13 Best Viewpoints of the Seattle Skyline

Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by admin

Seattle, also known as the Emerald City because of its year-round greenery, has a truly beautiful skyline. Whether you view the city from the top of the Space Needle or from the shores of Lake Union, you’ll be sure to enjoy every view of the city! If you’re visiting the city 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 13 best Seattle viewpoints

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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. For instance, if you plan on visiting the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden and Glass, or Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, we highly recommend that you look into purchasing the CityPASS. For more information about CityPASS, click here.


Map of the Locations with the Best Views of Seattle

I created the map below so you can easily find each of these spots as you plan your trip. 

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a vacation planner

Traveling on a budget? Be sure to see our list of 50 free things to do in Seattle.

13 Best Views of the Seattle Skyline

1. Kerry Park

211 W Highland Dr, Seattle, WA 98119

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!)

See our perfect weekend itinerary for Seattle here. We share what to see in 2.5 days!

2. Gas Works Park

2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103

A couple slides down the snowy hill, city lights, Space Needle, view of Queen Anne Hill, Gas Works Park, Lake Union, Wallingford / Fremont, Seattle, Washington, USA“A couple slides down the snowy hill, city lights, Space Needle, view of Queen Anne Hill, Gas Works Park, Lake Union, Wallingford / Fremont, Seattle, Washington, USA” by Wonderlane is licensed under CC0 1.0

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.

Visiting Seattle on a rainy day? No problem! Check out our post on 24 Rainy Day Activities in Seattle.

3. Dr. Jose Rizal Park

1007 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

Autumn Afternoon View of the Seattle Skyline From Jose Rizal Park“Autumn Afternoon View of the Seattle Skyline From Jose Rizal Park” by JoeInSouthernCA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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 101 Best Things to Do in Seattle. We put together the ultimate list!

4. Space Needle

 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109

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.

Before visiting the Space Needle, see our full guide to visiting it here.

5. The Nest Rooftop Bar

110 Stewart St, Seattle, WA 98101

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A post shared by The Nest Rooftop (@thenestseattle)

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. 

We wrote a complete guide on what to see at Pike Place Market here.

6. Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck

2225 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121

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!

See our guide The Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle to help you plan your trip!

7. Columbia Tower’s Sky View Observatory & Bar

700 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Columbia Center / Bank of America tower - IMG_1466“Columbia Center / Bank of America tower – IMG_1466” by Nicola since 1972 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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!

We recommend that you purchase tickets for the Sky View Observatory in advance! 

8. Alki Beach (Near Salty’s)

1936 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126

Alki Beach, Seattle“Alki Beach, Seattle” by Dan Nevill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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!

9. Smith Tower

506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Smith Tower, Seattle, Washington“Smith Tower, Seattle, Washington” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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 here. 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

801 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA

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!

See our full guide to Bainbridge Island 

11. Volunteer Park

1247 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

Volunteer Park best views of Seattle

Seattle, Volunteer Park” by Bjørn Giesenbauer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 .

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

1120 California Way SW, Seattle, WA 98116

Hamilton Viewpoint Park: Best View of SeattleHamilton Viewpoint Park” by Seattle Parks & Recreation is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

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

1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101

Seattle Aquarium: best views of Seattle

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.


What to Pack on a Trip to Seattle

If you’re traveling to Seattle, we recommend that you pack the following:

  • Packable rain jacket (Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, the weather can change quickly. This rain jacket folds down small and can be easily packed in a bag for when you need it.)
  • Comfortable daypack (When exploring the city, you’ll want a comfortable daypack to place all of your belongings, snacks, and souvenirs.)
  • Portable charger (You’ll be using your phone for maps, navigation, and photos, so make sure you don’t run out of battery while you’re on the go. We like this one because it is slim and you don’t have to worry about packing extra cables.)
  • Insulated water bottle (This water bottle will keep your water cooler for longer.)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (When exploring a new city, you’ll be walking quite a bit. Make sure you have comfortable shoes! Brooks has been my favorite brand so far.)
  • Flannel shirt (This is Seattle after all. Time to look the part in your photos!)
  • Binoculars (Enjoy the views with a good pair of travel binoculars!)

(Click on any of the above images for current shipping and pricing information.)


Where to Stay in Seattle


The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is a 5-minute walk from Pike Place Market. It’s a gorgeous 5-Star hotel located centrally in downtown Seattle. If you can afford it, this is our first recommendation. The hotel has an outdoor infinity pool with a view of the Seattle waterfront, lots of amenities, and is within walking distance of a lot of Seattle attractions.

The only hotel that’s actually within Pike Place Market is the Inn at the Market. You can’t get a better location! You’ll be able to watch Pike Place Market come alive in the morning, and you’ll be well-positioned to grab lots of delicious meals and snacks. See our full post on Pike Place Market here for food ideas!

The Charter Hotel Seattle is a moderately-priced hotel that’s only one block away from Pike Place Market. It’s also only a mile away from the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is located). The hotel is sleek and many of the rooms have nice city views.

The Seattle Marriott Waterfront has views of the water, as well as an indoor-outdoor pool. Every room has a view of the mountains and water.

For a full list of hotels in Seattle, click here.

We wrote an article about our favorite hotels in downtown Seattle. You can check it out here! We go into greater detail about hotel locations, amenities, and more.



Summary: Best Panoramic Views of the Seattle Skyline

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!

Here’s a brief summary of our favorite spots to get the best views of Seattle:

  1. Kerry Park (what you see in most postcards of Seattle)
  2. Gas Works Park (see the skyline across from Lake Union)
  3. Dr. Jose Rizal Park (see the city from the south side)
  4. Space Needle (see the city below you via the glass floor)
  5. The Nest Rooftop Bar (view in the midst of downtown and Elliott Bay)
  6. Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck (hidden gem view of downtown)
  7. Columbia Tower’s Sky View Observatory & Bar (see Seattle from the tallest building)
  8. Alki Beach (see the skyline across Elliott Bay)
  9. Smith Tower (has a 360 degree outdoor observation deck)
  10. Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island (and see the skyline from the water view)
  11. Volunteer Park (see the Space Needle through the Black Sun sculpture)
  12. Hamilton Viewpoint Park (see the Seattle skyline across from the water)
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