and brings the same inspiration to its cocktail menu with drinks like Livin la Vinho Verde made with Portuguese wine, cucumber mint vodka, and lemon, and a daiquiri blended with sherry and roasted strawberry rhubarb liqueur.

IO Godfrey Rooftop Lounge

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Chicago’s only year-round rooftop lounge, I/O Godfrey is at its best in the summer when the retractable roof opens up. Gather a group and relax in one of the plush booths while sipping a Smoky Samurai (shishito-infused mezcal blended with grapefruit and lime) or Life’s A Peach (bourbon combined with peach, yuzu, and basil). The food menu offers shareable bites like shrimp tacos and spring rolls.

The Smith

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The Smith has extended its dog-friendly patio onto Clark Street to provide plenty of space to sit and sip a French 75 slushie or sparkling rosé sangria made with ginger, peach, and strawberry. Get either drink free when you come for weekend brunch and order one of the entrees, like vanilla bean French toast with caramelized bananas or the Benedict Johnny with cheddar cornbread, maple chicken sausage, and roasted tomato hollandaise.

Aire Chicago Rooftop Bar

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Only open during the summer, the bar on the 24th floor of Hyatt Centric The Loop offers 360-degree views of the city. Enjoy them on a sunny day shaded by an umbrella at a high-top table or on a cool evening cozied up on a couch with a fire pit. Aire’s new menu features refreshing cocktails like the Summertime Chi made with gin, peach, lemon, and sparkling wine, and the Diosa de Monroe, a blend of mezcal, jalapeno, lime, and agave. Order a round and then add some spirited competition with a game of cornhole or Jenga.

JoJo's Shake Bar - River North

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Travel back in time at the JoJo’s Retro Summer pop-up running through September 5 on the bar’s 4,000-square-foot patio. The space has been decked out with massive disco balls and vintage band posters and is serving up a nostalgia-fueled cocktail menu including the Pretty in Pink, a blend of gin, St. Germain, grapefruit, and sparkling rosé. You can also beat the heat with a cooler of beer or spiked cider, or a boozy frozen fruit pop like the Chicago Vice made with rum, strawberry, and coconut.

The Northman

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Stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk and stop at the Northman for a house cider or a local brew along with a soft pretzel with beer cheese and dijon mustard or a Chicago hot dog. Pick up your order from the kiosk and then grab a seat at one of the umbrella-topped picnic tables in the European-style beer garden. The space regularly hosts live music along with a twice-monthly dog-friendly happy hour that raises money for animal shelters.

Offshore Rooftop

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Named the world’s largest rooftop deck by The Guinness Book of World Records, this sprawling Navy Pier space offers views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline along with fire pits and yard games. Soak it all in while sipping a fruity cocktail like the Melondramatic, tequila blended with watermelon juice, lime, and agave, or the Kiwi Go Again made with bourbon, kiwi puree, and banana liqueur.

Porter Kitchen & Deck

The riverside bar’s lower patio is lined with heat lamps to ward away any residual chill during happy hour. From 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, you’ll find $9 old fashioneds, $8 margaritas, and $7 Moscow mules. You can also drop in and try to secure a spot at Punch Stand, a seasonal concept on Porter’s deck with lounge seating and tropical cocktails like mai tais and banana painkillers.

Edie’s All Day Cafe & Bar

Open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Edie’s has become a haven for remote workers since it opened in August 2020. Reserve a spot on the patio that wraps around the corner of Wells and Huron streets and you can type away while sipping a latte flavored with house-made lavender syrup or cold brew sweetened with Cinnamon Toast Crunch-infused oat milk. Stay for lunch and order a prosciutto and fig pizza. When you’re ready to clock out, treat yourself to an espresso martini or a ginger paloma. Dogs are welcome, and Edie’s sells custom treats made with pumpkin and peanut butter. A second location is scheduled to open this summer at Hubbard and Orleans.

bar avec

This is just the second season for bar avec, which opened in May 2021 on the eighth floor of the same building as avec River North. Modeled after the casual drinking spots on the coasts of Spain and Portugal, the plant-filled space serves Mediterranean wine and beer and brings the same inspiration to its cocktail menu with drinks like Livin la Vinho Verde made with Portuguese wine, cucumber mint vodka, and lemon, and a daiquiri blended with sherry and roasted strawberry rhubarb liqueur.

IO Godfrey Rooftop Lounge

Chicago’s only year-round rooftop lounge, I/O Godfrey is at its best in the summer when the retractable roof opens up. Gather a group and relax in one of the plush booths while sipping a Smoky Samurai (shishito-infused mezcal blended with grapefruit and lime) or Life’s A Peach (bourbon combined with peach, yuzu, and basil). The food menu offers shareable bites like shrimp tacos and spring rolls.

The Smith

The Smith has extended its dog-friendly patio onto Clark Street to provide plenty of space to sit and sip a French 75 slushie or sparkling rosé sangria made with ginger, peach, and strawberry. Get either drink free when you come for weekend brunch and order one of the entrees, like vanilla bean French toast with caramelized bananas or the Benedict Johnny with cheddar cornbread, maple chicken sausage, and roasted tomato hollandaise.

Aire Chicago Rooftop Bar

Only open during the summer, the bar on the 24th floor of Hyatt Centric The Loop offers 360-degree views of the city. Enjoy them on a sunny day shaded by an umbrella at a high-top table or on a cool evening cozied up on a couch with a fire pit. Aire’s new menu features refreshing cocktails like the Summertime Chi made with gin, peach, lemon, and sparkling wine, and the Diosa de Monroe, a blend of mezcal, jalapeno, lime, and agave. Order a round and then add some spirited competition with a game of cornhole or Jenga.

JoJo's Shake Bar - River North

Travel back in time at the JoJo’s Retro Summer pop-up running through September 5 on the bar’s 4,000-square-foot patio. The space has been decked out with massive disco balls and vintage band posters and is serving up a nostalgia-fueled cocktail menu including the Pretty in Pink, a blend of gin, St. Germain, grapefruit, and sparkling rosé. You can also beat the heat with a cooler of beer or spiked cider, or a boozy frozen fruit pop like the Chicago Vice made with rum, strawberry, and coconut.

The Northman

Stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk and stop at the Northman for a house cider or a local brew along with a soft pretzel with beer cheese and dijon mustard or a Chicago hot dog. Pick up your order from the kiosk and then grab a seat at one of the umbrella-topped picnic tables in the European-style beer garden. The space regularly hosts live music along with a twice-monthly dog-friendly happy hour that raises money for animal shelters.

Offshore Rooftop

Named the world’s largest rooftop deck by The Guinness Book of World Records, this sprawling Navy Pier space offers views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline along with fire pits and yard games. Soak it all in while sipping a fruity cocktail like the Melondramatic, tequila blended with watermelon juice, lime, and agave, or the Kiwi Go Again made with bourbon, kiwi puree, and banana liqueur.

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