Seattle’s 5 Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

From trendy hot spots to dive bars, the Seattle nightlife scene runs the gamut.

By Charyn Pfeuffer, ContributorMay 10, 2017
By Charyn Pfeuffer, ContributorMay 10, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

Seattle’s 5 Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

USA, WA, Seattle, Waterfront and Downtown at Twilight

Just a short drive or light rail ride from Sea-Tac Airport, Seattle's downtown offers a vibrant retail and restaurant scene.(Getty Images)

Seattle offers a veritable medley of nightlife options. From sexy jazz clubs to swank speak-easies, Emerald City has endless options for a lively night out. Whether you want to get dressed up and drink craft cocktails or wear ripped jeans and drink tall boys of Rainier, there's a neighborhood that suits your going-out style. Here are five of the top neighborhoods to explore after dark.

Capitol Hill

Tracie Kahikina, head concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, sends her guests to Capitol Hill. Just northeast of downtown, it's a quick one stop from the Westlake Link light rail station.

Jeff Wilbur, concierge at The Arctic Club Seattle - A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, also endorses the neighborhood known locally as "the Hill." "It's eclectic and embodies the quirkiness of Seattle in every way, with plenty of boutique shopping and unique coffee shops," he says.

Kahikina recommends Canon, which has more than 3,500 different types of whiskeys. "If someone is into whiskey, they can do tastings," she says. Another bar she recommends is Rhein Haus, which serves German beer and pretzels, and boasts bocce courts. Another bar she likes is Knee High Stocking Co. "You have to ring a doorbell to get in. The whole idea is like the Prohibition era, you know that tradition of being hidden in plain sight."

Lara Dennis, concierge at Kimpton Alexis Hotel Seattle, recommends trying the signature cocktail menu, which changes every season.

Belltown

Just a short 10-minute walk north of downtown is the up-and-coming neighborhood of Belltown.

"Only in the last five [years] has Belltown really woken up the way it has," says Jessica Gomes, VIP coordinator at Hotel 1000. One of Gomes' favorite places in Belltown is Bathtub Gin and Co. "It's a really great little spot," she says. "They have gins from all over the world: Holland, Scotland and represent Washington really well."

Right next door is Tula's Jazz Club. "Seattle's a huge jazz spot," Gomes says. She adds that Tula's is "one of those smoky jazz bars that still has that flavor."

Nearby, Gomes also adores The Crocodile. "That’s where Nirvana played, R.E.M., Pearl Jam – all those great bands," she says.

Alexis Beeton, chief concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle, says, "They have the best of the best, and shows are incredibly inexpensive. If you want to go out and see a show, you'll spend $20 to $40 at most."

Downtown

The urban pulse of Seattle offers a plethora of nightlife options. Roughly a 15-mile drive or 40-minute Link light rail ride from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, downtown is home to sleek skyscrapers, historic buildings, and a vibrant retail and restaurant scene.

Chuck Watts, head concierge at Hyatt at Olive 8, recommends a visit to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, which has been wowing crowds for nearly four decades. "National jazz artists play there all the time – it's a really nice place to go," he says. Watts also recommends The Triple Door for its great acoustics and food.

If you're thirsty, Beeton suggests Von's 1000Spirits, just a few blocks away from the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle. "They have over 1,000 spirits, so it's definitely a hit for any person who likes liquor," she says.

Georgetown

This under-the-radar destination just south of downtown is quickly gaining cred. A 5-mile drive or ride from downtown, the quirky Georgetown neighborhood packs lots of historic brick buildings and character.

For some of the most authentic Mexican food in the city, swing by Fonda La Catrina. Happy hour is always hopping with $6 house margaritas. And don't miss the carne asada enchiladas with homemade mole sauce.

Mingle with the locals at 9lb Hammer. This slightly divey bar features cheap, but strong, drinks, all-you-can-eat peanuts and a handful of arcade games, plus shuffleboard.

Ballard

Originally a fishing town settled by Scandinavian immigrants, the Ballard neighborhood may be a bit of a detour from downtown Seattle (7 miles), but it's well worth the trip.

"Ballard is a lively and fun neighborhood, ready for exploration," Wilbur says. "It's largely residential, but has plenty of great bars and food. One of my personal favorite local spots is called [The] Walrus and the Carpenter – a small restaurant that offers delicious seafood and specialty cocktails."

Other must-see spots include The People's Pub for its German beers and bratwurst, Ballard Annex Oyster House for its $2 oyster happy hour (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily) and Staple & Fancy Mercantile for local celeb chef Ethan Stowell's locally sourced, pure Pacific Northwest-inspired, family-style menu.

To experience more of what Seattle has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Charyn Pfeuffer, Contributor

Charyn Pfeuffer is a writer in Seattle. Her work has appeared in more than 100 publications, ...  Read more

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