Rooftops At The End of The Rainbow — 4 Rooftop Bars in LA and When to Visit Them

Winter is a heavy tourist season in LA as many people around the world come here to escape to cold and the snow. In fact I have friends visiting in a few days from Germany and I can’t WAIT to show them around. Unfortunately it’s still pouring in LA right now, so if you’re like them and are looking for things to do this week, check out 6 Ways to Have the Best LA Experience Rain or Shine.

According to the weather app on my phone, we will finally be back to clear blue skies next week. This is great news because there’s no better time to view the city than after the rain when the smog is cleared out. And there’s no better vantage point than seeing the cityscape from a nice rooftop.

So in honor of the return of the LA sunshine, here are 4 of the best rooftops in LA and the best time to visit them.

Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel

1. Onyx Rooftop Bar

  • When: You MUST visit during sunset! I mean the beach at sunset is picture perfect. I never allow someone to visit LA without taking them here at some point — regardless of the time of year.
  • Where: Onyx is the rooftop of the Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica. SaMo is my favorite area in LA so needless to say, there’s tons to do. You can spend the day in SaMo before heading to Onyx (shopping, sightseeing, beach day, you name it) or start your evening at Onyx and spend the night bar hopping in SaMo. I’ve done both.

Photo courtesy of Peaches, Beaches, and Urbanistas

  • What You Should Know: You’ll probably notice that almost everyone there is drinking a mojito and that’s because they’re really good. I always order mojitos and sweet potato fries — my non-guilty pleasure. But honestly, I’ve never tried a food or drink here that I didn’t enjoy. You’re paying for quality and you’re getting your money’s worth.
  • The vibe here is what I call “casually put together.” People usually come around happy hour/sunset time so they’re dressed how they went to work. Since this is the beach and not Wall Street, we’re usually not wearing suits and ties to work. I’m talking jeans and your fave stilettos or button downs. I’d recommend getting there around 4 to make sure you have a place to sit (if you want to be able to sit). Onyx opens at 4 and within an hour a line starts to form because there is a max capacity on the roof.

Photo courtesy of WeLikeLA

2. The Rooftop at The Standard DTLA

  • When: You must go at night. Los Angeles is very spread out and downtown LA is teeny tiny compared to cities like NYC, Philly, and Chicago. But when we’re on this rooftop at night, there’s an illusion that we’re in a big city because we’re illuminated by the city lights and tall building surrounding us. I spent my birthday here a little over a year ago and everyone loved the location.
  • Where: This is the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in downtown LA. There are a bunch of cool bars nearby so I usually like to add this place to my list of 2–3 bars to hit in one night.

Photo courtesy of Trover

  • What You Should Know: There are couches and water beds that are fun to chill and lay down. Oh and did I mention that there’s a pool. I’ve seen people put their feet in the water here but I haven’t see anyone really swimming at night. It’s generally too cold for that — mid 60s in Fahrenheit! Adjacent to The Rooftop is The Biergarten, which is slightly more casual,
  • The vibe here is slightly more upscale. The Standard Hotel is known to be modern and posh. The Rooftop often has live music and I’d describe it as more of a lounge than a club — it’s a good place to mix and mingle in good company.

Photo courtesy of Eater

3. The Commissary

  • When: Midday brunch. My cousin and I are brunch lovers so when we found a place that’s both a rooftop and a brunch location, we had to check it out. We especially enjoyed the brunch drink options.
  • Where: This restaurant is located on the roof of The Line Hotel in Koreatown. Koreatown is an area that I’ve only started exploring in the last year and I now end up in this area on a weekly basis.

Photo courtesy of yours, truly

  • What You Should Know: Ok so it’s called The Pot Commissary Cafe and before you get your hopes up, yes — pot is now legalized in California — but no — this place doesn’t sell it. “Pot” refers to the decor. The building is designed to mimic a greenhouse with potted fruits and vegetables for scenery. The ambiance of the place is unique, which is probably why it’s chosen as a common film location. Next to the restaurant is a pool and since I usually visit during the daytime, I almost always see people in the pool. I once went to a pool party here and it was great.
  • The vibe here is very chill. No dress code. I’ve never seen a line to get in. Laid back.

