During the summer, Seattleites rush to the mountains, lacing up their hiking shoes and breaking out their Patagonia shirts and granola bars. But the city is a decidedly indoor kind of place for most of the year, thanks to its rain and high percentage of brainy personalities. That means gaming and board games are a big thing here, and there are many places where you can play board games indoors—at bars, centers, and comic book stores.
We’ve organized some of our favorite spots below, and don’t worry if you don’t have friends to play with. These places are perfect for meeting new people.
Chess @ King’s Hardware ♟️
📸: Chess Club
King’s Hardware is the spot in Ballard for board games. This moody, Western-themed pub with an open patio and cute skeeball machines hosts a Chess Club every Thursday. From 6 to 11 pm, all skill levels and people are welcome. King’s Hardware’s happy hour is from 4 to 7 pm, so show up early to stock up on good boozy booze and the legendary B & B burger. Few things are more enjoyable than getting your brain all blurry with a cold glass of beer while playing a chess game with friends or strangers.
Looking for more chess? Chess Club hosts at other bars around town, too:
♟️ Mondays @ Linda’s • 6 pm
♟️ Tuesdays @ Rose Temple • 6 pm
♟️ Tuesdays @ Big Time Brewery • 6 pm
♟️ Wednesdays @ Black Cat • 6 pm
Settlers of Catan @ Raygun Lounge 🎲
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It would be a sin not to include this Capitol Hill classic. Raygun Lounge is a popular board game bar for people looking to get tipsy but who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Hill’s club scene.
Open every day of the week, everyone is welcome to play at Raygun. People aged 21+ can get a drink to feel the heat while playing Settlers of Catan, and the spot’s quesadillas and grilled cheeses match well with its homey vibes. Any purchase of food or a beverage grants you free access to the board game of your liking.
Aside from board games, Raygun sports over a dozen pinball machines and around eight arcade machines, so make sure you’re bringing at least a roll of quarters to experience the Raygun Lounge fully.
Go @ Seattle Go Center ⚫⚪
📸: Juan Miguel Jocom
Looking for a new board game? Go is a newcomer-friendly game. Most players describe it as taking “seconds to learn but a lifetime to master,” and Seattle luckily has a center that’ll help you with all that mastering.
Seattle should be proud of its Go Center. It’s the only Go organization recognized by the Japanese Go Association on the West Coast, and it shares a long history with Kaoru Iwamoto, one of the players of the notable Go match dubbed the “atomic bomb game.” (Iwamoto was playing Go when Americans decided to ruin the match by dropping an atomic bomb.) In 1995, Iwamato helped support Go Centers through his non-profit organization, hoping to spread and keep the Japanese-style Go culture alive.
The Seattle center features a Japanese-style tatami room and offers some book rentals to its members. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to play the game; veterans are happy to teach and play a match with you. Seattle’s Go Center is open on Tuesdays from 3 to 9 pm and Saturdays from 1 to 6 pm. The center also hosts a kids’ day almost every Sunday from 3 to 6 pm. Check the website for up-to-date scheduling.
D&D @ Meeples Games 🐉
📸: Juan Miguel Jocom
Ran by a mother and son duo, this place is a more intimate spot in West Seattle than others on this list. Don’t let its size fool you—Meeples is busy. It hosts different kinds of games every day of the week. On weekdays, it has events ranging from Pokemon to Dungeons and Dragons, and on weekends, it hosts Magic: The Gathering events. View the whole calendar here. If you’re not feeling like playing in the store, you can always grab your own board games here to take home. Support your local mom and son store!
Battle with miniatures @ Mox Boarding House ⚔️
📸: Juan Miguel Jocom
Board games have unique sub-cultures, and Mox Boarding House has created a space for each genre. No, really. The complex-like store has rooms dedicated to specific kinds of games, from trading cards to role-playing games. There are two Mox stores in Washington, but the spot in Ballard is the place to be.
Here’s something fun: Come to one of the paint jams events every Wednesday at 6 pm, where you can paint your own miniatures. The staff will help you with any questions about painting your first miniature, so fret not. And on Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 pm, bring your newly painted model and go to the Thursday Throwdown night, where you can use your own miniatures to play. Check the schedule for an up-to-date list of events.