Breathtaking Views, Moderately Priced
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24 Places to Enjoy Rooftop Views Without Sky-High Prices

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Breathtaking Views, Moderately Priced
monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto

Breathtaking Views, Moderately Priced

Taking in a great view can be expensive — particularly in major cities where riding an elevator to the top of a skyscraper is a tourist attraction on its own. But there are often less-expensive alternatives. We went on the hunt for rooftops and terraces that offer great views or a relaxing outdoor atmosphere (and sometimes both) without the sky-high prices. A few are free public areas, but most are restaurants and bars where it's possible to enjoy the view, while also grabbing an affordable drink or meal — typically, $15 or less for each.

Related: Awesome Views in All 50 States

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Pier6Boston/facebook.com

Pier 6 | Boston

On the waterfront in Charlestown, Pier 6 is a nautically themed three-floor restaurant and bar with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and a roof deck. Grab a drink or snack and enjoy the view after visiting the U.S.S. Constitution next door. Beers start at $6, wine at $10, and cocktails at $13.

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ckpacificbeach/facebook.com

Amplified Ale Works | San Diego

A restaurant and craft brewery, Amplified Ale Works' Pacific Beach location boasts a 1,000-square-foot second-story terrace with an ocean view. Doner kebab sandwiches start at $9.95, salads are $8.50, and a few share-worthy appetizers start at about $7. More than a dozen beers are featured, including the entire Amplified lineup, which is made with a gluten-reducing fermentation process.

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Stephanie V./yelp.com

The Canopy | St. Petersburg, Florida

On top of the Birchwood Inn, The Canopy rooftop lounge offers nearly 360-degree views of the harbor, bay, and city. Particularly suited for sunsets, covered sofas and patio tables are available, but weekends are busy. Sandwiches and small plates start at $8 and bottled beer at $4.

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Ed U./yelp.com

Metropolitan Museum of Art | New York City

The Metropolitan Museum is on many visitors' to-do lists. The museum can take days to get through, but make time for a visit to the rooftop. Rotating exhibits accompany beautiful views of Central Park and Manhattan's skyline. Admission to the Met is $25, (it's "free" for locals, though donations are strongly suggested), and that includes entry to the roof. If you're in need of liquid refreshment, check out the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar.

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6Smith/facebook.com

6Smith | Wayzata, Minnesota

On the shores of Wayzata Bay, 6Smith has a patio and rooftop dining area with splendid water views. Lunch and dinner can be pricey, but stop by happy hour in the main bar for $6 oysters Rockefeller, $4 draft beers, and other snacks and drinks for $6 to $8. Happy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and again from 9 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday (10 p.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays).

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Melissa P./yelp.com

Acme Feed and Seed | Nashville, Tennessee

A three-story restaurant and bar, Acme Feed and Seed often has live music (as befits any good bar in Music City), plus a great rooftop view where you can sip a drink and nosh on food from the downstairs restaurant. Happy hour specials Sunday to Thursday include a $7 beer-and-shot combo and $5 frozen rose, plus $12 pitchers of domestic draft beer.

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Genes-Sausage-Shop/facebook.com

Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen | Chicago

Gene's Sausage Shop is a specialty market with cured and fresh meats, pickled products, and all sorts of other goodies. Head to the rooftop patio to enjoy a freshly grilled brat and a cold beer on one of the many picnic benches. Entrees cost about $8, a 16-ounce draft beer is about $6, and a 24-ounce canned beer (aka a "tall boy") is about $4.

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Andrew D./yelp.com

343 Sansome Street | San Francisco

San Francisco has a handful of privately owned public open spaces that are often open during regular business hours. One is the rooftop garden at 343 Sansome Street, which features a sundial, stunning views of the Transamerica pyramid, and a glimpse of the bay. Be sure to visit on a weekday; it's closed on Saturday and Sunday.

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Coras-Restaurant-in-The-White-House-Hotel/facebook.com

Cora's Restaurant | Biloxi, Mississippi

Cora's Restaurant at the White House Hotel in Biloxi gets decent reviews. Lunch options start at $10, or enjoy happy hour at the bar. You'll find weekday 2-for-1 drink specials, as well as appetizers starting at $6. Enjoy the drinks in with a view of the Gulf from the upstairs patio.

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XIX-NINETEEN/facebook.com

Nineteen | Philadelphia

Nineteen (or XIX) restaurant, bar, and café on the top floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue offers great views of downtown Philly. Seating is limited on the balcony, and it's closed during the fall and winter, but patrons can request an indoor seat by one of the large windows. Bottled beers start at $6 and drafts start at $9, a few small appetizers are $7 or $8, and flatbread pizzas are $15.

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Kevin Y./yelp.com

Westfield Sky Mall Terrace | San Francisco

Those looking for a respite from the hectic Financial District can head up to the public space on the Westfield Mall's roof. It's not the most glamorous location, but if you want to pretend you've got access to a secret rooftop getaway, this is as good as it gets. To get to the roof, exit the mall and walk next door to 835 Market Street. Head to the first elevator on the left, the only one that goes up to the ninth floor. Bring an ID just in case the building's guard asks for one.

