Charleston, South Carolina is a top travel destination in the U.S. and in the world. Architecture, food, horse-drawn carriages, parks, and waterways are just the start of the reasons people love visiting. Add to that the variety of art, culture, history, lodging, and shopping.
The residents are consistently welcoming and gracious. They seem to never get weary of answering questions about what to see, eat, drink, or do during your stay. Several of my best experiences in Charleston were the direct result of a suggestion by a local.
Locally owned rooftop bars have been springing up and gaining tremendous popularity in recent years. Each one seeks to appeal to a specific clientele through unique combinations of the ambiance, the drinks, and the views.
This alphabetical listing of my seven favorite Charleston rooftop bars highlights the features of their fascination, flair, and fun. You may find it almost impossible to pick out just one or two favorites. But please go ahead, have lots of fun with this as you give it a try.
Table of Contents
Charleston Rooftop Bars
Harborview Restaurant & Lounge
301 Savannah Hwy // (843) 556-7100
At the area’s only round hotel, take the elevator to the 15th floor. Be amazed by the friendliness and efficiency of the bartenders. But even more, be prepared for the BEST DAYTIME VIEWS of the entire Charleston peninsula.
Harborview has been locally owned by the McCauley family since 2002, per general manager Amada Carter. She says owners and staff make every visit an exceptional experience with spectacular views. They also go out of their way to show customer appreciation.
Chef Jared welcomed me and explained the evening’s food and drink offerings. I became a fan with my first sip of the Harborview Sunset. This delicious cocktail includes Tito’s vodka, coconut rum, and peach schnapps artfully mixed with juices of orange, cranberry, and pineapple. The salmon with rice pilaf was a joy. The prices are among the most reasonable in the area. On your Harborview visit, take time to converse with the staff, savor the flavors, and see why this is my pick for BEST DAYTIME VIEWS.
54 N. Market Street // (843) 772-8100
Henry’s is the oldest continuous restaurant in the state of South Carolina. Once you have explored the historic inside, be sure to step up and out to admire the beauty of the southern porch. Further up you will find the rooftop deck. Grab your camera for some of the BEST SUNSET VIEWS.
Count the nearby steeples, horse-drawn carriages, or shoppers at the City Market as you capture magical photos during the golden hour. This is the perfect time to order your drink. I highly recommend the Margarita on the Market with barrel-aged tequila, citrus notes, and spicy layers. Local favorites also include Henry’s Old Fashioned or the Sweet Tea Cosmo. The bartenders claim they have Charleston’s best assortment of brown spirits.
Do you adore plastic cups, country music, and the ease of dress as you please? Do artificial turf and real conversation thrill your heart? If so, then Henry’s is your best bet for rooftop relaxation. It is my pick for BEST SUNSET VIEWS.
10 Conroy Street // (843) 376-1303
Three ambitious young men created a fun place to brew beer in 2014. Today, Revelry Brewing is known for personality, enjoyment, artwork by local artist Chris Kemp, and the BEST BEER in Charleston. These brews have won prestigious awards.
My fun there included pulling the red trumpet-shaped tap while surrounded by handsome bartenders. A friend and I shared a four-flight of beers while snacking on healthy edamame, also known as beer beans. The two brews that tied for our favorites are Lazy Lover, a Belgian blonde ale, and a lovely light cream ale called Marsh Hen.
Get a nice workout climbing the forty-eight steps to the rooftop. After a brief rest on a comfortable blue sofa, stroll around to enjoy the view as funky dance music plays in the background. See kids at the playground across the street, construction workers improving nearby buildings, and vehicles crossing the Ravenel bridge. Of course, the late-night focus is on dancing and the Revelry slogan “Nobody throws a party like us.” Revelry is the place for those boisterous festivities and my pick for BEST BEER and one of the best Charleston rooftop bars.
Stars Rooftop & Grill Room
495 King Street // (843) 577-0100
Step into the beautifully restored Arts and Crafts building and your initial impression is of fine dining in an elegant setting. Servers in white coats carry trays with finesse across Terrazzo floors, then present the Carolina cuisine under artisan-crafted chandeliers. Reunions and receptions fill the special event rooms on the second floor. Then you step out onto the Rooftop Bar and take in the only true 360-degree view of the Charleston historic district. Have a talk with Jessica Jacobs to understand why she is the BEST EVENT COORDINATOR and represents Stars so well.
Stars has won rave reviews for years (no wonder it’s one of the best Charleston rooftop bars), with mentions in Huffington Post to New York Post, and across social media. For over eight years, Jessica has grown the Stars reputation with endorsements in hospitality, catering, and event management. She loves organizing everything from wedding parties to corporate events.
