Downtown Olympia is the only place that matters for nightlife. The best ambiance is at The Brotherhood, a funky bar just off 4th Ave. Wacky collection of velvet bullfighter paintings, Kennedy tapestrys on the wall and a full size shuffleboard table. Occasional interesting live music, but mostly a loud and lively chat bar. On 4thAve. I recommend The Reef, a tiny cocktail lounge at the rear of King Solomon's Restaurant with a weird mix of junkies, drunks and hipsters, not for the faint of heart. At the end of 4th is McCoy's, a dirty loud rock'n'roll bar with friendly folks and cheap beer.
If you're into music Oly is an awesome place to spend some time. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is, there is probably a show. Just look around town for fliers.
Depending on your music taste, Dumpster Values, Le Voyeur, the 4th Ave Tavern, and the bulletin board in the alley of the Capitol theater are all heavily plastered with punk, rock, hip hop and other fliers for local and no so local bands.
If you wanna shake your bon bon try Thekla (also refered to by patronizing locals as 'the CLAW' and 'the K. L. A.') each night is a different style of music and they also have live shows and karaoke.
If your music taste is more subdued, Traditions Cafe has live music and poetry readings several nights a week (for earthy folk), and Clancy's has live Irish/Celtic music a couple nights a week, and Hanah's has also has live music and open mic nights.
This is BY NO MEANS a list of all the music stuff in Oly, just a TINY sampling.
Olympia's nightlife is very diverse and there are many places to cater to different tastes. Olympia has been extremely well-known for its music scene and on any weekend night you can see numerous bands scattered throughout the various clubs downtown. Many indie bands and more harder rock/punk bands descend on the city also during the week. You can also find several blues bands on any given night. The band Sleater-Kinney came out of Olympia and if your lucky, may be playing when you're in town. If you're looking for blues, keep your eye out for Jude Bowerman. These are the places I frequent.
Hannah's: situated on 5th Ave downtown, it's a quiet little bar that has a laid-back atmosphere and a couple of pool tables. The service is good and open-mike nights are on Wednesdays.
The Limelight: Once called Thekla, or as locals call it, The Claw, just reopened under new management and a new name. More now a resturaunt than a club, they feature live music and dancing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Cover charge is usually five dollars and there is a dress code, no athletic wear. Music featured is anywhere from 80's to hiphop and house.
4th Ave Tavern: you guessed it, located right on 4th Ave. 4th Ave features live music often. See blues music and phish-inspired jams several nights a week. cover is usually about 7 dollars.
Look for: The Spar, The Reef, Ben Moores, Tugboat Annies, Clancy's, The China Clipper (or known as the crippler)
Downtown Olympia is where it's at. Safe, short walking distances, and lots of people. Just stay on 4th Ave. and walk up and down, peeking into the various bars and clubs.
Tightly packed, cheap alcohol, super good times.
Dress Code: Wear whatever you want! Whenever you want! Basically, people fall into three categories: casual (jeans and t-shirt), preppy (trendy/club clothes), and hippie (boho style, wrap around skirts, dred locks...think Bob Marley (in a skirt)).