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Brit’s Pub and Eating Establishment/yelp.com

Brit's Pub and Eating Establishment | Minneapolis

Brit's Pub has been a downtown Minneapolis landmark since it opened in 1990. Over the years, it's grown to include a 10,000-square-foot lawn bowling green as well as an outdoor rooftop bar where you can sit, sip, and watch the games below. They've got a selection of brews from the U.K. on tap as well as regional beers. Not in the mood for booze? Try their afternoon tea service instead.

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Dylan M./yelp.com

Apogee Terrace | Chicago

Open year-round, the Apogee Terrace lounge at the Eurostar Magnificent Mile features an outdoor patio with a fire pit, as well as indoor seating. No cover is charged, but getting in can be difficult at times and reviewers say a dress code is ambiguously enforced. Once inside, views from the 26th floor outlook are stunning. Cocktails are pricey, but draft beers are $8.

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Fahrenheit-Charlotte/facebook.com

Fahrenheit | Charlotte, North Carolina

Perched atop the Skye Condos and Hyatt Place hotel, Fahrenheit's 21st-floor view of downtown and the surrounding area is breathtaking. The rooftop has small herb gardens, fire pits, and a pool, as well as a few seating areas and plenty of standing room. The food gets mixed reviews and beer ($5 to $7) is the only thing that fits the budget, but the view is definitely worth a visit.

The University of Texas Tower | Austin, Texas
Source: tripadvisor.com/Donna A

The University of Texas Tower | Austin, Texas

Here's a rooftop of a different kind. You won't find refreshments or food atop the Texas Union tower at UT, but you will enjoy a commanding 360-degree view of the campus, the state capitol, and the booming downtown beyond. Admission is $6 and you must reserve tickets online or by phone, but it includes an escorted tour with UT students. After you descend from the 30-story tower, celebrate with a drink and a live show (if you time it right) at the adjacent Cactus Cafe.

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C C./yelp.com

Berry Park | New York City

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Berry Park's 3,000-square-foot roof often draws a crowd during the warm months, although heating makes it an option when the weather is cooler, as well. Beers are $8 and up, and glasses of wine start at $9. The bar also screens soccer games on an indoor projector and hosts the occasional concert, but go for the view of the Manhattan skyline, particularly at sunset.

The City Museum | St. Louis, Missori
Source: yelp.com/Cindy H.

The City Museum | St. Louis

If you've ever dreamed of a playground in the sky, then the City Museum's rooftop must be heaven. You'll find trails, fountains to splash in, and cool architectural artifacts like the old dome from the St. Louis Planetarium, a Ferris wheel, and an old school bus perched over the edge of the building! There's also four floors of cool exhibits, installations, and pieces of the city's architectural history. Admission isn't cheap at $21 per person, but you can easily spend all day here, and it's very family friendly.

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Geoffrey M./yelp.com

IO Godfrey | Chicago

Billed as Chicago's largest indoor-outdoor bar (that's what the IO stands for) this upscale bar is located in the Godfrey Hotel in River North. Reviewers say it's often crowded, but the festive atmosphere is one of the venue's biggest draws. Save yourself some money by hitting the happy hour (3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 12 to 3 p.m. Friday) and enjoy discounts on drinks and snacks while you take in the city views.

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Jonathan L./yelp.com

Dizzy's Club | New York City

This intimate venue inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dizzy's has a great view of Central Park and the skyline beyond. Headline shows cost $20 to $40, but night owls on a budget can score tickets to late-night shows for as little as $5, depending on the day. Drinks start at $8 for a beer while specialty cocktails command about $15 each.

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The-Grove-Houston/facebook.com

The Grove | Houston

Located in the heart of downtown Houston on the edge of Discover Park, the Grove is only two stories high but still provides great views of the park and city for patrons. Enjoy the fresh air on the patio, or sit inside and gaze through the floor-to-ceiling windows. During happy hour, select beers and well drinks are $3, wine by the glass is $5, and small bites are $5 to $8 each.

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Betty H./yelp.com

Reggie's Music Joint | Chicago

A music venue with two stages, Reggie's also has a 99-person rooftop bar, with a pull-string shower and umbrellas for the summer and heaters during the winter. A free pool table, basketball hoop, and eight TVs also attract patrons. Burgers start at $10, and food and drink specials are featured through the week, although the service can be uneven, according to reviews.

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mrpurplenyc/facebook.com

Mr. Purple | New York City

Head up to the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side to enjoy sweeping views from the Mr. Purple bar. Draft beers are $8, cocktails $17, and wine starting at $12 by the glass. Named after Adam Purple, a local artist and squatter who died in 2015, admirers say the posh bar's cocktails and views are equally dazzling.

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continentalmidtownphilly/facebook.com

Continental Mid-town | Philadelphia

The Continental Mid-town near Rittenhouse Square (there is another Continental diner in the old city) has a few quirks, such as one-way mirrors in the bathrooms, so people in the hallway can see as patrons check themselves out. Some of the tables have swinging chairs as well, although it can be hard to eat while swinging. The rooftop bar is partially enclosed and open all year. Beers start at $5, but most of the food menu is more than $10 a plate.

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Ruwan J./yelp.com

Social Drink & Food | New York City

The views aren't the main draw of Social Drink & Food, a fourth-floor terrace of the Yotel in Hell's Kitchen. Rather, it is the enormity of the 7,000-square-foot terrace lined with brightly colored pillows and cushions and long picnic benches. Appetizers start at $9, cocktails at $12.