Picture this: sleek city towers standing tall next to serene blue waters, all surrounded by lush green forests, and don’t forget those epic mountains off in the distance. This amazing combo of city-meets-nature gives us some of the best views in Seattle. The city is basically a real-life postcard, which is one of many reasons I love it.
As someone lucky enough to call this place home, I’ve become a bit obsessed with finding scenic views in Seattle. I’m always out there with my camera, chasing after the perfect shots of sunrise, sunset, and everything in between. Whether it’s the morning light hitting the Space Needle just right or the way the sunset glows over Puget Sound, I’m on a mission to find and photograph the best viewpoints in Seattle.
So, I figured, why not share the love? I’ve put together this guide to help you find these killer views too. Whether you’re into photography, a sucker for a great view, or just want to explore the city, this is your ticket to finding the best sights Seattle has to offer.
1. Space Needle
Address: Seattle Center, 400 Broad St (Downtown)
Cost: Around $35 for adults and $25 for kids
My first place needs no introduction; you’ll surely recognize it from any picture of Seattle’s beautiful skyline. This 605 feet landmark tower is known best for its unique shape and the breathtaking 360° view of the Emerald City, and it’s a definite favorite among most Seattle travel guides.
I’ll be honest – I don’t tend to recommend touristy locals as a local, but you can’t beat the view from the Space Needle. You’ll want to visit here at least once if you’ve never been before. It’s also one of the best views of Mt. Rainier from Seattle, which I know many people look for.
The Observation Deck comprises two main viewing points to give you a thorough view of the city below. The lower deck is what’s known as The Loupe, a one-of-a-kind (literally) revolving glass floor that provides unbeatable views of the Puget Sound and downtown area.
The upper deck leads into the open air, which I found to be a perfect vantage point to admire the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, especially on a clear day. There is also the Loupe Lounge if you’re 21 or older and want to enjoy one of Seattle’s most scenic happy hours, which can be a fun rainy day activity in Seattle.
Tip: Buying a Seattle CityPass is a great way to save on ticket costs.
2. Sky View Observatory
Address: Columbia Center, 701 5th Ave (Downtown)
Cost: Tickets start at $25
One of the fun facts about Seattle is that it’s home to the tallest viewing point in the Pacific Northwest, which also happens to be the tallest building in Seattle. The Sky View Observatory stands at 902 feet, making it a perfect vantage point when looking for Seattle’s best views.
The viewing deck on the 73rd floor offers a panoramic view of the metropolis, showing us everything from the Space Needle to Lake Washington. You can also see the Great Wheel and the expansive mountain ranges on the horizon, and I always recommend that people add this to their 3-day Seattle itinerary.
There is also a café at the observatory, but I particularly enjoyed learning about Seattle’s history and geography from the infographics on the deck’s walls. They also include instructions on how to avoid that pesky glare from the sun in your photos, so you’ll get the best shot when you want the best place to see the sunset in Seattle.
Buy your ticket in advance to get the day and time you want.
3. Smith Tower
Address: 506 2nd Ave (Pioneer Square)
Cost: $19 for General Admission tickets
If you’re still hungry for more Seattle panoramic views, then the Smith Tower is just what you need for the best views in Seattle. This was the city’s first skyscraper, and since its opening in 1914, it has been drawing in crowds for the sights.
I’ve been here multiple times – first with a friend a few years ago, and most recently this past April with my husband for a fun Seattle date night. While you can go anytime during the day, I highly recommend getting your tickets for dinner and being able to experience the sunset here, as it’s one of my favorite places to see it.
The open-air observation deck is on the 35th floor, giving a unique view of the Space Needle and the downtown waterfront. It has one of the best views of the Seattle skyline, especially at night, so if you’re a fan of city lights, then I suggest heading up before the tower closes at 8 p.m. I’ve seen this multiple times, and it still takes my breath away.