Stars was among the first in Charleston to offer Tap Wine and is known for frozen cocktails. Slowly sip signature cocktails such as Three Punch Rum, Lavender Lemonade, or El Matador, and be in no hurry to drive. Linger long enough to gaze up at the stars, since that is how Stars got its name. Stars has a terrific location, a good mix of customers, a great reputation, and is my pick for BEST EVENT COORDINATOR in Charleston.
The Cocktail Club
479 King Street // (843) 724-9411
Climb up a dark rugged stairway, then consider the deconstructed look of salvaged and repurposed wood and doors. Glance around to see leather chairs and a dimly lit bar. Customers would call this place a bar or a lounge. Because of the retro style, I call it the BEST SPEAKEASY spot and one of the best Charleston rooftop bars.
The Cocktail Club has existed for eleven years in an 1881 building. Light bites are available, but the focus is the drinks. Options run from a five-dollar beer to a one-hundred-forty-nine-dollar bottle of champagne. The cocktails have clever names like He Has a Boat or I Want My Hoodie Back, with the most popular classic being The Double Standard. There are also punch bowl drinks that serve up to six people.
Show up casual and early to just relax. Or put on your best designer clothes and stand in the weekend waiting line to hob knob with the who’s who. Either way, climb up to the rooftop terrace to dance the night away. While the rooftop is small and plain, the young and lively crowd is just the opposite. Feel the cozy upscale vibe of my pick for BEST SPEAKEASY.
19 Vendue Range // (843) 414-2337
Enter an oasis of unorthodox and unexpected. Immerse yourself into the wildly evocative and controversial avant-garde art. Touch a white piano or sit in an oversized red chair before heading up to the two-level rooftop bar. Most patrons speak highly of the views, but I was much more impressed by the delicious quality of the drinks. By far the BEST COCKTAILS amongst the Charleston rooftop bars.
You cannot go wrong with Caught in the Rain, a beautiful blend of Cruzan mango rum, coconut puree, lime, and pineapple. Or appreciate the Strawberry Basil Lemonade that is so pleasing to both the eye and the tongue, made with Cathead honeysuckle vodka, fresh basil leaves, and a secret recipe. Next time, I hope to try all the other specialty cocktails.
The Rooftop at the Vendue is edgy and gives visitor oodles to discuss. I heard opinions about the red umbrellas, red flowers, and red chairs that look like faces. Opinions also abound about views of the harbor or the historic district. But everyone is in complete agreement that my pick for BEST COCKTAILS should be high on any must-see Charleston rooftop bars list.
587 King Street // (843) 268-2715
My jaw dropped when I saw the longest bar in Charleston complimented by superb lighting fixtures and that gorgeous tin ceiling. It dropped again on the rooftop bar as I viewed the Social Butterfly mural by female artist Jessi Helmrich. A joyful meeting with Senior Partner Kara Graves confirmed all the accolades I had heard about Uptown Social, the BEST ALL-AROUND rooftop bar in Charleston.
Research has indicated that people love Uptown Social and is one of the top Charleston rooftop bars for these eight reasons: atmosphere, bouncers, building, décor, entertainment nightly, management, mural, and prices. I was skeptically seeking a flaw but could not find one.
Three of their signature cocktails that consistently get rave reviews are Strawberry Fields Forever, Bodega Bloody, and Espresso Tini. Uptown Social has something for everyone, from the quiet and shy to the social butterfly. Please do yourself a huge favor. Visit and see why the BEST ALL-AROUND is Uptown Social.
Visiting other destinations in South Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:
- Seven Lowcountry Summerville SC Restaurants
- 8 Must-Try Downtown Charleston Restaurants
- 6 Best Things To Do In Florence SC
- 9 Must-Try Florence SC Restaurants
While in Charleston, don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself in the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
- Downtown Charleston Food Tour
- Highlights of Charleston Guided Walking Tour
- The Best of Charleston: History, Culture & Architecture Tour
Angela worked in radio and counseling until taking arthritic disability. She now writes about exuberant people, places, food, and art in the southern United States. Her travel website is EmbraceSouthernStates. When not traveling or writing, she can usually be found at home in Florida painting or playing with her dog Gizmo.
Tuesday 16th of August 2022
What a great and detailed list! Angela is right about each of these locations!
Sunday 21st of August 2022
@Christian, Thanks so much for your feedback. It is deeply appreciated. Heads up everyone... Christian's website has valuable info for anyone planning to visit Charleston...find it at https://holycitysinner.com/