23 Great Bars With Activities guide image


23 Great Bars With Activities

Good beer and pub snacks can only entertain us so much. Here are some places to grab a drink and get a little competitive.

Sometimes the sheer power of conversation can’t save a date or group hang that’s doomed to be about as exciting as waiting your turn at the DMV. We’re pretty sure that’s actually why billiards was invented in medieval times—to distract from awkwardness that couldn’t be smoothed over with chalices of castle mead. Here are some spots perfect for clutching a drink with one hand and showing off your sportsmanship with the other. Using two straws to become a walrus doesn’t count.

The Spots

Redhook Brewlab imageoverride image

Redhook Brewlab


714 E Pike St, Seattle
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There are lots of bars in town that have hand shuffleboard, but Redhook is probably our favorite place to play. It’s secluded in a back room that always has natural light and plenty of seating. An afternoon with a few pints and flicking your wrist for sport is an afternoon well-spent.

We love Add-A-Ball. It’s an arcade bar with reasonably-priced beer and well cocktails that taste better than rubbing alcohol mixed with a hint of melted ice. We’ve had some of the best nights of our lives getting too emotionally invested in the four-player Pacman here, screaming at the top of our lungs when the little yellow guy eats a melon. Even though it’s small in here, there are plenty of machines, so you’ll never have to wait for anything in particular (except maybe to play Killer Queen).

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Axe Kickers isn’t a bar per se, but you can BYOB, which means you can pretend it’s a bar. It’s a chill axe-throwing venue in White Center where you’ll probably walk in a non-believer and walk out a lumberjack. Seriously—chucking an axe at a target while wearing a flannel and drinking tallboys of Crikey IPA makes us wish we lived in an evergreen forest. Though it really just sounds like a typical day in Seattle.

Kangaroo & Kiwi is an Australian-themed bar in the shell of an old library. Instead of bookshelves, it has shark carcass replicas, maps of the land down under, and bathrooms for blokes and sheilas. Come here to drink beer and cider and play darts or hand shuffleboard while the rugby game blares. They serve things like toasties and Aussie-style pies, but we’d pass on most of the food—head next door to Li’l Woody’s instead.


Queen Anne Beerhall



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Giant Jenga is a great way to connect with friends and raise your blood pressure at the same time. You can play it on a communal picnic table at Queen Anne Beerhall along with other board games while drinking German ale. While the food here isn’t the best we've ever had, if you just want a giant pretzel, brat, or plate of fries to pass around, you probably won’t be disappointed.

The last time you hung out in a basement playing board games, you might have been in high school experiencing the placebo effect of a pipe packed with what was probably dried oregano. The basement at Capitol Cider is definitely more grown-up, with the added bonuses of having an excellent cider lineup, a fireplace, and a fully gluten-free menu. They also have big booths, hand shuffleboard, and board games you’ll actually want to play, like Taboo and Cards Against Humanity. Because you graduated from checkers around the same time you stopped hanging out in your parents’ basement.

The activities at Wood Shop are really only accessible during the warmer months. But it’s our preferred place to be on Summer Fridays when there’s live music and you can play corn hole with one hand and dip a fried mac and cheese ball into aioli with the other. It’ll easily become “your place” after a couple of these nights, and not just because of the lawn games. The smoked pork ribs also might have something to do with it.

Garage is ideal for when you want to go somewhere with a small group and stay put, since there’s a lot of ground to cover: this place has 20 bowling lanes, 20 pool tables, and six different bars. Most importantly, it’s adults-only, so you won’t find any elementary school birthday parties with children shrieking like pterodactyls here. Just make sure to reserve your lanes and billiard tables in advance.

Swinging golf clubs around while drinking a lot of alcohol is usually not encouraged - but that’s exactly what you’re going to do at Flatstick Pub, a dog-friendly mini-golf bar perfect for a big group (you can even rent out private course space). If you’re not into mini golf, Flatstick also has duffle ball, a tabletop version of golf where you use your hands and get even more frustrated. Either way, grab some tacos and guacamole from their Mexican food vendor (Manu’s Tacos) while you play.

Admit it: you miss playing cornhole while shotgunning beers on the lawn of that sketchy fraternity house in college. Lucky Envelope understands you. Their cornhole is on asphalt instead of grass, but their beers are infinitely better than warm Keystone Light. Make it here in time for a couple of sunset games before you hit the Ballard bars. Get the blood orange IPA, and bring some good snacks to picnic on in case there’s not a food truck parked in the lot.

Shorty’s is one of the most iconic bars in the city, and it’s where to go if you’re a wizard with two ball flippers and immune to the annoyance of excessive neon lights. This is a pinball bar that serves strong whiskey sours and Chicago-style hot dogs to keep you going as you explore the rows on rows of vintage and new-school machines.

That one friend you know who owns a Sega Genesis is really getting sick of you showing up unannounced to play Mortal Kombat and eat all their Bugles. How to fix that: go to Georgetown Liquor Company, a musty dive bar with few redeeming qualities other than its three old-school consoles and massive library of game cartridges. Grab an on-tap sour beer and some vegetarian pub food, and rediscover how hard Donkey Kong Country actually is.

Rhein Haus isn’t the only German biergarten in the city, but it’s the only one where you can get a little too loud over indoor games of bocce while eating sausages. It’s best to hit the felt court here with a boot of beer and a competitive attitude that might irritate your friends. Plus, the homemade pretzels with molten cheese are great post-prost.

Unicorn is a hyperactive carnival-themed bar where acting like a fool is not only accepted, but expected. Get in on the multicolored sensory overload while drinking whimsical cocktails with ingredients like bubblegum vodka and orange soda. Then, spend all your pocket change on arcade games—and be prepared for the puzzle of avoiding the belligerent bachelorette party and/or person who just face-planted into a pinball machine.

Waterwheel Lounge feels like one big year-round dive bar party. When the weather’s gray and depressing, you can get in on some bingo or trivia, or sing “All By Myself” out of tune during karaoke night without judgment. When the sun’s out, the astroturf patio has ping pong, cornhole, and ladder golf—all things experts agree go really well with copious amounts of cheap beer.

The Woods is a warehouse-style taproom connected to Two Beers Brewing Company. It’s a great place to play darts, foosball, hand shuffleboard, and billiards—and the staff is super friendly. Spend a few hours here with your friends and their dogs, and go in on some beer mac ‘n’ cheese or carnitas tacos from Bread & Circuses (the popular food truck has a brick-and-mortar location in-house).

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Suggested Reading

Lucky Envelope Brewing review image
Lucky Envelope Brewing

Lucky Envelope is a Ballard brewery with interesting fruit beers, friendly staff, and cornhole.

Peddler Brewing Company review image

Drinking beer and eating Mean Sandwich outside at Peddler is a very good way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Ballard.

Capitol Cider review image

If you think cider is lame, you’ve never been to Capitol Cider. It’s one of our favorite places for a casual hangout in Capitol Hill.

Unicorn review image

When you want a theme bar kind of night, go to Unicorn in Capitol Hill. You’ll find corndogs, arcade games, and a long list of crazy cocktails.

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