Nightlife in Seattle

Once the sun sets over Puget Sound, it’s time to check out Seattle’s nightlife. Hipster bars serve up craft cocktails, but you’ll have to look a little harder for hidden gems like burlesque theaters and speakeasies.

915 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Feel like learning to East Coast Swing, Salsa, Tango, Waltz or Kizomba while you’re in Seattle? From events to classes, to venue rentals and Footloose-inspired advocacy (repeal the ‘dance tax’ in Washington State), this is the perfect place for a creative date night. The organization is made up of three venues that include the Century Ballroom, the West Hall and the East Hall (pictured). Be sure to check online in advance for availability and times that certain types of lessons are taught, and then make a reservation. You’re in the perfect place for dinner as well, in that hip East Pine St and 10th neighborhood, but wouldn’t you know that the Century Ballroom owns a lovely dining spot on the same floor of the building where you’ll be dancing. The intimate Tin Table is a great spot for a cocktail and some food to fuel all of that movement. Have fun!
1118 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Unicorn is one of my favorite places to take visitors because there’s just so much to look at: the lurid circus-painted walls, the costumed and accessorized taxidermy, the lavishly painted bar that seems to have been pulled off a carousel. During happy hour, load up on discounted snacks like “narwhal balls” (deep-fried potato croquettes with dipping sauce), hand-dipped corn dogs, and bacon popcorn. They recently expanded into the basement, now known as Narwhal, which has another full bar and a selection of vintage arcade and pinball games. It gets wild on weekend nights, but you can stop in on a weekday afternoon or evening for a more sedate experience if you just want to soak up the colorful surroundings.
1505 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Lost Lake may look like it’s been open for decades, but despite its dimly-lit vintage decor, this Capitol Hill diner just opened in 2013 — and is already a favorite with locals. One side is a restaurant and the other side is a bar, depending on your mood. Stop by this 24-hour joint anytime for drinks, milkshakes, or a stick-to-your-ribs meal. The poutine is a salty, greasy delight at the end of a long night out, and the sandwiches and burgers are classic, filling fare. There are two happy hours: 6-9 am for breakfast, and 4-6 pm. The breakfast happy hour features deals on breakfast sandwiches, Bloody Marys, and mimosas. The afternoon happy hour includes a cheeseburger with fries, deep-fried cheese curds, and chicken-fried bacon. Don’t pretend your mouth isn’t watering.
85 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Walk, cycle or people-watch along the shores of Elliott Bay, a downtown stretch known for its circusy flair and spectacular vistas. You can ride the Great Wheel or visit the beloved Seattle Aquarium, home to wolf eels, sea otters, and the world’s largest octopuses. Refuel with chowder from local favorite Ivar’s Acres of Clams, then hit the market’s 200 owner-operated shops, ranging from a radical book collection to the Northwest’s oldest magic store. Just don’t turn your back on the famous salmon-slinging fishmongers: They’ve been known to wallop selfie-photographers with a plastic decoy for yucks!
1112 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
This haven for rum lovers is one of Capitol Hill’s newest craft-cocktail bars. Step inside and admire the floor-to-ceiling shelves packed full of books and nautical curios, along with plenty of cribbage and domino sets for customers to use. Sit at the handsome, dark wooden bar and a friendly and knowledgeable bartender will answer all your questions about their rums and drinks. I asked for a Dark and Stormy made with their bottled ginger beer, and the bartender selected a very dark blackstrap rum, pouring me a generous sample to try on its own. Don’t miss happy hour, with a selection of $6 daiquiris and delicious baked empanadas (the chorizo is best). Full dinner menu and desserts, too.
200 2nd Avenue North
Another one of the buildings created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Pacific Science Center has a midcentury-space-age vintage-futuristic look from the outside. But inside, it’s all cutting-edge technology like the IMAX Theatre, laser dome and planetarium, and Live Science Stage demonstrations. The 4,000-square-foot tropical butterfly house is a favorite with visitors of all ages; we know of at least one wedding proposal that took place there. The dinosaur exhibit features seven animatronic, roaring dinos, while Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Wellness is a kid-oriented tour of the human body, complete with gross-out fun facts. The Insect Village has plenty of creepy crawlies, and the saltwater tidepool exhibit features sea creatures that kids can touch. Outside, the Science Playground has gyroscopes, bicycle-powered fountains, and other hands-on fun. The Pacific Science Center also tends to get the high-profile touring exhibitions, like the 2012 Tutankhamen exhibit, so it’s worth checking in advance and booking tickets early if you plan a visit.
