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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2023)

I’ve been meaning to make a guide for Seattle for WAY too long. I lived there for 3 years and it was one of the best times of my life. Now I live in Portland and I swear I take the train up to Seattle almost every month. This has allowed me to experience Seattle as both a resident and as a tourist. So let me tell you all about the Best Seattle Viewpoints!

Must-See Seattle Viewpoints

1. Kerry Park

Kerry Park is one of my favorite viewpoints in Seattle. You get a fantastic view of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and if you’re lucky – Mount Rainier. It has a few benches and a small park below. I walked here when staying in Queen Anne and there’s a series of steps to get up to the top viewpoint that definitely gave me a workout!

Crowd Rating: On the weekends this place can get pretty crowded, especially if the weather is nice and the mountain is out. Weekdays and mornings are a lot quieter.

Cost: Free!

Parking: Parking is VERY limited here. It is right at the edge of a neighborhood and you would have to get pretty lucky to snag a spot nearby.

2. Space Needle | Panoramic Seattle View

Of course, this is a classic. The newer revolving glass floor is so wild to experience and honestly makes it very worth a visit. I somehow ended up spending almost 3 hours here just enjoying myself. You can purchase beer, wine and other beverages at the top viewpoint. And if you’re looking for a really luxurious experience, you can make a reservation at the Loupe Lounge – a restaurant and bar on the revolving glass floor.

Crowd Rating: Always crowded, but WAY worse on weekends. If you are an early riser, getting there first thing in the morning does pay off. I recommend buying tickets beforehand to skip the ticket lines and reserve a time slot.

Cost: $35-$39 per person

Parking: The Space Needle is in an area that does not have a lot of nearby parking. I recommend taking an Uber/Lyft or the Seattle Monorail to get here.

Photo Courtesy of Lake Union Hot Tub Boats

3. Lake Union

Lake Union has a LOT of options for fun activities while taking in some gorgeous sites of the city.

  • Hot Tub Boat : Cruise around in a locally made hot tub boat! This is truly a unique experience still on my bucketlist.
  • Rent a Kayak : definitely more ideal in the summer months, but a lovely activity to do in Seattle! Especially at sunset
  • Cocktail Boat Cruise : this one is highly rated and I can see why!

4. Seattle Views from Above

Okay, this is a luxury experience, but a FUN one. I ended up booking a helicopter for 3 people when it was on sale and surprised my sister and her partner and we had a BLAST. It was all of our first time in a helicopter and now I would love to do it again! My favorite company to go through is Atomic Helicopters for tours!

5. Gas Works Park

This park is one of the larger ones with incredible views of the Seattle skyline. It was one of the first I visited when I moved to Seattle. This Wallingford Park is a former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant and it still has some of the remaining infrastructure. It’s a really unique spot and so many people gather here any time of the year.

Best Time: I personally love coming here for sunset and/or watching the skyline at night. Everything lights up and reflects into South Lake Union and it’s just beyond gorgeous. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like you’re in a movie.

Cost: Free!

Crowd Level: Because this is a bigger park, it’s never really usually unbearably crowded. I always manage to find a space to throw down a blanket and chill for a while. But if it’s one of the unseasonably nice days on a weekend, expect a pretty packed park.

Parking: There is a small parking lot here! There is also so nearby neighborhoods you might have luck finding parking in.

6. Pike Place Market

I’ll be honest, I used to hate coming to Pike Place Market. It’s crowded and I’ve seen it one too many times showing people around. BUT, coming back as a tourist, it’s just classic Seattle and it’s charm has been restored for me. I love taking photos here especially! It truly is worth checking out and make sure to swing by the Gum Wall just around the corner. And if you’re looking for an experience at the Market, check out the Walking Food Tour.

Crowd Level: Moderate to Extreme.

Cost: Free to enter, but lots of vendors and markets to check out!

Parking: I don’t recommend trying to find parking near here. If you are driving, look for parking a few blocks away. The crowds of people walking through the intersection make it nearly impossible to get through!

7. Golden Gardens Park | Best Seattle Viewpoints

This is a locals gem I’d say. It’s just far enough away from the touristy areas of downtown to make it feel like you’re hanging out with only the locals. Golden Gardens in Ballard is incredibly special. It’s one of the few sandy beaches in Seattle and has volleyball nets and some of the best views at sunset of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Make it a cozy night by building a fire on the beach!

8. Sky View Observatory in the Columbia Tower

The Columbia Tower is the tallest building in Seattle, making this Seattle viewpoint the highest in the Pacific Northwest. There aren’t many good places for a Seattle panoramic view, but this place definitely gives stunning views of the city. It is located on the 73rd floor, 900 ft tall – you can really see everything here. I recommend buying tickets in advance.

Cost: $20-$40 per person

Crowds: moderate on weekends unless there is an event happening!

