Pretty much everyone that visits the Pacific Northwest does so for the scenery. Or the coffee.
Well, you’ll need the coffee if you’re going to keep pace with my quest to find the best views in Seattle.
When I first started visiting Seattle I was disappointed to find that, despite having seen some amazing photographs of the city, I was unable to find many great views. I mostly found dirty streets, homeless people camping on art installations, and lots of hipsters.
So, when I left disappointed, I decided that I would figure out exactly where to position myself next time so I could see the ocean, the skyline, mountains, and any other views that the city has to offer.
That first trip was more than 10 years ago so it’s safe to say that my viewpoints have needed a bit of adjustment as the city has changed but here is my current list of the best spots for great views in Seattle!
We’ll break it down by type of view so feel free to skip to the section that you actually care about! Just be aware that, if you read straight through there will be some repeats and some things fit into multiple spots.
Best Views in Seattle (Overall)
If you just want to be blown away by a view, these are my top three spots. You’ll probably see this again on the list in a specialized capacity later but they’re a great starting point.
The iconic Space Needle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle, and for good reason. The observation deck offers stunning views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Canada. To get there take a short ride on the monorail from downtown or hop on an Uber/Lyft.
Kerry Park is located on Queen Anne Hill and provides some of the best views of Seattle that don’t involve going up high in an elevator. From here you can see Elliot Bay, Downtown Seattle, and even parts of West Seattle across Elliott Bay. It’s especially beautiful at night when all the lights come alive below you. To get there just head north up Queen Anne Avenue until it turns into W Highland Drive. Kerry Park is right at the top.
Smith Tower Observatory
Smith Tower Observatory offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city from its 35th-floor observatory deck. You can spot landmarks like Lumen Field (home to our beloved Seahawks), Mt Rainier, Lake Union, and more. If heights aren’t your thing then don’t worry – they also offer guided tours with interactive displays so everyone can enjoy the view without having to brave any vertigo-inducing elevators.
Best Places To See The Seattle Skyline
Thanks to the Space Needle Seattle has one of the most recognizable skylines in the world.
Thankfully, since the city sits on the Puget Sound there are lots of spots that let you put some empty space between you and the city and really isolate the skyline.
Here are a few of the best, starting with a repeat.
Located on Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park offers arguably one of the best views of downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier in all its glory. This park is perfect for taking photos or just enjoying an evening with friends while admiring the view from above.
Space Needle Observation Deck
The Space Needle observation deck provides 360-degree panoramic views that stretch as far as Mount Rainier and beyond. It’s a great place to get an aerial view of downtown Seattle and snap some amazing pictures along your way up.
Just be prepared for some butt-clenching as the walls are all made of glass that is angled out. It’s obviously safe but I couldn’t quite bring myself to lean against the glass to get the picture I wanted.
Smith Tower Observatory
Smith Tower Observatory is located at 500 2nd Avenue in Pioneer Square and gives visitors breathtaking views from 35 stories high. Enjoy looking out over Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, Olympic Mountains, Cascade Range, and more from this unique vantage point.
Columbia Center Sky View Observatory
The Columbia Center Sky View Observatory offers unparalleled 360-degree panoramic views stretching up to 80 miles.
Also be sure to take advantage of their interactive exhibits which include touchscreens that provide information about what you’re seeing below like landmarks, buildings and points of interest.
Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park overlooks Lake Union with spectacular views across Downtown Seattle including both bridges connecting Westlake Ave N & W Emerson Place NW with Fremont Bridge (the Aurora Bridge).
It’s also home to a large grassy area where locals come together for picnics or outdoor activities such as kite flying or Frisbee throwing games – making it a great spot for families too.
Just be aware that it can get pretty crowded in the evening if the weather is nice (as opposed to our typical drizzling rain).
Alki Beach Park
Alki Beach Park is situated on Alki Point overlooking Elliot Bay, providing breathtaking sunsets over Puget Sound every night.
Of course, the day views are decent too but the distance is great enough that things typically appear washed out.
Once you’re done ogling the city, stroll down the Alki Beach Trail lined by beach houses until you reach Duwamish Head, where you can enjoy watching boats go by.
