The sun goes down, the city lights twinkle on, the drinks are flowing, and there’s suddenly 24-karat magic in the air at Philadelphia’s rooftop bars.
Right up top is Bok Bar (1901 S. Ninth St.), in its third season on the eighth floor of a decommissioned public high school, now a work space. Bok rocks Wednesday to Sunday (which is family day) with $1 dumplings and budget-priced Asian-inspired snacks from upstart Humble Dumplings, easy-on-the-wallet drink prices, cool furniture designed in-house, and a stunning view that shows South Philly rolling up into Center City like a rumpled quilt.
Assembly, a chichi lounge open nightly on the ninth floor of the Logan hotel (18th and the Parkway), features fire pits, lounge seating, $14 cocktails, and a million-dollar view of Logan Circle and the Parkway to the Art Museum.
The city’s highest experience is at Three Logan Square, where beer garden SkyGarten grooves indoors and out 51 stories above 1717 Arch St. with beer, snacks, and more sky than you can shake a swizzle stick at. It’s open 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Though not on the roof, the Kimmel Center (Broad and Spruce Streets) has the new Balcony Bar, a happy-hour destination overlooking Broad Street and open 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday with beer, wine, liquor, and food by the Garces Group. At XIX (Nineteen) at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, two balconies each have four dining tables for the cocktail crowd, 19 stories up.
Two other altitudinous standouts are weekly pop-ups that end their short seasons soon:
Skyline Beer Garden, bumping on the fourth-floor terrace at the Free Library on the Parkway, offers beer, wine, cocktails, and snacks to the multitudes from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays only through June 29. And World Cafe Live’s Friday-night-only Beer Garden at Cira Green lets a Center City view unfurl from the 11th-floor deck of the garage at Cira Center South (129 S. 30th St.). It runs 5 to 9 p.m., ending June 23. Each week includes a limited-release keg, plus a few beers, ciders, and wines, and a cocktail.
You see lots of sky and the tops of Center City high-rises from such nightspots as Vango SkyBar, Continental Mid-town, and Stratus Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Monaco, but their enclosed sides block the truly grand vistas.
For bird’s-eye spying one or two stories up, try the upper floors of 24 Wood-Fired Fare (over the Schuylkill), Revolution House (Old City), Tiki (Midtown Village), Standard Tap (Northern Liberties), and Warmdaddy’s (South Philly).