How to Seattle 2024

The Stranger Presents: How to Seattle 2024

99 Things to Do Before the Big One Takes Us All

How to Seattle: Outdoors

Sure, the View Is Beautiful, but It’s Gonna Kill Us All

How to Seattle: Food & Drink

The Best Side of Seattle Is Waiting for You at the Hot Dog Cart

The 99 Things to Do in Seattle Checklist

Download It and Print It Out to Keep Track of Your Progress!

How to Seattle: Attractions & Landmarks

Welcome to Our Weird Little Corner of the Country

How to Seattle: Shopping

Because You Can't Take It With You

How to Seattle: Music & Nightlife

From Punk Shows at Roller Rinks to Trivia Nights Hosted By Jeopardy! Champs

How to Seattle: Arts & Culture

Only in Seattle Can You Scream in a Museum and Dance to Robyn at Church

How to Seattle: Extra Credit

Adventures That Require a Bit More Time, Money, and/or a Willing Grindr Date

Seattle has long been known for its fruitful music scene. But we’re more than grunge. Today’s music scene is exciting and vibrant, and there is an abundance of venues across the city regularly showcasing an incredibly diverse selection of local and national talent, from femme DJ nights and drag brunches to experimental noise shows in art galleries. Catch a punk show at a roller rink! Stumble into a world-class jazz jam on a random Tuesday night! See the future of comedy in a pizza restaurant! You’ll only be bored in Seattle if you’re boring.

Attend a Live On-Air Performance at KEXP

Seattle Center

One of the shiniest gems Seattle has to offer is the radio station 90.3 KEXP. Sure, you can stream KEXP all over the world, but there is something truly special about tuning in to the terrestrial signal. And if you’re not in Seattle, you can’t go see one of KEXP’s in-studio performances. KEXP hosts the most incredible artists about once a week and these four- or five-song sets are FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. This feels like a best-kept secret that no one is actually keeping secret and yet not enough people are capitalizing upon. Yes, the room caps out at about 70 people so you would have to get there early for tickets; yes, I get that most of these performances are midday and some people hAvE jObS tHeY hAvE tO wOrK; but no, I don’t find either of those excuses valid. We’re talking FREE concerts with your favorite artists who are usually over in a half hour. These are the best quickies in town. Find the schedule and more details at (RACHEL STEVENS)

Rollerskate Around a Rock Show at Southgate Roller Rink

White Center

Southgate Roller Rink is an underrated Seattle treasure in White Center—a roller rink with Baby Ketten Karaoke for most of the week at the bar, and shows in the middle of the roller rink several times a month, with a focus on the rock, punk, and noise end of the genre spectrum. I haven’t tried doing anything fancier other than staying upright while the bands play, but I think bonus points should go to whoever manages to do the first Wall of Death on wheels. (KATHLEEN TARRANT)

Expect the Unexpected at Vermillion

Capitol Hill

Vermillion, an art gallery and bar on Capitol Hill, isn’t reinventing art galleries or bars, but it does always have cool shit that draws an unpretentious crowd. It feels good to be in a community space that’s integrated with local artists, which is why I like it. For instance, I’ve seen a sculpture made of cigarettes and a show of photography, painting, sketches, and leatherwork from Seattle’s leather community. At Vermillion, there’s always a band, storyteller, or some cool artist doing some cool thing that makes this city seem more vibrant. (VIVIAN MCCALL)

Rock the Ballard Block at Sunset Tavern and Tractor Tavern


Dropping in on a quality live music set is easy in central Ballard, with the Sunset and Tractor down the street from each other. The Sunset is a former Chinese restaurant that’s now a fun, divey rock ‘n’ roll bar with live music across all popular genres, a photo booth, and friendly bartenders. The Tractor holds court just two blocks away, with gritty saloon-esque decor, tallboys aplenty, and one of the best selections of live local and national rock, pop, alt-folk, and blues in town. (STRANGER STAFF)

Give Live Jazz or Funk a Chance in Wallingford


If you’re planning on painting the town red and that “town” is Seattle, you’re probably not hitting the Wallingford neighborhood. But I think you should! Not too long ago, I randomly wandered into Sea Monster Lounge on a Wednesday night with a couple friends and we saw some of the most fun jazz. I asked the bartender, “Does this happen often?” and he just smiled and nodded. It feels intimate and creative. Check out Sea Monster’s schedule of events and maybe don’t go there to catch up with friends; you’ll just wanna sit, sip, watch, and listen. (And then go for a nightcap at the Octopus Bar and take a photo in their photo booth, because those beautiful machines are dropping like flies these days.) (RACHEL STEVENS)

Let Loose at Babe Night

Various locations

The dance party at Babe Night. Courtesy of Baby Night

It’s safe to say that no Seattle DJ burns more calories per gig than Waxwitch (aka Isabela Garcia). At any of her dozen-plus events per month, Garcia is in near-perpetual motion behind the decks (and sometimes in front of them), dancing up a tropical storm. The fun she’s clearly having while spinning records such as Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” or Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality” acts as a contagion on crowds around the city, particularly at Babe Night, the event into which she’s currently putting the most time and energy—with big dividends. The Babe Night concept seems so obvious and ripe for success, but nobody’s really capitalized on it like Garcia has. She and a rotating cast of the area’s savviest women selectors (including La Mala Noche, Kween Kaysh, and Gold Chisme) play female-centric tracks geared to get hands in the air and butts in gear. (DAVE SEGAL)