9. Pioneer Square | Seattle Views

I’m sure some people would argue that Pioneer Square should not be on this list of best Seattle Viewpoints. But it is such a charming area full of history and character! It is the oldest part of Seattle and is still covered in old brick. If you’re really wanting a unique and quirky experience, check out the underground tours that happen here to see how part of Seattle is literally built on stilts after a fire in the 1800’s.

I recommend strolling through the area at golden hour when all the latticed lights are on and walk to get a drink nearby at Damn The Weather or Pharmacy. OR if you’re wanting a fun night of mini golf and duffleboard, check out Flatstick Pub Taproom.

10. Smith Tower

Smith Tower is located in Pioneer Square and is one of the most recognizable buildings in Seattle! It used to be the tallest building before the Columbia Tower was built. Take a fun history tour through the tower and then take the elevator to the top to get incredible panoramic views of Seattle and the Space Needle.

The lounge on the 35th floor is such a charming space to hang out in. But be prepared for expensive drinks and snacks here. This is not a place locals come often because you do have to pay EACH time you go up the tower. I always look for an excuse to come back here.

Crowds: mild to moderate

Cost: $22 per person

Parking: Parking Garage and street parking nearby

11. Olympic Sculpture Garden

The Olympic Sculpture Garden is a public park along the Puget Sound that has unique art, beach areas, biking routes and more. This is definitely a place you’ll catch many locals hanging out. It’s the largest green space in downtown Seattle and has sculptures from various artists scattered around the park.

Crowds: minimal to moderate

Cost: Free

Parking: parking is a little challenging here but look for parking in nearby neighborhood of Queen Anne!

Getting Around Seattle

I do love that Seattle is always improving it’s public transit. It has a long ways to go, but Seattle is a very condensed city, making it pretty easy to get around without a vehicle. Unless you are planning to do a lot of activities outside of Seattle, I’d recommend NOT getting a car and to utilize the transit. If you are physically able, Seattle is a very walkable city in my opinion.

The Light Rail only goes North and South, which can be a little inconvenient when trying to reach other the northwestern neighborhoods like Ballard and Fremont. But it does simplify using the rail if you are unfamiliar. And don’t forget about the Seattle Monorail that goes from Downtown Seattle straight to the Space Needle!

Where to Stay when Visiting Seattle?

There’s an overwhelming amount of places to stay in Seattle, but certain neighborhoods have advantages like proximity to some of these Seattle viewpoints and proximity to easy transportation.

Uptown/Queen Anne Neighborhood

Queen Anne is known for its charming shops, lovely views and close proximity to the Space Needle. Queen Anne is a great base for this itinerary as it is walkable to Kerry Park, Space Needle, and the Olympic Sculpture Garden. It’s a lot quieter than downtown and has a lot more available parking as well.

Queen Anne is also walkable to the Seattle Monorail which would take you directly downtown where you could then access the Link Light Rail to get to Pike Place Market, Smith Tower in Pioneer Square and the Sky View Observatory.

It also neighbors the Belltown neighborhood that has some of my favorite dive bars and unique nightlife.

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods to stay in when visiting Seattle. It is extremely walkable to downtown, the waterfront, Pike Place Market, and tons of good food and drink spots! The buildings just have more charm here and the lights at night feel so romantic.

It is very close to the Pioneer Square Light Rail station AND the train station (which is how I get to Seattle from Portland!).

Best Seattle Restaurants and Nightlife!

I love a night out to a good restaurant in Seattle or grabbing a well crafted cocktail. There are an overwhelming amount of places, and in the YEARS I’ve been visiting Seattle, here are some of my personal favorites in the Pioneer Square/Downtown areas.

  • Dough Zone is a delicious dumpling house with traditional Chinese comfort foods. The soup dumplings are outrageously good and you can order SO much food for a really affordable price.
  • Bathtub Gin is an alleyway speakeasy that serves incredible cocktails in a really unique setting. This place is really popular so get there early!
  • Damn The Weather has great food and drinks and is located right in Pioneer Square. I keep coming back here.
  • Japonessa Sushi is a downtown Seattle classic. It seems like they always have a happy hour of some kind and the food is top notch.
  • Casco Antiguo is a popular place to get all the Mexican classics and a good margarita!

If you feel like taking the light rail to Capitol Hill, check out:

  • Momiji Sushi
  • Frankie and Jo’s Ice Cream
  • Monsoon for Vietnamese food
  • Bar Vacilando for great drinks and appetizers

Other Nearby Things To Do:

If you’re looking for more things to do while visiting Seattle, check out these other guides I have on nearby Washington adventures to extend your trip!

Conclusion: Best Seattle Viewpoints

Seattle is a beautiful city with so much to do and see. This list of stunning Seattle Viewpoints just scratches the surface on what you can do here. And with so many of these Seattle views being free – you could definitely do this trip on a smaller budget. I recommend planning for 3-5 days to see this list at an enjoyable pace and leave room for weather changes. Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning a trip here!

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