7 Chicago rooftops designed for winter

If this winter has you daydreaming of summer nights on a rooftop bar, you’re neither alone nor out of luck. Despite the deep freeze, some establishments in Chicago purposely designed their spaces with retractable roofs or created unique open-air structures that provide warmth to withstand the elements in style. Here are some of our faves.


This South American-inspired hotel lounge will make you feel like you’ve escaped winter. Though patrons are under a retractable glass roof on the 15th floor of the Kimpton Gray Hotel, the space evokes the energy of South America with a colorful design of exotic palms and the beats of Latin music in the backdrop.

Kimpton Gray Hotel, 122 W. Monroe St., Chicago


The party never ends at this all-weather beer garden. Throughout the winter, the wood columns that surround the West Town hotspot’s rustic outdoor seating and bar get covered in a tent. The rooftop’s famous stone fireplace creates a warm, festive ambiance. If the season has you feeling adventurous, make it a unique dining experience with Frontier’s Whole Animal Service, where you can literally feast on a whole animal brought to your table.

1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

I|O Godfrey

The luxury Godfrey Hotel transforms its popular 4th-floor rooftop lounge into a winter wonderland during the chilly months of the year. Opt to eat and drink in the traditional rooftop space with a retractable roof, or enjoy the night al fresco in a heated Igloo Lounge. Both spaces are adorned with hundreds of twinkling lights, holiday decor and firepits. Seasonal chef-crafted cocktails like a Smoked Vanilla Manhattan and Snowflake Sangria enhance the mood.

The Godfrey Hotel, 127 W. Huron St., Chicago

ROOF on the Wit

Rated one of three best rooftop bars in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine, this stunning lounge set 27 stories above the Wit Hotel is one of the hottest nighttime destinations in the city and a favorite among celebs like Vince Vaughn, Bon Jovi and Pete Wentz. A huge retractable glass covering makes it possible to spot the city’s most famous landmarks on even the coldest of days while enjoying chic finger food and delicious hand-crafted cocktails.

TheWit Hotel, 201 N. State St., Chicago

The J. Parker Rooftop Bar

Sitting proudly above the Hotel Lincoln, the 13th floor J. Parker offers unobstructed 360-degree views of Lincoln Park, the lakefront and downtown. Sip on signature hot boozy cocktails or spiked hot chocolate under a glass-enclosed retractable rooftop.

Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N. Clark St., Chicago

Upstairs at the Gwen

This open-air lounge atop The Gwen Hotel’s fifth-floor terrace has taken rooftop enjoyment to a whole new level. The rooftop is complete with a curling rink ($25 per person), TVs, lounge seating, heaters, gas fire pits, and, new this year, a log cabin dubbed “Curling Cabin.” This highly anticipated cabin, which can be reserved for $50 a person, is outfitted in ski lodge decor and features private food and beverage service.

The Gwen Hotel, 521 N. Rush St., Chicago

VU Rooftop Bar

A rare rooftop spot in the South Loop, this 13,000 square foot gem features a solarium with retractable glass walls, so guests can enjoy this space year-round. Finished with karaoke, cushy seating and long, fire pit-water fountain combination structures that you have to see to believe, VU offers a chill, yet upscale environment. Plus, with a name like VU, guests will enjoy iconic views of the lakefront, Museum Campus and downtown.

133 E. Cermak Road, Chicago

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This story originally published on Dec. 6, 2018. It has been updated with the most recent information.

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