Photo courtesy of W Hollywood Hotel

4. WET Deck

  • When: Come morning or night as long on Sunday!
  • Where: The WET Deck is the rooftop of the W Hollywood. This is right in the heart of Hollywood so there’s tons of stuff to do in this area. As you can guess, there is a pool. From Friday to Sunday 1–5pm there is a DJ, but this is for hotel guests only, unless you rent a cabana or daybed.

Photo courtesy of Our Night Life

  • What You Should Know: There are two fun, free options on Sundays for people who aren’t staying at the hotel.: From 10–11am there’s free hot yoga. Yoga isn’t really my thing, but I can imagine if you like doing handstands, there’s no cooler place to be upside down than a high rise overlooking all of the city. At 9pm they have Jazz night. I like this event because I really enjoy live music. Usually different up and coming artists perform on a stage over the pool.
  • The vibe here is upscale. This is Hollywood so many people come here to be seen. If you want to take advantage of the scenery, come during the daytime because you can’t get much of a view at night — not too many tall buildings to help reflect light.

As you can see, hotel rooftops in LA are the place to be — from free events, to live music, to amazing views, to good food and drinks. Regardless of the area in LA or time of day, there’s always a high place to relax and enjoy the city.

So what are some of your favorite rooftops? #BlueWonderRooftopViews

Taylor is the newest member of Blue Wonder Travel. She is a self proclaimed #rooftopevangelist and has visited rooftops in all 7 cities and 3 continents where she’s lived over the past few years. Learn more about her at and contact her at

Rain or Shine — 6 ways to have the best local tourist* experience in LA

*Local tourist — one who is not an LA native and wants to experience LA like a local. This blog is for you.

So it’s that one week a year where water falls out of the sky in LA and as a result everyone drives unethically slow, calls off from work, and stays at home contemplating life’s problems. If you happen to be visiting LA on one of these days, don’t worry about not being able to head straight from LAX to take the picture perfect IG photo in Venice Beach announcing your arrival.

Before you start cringing at the thought of standing in line in the rain to see Michael Jackson’s star or getting drenched as you walk in circles around the Grove hoping to run into a celeb, I can reassure you that your IG story and celeb spotting dreams are still very attainable. Allow me to show you the best indoor alternatives for site seeing (read: people watching) that will have you questioning the hype behind the more popular attractions.

1. The Grammy Museum


Photo courtesy of SEGD

  • Hollywood Walk of FameAlternative: Yes, the Walk of Stars is smackdab in the middle of tourist central in Hollywood. Trust me when I tell you crowds of tourists + locals confused by the rain + eager pickpocketters don’t make for an ideal excursion.
  • Things to Do: The Grammy Museum is $13 for adults unless you’re in a group, military, student, or elder and what’s cool is that this museum is interactive. You’ll learn about the Grammys themselves and about the artists who won them.

Photo courtesy of AE Hospitality

  • What to See: LA LIVE is a decent choice on a rainy day because there are bars, restaurants (from a quick pizza spot to a nice steakhouse), bowling, and movies. Each of these places has the stereotypical posh LA ambiance and is a good option to stay out of the rain after you leave the museum. The Conga Room is a fun place to go dance Saturday nights — from salsa to merengue to reggaeton. I recently went to a private event there to see Prince Royce!
  • Major Plus: It’s at LA Live, where the Kings, Lakers, and Clippers play. Also right next to the Microsoft Theatre where they host the EMMYs, ESPYs, BET Awards, AMA Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and more.
  • Advice for a Sunny Day: It’s an up and coming area where there’s almost always something going on in the plaza — red carpets, ice skating, art fairs, etc. Definitely a cool area to come back and check it out during a sunny day if you have time, especially during game or awards season.

