When it comes to dining out, atmosphere can be as important as the food and drinks. And when that atmosphere is more than 1,500 feet in the air, or provides a 360-degree view of the city, you’re certainly on track for a great experience. One of the first sky-high nightclubs was the roof garden at the Casino Theatre on Broadway, opened by Rudolph Aronson in 1882. It quickly gained popularity as a place to see concerts and operettas, chat along the promenade, and escape New York’s oppressive summer heat.
Turn-of-the-century Manhattan saw a rise in rooftop entertainment that kept pace with the rise of the skyscraper. The second Madison Square Garden, designed by Stanford White, opened a rooftop theater in 1892. (White was actually shot and killed there in 1906 by a jealous and suspecting husband.)
When the Hotel Astor—one of first hotels in Times Square—opened in 1905, its massive Italianate rooftop garden was lined with palm trees, waterfalls, grottos, and featured a bandstand for live shows. Today rooftop bars and restaurants are a global phenomenon, offering decadent dining and cocktails, cutting-edge design, and, of course, views to capture on smartphones. From New York to Budapest to Singapore, we’ve present below the best ones.