Newcomer's Handbook Seattle

Cultural Life

Though Seattle landed on the world music map as the birthplace of grunge, it is not just a music mecca for alternative rock and its fans. Seattle is home to big and small arts venues that offer top-notch live performances in classical music, opera, comedy, and theater. Area residents flock to film openings, improvisational theater, traveling Broadway shows, art walks and galleries, and readings by visiting authors. The months of inclement winter weather guarantee large audiences for most performances. In the summer, entertainers simply move to the enticing outdoors. Music concerts are held in local parks, on the waterfront, and in concert halls. Another concert venue about two and a half hours east of Seattle is “The Gorge,” a huge amphitheater with a stunning view of the Columbia River that attracts big names in contemporary and classic rock, blues, and jazz. Located in George, Washington, it has been called the best outdoor concert venue in the country. Several summer festivals feature fabulous musical and theatrical performances; see A Seattle Year for more details. Also covered in this chapter: Museums, Literary Life, and Culture for Kids. Unless otherwise noted, the following establishments are in Seattle.


As in nearly every major city in the United States, tickets to most shows in Seattle can be bought through Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or online at For especially popular events, such as rock concerts and professional sports playoffs, you may have no choice but to buy from Ticketmaster. However, for many events and performances you can avoid paying the extra Ticketmaster fees by purchasing tickets directly at the event venue’s box office. Many area Fred Meyer stores have a Ticketmaster outlet, but check the website for retail locations.

Several local live entertainment venues, including the Crocodile Café, Comedy Underground, and Tractor Tavern, use the online ticket service TicketWeb, Still other attractions, like the Showbox Theater, use TicketsWest; go to or call 800-992-8499 for a list of venues using this service. An increasing number of local events issue tickets through locally based Brown Paper Tickets, which charges small processing and delivery fees, donates part of its profits back to the community, and allows customers to designate which charities should benefit. You can reach them online at, or by phone at 800-838-3006. Those ages 13–18 can sign up for Teen Tix (206-233-3959,, a free access pass that allows teenagers to buy $5 rush tickets to theater, dance, music, film, and visual art events.

If you have your heart set on a sold-out performance, try searching for tickets on fan-to-fan ticket reselling site such as, or search the listings on eBay or craigslist. Licensed ticket brokers such as Tickets Now ( and Admit One ( can usually provide a ticket, but expect to pay dearly for the opportunity. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Ticket Sales—Entertainment & Sports.”

Classical Music and Dance

Professional—Symphonic-Choral, Opera, Chamber Music

  • Seattle Choral Company, 1516 NE 143rd St, 206-363-1100,; performances are held November through May at various venues.
  • Seattle Men’s Chorus, 319 12th Ave, 206-388-1400,; the largest community chorus in North America and the largest gay men’s choir in the world, the Seattle Men’s Chorus offers lavish performances, often with nationally famous guest artists. Under the same production umbrella is the Seattle Women’s Chorus, formed in 2002,; both groups offer five concerts per season.
  • Seattle Opera, 1020 John St, 206-389-7676,; world renowned, the Seattle Opera features five productions from August to May, as well as a summer presentation of “The Ring” cycle by Wagner every four years. A typical season includes several traditional performances of popular operas, as well as contemporary works and fresh takes on old standards. The opera routinely attracts international stars for lead roles, and longtime patrons recognize the local performers filling out each performance, held in the Marion Oliver McCall Hall.
  • Seattle Musical Theatre, 7400 Sand Point Way NE #101N, 206-363-4807,; for 33 years this group has provided local audiences with professional musical theater. Performances are from September through May at the Magnuson Park Recreation/Theatre.
  • Seattle Pro Musica, 1770 NW 56th St #124, 206-781-2766,; this award-winning group performs a four-concert season that ranges from medieval chant to the works of living composers.
  • Seattle Symphony, 200 University St, 206-215-4700,; presents weekly performances, September through June, in Benaroya Hall, an acoustic masterpiece with seating for 2,500.
  • Seattle Baroque Orchestra, 911 Pine St, 206-322-3118,; this popular orchestra performs 17th- and 18th-century music from October through April in Benaroya Hall and the Kirkland Performance Center, using historical—or replicas of historical—instruments.
  • Northwest Sinfonietta, P.O. Box 1154, Tacoma, WA 98401, 253-383-5344,; Tacoma’s classical chamber orchestra performs in the Rialto Theater in Tacoma as well as Town Hall in Seattle.
  • Tacoma Opera, 917 Pacific Ave, Ste 407, Tacoma, WA 98402, 253-627-7789,; performances are held at the Pantages Theater in downtown Tacoma.
  • Bellevue Opera, 8726 NE 11th St, Bellevue, WA 98004, 425-454-1906,; offers two productions per year in Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center.

