30 Perfect Summer Nights in Seattle
Your guide to the best summer nightlife, arts and outdoor entertainment our city has to offer.
By KRISTEN RUSSELL, BRANGIEN DAVIS, KATE CALAMUSA, BOND HUBERMAN, RACHEL HART AND A.J. RATHBUN
May 23, 2012
When it comes to endless summer nights, Seattle has the bragging rights sewn up: Around here, sunlight lingers into end of day (we’ll have 16 hours of daylight on June 21!), making for long, languid evenings that seem to stretch on forever. Sure, our nights are seldom hot—some years, we just settle for dry—but the city comes alive at night during this season, with myriad options for after-hours adventures. Whether you’re seeking ways to play, eat, drink or explore the outdoors in the dark, this is your guide to the best summer nights Seattle has to offer.
HOT TUB BOATS
Imagine bobbing along on Lake Union in a floating, diesel-powered hot tub. That, um, dream is now reality, thanks to Seattle-based HOT TUB BOATS. Created by local shipwrights with an entrepreneurial bent (and, apparently, a sense of humor), these floating tubs (patent pending!) will take to the lake with as many as six people on board. The good news? A diesel-fired boiler keeps the water hot during your voyage. And you can steer while submerged. The bad? No alcohol or nudity is allowed. Sheer decadence or extreme dorkiness? We’ll let you decide. At press time, rental fees were not available; hottubboats.com.
While a way a summer evening on one of THE ELECTRIC BOAT COMPANY’s 21-foot-long, 100-percent electric-powered (eco!) canopied boats launched from the west side of Lake Union. Hop aboard with friends (limit 10 passengers), some BYO beverages, food and music, and motor yourself on a little tour of our city’s waterways. Each boat has plush seating and cocktail tables, and can be enclosed, should it rain on your summer parade. “A lot of people like to check out the Alaska crabbing boats at Fishermen’s Terminal and stop at Chinook’s and get takeout,” says owner Jennifer Towne. Especially cool after dark: the Venetian-like channels offering a glimpse into Seattle’s luxe houseboat community, Roanoke Reef, on Lake Union in Eastlake. Big spenders, ask about the luxury boat. 2046 Westlake Ave. N, Suite 102; 206.223.7476. Summer hours: Mon.–Thu., noon-9 p.m.; Fri.–Sun., 10 a.m.–10 p.m. $125 per hour plus tax, with a two-hour minimum. Luxury boat rents for $175 an hour, two-hour minimum, plus a deposit. Renters must be 25 years or older; driver training provided. Photograph by Hayley Young
Spa Summer Nights
Kick off your heels and bask in the setting sun at The Spa at Willows Lodge (Woodinville, 14580 NE 145th St.; 425.424.3900; willowslodge.com). During the summer months, the newly revamped spa pops open the umbrellas on two outdoor cabanas for side-by-side manis ($35–$45) or pedis ($55–$75); open late (until 7 p.m.), which gives you just enough time to slide into the lodge’s Fireside Cellars for a pre-treatment happy-hour drink (4–6:30 p.m.).
Rock the House
Hitting the town with a pack of friends? End the evening in a private karaoke room at Capitol Hill hot spot ROCK BOX (1603 Nagle Place; 206.302.7625; rockboxseattle.com. Rooms seat 1–15 guests; $7 per person per hour). Not only is the experience more authentic to original Japanese karaoke, it’s the perfect social compromise: Serious singers can perform as many tunes as they want without long waits, while more bashful crooners have a comfy place to relax and spectate until they’ve imbibed enough liquid courage (or until the core-shaking power of Wilson Phillips harmonies can no longer be denied). Karaoke nerds love the award-winning design of the place and accessing the song library via iPad; everyone else can just focus on the Bluebird ice cream ($5), savory and sweet small plates and, of course, the daily happy hour.
Dance with Abandon
There’s more to life than noodle dancing in front of a band. Pick up some moves on a summer evening spent salsa-ing your cares (and extra calories!) away. At the Century Ballroom (Capitol Hill, 915 E Pine St.; 206.324.7263; centuryballroom.com), drop-ins are welcome at beginning swing, tango and salsa lessons offered at 9 p.m. most nights (8 p.m. on Saturdays; $7–$15), followed by dancing, and perfect after-hours people-watching on the surrounding streets. Or kick it to live music at one of Ballard’s long-held dance traditions: Monday-night square dancing at the Tractor Tavern (the second and fourth Mondays of each month; 5213 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.789.3599; tractortavern.com). C’mon, no one’s watching!
The decades-old Post Alley gem THE PINK DOOR (Pike Place Market, 1919 Post Alley; 206.443.3241; thepinkdoor.net) is a fail-safe for a memorable night out in any season. Combine delicious, Old World atmosphere with sustainably sourced, classic Italian fare; add to that a rich menu of free live entertainment, including trapeze artists, aerialists, music, burlesque and even tarot card readings (check website for daily schedule). The evening cabaret scene is delightful, but arriving early for happy hour, before the spectacle lets loose, can feel just as decadent—especially if you get a patio table during the golden hour before sunset. In which case, sip a simple but satisfying French 75, soak in the peekaboo views of Elliott Bay and sing to yourself: “I’m in heaven.”
A brand-new festival is bringing live music, theater and art to the Seattle waterfront this summer, for the first time since Summer Nights at the Pier sank 10 years ago. For three weekends this summer, ARTS ON THE WATERFRONT will offer art displays and free events to the pier south of the Seattle Aquarium, including a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, followed by moonlit dancing to local bands. Fridays through Sundays, 6/15–7/1. 7 p.m. artsonthewaterfront.com
Creatures of the Dark
Night owl, meet your match on a guided walk in the dark to spot owls, bats and other nocturnal critters. On summer nights, the Audubon Society hosts BAT WALKS & TALKS and OWL PROWLS ($5; sewardpark.audubon.org). If you’d rather stalk mammals, take the 75-mile drive to Tenino for a shivery evening at Wolf Haven International. There, HOWL-INS feature eerie wolf calls, sanctuary tours and live music, beginning at 6 p.m. ($17/adult, $10/child; overnight camping available; wolfhaven.org). One caveat for romance seekers: Kids, like critters, tend to be plentiful at these events.
There’s nothing quite like the creepy-cool thrill of FLASHLIGHT HIKING in deep local forest, and these long summer evenings make it easy to bag a peak after work. Choose a well-traveled trail (we like the Chirico Trail to Issaquah’s Poo Poo Point; wta.org) and a trustworthy flashlight and head to the top, where you’ll watch the sun set while eating a well-earned picnic dinner. Exploring the outdoors at night is addictive; next, try night kayaking. Sign up for a FULL-MOON TOUR at Agua Verde Paddle Club, leaving from Seattle’s Portage Bay and heading into the Washington Park Arboretum ($40; aguaverde.com).
Enjoy the Silence
The Artist not only swept the Oscars last February, it inspired a whole new craving for silent films. Sate yourself at Silent Movie Mondays ($10. 7 p.m. 7/9, 7/16, 7/23, 7/30. The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St.; 877.784.4849; stgpresents.org), which in July focuses on “Opulence and Epics,” screening Ben Hur and King of Kings, among others. And don’t worry about hearing a pin drop—films are accompanied by Seattle organist extraordinaire Jim Riggs, who ups the cinematic excitement with swells and subtle cues on the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ.