best views of Seattle ferry from Bainbridge Island

18 Best Viewpoints of the Seattle Skyline

Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by Kelly

Seattle is known as the Emerald City because of its year-round greenery. The city truly has a beautiful skyline. Whether you view Seattle from the top of the Space Needle or from the shores of Lake Union, you’ll be sure to enjoy the view. If you’re visiting Seattle for the first time, or even if you’re from Seattle, you’ll definitely want to make sure you visit all the locations we are going to share with you today. I grew up in Seattle, and in this post I’m sharing my list of where you can find the best views of Seattle. These viewpoints make the perfect backdrop for photos!

At a Glance

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick overview of my favorite views:

1. Kerry Park: What you see in most postcards of Seattle 10. Ferry to Bainbridge Island: See the skyline as you pull away
2. Gas Works Park: See the skyline across from Lake Union 11. Volunteer Park: See the city through the Black Sun sculpture
3. Dr. Jose Rizal Park: See the city from the south side 12. Hamilton Viewpoint Park: See the skyline across from the water
4. Space Needle: See the city below you via the glass floor 13. Seattle Great Wheel: View from high up on the pier
5. The Nest Rooftop Bar: View in the midst of downtown  14. Downtown Hotels: Check out the Hyatt Regency Hotel
6. Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck: Hidden gem view of downtown 15. Magnolia: Perfect view across the bay
7. Columbia Tower: See Seattle from the tallest building 16. From a Helicopter: Get an aerial view 
8. Alki Beach: See the skyline from West Seattle 17. From a Cruise: Views from Elliott Bay
9. Smith Tower: Has a 360 degree outdoor observation deck 18. Hot Tub Boat: See the city directly from Lake Union

My Favorite Views of Seattle

1. Kerry Park

Kerry Park best views of Seattle

I’m starting this list with Kerry Park because it has one of the most iconic views of the Seattle skyline. If you’ve seen a postcard of Seattle, chances are the photo was taken from Kerry Park. When we have friends and family visit us from Seattle, we often take them to this park to see the city. 

The park is located in a quiet neighborhood and is actually pretty small. But that small park packs some pretty big views!

What I like about this park is that you can clearly see the Space Needle. The Space Needle isn’t as tall as many of the skyscrapers nearby, so you really need to find a viewpoint that has the right angle to see the Space Needle fully. From Kerry Park, you have the perfect angle to see the Space Needle. On a clear day, you can also see Mount Rainier in the distance. When that happens, it’s pure magic.

The park is well-known for its views of the city, but it’s not in a location where tourists often frequent. The park is located on Queen Anne Hill close to downtown, and if you didn’t know of its existence, you could miss it entirely. Now that you know about it, you can definitely check it out! 

We recommend visiting this park at sunrise or sunset for the best photos! The park can be busy at those times and there is no parking lot, so be sure to give yourself enough time to find street parking.

Kerry Park is about one mile from the Space Needle (a 25-minute walk), and nearly two miles from Pike Place Market. If you’re traveling from out of town and don’t have a car, we recommend using a ride share to get to the park. (Walking up Queen Ann Hill can be quite a workout!

2. Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park is really unique because it was the former site of the Seattle Gas Light Company’s gasification plant. Many of the original structures were never cleared from the park. Because of this, there are a bunch of rusty structures in the center of the park. (Which are fenced off from the public.) The industrial feel of this park makes for a great backdrop for photos! (You’ll often see professional photographers here taking portraits.)

Gas Works Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is 19 acres and sits on the north shore of Lake Union. Across the lake, you’ll have direct views of the downtown Seattle skyline. A large grassy knoll gives plenty of space for picnics, frisbee, and sunbathing. A sundial at the top of the hill is a popular place for taking photos. We think one of the best views of Seattle is from the top of the hill.

We like to go to Gas Works Park and pack a picnic. There’s tons of grassy lawn, so it’s easy to find your own spot with a great view of Seattle. A new playground was recently installed, so there’s lots of fun for the whole family. The Burke-Gilman Trail also passes by Gas Works Park, so you’re likely to see lots of people biking, jogging, and walking along the trail. (The Burke-Gilman Trail is approximately 20 miles long and runs through much of Seattle.)

Gas Works Park is about 3 miles from the Space Needle and about 5 miles from Pike Place Market. Because it’s on the northern shore of Lake Union, it’s most easily accessed by car. The park does have a parking lot, but it can be full during peak times. We usually can find a parking spot with a little patience.

3. Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Dr. Jose Rizal Park is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. This park is located south of Seattle, so you’ll have a view of the south side of Seattle and Elliott Bay to the west. The park is named for Jose Rizal, who is a national hero in the Philippines. Photographers often take photos of traffic going up Interstate-5 and into the city. 

This park tends to be a bit more quiet. It’s located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. The park is also close to the International District, so we definitely recommend that you save room for lunch!

Be sure to see our post on the 104 Best Things to Do in Seattle. We put together the ultimate list!

4. Space Needle

woman and baby at the Space Needle
My baby and I at the top of the Space Needle. 

The Space Needle is the most iconic symbol of Seattle. It was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair to symbolize humanity’s exploration of space, and it’s been a part of the Seattle skyline ever since. You can take an elevator to the top of the needle and have 360-degree views of the city. At 605 feet tall, you’ll be able to have panoramic views of Seattle. You’ll also be able to see Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains on a clear day, as well as much of Puget Sound.

In 2018, the Space Needle underwent a major renovation to enhance the viewing experience. Glass walls and benches (“Skyrisers”) were placed in the outdoor viewing platform, so you can take photos of the unobstructed city behind you. Additionally, the world’s first and only rotating, glass-floor (“The Loupe”) was installed in the lower viewing deck. Now, you can literally see Seattle beneath your feet! If you’re not afraid of heights, I highly recommend that you check it out!

To visit the top of the Space Needle, you’ll need to purchase tickets. Although tickets can be pricey, we recommend visiting the top of the Space Needle at least once. It’s truly a unique experience! We also really enjoyed learning all about the history of its construction. Currently, the Space Needle receives over one million visitors each year!

We recommend visiting the Space Needle at golden hour. The city of Seattle will be glowing, plus you can stick around for sunset and then see the view from the top at night! We’ve been to the top of the Space Needle during both the day and during the night, and both offer incredible views.

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5. The Nest Rooftop Bar

The Nest Rooftop Bar is located within the Thompson Hotel in downtown Seattle. As its name suggests, it’s a bar on the rooftop with stunning views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The bar is surrounded by skyscrapers, so it really feels like you have a bird’s eye view of the city. The Nest is also a two-minute walk away from Pike Place Market, so it’s easy to combine both activities in a day. The bar is open for adults 21 and over, and it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s a very popular bar with limited space, so reservations are strongly encouraged. 

6. Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck


Not a lot of people know about the view from Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck. Although it’s within walking distance from Pike Place Market and the Seattle Aquarium, few people wander up to Pier 66 to look around. There’s a pedestrian bridge off of Elliott Avenue, and there’s also a large staircase near the restaurant Anthony’s. Once on the deck, you’ll have a clear view of the Seattle skyline and waterfront! We recommend visiting Pike Place Market first, buying a picnic lunch, and then visiting this deck to have lunch with a view!

7. Columbia Tower’s Sky View Observatory & Bar

At 933 feet, the Columbia Tower is the tallest skyscraper in the Pacific Northwest. As you’d expect, the tower also holds commanding views of the city. If your’e looking for panoramic views of Seattle, this is the place to go!

The Sky View Observatory is located 73 stories up the tower. There’s a cafe and a bar at the observatory, so you can definitely grab a cocktail and enjoy the sunset. (Which is when we recommend visiting!)

A lot of tourists visit the Space Needle (and you definitely should at least once!), but most Seattle locals will tell you that the best place to see the city is from Columbia Tower!

8. Alki Beach (Near Salty’s)

Alki Beach in Seattle

Alki Beach is located in West Seattle and faces downtown Seattle. Alki Beach is one of our favorite places to go for a stroll. (It’s definitely one of our favorite beaches in Seattle!)

During the summer, we recommend taking the water taxi from downtown Seattle to Alki Beach. You’ll get the best views of Seattle from the water!

