Top off your vacation with a cool drink and a view to match at one of these 10 unforgettable settings.
Central California's untouched coastline (See photos)
A staircase winding up from the edge of the Pacific Coast Highway leads to Nepenthe, a redwood-and-glass restaurant that blends into Big Sur's thickly forested hills. The simple counter seats along the wraparound veranda are the best spots for unspoiled views of the craggy cliffs and crashing Pacific, 800 feet below. One caveat: Frequent fog in summer can obscure the water, so visiting in spring is the safest bet for clear vistas.
Drink up Pinot noir harvested from the famed vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands, 18 miles east of Nepenthe. 48510 Hwy. 1, Big Sur, Calif., 831/667-2345, nepenthebigsur.com, glass of wine from $8.
Italy's romantic riviera (See a photo)
Life doesn't get much more dolce than relaxing with a cocktail while sea mist cools your face at A Pié de Mà, a cliff-hanging wine bar with a terrace jutting out over the Ligurian Sea. Local boys dive off the rocks into the turquoise water below, and live jazz plays at sundown. The wine bar is at the foot of Via dell'Amore ("love walk"), one of a series of scenic hikes connecting the Cinque Terre: five seaside hamlets along the edge of a secluded national park reachable by train, trail, or seasonal ferry service.
Drink up The Negroni cocktail (Campari, bitters, gin, and vermouth) invented in nearby Florence is still a summertime favorite. 011-39/0187-92-1037, Via dell'Amore, 19017 Riomaggiore, La Spezia, Italy, apiedema.com, drinks from $4.50.
Thailand's secluded island—seen from above (See photos)
Only four guests at a time can enjoy the exclusive vantage point of Soneva Kiri by Six Senses resort's new Dining Pod, a woven rattan, cocoon-like contraption that is hoisted up the side of a tree for dining and drinking 16 feet above the rain-forest floor. A waiter harnessed to a zip line brings the provisions, and a panoramic window opens to breezes from the beach along the Gulf of Siam's Kood island.
Drink up A glass of liquid chocolate from the hotel's fair-trade chocolate bar mixed with Grand Marnier. 110 Moo 4, Koh Kood Sub-District, Trat, Thailand, 011-66/39-619-800, sixsenses.com, chocolate drink $11.
Switzerland's storybook peaks and valleys (See photos)
The Glacier Express train slices through the Swiss Alps for 181 miles between the Matterhorn and St. Moritz, twisting up mountainsides, along the Rhine, and across nearly 300 Alpine bridges. Train cars are equipped with panoramic windows and skylights for maximum exposure. As you reach 6,670 feet above sea level at the Oberalp Pass, the landscape is magical and the Alps snow-swept.
Drink up Swiss wines, including a selection of Johannisberger Rieslings. St. Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland, glacierexpress.ch, one-way ticket from $129, glass of wine from $8.
Shanghai's 21st-century skyline (See photos)
One of the world's fastest-growing cities features one of the world's highest bars: Cloud 9, a chic cocktail lounge inside the art deco crown of the Jin Mao Tower. The sight of Shanghai's pulsating skyline is so dizzying that it might be best to work your way up slowly. Start at the 53rd-floor Piano Bar and move on to the 56th-floor Patio Lounge before shooting up to Cloud 9 on the 87th floor. Pause for a drink and then go up even one floor higher for 360-degree views from the observation deck.
Drink up Classic cocktails like a Singapore Sling or Mai Tai. 88 Century Ave., Shanghai, China, 011-86/21-5047-1234, shanghai.grand.hyatt.com, drinks from $18.
Israel's under-the-sea aquarium (See photos)
Off the coast of the Israeli resort town of Eilat, a pier stretches 230 feet into the Red Sea—far enough for patrons to feel as if they're walking out over the ocean. At the pier's tip, the Red Sea Star's bar—16 feet underwater—reveals sea creatures visible through 62 giant windows that cover the length of the room, which i's shaped like a star to maximize the number of sea-facing seats. A kaleidoscopic array of tropical fish is visible, even at night, when the coral reef is softly illuminated by purple lights that don't disturb the sea creatures.
Drink up Local arrak liquor, an anise-based drink mixed here with grapefruit juice. North Beach, Eilat, Israel, 011-972/08-634-7777, redseastar.com, drinks from $8.
Panama's wildlife-rich jungle and iconic canal (See photos)
Rocking gently in a hammock while nursing a frozen cocktail is a favored pastime throughout Panama, but only at the Canopy Tower can you do it while toucans, howler monkeys, and bright-blue butterflies sail by a few feet from your face. The 50-foot tower has been converted from an abandoned U.S. Air Force rain forest lookout station into an affordable ecolodge. Panoramic windows reveal hundreds of species—including tamarins, white-tailed capuchins, and sloths—and on a clear day, you'll see all the way to the skyline of Panama City and the ships crossing the Panama Canal, three miles away.
Drink up Panamanian-made rum and local beers like the full-bodied Balboa. Semaphore Hill Rd., SoberaniáNational Park,Panama; 800/930-3397, canopytower.com, drinks from $2.
Cape Town's oceanfront mountain (See photos)
There are only two ways to reach the Table Mountain Café: Brave a 3,000-foot-long aerial cableway, or hoof it on a two-hour uphill hike. But either option seems a small price for the payoff of sweeping views of Cape Town, wedged between a 260-million-year-old mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. Look below for the posh Camps Bay beaches, the Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was held, and a stadium built for the World Cup.
Drink up Reds from the nearby Stellenbosch wine region—take them outdoors on the stone balcony to watch the sunset over the ocean. Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa, 011-27/21-424-8181, tablemountain.net, drinks from $3.50.
The Côte d'Azur's blue sky and sea (See photos)
A medieval stone house converted into a hotel and restaurant, La Chèvre d'Or clings to a leafy hillside above the medieval village of Eze, halfway between Monaco and Nice. Three terraces at the building's highest point provide vistas stretching past the property's green gardens to the idyllic Mediterranean beaches of the St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula.
Drink up A toast-worthy glass of champagne from the nearly 35,000-bottle wine cellar. Rue du Barri, Eze, France, 011-33/04-92-10-66-66, chevredor.com, wine from $21, cocktails from $32, champagne from $37.
Sydney's twinkling harbor (See photos)
The best place to take in Sydney's skyline is right beside its most iconic feature. The alfresco Opera Bar sits directly at the foot of the Sydney Opera House and provides dramatic perspectives of the city, harbor, and wide-arched Sydney Harbour Bridge. The location itself is a bit touristy, but Opera Bar—with its low-key weekend jazz afternoons and buzzed-about nightly live music and DJ sets—manages to attract a trendy local crowd.
Drink up An organic house pale ale to enjoy with locals perched on the concrete banks alongside the water. Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia, 011-61/2-9247-1666, operabar.com.au, pale ale $6.