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Best Nightlife in Seattle

Seattle's Nightlife Scene Showcases Live Theatre, Rocking Concerts and Happenin' Pubs


The Seattle nightlife scene stretches far beyond beer and bands. As a cultural outpost in the northwest corner of the country, Seattle is often a desired destination for top musical acts on national tours, Broadway shows, modern dance troupes, hot comics, even avant-garde theatre groups. The city boasts homegrown talent in all of those areas, too, not to mention the arts scene to support them.

Big shows (and Kraken hockey games!) hit the brand-new Climate Pledge Arena, the Seattle Center Opera House and the Paramount and Fifth Avenue theaters, to name a few. More intimate music venues such as the Showbox and Neumos host a rotating slate of national performers that span all genres. Multiple bars and clubs also showcase live local talent, notably the renowned Crocodile (in a brand-new location) and the Sunset, Comet and Tractor taverns.

A vast selection of watering holes–from dive bars and brewpubs to chic lounges and clubs–can be found in ultra-funky Capitol Hill, historic and hip Pioneer Square and the University District (near the University of Washington campus). On the Boards, a local theater group, produces edgy local and regional theater, while film collective Northwest Film Forum spotlights interesting and out-there art films and documentaries. Alternative rock bars still hold their place, but beat-driven dance clubs are alive and well, as are venues geared toward blues and jazz, most distinctively Demitriou’s Jazz Alley, which hosts prominent players from around the globe. Be sure to read up on the latest vaccination and mask mandates before buying tickets or attending events. 

 


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The 5th Avenue Theatre is known as one of the nation's leading musical theater companies, especially for its production and development of new works. Needless to say, comedy often graces its stage. Since 2002, the Seattle-based company has produced 17 new musicals. To date, nine--including hit Disney's Aladdin--have moved on to Broadway premieres, earning a combined 15 Tony Awards, including two for Best Musical--Hairspray and Memphis. The 5th Avenue Theatre also known makes waves for its lauded productions of musicals from the contemporary canon and the Golden Age of Broadway. While the shows are sensational, the venue itself justifies a visit, too, thanks to a unique, Chinese-inspired design. (The exquisite theater opened in 1926 as a venue for vaudeville and film.) In January 2022, the venue comes back to life with its production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: In January 2022, Seattle celebrates the return of downtown's The 5th Avenue Theatre, one of the nation's leading musical theater companies.

Corinne's expert tip: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination (or negative COVID test) will be required to attend all performances this season. Masks must be worn at all times inside the theater, too.

Read more about 5th Avenue Theatre →


Paramount Theatre
Photo courtesy of Hip Hop Nutcracker by Tim Norris

Dating to the late 19th century, this venue has been restored to the glory it knew as a movie theater in the 1920s. These days, you can catch acts as diverse as Boyz II Men and The Head and the Heart to Sturgill Simpson and The Beach Boys, and there's even the odd speaking engagement, too. Enjoy the sumptuous, gilt-edged surroundings as you take in a show. The ambience is decadent; for example, three million crystal beads adorn 218 chandeliers and light fixtures. If dancing is called for, the seating area quickly converts to a stunning hardwood ballroom floor. The "wow" factor here is definitely worth the trip!

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Enjoy live performances--including some of today's hottest musical acts--in the elegant, historic space at Paramount Theatre.

Corinne's expert tip: STG requires proof of vaccination for entry to all performances at the Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres. Check out the impressive lineups at all three venues.

Read more about Paramount Theatre →


Located in the historic Odd Fellows building, Century Ballroom's vintage locale perfectly suits its mission, to keep ballroom and social dancing a thriving part of the Seattle nightlife scene. If the venue's popularity is any indicator, the mission is succeeding. The elaborately renovated ballroom space, with a 2,000-square-foot dance floor, is the place in the city to revive the grand days of formal evenings on the town. Dance nights, often with live music, set the perfect tone with dining, drinks and dancing under the same roof. Meals and a full bar are available right across the hallway at Tin Table. Whether you enjoy salsa, swing, tango, tap or burlesque, Century Ballroom or the adjacent East Hall offers all that and more. And for those who need instruction or just a chance to brush up on their rug-cutting skills, Century Ballroom hosts fun and friendly classes and lessons.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Century Ballroom fills its 2,000-square-foot-dance floor with music and moves; think dance nights and live music.

Corinne's expert tip: Check the calendar for nights featuring everything from bachata and tango to swing and burlesque. Masks are required for all classes and dances; guests must also show proof of vaccination (as of at least two weeks prior) for all dances and rotating classes.

Read more about Century Ballroom →


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The Triple Door
Photo courtesy of The Triple Door

Located in Seattle's historic Mann Building in the heart of downtown, this intimate and sophisticated, award-winning music and dinner theatre occupies the renovated space that formerly housed the Embassy Theater (originally a 1920s vaudeville house). The Mainstage, downstairs on the lower level, is an intimate candlelit spot with state-of-the-art sound and booths that offer clear sight lines to the stage. An Asian-fusion menu is provided by adjacent Wild Ginger restaurant, and the same cuisine can be enjoyed upstairs in the Musicquarium Lounge. In this upstairs lounge-like space, live music, DJ sets and a stellar happy hour menu have become legendary around town.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Enjoy intimate performances at downtown's Triple Door--an award-winning music and dinner theater that features Asian-fusion fare from Wild Ginger.

Corinne's expert tip: Arrive with an appetite so you can enjoy Asian fare served by the venue's sister restaurant, Wild Ginger. All ticket holders ages 12 and over will be required to provide proof of vaccination upon entry, or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of showtime.