The deck also has a Prohibition-themed Observatory Bar that opens at 3 pm, where you can enjoy classic speakeasy cocktails as you enjoy the sights. I always get a flute of champagne when I come here because it feels like a special occasion and is easily one of the best things to do in Seattle.
The bar is only open slightly longer than the tower on Fridays and Saturdays, closing its doors at 10 pm so you can’t party too hard. If you only have a day in Seattle, carve out a few hours to visit this place with beautiful views in Seattle.
4. The Seattle Great Wheel
Address: Miners Landing, Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way (Seattle Waterfront)
Cost: $17 for adults, $12 for kids
This one is a real sweet treat for those who love the water. This incredible 175-foot Ferris wheel is the tallest on the West Coast and gives a great view of the ferries pulling into Elliott Bay. It is easy to get to from the Pike Place Market and is open year-round, and is a great thing to do in Seattle in the winter since it’s covered.
The 42 enclosed gondolas can seat up to eight people and are popular for more than just the coastline views. On clearer days, the mountains can be seen as well, making it one of the best views of the Olympic Mountains from Seattle. Additionally, a really fun feature is the LED light display that happens every night.
There are a lot of other restaurants and attractions nearby, including the Seattle Aquarium and the Smith Tower. If you’re vehicle-less and unsure how to get from site to site, I’d recommend reading up on how to get around Seattle without a car.
5. The Mountaineering Club
Address: Graduate Seattle, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE (U District)
Cost: Table reservations recommended
Most of Seattle’s viewpoints are family-friendly, so if you’re looking for a more mature way to enjoy the sights, this stunning rooftop bar is right up your alley. It is located on the 16th floor of the Graduate Hotel and guarantees an extraordinary dining experience, and it’s easily one of the top Instagram spots in Seattle.
I came here years ago with a friend, and we loved being at one of the best places to see the Seattle skyline without actually having to cross the bridge into downtown Seattle. While there is both indoor and outdoor seating, I highly recommend sitting outside for the full experience.
Enjoy a menu filled with the best regional ingredients and coastal dishes, and wash it down with a colorful cocktail. This is a great place to try some of Seattle’s famous food, such as our amazing seafood (yes, I’m biased). Your evening will be paired with incredible 360° views of the downtown area, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier.
Tip: The club is definitely one of the more popular Seattle viewpoints, so they are very meticulous about their reservations. A reservation for a group of five is limited to a 90-minute seating, and bigger groups are reserved for two hours, so make sure you make every second count.
6. Kerry Park
Address: 211 W Highland Drive (Queen Anne)
One of the best views of Seattle is from this quaint public park, which is an absolute hit on the Gram. Its comfortable perch on Queen Anne Hill gives a picturesque view of Seattle’s skyline.
You won’t find a better perch to admire the famous Space Needle, and you can even see all the way to the South Lake Union skyscrapers. If you’re blessed with a clear day, you can even glimpse Mount Rainier in the distance.
The best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset, but this is also the most popular time to visit. I wouldn’t stress too much about the crowds, though, it’s one of the best free views in Seattle, and the park is public, so you’ll get your look in one way or another.
7. Dr. Jose Rizal Park
Address: 1007 12th Ave S (Beacon Hill)
Another park that gives a great Seattle skyline view is Dr. Jose Rizal Park, which also happens to be on the slope of Beacon Hill. The skyline is absolutely breathtaking from those comfy picnic benches, and you can even see all the way to the stadium and Elliott Bay.
I especially love the view of the 1-5 Interstate at night and the numerous car lights that draw your eye to the skyline. The best vantage point is just above the parking lot. The park is not too busy, so you’ll mainly have some runners and dog walkers to contend with.
Bonus Viewpoint: The Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge is a little further away, and its walkways’ views are incredibly unique. You can catch a glimpse of the Smith Tower, but the sights at night and all the cars make this spot a gold mine for photographers looking for the best views in Seattle.