Community—Symphonic, Choral, Opera, Chamber Music

For a list of all Puget Sound choral groups, from small neighborhood groups to large-scale community choruses, visit the website of Open Harmony,

  • Choral Arts, P.O. Box 9009, 877-404-2269,; this 30-member choir presents concerts in Seattle and Tacoma.
  • Federal Way Symphony, P.O. Box 4513, Federal Way, WA 98063, 253-529-9857,; performances take place at St. Luke’s Church, 515 S 312th St, in Federal Way.
  • Lake Union Civic Orchestra, P.O. Box 75387, Seattle, WA 98175, 206-343-5826,; made up of all volunteers, this chamber orchestra offers four performances from November to June in Seattle’s Town Hall.
  • Masterworks Choral Ensemble, P.O. Box 1091, Olympia, WA 98507, 360-491-3305,; presents five concerts from October to June at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia.
  • Northwest Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 16231, Seattle, WA 98116, 206-242-6321,; performs works by Pacific Northwest composers, as well as classical pieces.
  • Rainier Symphony, P.O. Box 58182, Seattle, WA 98138, 206-781-5618,; serving up classical and pops to South King County audiences in the Foster Performing Arts Center in Tukwila and the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center.
  • Seattle Modern Orchestra,; this chamber orchestra performs underrepresented works from the 20th and 21st centuries in both traditional and unconventional venues.
  • Thalia Symphony, P.O. Box 31117, Seattle, WA 98103, 253-642-7657,; the orchestra primarily performs tonal music from the mid-19th century to the present. Performances take place in November through June.


  • ARC Dance Company, P.O. Box 9997, Seattle, WA 98109, 206-352-0798,; the resident dance company of the ARC School of Ballet presents a repertoire of contemporary ballets.
  • Evergreen City Ballet, 2230 Lind Ave SW, Renton, WA 98057, 425-228-6800,; performances are held October through June in various venues in Renton, Auburn, and Bellevue.
  • On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 206-217-9888,; approximately 200 experimental and contemporary performances are presented October through December in two theaters at the Behnke Center for Contemporary Performance, and at theaters throughout Seattle.
  • Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), 301 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109, 206-441-2424,; presents nine programs, September through June, including several performances of short contemporary works and longer traditional pieces. Also offers lectures and community outreach events. The annual Christmas show is a beloved version of The Nutcracker, featuring sets designed by author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. Performances are in the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
  • Spectrum Dance Theater, 800 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle, WA 98122, 206-325-4161,; Seattle’s premier contemporary dance company draws on influences from swing to scat and tango to blues. Performances are held at a variety of venues throughout Seattle and the Eastside.
  • UW World Dance Series, 3901 University Way NE, 206-543-4882,; as part of the UW World Series, Meany Theater presents a selection of dance performances from around the globe. The series runs from October to May. Meany Theater is located on the UW campus, at 15th Ave NE and Campus Parkway.

Contemporary Music

Seattle burst onto the national music scene in the early 1990s as the home of “grunge” rock. While bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana put the city on the map for alternative music, other musical genres likewise thrive in Seattle. The following bars, clubs, and concert halls are best known for the category under which they are listed, but many book a variety of acts. Check out the Seattle Weekly ( or The Stranger (—both free local newspapers found in bars, cafés, and music stores—to find out each venue’s schedule.

Concert Venues

Bars and Nightclubs

All Ages

Alternative, Industrial, Rock

Blues, Jazz

  • Bad Albert’s, 5100 Ballard Ave NW, 206-782-9623,
  • Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, 2033 6th Ave, 206-441-9729,
  • Egan’s Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market St, 206-789-1621,
  • Highway 99 Blues Club, 1414 Alaskan Way, 206-382-2171,
  • Larry’s Greenfront Restaurant and Lounge, 209 1st Ave S, 206-624-7665
  • Lucid Jazz Lounge, 5241 University Ave NE, 206-402-3042,
  • New Orleans Creole Restaurant, 114 1st Ave S, 206-622-2563,
  • Old Timer’s Café, 620 1st Ave S, 206-623-9800
  • Seamonster Lounge, 2202 N 45th St, 206-992-1120,
  • The Triple Door, 216 Union St, 206-838-4333,
  • Tula’s Restaurant and Jazz Club, 2214 2nd Ave, 206-443-4221,


Folk, Rockabilly, Swing

Funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul

Irish and Celtic


Theater and Film

While many residents become season ticket subscribers, you’ll find this is a city of last-minute ticket buyers. Even the most popular shows may not sell out until the day of the performance, though it’s always good to call ahead and check availability.

