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
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
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
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
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
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.