Program the numbers for the city's cab companies into your cell phone. Unless you have a designated driver or are not venturing too far from your hotel, you will need them. (Expect longer waits for pickups on Friday and Saturday nights.) Though you'll probably be able to hail cabs on the street in even the quieter sections of Downtown, you'll have trouble finding empty cabs in Capitol Hill, Belltown, and in north-end neighborhoods like Ballard and Fremont.
If you are driving around, exercise caution on the roads, especially when the bars start to let out. Unfortunately, drunk driving is far too common here, as so many people rely on their cars to get around, and public transportation becomes even less frequent late at night.
Parking in Belltown is a nightmare on weekend nights. The neighborhood has ample pay lots, but even those fill up, and finding a space on the street requires either a miracle or a lot of circling. Capitol Hill and Ballard are also tough, though at least the former has a few parking garages and pay lots in the Pike–Pine Corridor. If you do manage to snag a metered spot in Belltown or Downtown, you can take advantage of the Seattle Nightlife Initiative, which lets you prepay for two hours of morning parking.
Music fans have a lot to look forward to throughout the year in Seattle. Here's a taste of some of the festivals and events that are worth planning a trip around:
Ballard Jazz Festival (www.ballardjazzfestival.com; late April).
Bumbershoot (www.bumbershoot.org; September).
Capitol Hill Block Party (www.capitolhillblockparty.com; late July).
Decibel Festival (www.dbfestival.com; September).
Earshot Jazz Festival (www.earshot.org; mid-October to early November).
Noise for the Needy (www.noisefortheneedy.org; June).
Northwest Folklife (www.nwfolklife.org; June).
Seattle Chamber Music Society Concert Series (www.seattlechambermusic.org; July/January).
Seattle Improvised Music Festival (www.seattleimprovisedmusic.us; February).
Smoke Won't Get in Your Eyes
Smoking is prohibited in restaurants, bars, and clubs (the smoking ban covers all public places and workplaces). You're not supposed to smoke within 25 feet of any door or window connected to a public place, although this is difficult to enforce in the more congested nightlife areas.
Tickets and Cover Charges
Tickets for high-profile performances range from $15 to $125; fringe-theater plays and performance-art events range from $5 to $25. The Seattle Symphony offers half-price tickets to seniors and students one hour before scheduled performances. Cover charges at non-ticketed music venues range from $5 to $12. Pioneer Square dance clubs, like Trinity, charge $15 to $20. Tickets for major events can be purchased through a venue's website or at its box office; Sonic Boom record stores also sell tickets to select music venues like The Crocodile and Neumo's, as well as to some music festivals. Major online ticket retailers are Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com) and Brown Paper Tickets (800/838–3006; www.brownpapertickets.com).