1221 East Pike Street
Love local beer? You can’t get much more local than the Elysian Brewery, which brews its beer in Georgetown, a neighborhood in south Seattle. They offer 20-plus different beers at their three locations. They’re possibly best known for their Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, but the Jasmine IPA is refreshing and novel, and the spiced pear ale sounds downright delicious. (There’s a full bar for non-beer-drinkers.) The food is actually pretty good, too, and a bit fancier than what you might expect at a pub: hummus platters, vegan curry, steamed clams, and tofu salad. Of course, they also have more typical fare like burgers, fries, and sriracha wings. If you’re curious to try Seattle’s microbrew scene, the Elysian is a convenient and convivial stop.
2200 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
First, some history: The original Crocodile Café venue opened in the early 1990s and was owned by Stephanie Dorgan, who later married R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, and he became a co-owner. They divorced in 2006, and the Crocodile Café closed unexpectedly in 2007. A group of investors purchased and reopened the venue as the Crocodile in 2009, after giving it a decidedly swanky new face-lift. So it’s not exactly the long-running (and run-down) club that once hosted legendary grunge-rock bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney, and Alice In Chains, as well as Death Cab for Cutie, Yoko Ono, Sleater-Kinney, R.E.M., Built to Spill, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Beastie Boys. Still, the new Crocodile Café is alive and well, offering rock shows, karaoke, DJ nights, and more. The back bar pizzeria serves wood-fired pizza, salads, and meatball sandwiches, so you can dodge that awful opening band and grab a bite while you’re waiting for your favorite band to go on.
2322 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
Part restaurant and part performance venue, the Rendezvous is a full night out in one cozy spot. The restaurant has typical bar food (burgers, salads, deep-fried snacks) that’s basic but good; happy hour goes from 3-6 pm daily with food specials. The tiny Jewelbox Theatre is an intimate cabaret-style theatre, where you’ll find everything from burlesque to comedy variety shows to live music and theater. They also have two excellent private rental rooms for parties. Upstairs, the Red Velvet Lounge looks out onto the main dining floor and has its own sound system. Downstairs, the basement-level Grotto is a dark, red-lit cave with its own private bar and plenty of room for dancing.
1325 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Another hallowed Capitol Hill rock venue, Chop Suey is a short walk up the hill from the Pike/Pine intersection. The performers tend to skew toward local bands, electronic, and drag shows, but one of Seattle’s most unique dance parties is Talcum, featuring the best of Pacific Northwest soul and Motown music (the name refers to the practice of sprinkling talcum powder on the dance floor for better slipping and sliding). Talcum happens every fourth Saturday, and vintage/formal attire is strongly encouraged. Most Chop Suey shows are 21+, and there’s a full bar, but no kitchen; however, you’re allowed to bring your own food inside, oddly enough. Grab a Seattle Dog, slathered with sautéed onions and cream cheese, at the hot dog cart parked out in front. Cash only, if you buy tickets at the door.
1013 East Pike Street
A popular spot for late-night carb-loading (it’s open until 2 a.m. every night), Bimbo’s serves up cheap and enormous burritos in its eye-catching restaurant, decorated wall-to-wall in a Mexican-wrestler-and-black-velvet theme. When you see the giant blinking red arrow, you’ve found the place. They offer burritos, tacos, nachos, tortas, and taco salads, and nothing is over $10. Vegetarian and vegan options are available. Downstairs is the Cha Cha Lounge, a large basement space with plenty of seating for groups; there’s an upstairs and downstairs bar for convenience. Happy hour is 4-8 every day, and all day Sunday and Monday. Wells are $3.50, sangria is $4, margaritas and Bloody Marys are $4.50, and there’s a small happy hour food menu. But really, with prices this cheap, how much of a discount do you need?
614 Maynard Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
Bush Garden is indeed a Japanese restaurant serving sushi, donburi, ramen, and teriyaki, but more importantly, it’s one of the strangest, most entertaining karaoke joints in Seattle. Karaoke starts at 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 5 p.m. on Sunday; regulars know to get their choices in early before the place fills up. Happy hour is conveniently from 8:45 to 9:45 p.m., so you can get some liquid courage before belting out your favorite tune. The decor is endearingly dated, with padded booths and enormous wooden rolling chairs, and gets festively decorated for the holidays. The drinks are strong, the servers sing and dance, and a party atmosphere prevails. Skip the food, though, unless you really need some grease to soak up the alcohol.
925 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Its proper name is Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room, but pretty much everyone just calls it Neumos (pronounced new-mows, a reference to the previous venue in that space, Moe’s Mo’Roc’N Café). The space includes the Pike Street Fish Fry, the Moe Bar, and a new downstairs venue, the Barboza. Neumos features indie rock, metal, hip-hop, punk, and electronica bands, plus DJ nights and special events. Happy hour is 3-7 p.m. every day, and includes $3 wells, selected $3 shots, $4 mojitos and margaritas, and $5 well shot + beer. On weekends, wells are $2, and Bloody Marys and mimosas are $4.
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