Professional Theater

  • A Contemporary Theater (ACT), 700 Union St, 206-292-7676,; referred to as “ACT theater” or “the ACT,” presents contemporary works by both established and little-known playwrights.
  • ArtsWest Theatre, 4711 California Ave SW, 206-938-0339,; the theatrical arm of this West Seattle nonprofit multidisciplinary arts organization is committed to the production of theatrical experiences that inspire ideas and debate.
  • Centerstage Theater Arts, 3200 SW Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, 98023, 253-661-1444,; this award-winning South Sound theater company, founded in 1977, has a reputation for staging innovative productions of new and popular works that appeal to all ages.
  • Eclectic Theater, 1214 10th Ave, 206-679-3271,, formed in 2006, this is the resident company at the Odd Duck Studio, where it produces and presents original, new, contemporary and re-envisioned classics for the stage and screen. &
  • The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 5th Ave, 206-625-1900,; the opulent and Chinese inspired 5th Avenue produces musical theater and hosts traveling productions of major Broadway shows, as well as concerts, lectures, and films.
  • Intiman Theatre, Playhouse, Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St, 206-269-1900,; this outstanding theater won the 2006 Tony Award for the best U.S. regional theater. Presenting a variety of modern and classic works, the Intiman addresses contemporary issues with ambitious and dynamic interpretations of new and established plays.
  • Neptune, 1303 NE 45th St, 206-682-1414,; after its recent facelift, this historic U District movie palace, dating from 1921, has been reborn as a live performance multi-arts venue. The newly burnished glass eyes of Neptune, whose image is imbedded in the theater’s ceiling, gaze down upon audience members.
  • Paramount Theater, 911 Pine St, 206-682-1414,; the magnificent Paramount Theater hosts traveling productions of Broadway shows, as well as concerts, dance performances, and outreach programs. The plush lobby and ornate performance hall, which can be converted into a dinner theater, make this an elegant venue for any play or musical.
  • Seattle Public Theater, 7312 W Green Lake Dr N, 206-524-1300,; the company performs at the Greenlake Bathhouse, a cozy brick building which used to serve as the lake’s bathhouse. The theater produces classic shows with a good dose of humor.
  • Seattle Repertory Theatre, Bagley Wright Theater, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St, 206-443-2222,; perhaps Seattle’s best-known theater, “The Rep” presents a mix of classical and contemporary plays each season, from October to May. The theater often performs plays that have recently completed successful Broadway runs, but never hosts touring shows.
  • Seattle Shakespeare Company, Center House Theater, Seattle Center, 206-733-8222,; professional theater company highlighting the works of Shakespeare, often with a contemporary twist. Occasionally offers a non-Shakespearean classic play.
  • SecondStory Repertory, Redmond Town Center, 16587 NE 74th St, Redmond, 98052, 425-881-6777,; a nonprofit, professional ensemble, SecondStory presents comedies, revues, dramas, and musicals year-round. The company also offers musicals for children through the Children’s Theater series.
  • Taproot Theatre Company, 204 N 85th St, 206-781-9707,; celebrating their 35th anniversary in 2011, the popular Taproot produces musicals, comedies, and dramas that celebrate theater and reflect their values of faith and respect.
  • Teatro Zinzanni, 3rd Ave N and Mercer Street, 206-802-0015,; part dinner theater, part circus, part cabaret, Teatro Zinzanni spins improv comedy, vaudeville revue, music, dance, cirque, and sensuality into a three-hour whirlwind of entertainment. Audience members watch the show from restaurant-style tables inside an antique mirrored wooden tent, while eating an excellent five-course meal. The company produces at least three new shows a year.
  • Woodinville Repertory Theatre, at the Denali Stone Slab Studio, 16120 Woodinville Redmond Rd NE, Ste 15, Woodinville, 206-203-4168,; this company, founded in 1998 by the late Peg Phillips of TV’s Northern Exposure, is dedicated to producing quality theater in order to inspire and engage the local youth and community in theatrical arts.

Community Theater

  • Annex Theatre, 1100 E Pike St, 206-728-0933,
  • Bellevue Civic Theatre, Meydenbauer Center, 11100 NE 6th St, Bellevue, 98004, 425-235-5087,
  • Book-It Repertory Theatre, 305 Harrison St, 206-216-0833,
  • Driftwood Players, Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St, Edmonds, 98020, 425-774-9600,
  • Freehold Theatre, 2222 2nd Ave, Ste 200, 206-323-7499,
  • Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd, Lakewood, 98499, 253-588-0042,
  • Renton Civic Theatre, 507 S Third St, Renton, 98055, 425-226-5529,
  • Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 206-324-5801,
  • Village Theatre, Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St N, Issaquah, 98027, 425-392-2202; Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave, Everett, 98201, 425-257-8600,


A combination of stand-up comedy and acting, improvisational theater uses audience suggestions to create a scene, which is then played for laughs. Most improv groups perform only on the weekends; make sure you call ahead as times and locations change.



There are numerous movie theaters in Seattle, and multi-screen outlets continue to rise in developing areas outside of Seattle. For general multi-screen movie complexes, visit or check the Yellow Pages under “Theatres-Movies.” The following is a list of alternative and fine art movie houses.

Film Festivals


Rainy days are perfect for strolling through the quiet (and dry) halls of fine museums—and Seattle has plenty of both! From art and science to culture and history, area museums offer interesting and diverse exhibitions, and many host traveling exhibits. Be sure to call ahead or go online to find out about the latest offerings and to check on days and hours of operation (several museums are closed on Monday and most have free admission days).


  • Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE, 425-519-0770,; located across the street from Bellevue Square, the Eastside’s most popular shopping mall. A 2005 building renovation and a change in the museum’s mission statement resulted in a cutting edge museum focused on crafts and design. Offering lectures, workshops and demonstration, it also sponsors the yearly Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair. Hours are Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students. Kids under 6 are free.
  • Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave, 206-622-9250,; located on First Hill in an International Style building designed in 1952 by Paul Thiry, the Frye Art Museum houses a collection of 19th-century paintings by European artists, as well as a large collection of works by 18th-century German artists. It also offers art classes and art history courses. Open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., until 7 p.m. on Thursday. Free admission.
  • Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 15th Ave NE and NE 41st St, 206-543-2280,; the 19th-century and early 20th-century American and European works originally donated by local businessman Horace C. Henry are still the backbone of this museum’s collection, but the museum also offers modern and multidisciplinary art and design and innovative programs. Open Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday–Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. General admission is $10. No charge for high school and college students, UW faculty and staff, and kids 13 and younger. Thursdays are free.
  • Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St, Tacoma, 253-284-4750, 866-468-7386,; devoted to the exhibition and interpretation of contemporary art with a focus on the medium of glass. A 500-foot pedestrian tunnel crafted by legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly links the museum to downtown Tacoma. Check the website or call for hours. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for children, 6–12. Free every third Thursday of the month.
  • Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA), 121 S 1st St, LaConner, 98257, 360-466-4446,; the Skagit Valley, north of Seattle, has long been a haven for Northwest artists. MoNA opened in 1981 to present the works of these artists, and to serve as a source of education. The museum’s small permanent collection consists of paintings, sculpture, glass and works on paper. Open daily, Sunday–Monday, noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students, and free for children 12 and under.
  • Seattle Art Museum (SAM), 1300 First Ave, 206-654-3100,; located near the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum houses an exceptional collection, which includes a variety of African, Chinese, and Native American pieces, as well as European and American art. SAM is Seattle’s preeminent art museum, showcasing international traveling exhibits of photography, painting, and sculpture. Closed in 2005 for major renovation and expansion, SAM reopened with a dramatic new space in May 2007. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday–Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Free admission every first Thursday, and free for seniors every first Friday. Suggested admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and members of the military, $9 for students and teens. Kids under 12 are free. Broadening the museum’s scope, the Olympic Sculpture Park at 2910 Western Ave opened in January 2007. This waterfront park, a transformed nine-acre industrial site, features over 20 sculptures along with a series of gardens as well as spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Free admission.
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park, 1400 E Prospect St, 206-654-3100,; housed in a 1933 Art Deco building flanked by two popular replicas of Ming Dynasty camels, this gallery presents art from all over Asia. The museum is a focal point of Volunteer Park, located at the northeast corner of Capitol Hill. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission for adults is $7; $5 for seniors, youths 13–17, and students with ID; those 12 and under are admitted free. Admission on the first Saturday of the month is free.
  • Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), 1701 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, 98402, 253-272-4258,; TAM’s exhibits emphasize art and artists from the Northwest. A permanent fixture of TAM is the most comprehensive public collection of Tacoma native Dale Chihuly’s glass works. Every other summer the museum hosts the Northwest Biennial, a juried competition for artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Hours are Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every third Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, members of the military, and students, and free for kids 5 and under. Admission on the third Thursday of each month is free.


A vibrant art scene thrives in Seattle, with many galleries receiving national and international attention and acclaim. Dozens of galleries showcase everything from traditional to cutting edge art by both local artists and those outside the Northwest. Check the Art Guide Northwest website for listings of galleries, artists, and events around Puget Sound, Listed below are just some of the galleries to be found in Seattle.

Art Walks

Each month, various communities in the Puget Sound region host monthly “art walks,” where neighborhood galleries stay open late and often provide food and live music. This is a great way to see the exhibits without fighting daytime traffic and crowds. Look in weekly newspapers for information or call participating galleries.

First Wednesday
  • Wallingford Art Walk, 206-547-5177, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
First Thursday
  • Pioneer Square, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.
First Friday
  • Fremont Art Walk, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
  • Anacortes Gallery Walk, Anacortes, 360-293-6938, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
  • Artwalk Issaquah, 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
  • Bainbridge Island Galleries, Bainbridge Island, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
  • Bremerton Gallery Walk, Bremerton, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
  • Vashon Island Gallery Cruise, Vashon Island, 206-463-1722, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Second Thursday
  • Capitol Hill Art Blitz, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
  • West Seattle Art Walk, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Second Friday
  • Art Up Phinneywood, Phinney and Greenwood neighborhoods, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
  • Kirkland Art Walk, Kirkland, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Second Saturday
  • Ballard Art Walk, 206-784-9705, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Third Thursday
  • Edmonds Art Walk, Edmonds, 425-776-6711, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
  • Tacoma Art Walk, Tacoma, 253-272-4258, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.