2. Amoeba Music


Photo courtesy of LA Times

  • Venice Beach Alternative: Most people love Venice because of the hipster, laid back vibes. Well, aside from skaters and medical marijuana advocates on the boardwalk, what could be more hipster than a record store? Apparently actual CDs and DVDs are still a thing. You even have to go through a metal detector to enter and leave your bags upfront while you’re in the store.
  • Things to Do: Same thing I recommend for Venice Beach — people watch. Trust me on this one.

Photo courtesy of UpOut

  • What to See: There are live shows all the time in every music genre. Think of it as a smaller, more throwback version of iHeart Music Festival. Except not in Vegas. And to promote actual records instead of a streaming service. And only one band at a time.
  • Major Plus: This is literally the largest record store in the world. Get nostalgic looking at music posters and CDs you haven’t seen in years.
  • Advice for a Sunny Day: Take a walk and wander around this area. This part of Hollywood — ever so slightly away from the main touristy part of Hollywood where the stars are — gives you the more local experience. There are bars, restaurants (both vegan and enjoyable), shopping, ArcLight theater — all the typical hangouts of a major city.

3. The Beverly Center

Beverly Center in 1980s. Photo courtesy of Trip To The Mall

  • The Grove Alternative: Sure the Grove has a train (literally only used by tourists) and outdoor area for events and filming, but if it’s raining you won’t be able to look around and take in the scenery.
  • Things to Do: The Bev Center is right down the street with tons of shopping, restaurants, and places to just sit and people watch as you plan the rest of your days in LA. It’s also next to Cedars Sinai Hospital, the celeb go-to for having their babies and also being escorted from the bar or other crazy events.

Beverly Center today. Photo courtesy of Bayley Construction

  • What to See: Of course you have to experience the 5-level glass-window escalators that are in the panorama view of pretty much every movie ever shot in LA — although they’re constantly renovated so slightly less recognizable to the untrained, non-LA eye.
  • Major Plus: If you’re looking for wifi or a place to plug in your phone, the whole shopping center has wifi (FREE_Beverly) and yes, there’s an Apple store with chargers galore!
  • Advice for a Sunny Day: Return on a sunny day and you’ll get an amazing view of LA — from the Hollywood sign to DTLA — from these escalators. The area surrounding the Bev Center is full of restaurants and shops with patios and outdoor seating to soak in the usual LA sunshine.

4. Grand Central Market DTLA


Photo courtesy of HappeningInDTLA

  • The Original Farmer’s MarketAlternative: I’m separating The Grove from the Farmers Market because they offer two completely different experiences. The Farmers Market offers a more diverse range of food options with free-for-all open seating.
  • Things to Do: There isn’t a huge difference between most open layout markets — but unlike the Farmer’s Market, Grand Central is completely covered to shield you on a rainy day! One great thing about LA is our diversity of cultures, especially evidenced in our food. Try a type of food that you normally wouldn’t!
  • What to See: Events are held regularly, from live Jazz music to Trivia Tuesdays and other game nights.

Photo courtesy of Discover LA

  • Major Plus: Two blocks away is City National Plaza, an underground — literally and figuratively — food court and mall. Even many locals haven’t discovered this place yet, and you’re sure to be out of the rain down here! There are also a ton of nearby museums, theatres, and indoor sites to see. My personal fave, the Broad which has both cool art and super instagrammable sites like the Infinity Mirrored Room.
  • Advice for a Sunny Day: Walk around this area of downtown. Right across from Grand Central is the LA Landmark Angel’s Flight. Not to far from there is Pershing Square — one of LA’s parks where many outdoor events are enjoyed on sunny days.

Each of these places are definitely visitable rain or shine. The cool thing is that you don’t have to wait for a rainy day to hit them up — you may be waiting all year.

So what do you like to do on rainy days? Let us know with #BlueWonderRainyDays

Taylor is the newest member of Blue Wonder Travel. She is a self proclaimed #touristyinmyowncity and has lived in 7 different cities on 3 continents over the past 8 years. Learn more about her at and contact her at