We also recommend stopping at Salty’s restaurant while in West Seattle. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Seattle, and it has great views of the city!

Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions.

9. Smith Tower

The Smith Tower in Seattle (Rainy Day Activity)

Built in 1914, Smith Tower was the first skyscraper erected in Seattle. For many years, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Near the top of the Smith Tower is an outdoor observation deck and indoor bar on the 35th floor. The bar has a swanky 1920s vibe and it feels like you’re visiting a speakeasy. When we last visited the Smith Tower, we caught the sunset over the city and it was one of our favorite views of all time. You can purchase tickets to the observatory in advance. Smith Tower is also located right next to Seattle’s famous underground tour, so we recommend doing both back-to-back!

10. View from the Ferry to Bainbridge Island

best views of Seattle ferry from Bainbridge Island

For my birthday one year, my husband planned a day date on Bainbridge Island. The island is located just across the bay from Seattle, yet I had never visited before! We spent an amazing day visiting various parks and restaurants on the island. One of my favorite parts, though, was the trip on the ferry itself! Once you depart the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle, you get a gorgeous view of the city. It’s a view you can only really get from the water! We highly recommend visiting Bainbridge Island in-and-of-itself, but we especially recommend it for the beautiful views while on the ferry. If you’ve never been to Washington before, riding a Washington State Ferry is a must-do experience!

11. Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. It’s easily reachable from downtown Seattle.

When you visit the park, be sure to find the Black Sun sculpture. The sculpture was created in 1969 by Isamu Noguchi. If you look through the circular opening, you’ll see that the Space Needle is perfectly framed.

While you’re at Volunteer Park, be sure to also check out the Seattle Asian Art Museum!

12. Hamilton Viewpoint Park

Hamilton Viewpoint Park is located in West Seattle near Alki Beach. From this viewpoint, you’ll be able to look across Elliott Bay and see the Seattle skyline. The park is fairly small and consists of several benches and of course the panoramic views. Bring your binoculars and enjoy watching the ferries and boats!

13. Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Great Wheel is 175 feet tall, so if you ride the giant ferris wheel, you’ll have an excellent view of the Seattle skyline from the waterfront. From the top of the Seattle Great Wheel, we were able to see the Seattle Aquarium, the back of Pike Place Market, and the Space Needle.

14. View of Seattle from Downtown Hotels

Kelly from Our Adventure Journal sitting in the window at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Seattle
Look at that view from the 32nd floor!

There are numerous high-rise hotels in downtown Seattle. If you stay in one of these, you are sure to have an excellent view of the city! We recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency Seattle, and our room was on the 32nd floor. We had a perfect view of downtown and the Puget Sound!

15. View of Seattle from Magnolia

View from Palisade Restaurant in Seattle
You can even see the Space Needle in the distance!

Magnolia is a neighborhood in Seattle that’s located across the bay from downtown Seattle. From Magnolia, you’ll be able to see Elliott Bay and the downtown skyline. I especially like seeing the view of the Space Needle and the stadiums from Magnolia. There are several good places to view Seattle from Magnolia, including Magnolia Park, the Ursula Judkins Viewpoint, and Palisade restaurant next to the Elliott Bay Marina.

16. From Helicopter

One of my favorite Seattle experiences was taking a helicopter tour above the city! I’ll never forget sitting in a helicopter and looking down directly at the Space Needle. It was unreal! It was the first time I had ever ridden in a helicopter and it was definitely a unique experience. If you have the chance to view Seattle from above, I definitely recommend it! 

17. From a Cruise

One of the most popular things to do in Seattle is to take a harbor cruise. The boat will take you around Elliott Bay and will provide you a narrated tour of the city. From the water, you’ll have an amazing view of the pier as well as Seattle’s skyscrapers. 

18. Hot Tub Boat

I think that the best way to enjoy the views of Seattle is from a hot tub boat! I mean seriously, how cool is this opportunity? No matter the weather, you’ll be ni8e and warm as you admire the Emerald City.




We hope that you enjoyed this post on the best views of Seattle! No matter where you’re located in Seattle, you’re sure to find a great view of the city nearby. As a local, this list represents some of my favorite spaces. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.

Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!