Culture, History

  • Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE, 206-543-5590,; the Burke Museum houses fascinating exhibits on Pacific Rim geology, natural history, and anthropology. Native American artifacts—including masks, beads, and totem poles—and displays of dinosaur skeletons and fossils, are especially popular with children. Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the first Thursday of the month until 8 p.m. General admission for adults is $9.50, $7.50 for seniors, $6 for students and youths over 4, and free for children 4 and under. Free for UW staff, faculty, and students.
  • Coast Guard Museum Northwest, Pier 36, 1519 Alaskan Way S, 206-217-6993,; Coast Guard memorabilia, photographs, model ships and other nautical items are on display at this museum. Tours of Coast Guard cutters are available on weekends. Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free admission.
  • Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (EMP) , 325 5th Ave N, 206-770-2700,; Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen first envisioned EMP as a place for music enthusiasts to explore and celebrate the history and diversity of popular music. In 2004, the museum morphed into the hybrid it is today, home to both innovative musical exhibits and the world’s first science fiction museum. The 140,000-square-foot building (either a masterpiece or an eyesore, depending on whom you ask), offers interactive exhibits, unique artifacts, performance spaces, and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults 18 to 64, $12 for seniors, members of the military, and youths 5–17, and free for children 4 and under.
  • History House of Greater Seattle, 790 N 34th St, 206-675-8875,; through photographs and documents, History House displays the pictorial history of Seattle and its neighborhoods. Open Thursday–Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $1.
  • Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave E, 206-324-1126,; local Northwest history is presented in this museum, which will open in its new site at the Armory in South Lake Union in late 2012. Past exhibits of the museum, which is popular with children, have included old-fashioned fire engines, model ships, and figureheads. History buffs will enjoy the large collection of archival photographs and the many artifacts of Seattle’s fishing, lumber, and shipping industries. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos recently donated $10 million to create a “Center for Innovation” at MOHAI. Hours are daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., first Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, students, and members of the military, $6 for kids 5–17, and free for children under 5. No admission fee on first Thursday.
  • Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St, 206-789-5707,; this museum chronicles the history of the Scandinavian immigrants who settled in the Ballard neighborhood and other areas of the Pacific Northwest. The museum offers Nordic dance and language classes, Scandinavian films, and lectures. Hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and college students, $4 for youths over 5, and free for children under 5.
  • Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, 325 5th Ave N, 206-724-3428,; housed in the same building as the EMP, this is the first museum devoted to the genre of science fiction and its creators. Interactive exhibits explore literature, movies, and art, and this is now the permanent physical home of the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame. Open Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday–Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $12.95 for adults 18–64, $8.95 for seniors and youths 7–17, $10.95 for military, and free to kids 6 and under.
  • Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, 317 3rd Ave S, 206-748-9991,; located in Pioneer Square, the museum is the largest police museum in the western United States, combining historical displays with an interactive learning area for children and adults. The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for kids under 12 and the disabled.
  • Wing Luke Asian Museum, 719 S King St, 206-623-5124,; in the historic International District, the nationally recognized Wing Luke Asian Museum showcases pan-Asian culture, history, and art. Open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $12.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors and students (age 13–18 or with ID), $8.95 for kids 5–12, children 4 and under free.


  • Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S, 206-764-5720,; located on the original site of the Boeing Company, the museum presents a complete history of flight and aviation technology. This is a great museum for kids and adults alike, with interactive exhibits, flight simulators, archival film footage, and colorful full-scale reproductions of some of Boeing’s first airplanes—early bi-planes and military jets among them—hanging from the ceiling. The Red Barn, which housed the first Boeing airplane factory, is also part of the exhibit. Across the road from the main building, you can board an actual Concorde jet and a plane from Airforce One. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., first Thursdays until 9 p.m. General admission is $16, $14 for seniors, $9 for children ages 5–17, and free for those 4 and under.
  • Pacific Science Center, Seattle Center, 200 2nd Ave N, 206-443-2001,; not your traditional museum by any means, the Pacific Science Center has more than 200 interactive exhibits on science and nature. Children in particular enjoy the hands-on activities, which approach learning in fun and creative ways. Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends and holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission ranges from $14 for adults to free admission for those under 3.

Literary Life

With its rainy days and coffee worship, Seattle is a great bookstore town, and in 2009 was named, for the third time, America’s most literate city. Area residents flock to fiction and poetry readings, book groups, and book-signings. Seattle is even home to that bookstore without shelves, While the city has chain stores like Barnes & Noble, many residents are fiercely loyal to Seattle’s independent booksellers. Twice a year the Friends of the Seattle Public Library hold a popular book sale in a huge warehouse at Magnuson Park. Despite this support, tough economic times forced the closure of many beloved bookstores in recent years, and the famed Elliott Bay Books relocated from its longtime site in Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill in 2010. See the Seattle Weekly, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer online, and the Seattle Times for listings of upcoming readings and author signings, or contact your local bookstore for its calendar of events.


