Washington Bars Nightlife and Entertainment.

Washington. Way up in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Washington is the only state named after a president ��” and not to be confused with Washington DC, the US capital. Admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889,

Bordering Oregon, Idaho, and the vast Pacific Ocean, Washington combines wilderness with national parks and forests (it’s a good place for Christmas trees), farmland, and salmon fishing. It’s heavy on military-related reservations and even more so with Indian reservations, including the Spokane, Colville, Quinault and Yakama. You’ll find a lot of totem poles in Washington! For a long time, Washington ��” and specifically Seattle – was a centre of shipbuilding and during WW1 and WW11, the state was the source of much of the USA’s heavy bombers, built by Boeing, and warships.

The Spaniards were the first Europeans to touch foot on Washington’s shores back in 1775, followed by the British and then others from within the US, the latter two jointly occupying the region until 1846 when the Brits gave up and left. The black pioneer George Washington and his wife Isabella were the state’s first family, settling here to escape racist settlement laws in Oregon.

Washington has a population of around 6.4m, with about half residing in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan area. Immigrant influence includes German, English, Irish, Norwegian, Mexican and Filipino, all of which you’ll find reflected in the cuisine of the state. Olympia is the capital (and home to the Washington State Capitol Building), but size-wise Seattle is the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest
Located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, just 108 miles from the Canadian border, Seattle is quite a cultural mecca. The Seattle Opera is one of the best you’ll find, while the city’s Symphony is equally renowned. There’s a flourishing fringe theatre, award winning Repertory company and ��” for modern music lovers ��” some superb jazz and rock clubs. Seattle is also the home town of Starbucks, so it takes coffee very seriously (although a lot of French people I know, wouldn’t agree that Starbucks even counts as coffee!)

Also known as the Emerald City, thanks to the surrounding evergreens; the Rainy City (so bring an umbrella); and Jet City ��” thanks to Boeing, if you’re Sleepless in Seattle, there’s no end of choices for a sizzling evening.

Seattle can be a tad confusing; its neighbourhoods sprawl over six hills and it is surrounded by water on three sides. Most of the main attractions are found downtown, but good nightlife can be found in several districts. Belltown, within walking distance of downtown, is one of Seattle’s main nightlife areas with an excellent choice of bars, lounges and restaurants. Here you’ll find stylish, hip joints like Sound Lounge and Club Medusa, where the dancing continues til 4am. Pioneer Square is another cool bar and clubbing stop where you’ll find some brilliant live music; but it can get a bit rowdy and is one of the rougher areas late at night. On Friday and Saturday nights you can buy a Pioneer Square Club Stamp which means you pay one admission fee for around nine different clubs and bars. FX McRory’s is a good choice if you’re into bourbon ��” it has one of the US’s largest collections, as well as 30 draught beers.
The intersection of Pine and Broadway in the Capitol Hill area is where you’ll find yet more upbeat, trendy clubs. It’s a young area, attracting all sorts of guys and gals and is particularly popular with the gay community (try Neighbours if that’s your thing). The Baltic Room on Pine St is said to be the of cutting edge dance music in Seattle or for punk, hardrock and hip hop head to the Bad JuJu lounge on 10th Avenue.

If pubs and breweries are more your thing, then head to the Fremont area or Ballard, with its Scandinavian influence, for a more ‘neighbourly’ middle of the road entertainment choices. The Jolly Roger Taproom offers a warm friendly pub atmosphere with a nautical theme with beers brewed right next door at the Maritime Pacific Brewing Co, or for a wide range of local and national live music acts, head for the Tractor Tavern on Ballard Ave NW.

Foodwise, Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s best known tourist attractions and you’ll be unlucky if you go wrong with the restaurants in that neighbourhood.Visit The Alibi Room here, with its excellent range of cocktails and wines, and you’ll be helping to support independent filmmakers and their work.

Washington’s capital, Olympia, and other main cities including Spokane and Tacoma are all equally modern, cosmopolitan, progressive cities where you’ll find a well developed cultural offer against a backdrop of superb scenery that any outdoor person will adore ��” skiing, hiking, fishing, boating ��”it’s all there. There are a lot of young people in Olympia from the Evergreen State College and Saint Martin’s University, as well as well-heeled permanent residents; Tacoma claims to be one of ‘the most wired’ cities in the US; and Spokane’s cultural offer is right up there with the best of them. All this creates a demand for decent restaurants, clubs and bars ��” and they’ve all got a broad range to meet all ages and tastes.

Into jazz and blues? Bluz At The Bend in N Market and Club Max in E Sprague Ave are both highlights in Spokane. Latah Bistro is one of the city’s most talked about new restaurants with a varied menu and live music every Wednesday night. For great Martinis, head to Bistango Martini Lounge on N Post St. The house martini is made with aged Hennessy XO Cognac and Grand Marnier.
Olympia is bursting with bars, clubs and taverns, including the Fishbowl Brew Pub ��” the only one you’ll find in South Puget Sound, the ever lively O’Blarney’s Irish Pub on Martin Way E, and The Vault Nightclub on Franklin St. Jazzbones is a very hip nightclub in downtown Tacoma, with an excellent restaurant attached, and live music can be found most nights at Hell’s Kitchen on 6th Avenue.

Foodwise, Washington’s cities offer as good a range of restaurants as you’ll find anywhere in the US and the immigrant influence means that this includes some excellent Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, Italian etc. Cities in the vicinity of the vast Puget Sound, such as Olympia, Tacoma, Lacey and Turnwater, additionally have the benefit of superbly fresh seafood and fish available all year round. The Oyster House on 4th Ave, West Olympia, is said to be the oldest seafood restaurant in Washington State and, located on the shores of Puget Sound, offers seafood specialties caught fresh that morning, brought straight to the restaurant from the dockside wharf.

Are there any downsides to Washington state? Well, it’s not the best state for smokers, with the strictest banning laws. Since the end of 2005, smoking has been banned in all bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and within 25ft of a door or window that can be opened or ventilated. Otherwise, apart from the cold, cold winters, we can’t think of too many negatives.