Best Restaurants with a View
The Pink Door
The Pink Door is a romantic Italian restaurant (with a famous pink door…) located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
With its cozy atmosphere and beautiful views of the Puget Sound, it’s no wonder why this place has been around for over 30 years. The menu features classic Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, and more. Plus they offer an extensive wine list to pair with your meal.
You can see the view from our seat above which looked over Pike’s Place and out onto the water.
The Loupe Lounge
I wish I could have mentioned SkyCity here (the restaurant on top of the Space Needle) but it’s been “temporarily closed” for the past 5 years.
What there is, however, is The Loupe Lounge that’s located on the rotating glass level.
You can get some light snacks here while enjoying the iconic Space Needle views (and avoiding all the crowds and snot-nosed kids.
Visiting Canlis Restaurant in Seattle is not only a great chance to try the delicious food but also to get a view of the spectacular city skyline. And it’s not just any skyline; from the top floor restaurant, diners can get stunning views of the iconic Space Needle and enjoy watching boats traverse Lake Union.
Eating at Canlis allows visitors to bunch in all their favorite experiences – city sightseeing, food tasting, and relaxation – and wrap them all up into one fun evening out (assuming you can get reservations).
Best Breakfast Spots with a View
Seattle is a great place to start your day with a view. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or something more leisurely, there are plenty of breakfast spots in the city that offer stunning views.
The Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center:
Located on the 73rd floor of the tallest building in Seattle, this restaurant offers 360-degree views and an extensive menu featuring classic American dishes like pancakes and omelets as well as lighter fare such as yogurt parfaits and smoothies.
The atmosphere is casual yet sophisticated, making it perfect for both business meetings and family gatherings.
Top Pot Doughnuts & Coffee:
This popular spot serves up freshly made doughnuts alongside coffee drinks from local roasters. Enjoy your treats while taking in breathtaking views of Elliott Bay from their outdoor seating area – just be sure to arrive early since lines can get long.
I will mention that the views here are quite as stunning as the aeriel views in other places in the city. It’s just great food with nice scenery.
Cafe Hitchcock is the place to go if you’re looking for something unique. Located inside Pike Place Market, this cozy cafe specializes in British-style breakfasts complete with scones, eggs benedict, smoked salmon bagels and other traditional English dishes served with a side of stunning waterfront views overlooking Puget Sound.
Best Bars with a View
I’ll be honest…for a city that prides itself on its craft beers Seattle is often lacking in fun bars. (Check out my attempts to find a decent Tiki Bar in Seattle here)
However, there are a couple of options that provide a decent view that you can enjoy while getting buzzed.
The View House
This bar is located in the heart of Seattle and offers a stunning view of the city skyline. The View House has a fairly extensive selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails that will satisfy any taste. Enjoy your drinks while taking the view from their rooftop patio or outdoor seating area.
Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge
Located at the Edgewater Hotel on Pier 67, Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge provides some of the best views from any bar in Seattle. Enjoy fresh seafood dishes paired with classic cocktails as you take in panoramic views of Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle from their waterfront terrace.
Knee High Stocking Co.
Located near Pike Place Market (isn’t everything cool in Seattle?), Knee High Stocking Co. offers decent views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains from its rooftop deck bar. With over 40 varieties of beer on tap plus signature cocktails like “The Old Fashioned” and “Moscow Mule” there is something for everyone to enjoy here.
Best Free Views
Now, if you don’t want to buy anything or spend money on admission, there are still plenty of places in Seattle where you can enjoy a great view and take some incredible photos.
Let’s start with the old stand-by…
Kerry Park is probably the place in Seattle where nearly every famous skyline picture originates. Since it’s free, photographers camp out and take just about every shot imaginable.
The park itself is small but well-maintained, with plenty of benches to sit and take in the view. If you’re here on a clear day you can even see Mount Rainier in the distance!
Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park offers an interesting contrast to Kerry Park’s classic skyline view. This former industrial site has been transformed into a lush green space with sweeping views across Lake Union toward downtown Seattle and beyond.