General Interest

  • B. Dalton Bookseller, Northgate Mall, 206-364-5810
  • Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 2675 NE University Village St, 206-517-4107; 600 Pine St, 206-264-0156; 2600 SW Barton St, 206-932-0328,
  • Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave, 206-624-6600,
  • Island Books, 3014 78th Ave SE, Mercer Island, 206-232-6920,
  • Magnolia’s Book Store, 3206 West McGraw St, 206-283-1062
  • Queen Anne Books, 1811 Queen Anne Ave N, 206-283-5624,
  • Santoro’s Books, 7405 Greenwood Ave N, 206-784-2113
  • Seattle University Book Store, Seattle University, 823 12th Ave, 206-296-5820,
  • Secret Garden Bookshop, 2214 NW Market St, 206-789-5006,
  • Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, 206-366-3333,; Ravenna Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE, 206-525-2347,
  • University Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE, 206-634-3400; 990 102nd Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-462-4500; 18325 Campus Way NE, Ste 102, Bothell, 425-352-3344; 15311 Main St, Mill Creek, 425-385-3530; 1754 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, 253-692-4300,

Special Interest

  • Alphabet Soup, 1406 N 45th St, 206-547-4555
  • Armchair Sailor, 2110 Westlake Ave N, 206-283-0858 &
  • Art Books & Press, 5418 20th Ave NW, 206-285-2665, &
  • Arundel Books, 1001 1st Ave, 206-624-4442 &
  • Aviation Book Company, 7201 Perimeter Rd S, Ste C, Boeing Field, 206-767-5232,
  • Cinema Books, 4753 Roosevelt Way NE, 206-547-7667,
  • East West Bookshop, 6500 Roosevelt Way NE, 206-523-3726, 800-587-6002,
  • Edge of the Circle Books, 701 E Pike St, 206-PAN-1999,
  • Flora & Fauna Books, 3212 W Government Way, 206-623-4727,
  • Kinokunyia Book Store, 525 S Weller St, 206-587-2477 &
  • Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St, 206-622-0195,
  • Lion Heart Books and Records, 1501 Pike Pl #432, 206-903-6511
  • Mockingbird Books, 7220 Woodlawn Ave NE, 206-518-5886 &
  • Mountaineers Bookstore, 1001 SW Klickitat Way, West Seattle, 206-223-6303,
  • Open Books: A Poem Emporium, 2414 N 45th St, 206-633-0811,
  • SeaOcean Book Berth, 3534 Stone Way N, 206-675-9020,
  • Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 117 Cherry St, 206-587-5737,
  • Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers, 208 1st Ave S, 206-682-3545,
  • Wide World Books & Maps, 4411 Wallingford Ave N, 206-634-3453,

Used Bookstores

  • Couth Buzzard Used Books, 8310 Greenwood Ave N, 206-436-2960,
  • Epilogue Books, 2005 NW Market St, 206-297-2665,
  • Globe Bookstore, 218 1st Ave S, 206-682-6882
  • Half Price Books, 115 Belmont Ave E. 206-267-7777; 4709 Roosevelt Way NE, 206-547-7859, (see website for other locations)
  • Horizon Books and Recollection Books, 1423 10th, Studio A, 206-523-4217
  • Lamplight Books, 1514 Pike Pl, 206-652-5554 &
  • Magus Bookstore, 1408 NE 42nd St, 206-633-1800,
  • Ophelia’s Books, 3504 Fremont Ave, 206-632-3759,
  • Seattle Book Center, 3530 Stone Way N, 206-547-7870,
  • Spine & Crown, 315 E. Pine St, 206-322-1227 &
  • Twice Sold Tales, 905 E John St, 206-324-2421; 1311 NE 45th St, 206-545-4226; 3504 Fremont Ave N, 206-632-3759; 7 Mercer St, 206-282-7687,


In addition to the bookstores mentioned above, the Seattle area is fortunate to have two strong public library systems—Seattle Public and King County—an extensive university library network, and a handful of specialty collections. In 1998, Seattle voters approved a $196.4 million bond measure for building new libraries, and to improve or replace existing branches.

Public Libraries

In Seattle, most residents borrow their books from the Seattle Public Library system, a network of 26 neighborhood branches, plus the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, and the central downtown branch. The Central Library, designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas and completed in 2004, is a modern architectural masterpiece that receives 8,000 visitors a day. For a public library branch near you, see the community resources listed at the end of each neighborhood profile.

