2023’s Best Vacation Spots for Rooftop Swimming

A woman swims at the edge of an infinity pool, overlooking the city skyline at sunset.

Where can you splash around in a rooftop pool with a great view?

With record-breaking summer temps beating down, Roof Gnome ranked 2023’s Best Vacation Spots for Rooftop Swimming.

We compared the 500 biggest U.S. cities based on three categories. We considered access to accommodations with a rooftop pool, consumer ratings, and average sunshine, among eight total metrics.

Dive into our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.



See how each city fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best Vacation Spots for Rooftop Swimming, a ranking based on rooftop pool access, consumer ratings, average sunshine, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics above.

Bird’s-Eye View

Check out the slideshow below for highlights and lowlights on each of our top five cities.

An aerial shot of the Miami Beach, Florida, skyline, coastline, and clear indigo water
No. 1: Miami Beach, Florida | Overall Score: 79.11

Access: 1
Quality: 1
Climate: 188

Photo Credit: Antonio Cuellar / Unsplash / Unsplash License
The Griffith Observatory stands atop a hill overlooking the Los Angeles skyline.
No. 2: Los Angeles | Overall Score: 65.18

Access: 3
Quality: 10
Climate: 65

Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Pexels / Pexels License
Skyscrapers stand tall in contrast with the blue sky and ocean in Miami, Florida
No. 3: Miami | Overall Score: 63.67

Access: 2
Quality: 3
Climate: 186

Photo Credit: Tory Brown / Pexels / Pexels License
A shot of the Nashville, Tennessee, skyline at sunset, with the Nissan Stadium in the foreground left
No. 4: Nashville, Tennessee | Overall Score: 60.50

Access: 4
Quality: 2
Climate: 468

Photo Credit: Tanner Boriack / Unsplash / Unsplash License
A daytime shot of the New Orleans, Louisiana, skyline with the Harrah’s building in the center
No. 5: New Orleans | Overall Score: 54.26

Access: 5
Quality: 4
Climate: 443

Photo Credit: Kool C / Unsplash / Unsplash License

Panoramic Insights

The Big Picture

Popular vacation spots and big cities — such as Miami Beach, Florida (No. 1), Los Angeles (No. 2), and Nashville, Tennessee (No. 4) — swim to the top of our ranking with the highest scores. These swimming hotspots offer the best Access to rooftop pools at highly rated accommodations

Many Northern cities — like Akron, Ohio (No. 494), Albany, New York (No. 495), and Pittsburgh (No. 498) — lack Access to hotels with rooftop pools, landing alongside Anchorage, Alaska, in last place. Luxurious rooftop pools are less lucrative in these regions where most outdoor pools can stay open only for a brief part of the year. 

Standout Stats

Florida Floats

  • Sunshine State cities Miami Beach (No. 1) and Miami (No. 3) splash to the top with decent weather and excellent rooftop swimming spots. Miami Beach offers the highest number of accommodations with rooftop pools, followed by Miami. Miami Beach also enjoys the most top-rated accommodations, 19, with rooftop pools.

SoCal Sunbathing

  • Los Angeles (No. 2) and San Diego (No. 8) springboard into the top 10 with high Access to well-rated accommodations with rooftop pools and plenty of sunshine. LA boasts the 3rd-highest number of accommodations with rooftop pools

Pool Parties

  • Popular destinations for vacationers and bachelor and bachelorette bashes like Nashville, Tennessee (No. 4), New Orleans (No. 5), and Las Vegas (No. 10) offer abundant rooftop pools to party in. Nashville claims the 2nd-highest number of top-rated rooftop pools and the 6th-best average consumer rating.

Drowning in Potential 

  • Five California cities with the most ideal swimming ClimateSalinas (No. 82), Oxnard, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura (all tied at No. 90) — unfortunately disappoint, lacking rooftop pool accommodations to keep visitors and residents cool.

Bobbing and Burning

  • Three Texas citiesDallas (No. 6), Austin (No. 7), and San Antonio (No. 9) — tread easily at the top, with Houston following closely behind at No. 13. While all four cities land in the top 10 for Access and Quality, the hot Climate can be a challenge if the accommodations lack shaded spots to escape from the summer sun.

Polar Plunges

  • Despite chilly climates, cities like Chicago (No. 24) and Minneapolis (No. 75) make a splash in the rooftop pool scene. They each land among the bottom half of the Climate rank while standing out in the top 50 of pool Access. Minneapolis ties with multiple cities at No. 37 in Access, while Chicago cannonballs to No. 11.

