Entertaining outings and team-bonding opportunities are available throughout Washington for groups interested in a fun evening away from the convention center or host hotel.
Among the possibilities?
Everything from escape rooms and group dining to laser tag, mixology classes and bioluminescent sea kayaking will positively punctuate a day of meetings in the Evergreen State.
Seattle and Puget Sound
There is no shortage of evening entertainment in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest’s favorite cultural hub. The city is filled with happening neighborhoods that groups can explore after a day of meetings.
Located in the SoDo neighborhood is Derby, a group-friendly restaurant that shares space with The Shop, a “country club for gearheads” that showcases cars and motorcycles.
“SoDo is also home to Seattle’s sports teams, so it’s a great place to kick off a night before heading to catch the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners or Sounders in action,” said Katy Willis, director of convention services for Visit Seattle.
Escape rooms are sweeping the nation, including in Seattle where groups have one hour to work as a team to find hidden clues and bust out of Puzzle Break, which is located a short walk from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Various opportunities await attendees after their escape.
“From pints of cider and lines of poetry to taking in a drag, dance or theater show with world-renowned
Kitten N’ Lou, there’s something for everyone and every interest in Capitol Hill,” Willis said.
Standout nightlife opportunities located south of Seattle include Tukwila-based Round1, a new entertainment center featuring bowling, billiards and an arcade, and 13 Coins, a standby Seattle-area restaurant since 1967 that accommodates private events.
Groups can also experience Call of Duty-style laser tag at Virtual Sports, according to Meagan McGuire, vice president of sales and services for Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority.
“Groups can battle it out in team vs. team action in a realistic urban environment,” she said. “While some of the group is playing laser tag, others can experience the best-in-class virtual reality simulations and games with VR headsets.”
Groups meeting in Olympia can plan a moving party that starts with specialty drinks at Dillinger’s Cocktails and Kitchen, a Prohibition-themed bar in one of the city’s oldest buildings, and concludes with a show at either the Washington Center for the Performing Arts or the historic Capitol Theater.
In-between, according to Moira Davin, director of marketing and communications for Experience Olympia & Beyond, groups can pop into the Mouse Trap for artisan cheeses and wine, and then “take in the sights of local artists, wares and sip wine as you mingle at the Blackbird Mercantile.”
Another escape experience is available in Tacoma, where groups can book an after-hours event at Trapped: Escape Fort Nisqually, which is set in a 19th century fort that doubles as a living-history museum during the day.
“Groups have to solve puzzles, decipher codes and find hidden clues to solve a mystery and escape the fort,” said Matt Wakefield, senior communications manager for Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. “Most groups want to do an after-hours event, which means the entire experience takes place by lantern-light.”
Just outside Tacoma in Gig Harbor is a brand-new group-friendly recreation complex called Ocean5, which features an arcade, 10-pin and duckpin bowling, a farm-to-table restaurant and a bar.
“The main draw at the complex is a two-story laser tag arena that allows groups to team up and work together in head-to-head laser combat missions,” Wakefield added.
In Snohomish County is Mukilteo-based Traxx Racing, the Seattle area’s premier go-kart track that features fast indoor go-karts, a climbing wall, arcade games, pool tables and more for evening fun.
And located in Everett, Bluewater Organic Distilling offers a waterfront venue that has private event space and offers mixology classes.
“Every time I refer a group to the Bluewater distillery they tell me what a hidden gem the restaurant, spirits and space is,” said Brad Zorich, meeting sales manager for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.
Bellingham and San Juan Islands
A sunset cruise is a special way for groups to wrap a day of business in Bellingham.
“A benefit of weekday meetings is the opportunity for a relaxing after-hours boat excursion on Bellingham Bay,” said Annette Bagley, director of marketing for Visit Bellingham.
Several themes are offered by San Juan Cruises during the summer months, she added, including a sunset history cruise on Tuesday nights and a brew cruise on Wednesdays featuring local craft beers.
Waterborne excursions are also a must in the San Juan Islands, where groups can sail into the sunset for a picturesque cruise aboard the Spike Africa, the last working West Coast top-mast schooner.
“Your group can be part of the crew, working together to handle the sails and rigging, and even take a shift at the helm,” said Barbara Marrett, communications and stewardship manager for the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau.
Bioluminescent sea kayaking tours with an outfitter on San Juan or Orcas islands are also popular nighttime outings, for both skilled kayakers and beginners.
Marrett explained that bioluminescence is the emission of light by a living organism, and in the San Juan Islands that organism is a marine dinoflagellate called Noctiluca. When disturbed, Noctiluca emits a sparkling green burst of light for a dramatic effect.
Central and Southern Washington
When the sun sets in Vancouver, Wash., night owls flock to downtown and Uptown Village to enjoy lively bars, weekend concerts and great restaurants.
Downtown is home to Amaro’s Table, which accepts group reservations, as well as Loowit Brewing and Trusty Brewing Co. A few blocks north in Uptown is the Thirsty Sasquatch, purveyor of craft whiskey and beer, and Trap Door Brewery, where hungry attendees will find food carts serving Thai food and tacos.
Groups can also enjoy blackjack, slot machines and a nice meal at the Rose & Thorn and other restaurants at ilani Casino Resort just north of Vancouver.
“Rich with Cowlitz culture, the event space attracts big performers like comedian Amy Schumer,” said Jacob Schmidt, director of marketing and communications for Visit Vancouver USA. “Groups can enjoy a late-night drink and dessert at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse or try out the seafood fare of Line & Lure.”
Active groups meeting in the Tri-Cities can arrange a stand-up paddleboarding outing on one of the area’s three rivers well into the evening.
One local outfitter, Northwest Paddleboarding, offers moonlight tours that allow group exploration on the Columbia River with lighted paddles.
“With a little coordination with your paddleboard guide, groups can end their evening SUP experience at Columbia Point and enjoy a night cap at Lu Lu Craft Bar + Kitchen,” said Michael Novakovich, president and CEO for Visit Tri-Cities.
Also in Tri-Cities, which is at the heart of Washington Wine Country, groups can plan on an evening of wine-tasting and fine dining on Tulip Lane.
“Groups can start their evening on the patio for an appetizer and live tunes at Tagaris Winery, enjoy an entree at Barnard Griffin and end the evening with dessert and bocce ball at J. Bookwalter,” Novakovich said.
Within a 10-minute walk of the Spokane Convention Center and various hotels are restaurants, wineries and craft breweries.
“If groups want to see the city of Spokane, get a workout and have a drink all at the same time, then Spokane Party Trolley is the best bet,” said Kate Hudson, public relations manager for Visit Spokane.
The passenger bike picks up groups right down the street from the Spokane Convention Center and tours the city’s wineries and/or breweries.
Hudson also recommended an after-hours aerial tour of Spokane via Mica Moon Zip Tours, which “offers groups the opportunity to literally rent a mountain.”
Sunset and night zipline tours go through forest glens, over mountain streams and near historic camps where moonshine was produced during Prohibition.
The local music scene in downtown Yakima is a great opportunity for groups to have a fun and affordable night out on the town, according to Nicol Sloon, travel media and trade relations manager for Yakima Valley Tourism.
Many concerts are free, including First Fridays and Downtown Summer Nights, which are within walking distance of the Yakima Convention Center and several downtown hotels.
“There are also four breweries and three wineries within walking distance of each other and the convention center, with easy access to several restaurants, arts and more,” Sloon said.
WASHINGTON CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Experience Olympia & Beyond
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority
Snohomish County Tourism Bureau
Travel Tacoma + Pierce County
Visit Bellevue Washington
Visit Vancouver USA
Yakima Valley Tourism
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