It seems like warm weather is here to stay, meaning it is safe to get excited for summer and it is officially rooftop bar season in Austin.
Whether you’re hunting for tiki libations, poolside refreshments, lounge-worthy cabanas, upscale snacks, historical bars, backyard games or views of Austin’s ever-growing skyline, there’s a rooftop bar for you.
Grab your summer garb and head out for a cocktail at one of these rooftop venues.
77° Rooftop Patio Bar | 11500 Rock Rose Ave.
Nestled in the heart of Domain NORTHSIDE, 77° has long hours so you can soak up some sun or gaze over the shopping center while sipping on a Ruby Slipper cocktail. Open from 3 p.m.-2 a.m., 77° has three floors to roam, light bites and refreshments, multiple hookah flavors and of course, a breezy patio overlooking Rock Rose Ave.
Azul Rooftop Bar and Lounge | 310 E 5th St.
Twenty floors up in the air at The Westin Austin Downtown, Azul Rooftop Bar is the highest rooftop bar in the city. With a heated rooftop pool and spectacular skyline views visible through transparent panels, the bar is reserved for hotel guests or those who purchase a day pass.
El Alma Cafe y Cantina | 1025 Barton Springs Rd.
Just south of downtown in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood, El Alma’s rooftop is only on the second floor but still offers breathtaking skyline views. In addition to its Mexican food created by Chef Alma Alcocer-Thomas, the selection of margaritas paired with heaters and mist fans on the patio make it suitable for every season.
P6 at the LINE Austin | 111 E Cesar Chavez St.
With expansive views of Lady Bird Lake, the rooftop terrace at P6 is located in the heart of downtown. Serving upscale Mediterranean snacks like black truffle grilled cheese or pearl onion hummus, cocktails are available in sharable pitchers for larger groups. This is a popular location so reservations are encouraged!
Rules & Regs | 101 Red River St.
Right near the Red River Cultural District, Rules & Regs sits on the seventh floor of the Fairmont Austin. Between rooftop brunches with Latin-inspired bites, cabanas to rent by the pool, cigars for sale, live DJs and panoramic views, the party never stops at Rules & Regs.
Speakeasy | 412 Congress Ave.
A downtown staple for years, Speakeasy’s Terrace59 is named after the 59 steps you have to climb to get there. Lit palm trees, scenic skyline views, a full service bar and live music await upstairs. The inside of Austin’s “swankiest joint” is fittingly roaring ‘20s themed, even selling cigars inside.
Upstairs at Caroline | 621 Congress Ave.
A colorful, urban backyard complete with lawn games and giant Jenga, Upstairs at Caroline serves all-day drinks for soaking up the sun. Get comfy on the walled-in terrace, catch a game on one of the many TVs, grab some tacos and a local brew and stay awhile.
WET Bar | 200 Lavaca St.
Have a day at an adult water park at the W Austin’s WET Bar on the fourth floor of the hotel. Typically reserved for hotel guests, anyone can get access to the rooftop pool and bar with a day pass or a cabana for rent. Stop by for a happy hour frosé from 12-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday or a weekend drag brunch.
Zanzibar | 304 E Cesar Chavez St.
Tucked inside the Austin Marriott hotel downtown, Zanzibar is a tropical oasis seven stories in the air. With its own private entrance and glass elevator to take you up, the vibes start before you even get inside. A tiki cocktail and island-inspired plates will meet you inside while you gaze over the skyline.
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and safety measures in the wake of a mass school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead this week.
In a letter released Saturday morning, all 13 Senate Democrats demanded lawmakers pass legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
The caucus is also calling for universal background checks for all firearm sales, “red flag” laws that allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered an imminent threat to themselves or others, a “cooling off period” for the purchase of a firearm and regulations on high capacity magazines for citizens.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa,” the letter reads. “After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.”
Such laws are unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has a track record of favoring legislation that loosens gun restrictions. Only the governor has the power to call lawmakers back into a special session for emergency work.
Asked about a special session at a Friday press conference in Uvalde, Abbott said “all options are on the table” adding that he believed laws would ultimately be passed to address this week’s horrors. However, he suggested laws would be more tailored toward addressing mental health, rather than gun control.
“You can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state,” he said, “That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We’re not going to be here and do nothing about it.”
He resisted the idea of increasing the age to purchase a firearm, saying that since Texas became a state, 18-year-olds have been able to buy a gun.
He also dismissed universal background checks saying existing background check policies did not prevent the Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs shootings, which both happened while he has been in office.
“If everyone wants to seize upon a particular strategy and say that’s the golden strategy right there, look at what happened in the Santa Fe shooting,” he said. “A background check had no relevance because the shooter took the gun from his parents…Anyone who suggests we should focus on background checks as opposed to mental health, I suggest is mistaken.”
Since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, the governor’s comments about potential solutions have centered around increasing mental health services, rather than restricting access to firearms.
This story has been edited for length.
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Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
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