You can also explore old machinery from its past as a gasification plant, making this spot perfect for history buffs too.
To get here, take Aurora Avenue North until you reach N Northlake Way, and then follow signs for Gas Works Park – it’s only about 10 minutes away from downtown Seattle by car or bus.
Discovery Park is not technically in Seattle but it’s close enough (and offers good enough views) that I’ll include it here. Discovery Park is located at the northern tip of Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, offering some truly breathtaking views over Elliott Bay towards West Seattle, Bainbridge Island, and beyond.
It’s also home to many species of birds so bring your binoculars if you want to do some birdwatching while taking in the scenery.
To get here just head north along 15th Ave West until you reach W Government Way where you’ll find parking lots leading into Discovery park – it’s about 20 minutes away from downtown by car or public transport.
Best Water Views
Alki Beach is one of the most iconic spots in Seattle for its stunning views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.
The beach stretches two miles along Elliott Bay, with a wide sandy shoreline that’s perfect for strolling, jogging, or biking. You can even rent kayaks to explore further out into the bay.
On clear days you can see all the way across to Bainbridge Island and beyond. This is also a great place for more than a view as there are plenty of places to grab food (and there’s obviously a beach).
I have to throw Kerry Park in here again since it fits but, please, don’t make me tell you about it a third time. Just go there and check it out.
Golden Gardens Beach Park
Golden Gardens Beach Park is located on Shilshole Bay in the Ballard neighborhood near Salmon Bay Marina and provides sweeping views over Puget Sound towards Bainbridge Island and Mount Rainier beyond it.
The beachfront park features trails through forested areas, sandy beaches for swimming, fishing piers, fire pits for barbecues or bonfires, and playgrounds for kids to play in – all while enjoying breathtaking sunsets over Puget Sound.
Gas Works Park
Oh, and Gas Works Park again. Just take my word and go for the view.
Unique Experiences With A View
If you’re a photographer or just want an amazing view to share with a special someone, there are some spots that aren’t commonly utilized.
One of my favorite options is a sunset cruise on Puget Sound. This two-hour journey takes passengers around some of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks like Alki Beach and Bainbridge Island while enjoying stunning views of Mount Rainier and other nearby mountains.
Most tours also include narration from an experienced guide who can provide interesting facts about local history and wildlife sightings along the way.
For those looking for even more adventure, consider taking a hot air balloon ride over Washington State’s wine country or up into Canada’s Fraser Valley region.
On this once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’ll soar above lush vineyards and majestic mountain ranges with 360-degree panoramic views that will leave you speechless. Plus, your pilot will be able to point out all sorts of interesting sights as you drift through the sky – from bald eagles soaring overhead to hidden waterfalls tucked away in forests below.
Or, if heights aren’t your thing but still want an unforgettable experience, why not try whale watching in Seattle? Head out onto Elliott Bay or Hood Canal where gray whales migrate each year between April and October – just make sure to bring binoculars so you don’t miss any close encounters. You may even spot orcas swimming alongside their pods if luck is on your side.
FAQs in Relation to Seattle’s Best Views
What Is The Most Scenic View In Seattle?
The most scenic view in Seattle is from the top of the Space Needle. From this vantage point, visitors can take in stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Rainier to the south, and downtown Seattle’s skyline to the east.
On a clear day, you can even see all three mountain ranges – Cascade Range, Olympics Range and Coastal Range – at once. The Space Needle offers an unparalleled experience that will leave you with lasting memories of your time in Seattle.
Where Is The Best View Of The Seattle Skyline?
The best view of the Seattle skyline can be found from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill.
This park offers a stunning, unobstructed panoramic view of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, and the surrounding islands. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Rainier in the distance.
The park is easily accessible by car or public transportation and provides plenty of space to take photos or simply enjoy the breathtaking views. Whether you’re visiting for vacation or business, make sure to check out this iconic spot for an unforgettable experience.
Hopefully, you now added enough photo destinations to your bucket list to last an entire life of Seattle visits!
There are so many places to enjoy and photograph the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle area is no exception.
Let us know where you end up and tag us on Instagram if you end up taking some great pictures! Happy viewing!