The King County Library System (KCLS) complements the Seattle network and is the second largest library system in the United States. It is composed of 48 community branches from Kenmore to Muckleshoot, and Vashon Island to North Bend. KCLS also offers a number of traveling library services that allow trained library staff to visit senior centers, social service agencies, community centers, and childcare centers to bring books and computer training to those who can’t always get to a library. For a list of neighborhood branches, visit

  • King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, 425-369-3200,
  • Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave, 206-386-4636,
  • Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, 2021 9th Ave, 206-615-0400, TTY 206-615-0418,


  • Chaya Mushka Jewish Public Library, 3502 NE 65th St, 206-290-6301,
  • Gordon Ekvall Tracie Music Library, 3014 NW 67 th St, 206-789-5707,
  • Karpeles Manuscript Library, Tacoma Museum, 407 S “G” St, Tacoma, 206-383-2575, www.
  • The Mountaineers Library, The Mountaineers Program Center, 7700 Sandpoint Way NE, 206-521-6000,
  • Pacific West Regional Library, 168 S Jackson St, Ste 315, 206-220-4154,
  • Railway Library, Northwest Railway Museum, 38625 SE King St, Snoqualmie, 425-888-3030,
  • Seattle Metaphysical Library, 2220 NE Market St, L-05, 206-329-1794,
  • Walter Johnson Memorial Library (currently in storage), Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St, 206-789-5707,

University of Washington Libraries

The University of Washington maintains 20 libraries, from general undergraduate to specialized academic. Below is a list of available libraries. For more information, call or visit the website, 206-543-0242, Art, Built Environments, Drama, East Asia, Engineering, Foster Business Library, Friday Harbor Library, Gallagher Law Library, Government Publications, Health Sciences, K. K. Sherwood Library, Mathematics Research, Miller Horticultural Library, Music, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, Preservation, Physics-Astronomy Reading Room, Southeast Asia, Suzzallo & Allen Library, Special Collections, UW Bothell/Cascadia Community College Library, UW Tacoma Library.

Culture for Kids

In Seattle, there are so many cultural opportunities for kids they may grow up before they can see or do everything. Besides numerous musical and outdoor opportunities, there are museums, dance and theatre performances, and puppet shows all aimed at or containing children. Several print and online publications offer calendars of events for family and kids’ events. In print, check the calendar listings in the Thursday editions of the Seattle Times ( and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer online ( ParentMap Magazine is issued for free monthly and offers a complete calendar of events and activities on its website at Seattle’s Child (, another free monthly newsmagazine for parents, contains features, reviews, lists of classes, and guides to events and outings for kids. The Seattle Center, a popular family venue, hosts a variety of colorful festivals and cultural events throughout the year,

The following child-oriented listing of events and places represents only a part of what the Emerald City has to offer. For more ideas on how to entertain the kids, including a cornucopia of family and holiday festivals, see A Seattle Year.


  • Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, 400 108th Ave NE, #204, Bellevue, 425-467-5604,; there are no age requirements for the four main orchestras and flute and small group ensembles, just one year of school or private instruction. Students come from over 20 communities in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties and offer several performances throughout the school year.
  • Columbia Choirs, 425-486-1987, 866-486-1987,; the Columbia Choirs program trains preschoolers through adult singers. The organization operates several choirs for different youth levels, as well as women’s and men’s choirs. Performances are held throughout the Puget Sound region.
  • Northwest Boychoir, 5031 University Way NE, 206-524-3234,; the choir is made up of 150 boys ages 6–13, from 115 different public and private schools in the region; beginning in first grade, boys advance through four levels of vocal training. The year-round program includes a rigorous concert schedule, a residential summer camp, and biennial international touring.
  • Northwest Girlchoir, 520 NE Ravenna Blvd, 206-527-2900,; offering five choir divisions for girls ages 4–18. Five mainstage concerts are produced each year, as well as several community performances and national and international tours.
  • Pacifica Children’s Chorus, 11342 17th Ave NE, 206-527-9095,; over 70 young singers are given music education and the opportunity to join one of four performing choirs. Two or three concerts are offered each year from a repertoire of predominantly world folk music, and at least one performance is multi-disciplinary, combining music, dance, poetry, prose, and drama.
  • Seattle Children’s Chorus, 17544 Midvale Ave N, St e 200; 206-542-5998;; offers four levels of instructions for over 200 choristers ages 7–20; the chorus performs a wide range of sacred, classical, and folk music, and tours to compete domestically and internationally. &
  • Seattle Girls’ Choir, P.O. Box 22388, Seattle, WA 98122, 206-526-1900,; performances include an annual SGC concert series, collaborative events with the Seattle Opera and Seattle Symphony, and tours, festivals, and competitions across the country and internationally. Students ages 6 to 18, from 35 communities around Puget Sound, participate in six different choirs, and receive instruction in vocal technique, music theory, and composition.
  • Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO), 11065 5th Ave NE, Ste A, 206-362-2300,; the largest youth symphony organization in the United States operates four full orchestras during the school year, three summer programs, and extensive outreach programs, including the Endangered Instruments Program. Each of the four orchestras performs three concerts during the academic year.
  • Vocalpoint!, 5031 University Way NE, 206-524-3234,; an ensemble vocal group for young adults with a busy performance schedule, specializing in musical revues built around themes in rock and roll; members receive professional-level training as singers, dancers, and actors. Male members are graduates of Northwest Boychoir, and female members earn a spot after a two-year training program (Girls Prep).