Catch a Drag Show… Any Drag Show

Various locations

If contemplating the Big One is getting you down, I have a quick fix for a pick-me-up: any of Seattle’s countless drag shows! It’s hard not to find a show featuring one of Seattle’s many professional, gender-expansive royalty—they’re overflowing from nearly every restaurant, nightclub, and DIY art space across the city. Capitol Hill alone is home to weekly shows at Queer/Bar, Unicorn, and Neighbours, just to name a few. If you’re down south, don’t miss Betty Wetter’s Tush at Clock-Out Lounge in Beacon Hill or the camp-classic Bacon Strip at Jules Mae’s in Georgetown. Up north? There are multiple phenomenal shows at Dreamland in Fremont. I don’t have time nor room on this page to begin listing off the endless brunch options, but if you’re looking for eggs, booze, and hairy ladies in sequined gowns, let’s just say you’re in the right city. (NICO SWENSON)

Do a Fruit Loop at Union

Capitol Hill

What’s a fruit loop, you ask? No, it’s not a rainbow-colored frozen drink that tastes like breakfast cereal. A fruit loop is a... well, I’ll let my group chat field this one: “A ‘fruit loop’ is when one excuses themself from their present company to travel around the interior of a queer establishment and scan the crowd.” “At Union, most will play this off as a bathroom break, as the bathrooms are located at the midpoint of the loop.” “Union is the perfect place for a fruit loop.” “I’ll go to Union first because that’s where everyone starts the night, and then I’ll do my fruit loop.” “It’s building community!” “It’s an opportunity to make intense eye contact with people you’re going to message on Grindr in an hour.” “It’s also just to say hello to friends: I wouldn’t say it’s always about the prowl.” “This guy does it all the time.” “I am very guilty of this.” “I’m sure everyone does it.” (ADAM WILLEMS)

Celebrate Your Old-School Faves at the Royal Room

Columbia City


A wood-bedecked space with great acoustics in Columbia City, the Royal Room made its name on jazz bookings (it is partially the brainchild of musician and composer Wayne Horvitz) but has since expanded into folk, world music, and multimedia events. Music booker Tish Gallow also produces fun-as-hell tribute nights where some of Seattle’s best celebrate the work of prominent Black musicians, including A Tribe Called Quest, Prince, Queen, and Whitney Houston. Do NOT miss their Juneteenth party, featuring the music of Tina Turner. (STRANGER STAFF)

Witness Seattle’s Funniest Talent Show at Joketellers Union

Beacon Hill

Want to feel like a really online, in-the-know, Seattleite? Go to Clock-Out Lounge to see Seattle comics Brett Hamil and Emmett Montgomery’s long-running biweekly comedy night, Joketellers Union. The show features local and national talents, as well as “special guests with special talents” including “friendship, pizza, and rhythmic clapping.” Whatever ends up happening, it’s always hilarious. I recommend buying tickets in advance, as the shows tend to sell out pretty regularly. For more weird-plus-comedy fun, also check out Friendship Dungeon, a midnight comedy and variety show that Montgomery hosts with Derek Sheen at Comedy/Bar. (ASHELY NERBOVIG)

Party Among Vintage Porn at Pony

Capitol Hill

Party at Pony. KELLY O

Pony has an outdoor fire pit, fantastic bartenders, clever DJs, and vintage gay porn (i.e., huge dicks) wheat pasted to the walls. Plus, there’s a photo booth. Plus, a glory hole in the bathroom. Once I showed up on a Tuesday for karaoke, and the entire cast of a touring production of The Book of Mormon was there, singing their hearts out. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZELLE)

Dodge—or Don’t—the Overflowing Urinal at the Cuff Complex

Capitol Hill

This summer, Paris will host world-class water sports in the form of long-distance Olympic swimming in the Seine; Seattle is home to a more permanent water-sports fixture in the form of pee flowing pretty consistently onto the dance floor of the Cuff Complex (aka the Cuff), a leather-forward gay dance club on Capitol Hill. Blame the aquatics on faulty plumbing. There’s one cursèd urinal on the mezzanine level of this Dante’s Inferno-esque nightlife destination that I’ve never not seen overflowing with poise and grace down the stairs. If it’s your thing, take your shirt off and bring rain boots that match your harness! Or don’t bring boots if that’s your thing, I guess. (ADAM WILLEMS)

Test Your Wits at Head in the Clouds Trivia

Various locations

Allow me to brag for a second: I was a member of my school’s Knowledge Bowl team and made it through multiple rounds of Jeopardy! callbacks in 2020, although I sadly never got that fateful call from Culver City. (I’m not giving up yet, though!) Are you a fellow freak for seemingly useless knowledge? Can you pick all of the Real Housewives out of a lineup? Do you have an uninterrupted New York Times crossword streak? If so, come to Head in the Clouds to flaunt your impressive command of minutiae. University of Washington grads and Jeopardy! champions Sally Neumann and Leah Caglio host this trivia night at bars throughout Seattle from Sunday through Thursday. You won’t find your typical musty, male-dominated questions here—the duo has made it their mission to incorporate topics that have traditionally gotten less respect, like pop culture, and to approach history from an anti-colonial perspective. (JULIANNE BELL)

Take a Swing at Curveball Karaoke

Columbia City

If you’re looking for a rowdy crowd at 8 pm on a Tuesday night, head to Lottie’s Lounge in Columbia City for Curveball Karaoke. Regulars and newcomers alike cram together to belt out everything from ’80s classics to Lady Gaga. Sometimes a guy even brings a saxophone to play along, and a few writers from The Stranger occasionally make an appearance as well. The night is so beloved, there’s even a portrait photography book featuring regular participants—check it out at (ASHLEY NERBOVIG)

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