Perennial Dips

  • Lounge by the pool all year long in California cities Anaheim (No. 16) and Santa Monica (No. 22). These two cities boast top rooftop pool Access and the best swimming Climate, allowing pools to stay open throughout the year.

Ask The Experts

We turned to a panel of experts for their advice on making the most out of a day at a rooftop pool. Avoid hurdles and enjoy the sun, sights, and splashes with some help from their insights below.

  1. When is the best time to go rooftop swimming while avoiding the crowds?
  2. What should guests know before purchasing a rooftop pool day pass?
  3. Apart from the essentials — sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a towel — what are three must-haves for a fun day at a rooftop pool?
  4. What is your best tip for finding a deal on rooftop pool day passes?
  5. What is a resort fee? Is there a trick to avoid paying resort fees when booking a hotel?
  6. If enacted, how might the Junk Fee Prevention Act impact hotels and their guests?
Angela Sebby, Ph.D., CHE
Program Coordinator/Associate Professor
Angela Sebby, Ph.D., CHE
Program Coordinator/Associate Professor
Maryville College, Hospitality and Regional Identity

Expert bio: Dr. Angela Sebby is the Program Coordinator for and an Associate Professor in Hospitality and Regional Identity at Maryville College.

When is the best time to go rooftop swimming while avoiding the crowds?

The busiest times at a rooftop swimming pool depend on the demographics of the guests, the geographical area, and the climate. For instance, in a tourist destination, guests prefer to visit the area and will swim either early in the morning or late in the evening, keeping their days open for sightseeing.

Also, with demographics, it typically depends upon the guests and the members of the parties. Guests normally sleep or start their day later while on vacation, especially if they have children. Therefore, if one is an early morning swimmer, the best time is between 6-9 a.m. Those with children will normally start at about 9:30 and swim until about 1 pm (with smaller children) and until 3 p.m. with those older. They will revisit in the evenings from about 4-8 pm. More adult swimmers visit the pool from 8-11 pm. Therefore, the best time to swim depends on the group and group size.

What should guests know before purchasing a rooftop pool day pass?

Guests should always check the hours of the rooftop to make sure that they receive a good value, any age restrictions or time restrictions depending on age or events planned by the hotel, can swim items be brought (toys), if there is a lifeguard on duty, availability of pool seating, and the availability of a rooftop dining option or if snacks and drinks can be brought.

Apart from the essentials — sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a towel — what are three must-haves for a fun day at a rooftop pool?

Emergency medical kit – waterproof Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Neosporin, nausea medicine, medicines needed.

Waterproof bag with snacks and water bottles especially for those with dietary restrictions or medical conditions.

Swim shoes – especially for children – and pool shoes (sliders, flip flops) for others.

What is your best tip for finding a deal on rooftop pool day passes?

Call the hotel directly and ask for discounted rates for limited time passes or for multiple days. Don’t speak with reservations but instead call the front desk or concierge.

What is a resort fee? Is there a trick to avoid paying resort fees when booking a hotel?

A resort fee is a fee normally charged above the hotel room rate to generate additional revenue. It may cover amenities not in the room (pool or gym access, internet service, parking, shuttle service, dining credit, etc.)

For those staying at a hotel that has resort fees, they are mandatory and therefore guests must pay them. However, most hotels declare there is a hotel or resort fee before booking on their website. If not, then it is best to ask beforehand.

Do a comparative analysis to see where you get the best value. For instance, dining credits can be used to purchase meals or snacks, thereby reducing expenses during the day. If you did not bring your car, then you will not be responsible for a parking fee. If the fees cover the pool or gym access, then utilize this as part of your vacation planning.

If enacted, how might the Junk Fee Prevention Act impact hotels and their guests?

It depends on the hotel and if they declare their fees as destination or hotel fees or are clear in what they cover (dining credits, pool access, etc.). If enacted, one is expected to see hotel rates increase or guests will have to pay for the extra charges (internet, extra towels, parking, etc.) and reduce access to services/amenities. Access to amenities will have to be monitored to see who has purchased access, and therefore, increase in employees to do so. This is an additional expense of the hotel and would be transferred to the guests in higher rates.

Behind the Ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Vacation Spots for Rooftop Swimming. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into three categories: Access, Quality, and Climate. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 500 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 500). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 500 due to ties.

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and TripAdvisor

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Media Resources

Main Photo Credit: Viktor Gladkov / Canva Pro / Canva License

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a recent graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.