Knowing where to find a good dive bar when you’re in the city is vital. If you want a memorable night out, it’s always fun to explore the various expressions of culture within the bar scene of a city. Seattle is a vibrant cultural place, and the city has some excellent dive bars to experience.
But what exactly is a “dive” bar? If you don’t already know, it’s typically a small bar. They’re not glamorous and don’t usually have expensive drinks on the menu. You’ll probably find lots of neon beer signs, dim lighting, shabby decor, and maybe even cash-only service in a quality dive bar.
If you’re planning a visit to Seattle anytime soon, give yourself a leg up by researching where to go before you get there. Check out these super suggestions, and iron out your itinerary today.
How Is Seattle’s Bar Scene?
The Seattle nightlife scene has tons to offer someone looking to party after dark. There’s a range of different bars to visit, with various experiences to scour. You could go to a sexy jazz bar or even a fancy speak-easy. If you’re looking for a super comfortable and down-to-earth spot to kick back with a beer, vetting some of Seattle’s best dive bars is the way to go.
Are Dive Bars Still Popular in Seattle?
Though the pandemic had a huge impact on some of Seattle’s most long-standing dive bars, there are still plenty of options that remain in business. Seattle has done a great job supporting its local bars through fundraisers and event specials over the past two years.
Traveler’s Tip: Earn your drink at a Seattle dive bar by going on one of these 9 Best Hikes in Washington for Any Skill Level.
10 Best Dingy Dive Bars in Seattle You Need to Visit
Here is a quick breakdown of some of Seattle’s notable surviving dive bars. Take a peek and decide which one best suits your bar-crawling desires.
#1 Waterwheel Lounge
Address: 7034 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117
About: Waterwheel Lounge has been around since the ‘70s, and it shows. There’s no shag carpet, but there’s plenty of drunk bingo, trivia, board games, and even some terrible karaoke. Add some good bar food, live music, and the occasional comedy show, and you’ve got a great place to spend a Friday night.
Why It’s Special: Waterwheel has a pretty cool history. In the 70s, the owners picked up the pub and moved it. The whole thing was moved up 15th Avenue in Ballard to where it sits today.
#2 Merchants Cafe
Address: 109 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104
About: Merchants Cafe is the oldest bar in Seattle that still stands in the same place it was founded. The bar was created in the late 1800s and was burned entirely to the ground in the Great Seattle Fire. Rebuilt in brick, the building still serves nearly the same purpose it did way back then.
Why It’s Special: The coolest thing about this bar is that it used to be a brothel. Miners would drink their 5 cent beers while waiting for the lady they chose from the picture wall in the back. Merchants Cafe is also said to be haunted by one of the ladies in the pictures.
#3 Blue Moon Tavern
Address: 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105
About: Blue Moon Tavern first opened its doors in 1934 and has had quite the time making it this long. The tavern is not technically a tavern anymore, as they now serve liquor. Seattle’s most famous citizens frequent this bar.
Why It’s Special: Blue Moon Tavern has a rich history. It’s been a speakeasy, a biker bar, a hippie spot, and even a grunge-era dive bar.
#4 Dottie’s Double Wide
Address: 9609 1/2 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
About: Okay, so Dottie’s Double Wide didn’t actually survive the pandemic, but it’s still a place you might want to visit. The entrance to the bar is a legit Airstream double-wide trailer. This bar oozes “dive,” and the inside has even more excellence.
Why It’s Special: When Dottie’s started going down due to the pandemic, one of its former bartenders bought the bar. It was supposed to reopen in 2021 when a fire occurred, ruining any chance of the bar reopening in the near future.
#5 The Caroline Tavern
Address: 13702 15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle, WA 98125
About: The Caroline Tavern has everything you want in a great dive bar. It has a pool table, a jukebox, some lottery machines, and several barstools at the bar.
Why It’s Special: This tavern is well known for its “stiff” drinks, low light, excellent fried foods, and great service. They even have a covered smoking section!
Traveler’s Tip: Enjoy a refreshing swim in one of these 10 Best Lakes in Washington.
#6 The Siren Tavern
Address: 3403 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98198
About: A true dingy dive, The Siren Tavern offers lots of cheap seating, dart boards, dark corners, pool tables, and cheap beer pitchers!
Why It’s Special: They have “a fabulous beer garden” and superior food.
#7 Pacific Inn Pub
Address: 3501 Stone Way North, Seattle, WA 98103
About: Pacific Inn Pub is a fishy little dive bar with a great outdoor patio. Start your journey here in the daylight, and get a meal.
Why It’s Special: Order the famous fish and chips from the bar to fuel your crawl. Their deep-fried fresh cod fish is some of the best in the city.
#8 Linda’s Tavern
Address: 707 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122
About: This is a great place to pregame with plenty of quirky decors to keep your eyes busy. They even have taxidermy!
Why It’s Special: Linda’s Tavern is a unique place to visit, as it was the last place Kurt Cobain was ever publicly seen alive. Some people refer to Linda’s Tavern as the “grunge Cheers.”
#9 Comet Tavern
Address: 922 E Pike St Seattle, WA 98122
About: If you want more live music and pool tables, Comet Tavern won’t disappoint. They also have pinball and an extended happy hour on the daily.
Why It’s Special: They have cheap beer (Rainier) and good vibes.
#10 Thunderbird Tavern
Address: 7515 15th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98117
About: Thunderbird is the perfect place to end your divey bar crawl. It’s a small, unassuming shot and beer bar with pool tables, sports on the television, and a great patio.
Why It’s Special: Try ordering the signature Secret Sausage from Thunderbird Tavern.
Enjoy Your Dive Bar Crawl in Seattle
Dive bars are a cultural staple for Seattle, and you’d be selling yourself a little short not to take a small tour. Now that you have a few great suggestions on where to go, which one will you visit first?
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