Read more about The Triple Door →


You're in the beer-happy Pacific Northwest, where microbreweries sprout like mushrooms after a rainstorm. If you're interested in sampling creations from a wide variety of those breweries, Brouwer's Café in Fremont is pure beervana. Obviously run by hop heads and beer geeks, Brouwer's staff is amazingly knowledgeable about lagers and ales.This casual and understated pub offers no fewer than 64 rotating draft selections, along with more than 300 bottled brews and 60-something types of Scotch. And to help soak up some of that beer in your belly, the café features a Eurocentric menu of exceptional eats. (Check out their happy hour deals, too.)

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Beer lovers must check out the hoppy scene at Fremont's Brouwer's Cafe, where Belgian fare and endless brews reign.

Corinne's expert tip: This place really knows beer, and they are happy to share their brew smarts. Special tastings, festivals and educational beer events are held on a regular basis. (Vaccine card required to enter.)

Read more about Brouwer's Cafe →


This beloved Ballard nightspot features a smorgasbord of impressive music on a weekly basis, and performances range from zydeco, bluegrass and country to rock, folk, jazz and beyond. In addition to great live music, the Tractor also offers a friendly, neighborhood vibe as well as local beers on tap (including cans of Seattle Cider). Completing the distinctly American scene are walls decorated with old tractor parts and farming implements, and cowboy boots dangle from the ceiling rafters. The venue is currently requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of the event. Grab dinner beforehand, or enjoy a nightcap after, at a venue within this neighborhood's impressive lineup of eateries and bars.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This Ballard music venue brings talents from near and far to a welcoming space, offering a down-home vibe and cowboy boots dangling from the rafters.

Corinne's expert tip: Why not make a night of it? Grab dinner or drinks in bustling Ballard before heading to the show. Visit http://www.visitballard.com for some ideas.

Read more about Tractor Tavern →


Showbox at the Market
Photo courtesy of Showbox

Although it's experienced a variety of incarnations, the historic Showbox, located directly across from Pike Place Market, is a must-visit site in which to catch touring bands. Amid Art Deco columns, young and hip crowds clamor to hear and see their favorite groups. There's even a dance floor for them to show off their moves if the spirit strikes. Plus, several bars accommodate patrons with a good menu of libations and stellar sightlines, a rarity for concert venue bars. If you're looking to buy tickets in person, the Showbox Box Office is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Although it's experienced a variety of incarnations, the historic Showbox is a must-visit venue in which to catch touring bands just across from Pike Place Market.

Corinne's expert tip: Also check out a stellar concert lineup taking place at sister site, Showbox SoDo. At both venues, guests must show either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event.

Read more about Showbox at the Market →


Seattle Kraken
Photo courtesy of Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken is a brand-new, Seattle-based professional ice hockey team that competes in the National Hockey League as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. Root them on during energy-filled home games at the groundbreaking Climate Pledge Arena, a dazzling, eco-friendly venue that aims to be "the most progressive, responsible and sustainable arena in the world." This multi-purpose live entertainment venue, built for NHL hockey, live music and events, WNBA and future NBA basketball games, can be found not far from the Space Needle on the 74-acre Seattle Center campus. With the mantra of "Release the Kraken" already reverberating around town, and tens of thousands of fans donning the hues of Kraken blue, it's already apparent that this city was ready for a new hockey team to support and celebrate.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Root on the Seattle Kraken, and attend other dazzling performances and concerts, at the brand-new Climate Pledge Arena.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out the arena's lineup of upcoming performances and shows, featuring talents from the Harlem Globetrotters and comedian Jo Koy to John Mayer, Billie Eilish and Journey.

Read more about Seattle Kraken →


Rock Box
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Benschneider/Rock Box

When it comes to karaoke in Seattle, Rock Box is the obvious choice. The rocking Capitol Hill hangout, a Japanese-style club, follows the private room (or "karaoke box" model) popular in Japan and throughout Asia. The venue boasts a full bar plus a menu of tasty snacks. Inspired by Japanese craft and Tokyo lights, the 12 boxes range in size from 2 to 14 seats, and there's a larger "party room" that can accommodate 35-plus. Songbirds show up to peruse a songbook that's been two decades in the making; it contains nearly 30,000 English and 67,000 Japanese songs (with strong Chinese and Spanish libraries, too). Happy singing!

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Rock Box, a happening Capitol Hill hangout, is a Japanese-style club following the private room (or "karaoke box") model, popular in Japan and throughout Asia.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out weekly specials online for renting private rooms; karaoke in the bar is always free. Check out safety protocol here: https://rockboxseattle.com/safety.pdf.

Read more about Rock Box →


Seattle's premier jazz club for nearly three decades, Dimitriou's Jazz Alley is a sure West Coast stop for top jazz artists on tour. Jazz Alley has hosted luminaries such as Peter White, Randy Brecker, Dr. John and Tower of Power. Oh, and just a few other important names, stars such as Dizzy Gillespie, Brandford Marsalis, Diane Schuur, Oscar Peterson, Betty Carter and Bill Evans, have graced the club's marquee over the years. A local jazz institution, the elegant club setting and name acts attract folks dressed for the occasion. Many choose to dine in the club's fine restaurant before the show. This being a jazz club, it goes without saying that a full-service bar keeps libations flowing during the show.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Dimitriou's Jazz Alley proves a sure West Coast stop for top jazz artists on tour; enjoy fine fare and craft cocktails here, too.

Corinne's expert tip: On any given night, a jazz great may appear here onstage; for decades, Jazz Alley has been a draw for top acts from the region and around the globe. Free parking is included with the price of admission. Get parking validated between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. at the garage located in the Westin Building Garage (not The Westin Hotel Garage) at 2010 5th Avenue.

Read more about Dimitriou's Jazz Alley →


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Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne

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