  • The Children’s Museum, 305 Harrison St, Seattle Center, 206-441-1768,; a 22,000-square-foot play space intended for children ages 10 months to 10 years, this delightful interactive museum also presents special multicultural programs in the lower level of the Center House. Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hands-on exhibits designed for children age 8 and under. General admission is $7.50, $6.50 for grandparents, and $6 for members of the military and large groups. Children under 1 year are free.
  • Children’s Museum of Tacoma, 936 Broadway Ave, Tacoma; 253-627- 6031;; open Monday–Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free admission; donations welcome.
  • Imagine Children’s Museum, 1502 Wall St, Everett, WA 98201, ; open Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $7.75; Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is half price. Kids younger than 1 are free.
  • KidsQuest, 4091 Factoria Mall SE, Bellevue 98006, 425-637-8100; a hands-on, interactive children’s museum with an emphasis on science, art, and technology. Designed for kids from birth to age 10. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. First Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. are free. General admission is $7.50. Seniors pay $6.50, and children under 1 are free.
  • Northwest Railway Museum, 38625 SE King St, Snoqualmie, 425-888-3030,; the Snoqualmie Depot, the centerpiece of the Northwest Railway Museum, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum’s collection includes steam locomotives, passenger and freight cars, and railway artifacts. This is the largest railway museum in Washington. Open Thursday–Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. No charge for admission.
  • Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art, 1116 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-455-1116,; a premier collection of over 1,200 dolls, from antique to modern, as well as dollhouses, miniatures, and teddy bears, and exhibits on the history of doll making. Open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for kids 5–17, and free for children 4 and under.


  • Cougar Mountain Zoo, 19525 SE 54th, Issaquah, WA 98027; 425-391-5508;; this unique zoo has the largest herd of Siberian reindeer in the country, places in the top three for cougar facilities in the country, and offers the world’s only wildlife tracks library. Open January through November, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also open in December for the Reindeer Festival (check website for times). General admission is $11 for those ages 13 and up, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children 2–12; kids under 2 are free.
  • Northwest Trek, 11610 Trek Dr E, Eatonville, 360-832-6117,; located in Eatonville, southeast of Seattle, the Northwest Trek 723-acre wildlife park features up-close views of cougars, eagles, bighorn sheep, grizzly and black bears, and wolves, among other creatures. A tram tour is included in the admission price. Park hours vary depending on the time of year, so call or visit their website before you visit. Admission is $17 for adults, $15.50 for seniors, $12 for kids 5–12, $9 for 3- and 4-year-olds, and free for kids 2 and under. Admission is less for Pierce County residents and members of the military.
  • Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, 253-591-5337,; a favorite among residents south of Seattle, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium puts kids eye-to-eye with beluga whales, pachyderms, sharks, and reptiles. The zoo opens at 9:30 a.m. year-round except between July 1 and September 5, when it opens at 8:30 a.m.; closing time varies from 4 p.m. in winter to 6 p.m. in summer. Admission is $13.75 for adults, $12.75 for seniors, $11.75 for kids 5–12, $7.75 for children ages 3–4, and free for kids under 3. Admission is lower for residents of Pierce County.
  • Seattle Aquarium, Pier 59, 1483 Alaskan Way, 206-386-4300,; the star attractions at the Seattle Aquarium are the adorable sea otters and the underwater viewing dome, but kids also love the jellyfish tank and the giant octopus. A major expansion is scheduled to open in spring 2008, but the aquarium remains open during construction. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the fall and winter; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the spring; 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $8.50 for kids 6–12, $5.50 for children 3–5, and free for kids 2 and under.
  • Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave N, 206-548-2500,; the zoo’s 92 acres are divided into biomorphic zones, with popular exhibits like the Tropical Asian Zone, Bug World, the African Village, and Williwong Station. Scheduled feeding times around the zoo are also a big hit. Hours vary, depending on the season, but the zoo is open every day of the year except on Christmas. Call or visit the website for specifics. Admission costs vary according to time of year; high season (May 1–September 30) rates are $17.50 for adults, $15.50 for seniors and disabled persons, $11.50 for kids 3–12, and free for kids 2 and under.

Theater and Dance

  • Kaleidoscope Dance Company, 12577 Densmore Ave N, 206-363-7281,; the only modern dance company in the world composed of 8- to 14-year-olds. Offers two performances a year in winter and spring.
  • Northwest Puppet Center, 9123 15th Ave NE, 206-523-2579, www.nwpuppet. org; the only permanent puppet theater in the region features the Carter Family Marionettes and hosts guest artists from around the world. Also offers a museum and archival library.
  • Seattle Children’s Theatre, Charlotte Martin Theater, 201 Thomas St, Seattle Center, 206-441-3322,, the second largest resident theater for young audiences in North America, SCT offers seven productions each season (September through June) geared to audiences of different ages, plus school matinees, two school touring productions, drama classes, and outreach programs. SCT occupies a state-of-the-art facility that includes paint, costume, prop, and scene shops as well as rehearsal and classroom spaces.
  • Youth Theatre Northwest, 8805 SE 40th St, Mercer Island, 206-232-4145,; teaches theater skills to kids 3–18 and presents twelve productions during the school year, including three summer stock performances.
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