8. Gas Works Park
Address: 2101 N Northlake Way (Fremont)
This park is something of a recycled historical gem on the site of the old Seattle Gas Light Company Plant. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for things to do in Seattle in the summer that aren’t too strenuous and are free.
You can enjoy the gorgeous view of the downtown area while you picnic at the north shore of Lake Union. The Space Needle can be easily seen from here, and the views are especially stunning at sunset when the fading light hits the water.
Tip: This spot is also popular among Canadian geese. They are nice company to have on the lake but can be quite the party pooper at a picnic (literally), so try to avoid feeding them.
9. Old Stove Brewing
Address: Pike Place Market, 1901 Western Ave (Pike Place)
Cost: No reservations needed
One of Pike Place Market’s crowning jewels is this family-friendly brewery and taproom that offers up to 16 craft beers brewed on-site. You can enjoy a good meal and drinks here while overlooking the downtown waterfront.
I’ve been here about half a dozen times at this point because it’s so convenient to go to after a day of exploring downtown, and it’s easily one of the best views in Seattle. I recommend getting the sampler so you can try the different beers they offer.
The comfortable interior is a wonderful spot to enjoy the water from afar, and I love watching the various ferries dock all along the piers. You can also watch the Great Wheel from this viewpoint, which can be a real treat if you’re there when the LED light display starts.
Tip: The brewery has both indoor and outdoor seating areas, and the views are definitely better from the outdoor deck. Even though reservations aren’t required, you should be wary of peak trading hours like lunch or dinner time to avoid long queues and crowds.
10. Seattle Waterfront
Address: Stretches from Olympic Sculpture Park to the Argosy Cruises Agency
This is not a typical viewpoint in Seattle, as it doesn’t give you much of a skyline to view from the piers. However, if you’re anything like me and obsessed with being near the water at all times, you’ll love it. This area is a spectacular vantage point if you love coastline views, as you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of Elliott Bay all along the waterfront.
You can enjoy various shops and restaurants all along the stretch to buy Seattle souvenirs, but the real attraction is the intimate views of the multiple docked and sailing ferries and the Great Wheel overlooking it all. There are even a few benches on Pier 62 for those visiting to enjoy the sunset views over the water.
The waterfront is one of the best places to stay in Seattle if you need a hotel.
11. Jack Block Park
Address: 2130 Harbor Ave SW
Cost: Open to all
A little bit hidden away in an industrial area is this unique park that offers incredible Seattle skyline views over Elliott Bay. You can enjoy the coastal views on the walking paths along the pier and beach or ascend the Observation Tower for a full view.
The tower stands 45 feet high, allowing for a beautiful view of the Space Needle, the downtown waterfront, and even Mount Rainier if the weather permits. Apart from the drive-in, it’s another great private viewing point that comes at no cost to you.
It’s also a great spot for watching the ferries as they make their way from the downtown ports over to Bainbridge Island. You’ll love this in the evening as it’s one of the lesser-known best views in Seattle at night.
Bonus viewpoint: Alki Beach is another great coastal viewpoint that is only a 40-minute walk away from Jack Block Park. From here, you can look out over Bainbridge Island while having some beachside fun.
12. Golden Gardens Beach Park
Address: 8498 Seaview Avenue NW (Ballard)
Cost: Open to all
This Seattle viewpoint is not what you typically expect, as the sights from this vantage point are entirely natural and removed from the concrete jungle. I love a good natural landscape in the middle of the city’s hustle and bustle, which is why this park in Ballard on Puget Sound is so beloved as well as one of the best free things to do in Seattle.
This park consists of a variety of attractions that really make you appreciate the tranquil sights. There are numerous wetlands, beaches, picnic spots, and even an off-leash area for dog walkers in the northernmost part of the park.
From here, you can enjoy the glittering sight of Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountain range on the horizon. There are also numerous hiking paths all along the beach, so you can look (and snap) your fill of Seattle’s waterways and greenery.
This is by no means all of the amazing places that are scenic, but it’s a good start for the best views in Seattle!