15 best views in Seattle: hidden gems and photo hotspots

Get incredible views of the Seattle skyline at 15 of the city’s most scenic spots, from the Smith Tower and Sky Needle to Kerry Park and beyond, with this guide.

Seattle offers a plethora of scenic spots waiting to be explored, from the sparkling Seattle skyline at Kerry Park to the serene reflections of Alki Beach. Along with the must-see views you'll get from a visit to the Space Needle, Seattle hides many lesser-known viewpoints that provide equally mesmerizing sights. Best of all? Many of these spots are free, ensuring you can soak in the beauty of Seattle without breaking the bank.

Dive into a curated list of the 15 best views in the Emerald City, from Seattle's most iconic landmarks to hidden gems that often escape the tourist radar. Whether you're a photography enthusiast searching for that perfect shot or simply a traveler seeking a quiet moment surrounded by urban beauty, this list has you covered.

1. Kerry Park

Nestled on Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park offers an unparalleled view of the Seattle skyline, with the iconic Space Needle standing tall amidst the cityscape. You can also see Mount Rainier as a stunning backdrop on clear days.

Best way to experience it:

Visit during sunset for a golden hue over the city. If you're a photography enthusiast, bring a tripod for long exposures. After soaking in the view, walk around the nearby parks or enjoy a picnic.

Address and opening hours:

211 W Highland Dr, Seattle, WA 98119. Open 6:00 AM-10:00 PM daily.

2. Gas Works Park

This former gasification plant turned park provides a unique vantage point of Lake Union and Downtown Seattle. The industrial structures will add a steampunk touch to your photos.

Best way to experience it:

Come during the Fourth of July for spectacular fireworks. The park is also a popular spot for kite flying. Fly your own or capture dynamic shots of the colorful kites that often fill the sky here. Enrich your visit to the park and see other Seattle highlights with a local guide on a private tour.

Address and opening hours:

2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103. Open 6:00 AM-10:00 PM daily.

3. Smith Tower Observation Deck

One of Seattle's oldest skyscrapers, the Smith Tower offers panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, and distant mountains.

Best way to experience it:

Visit in the late afternoon to avoid crowds. The Prohibition-themed bar at the top is perfect for a drink with a view. Use a smartphone audio guide to lead you to the tower and other Seattle landmarks.

Address and opening hours:

506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. Open Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, 11:00 AM-9:00 PM, and Thursday-Friday 11:00 AM-10:00 PM (Closed Mon-Tue).

4. Alki Beach

This beach offers a serene view of the Seattle skyline across Elliott Bay. The calm waters and distant city lights make it a romantic spot.

Best way to experience it:

Visit during twilight for a mesmerizing reflection of the city on the water. Nearby, you'll find cozy cafes and eateries to complete your evening. A guided e-bike tour is a fun way to see Alki Beach, Alki Point Lighthouse, and other city highlights.

Address and opening hours:

Seattle, WA 98116. Open 4:00 AM-11:30 PM daily.

5. Columbia Center Sky View Observatory

As the tallest viewpoint in Seattle, this observatory offers a 360-degree view of the city, including the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and beyond.

Best way to experience it:

Come on a clear day for the most expansive views. Early mornings or weekdays are less crowded. Book an entry ticket ahead for the best experience.

Address and opening hours:

700 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. Open Sunday-Thursday, 12:00 PM-7:00 PM, and Friday-Saturday, 12:00 PM-8:00 PM.

6. Golden Gardens Park

This beachfront park offers views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The setting sun against the mountains is worth seeing.

Best ways to experience it:

Visit during sunset or set up a bonfire in one of the designated bonfire areas for a cozy night view. The park has hiking trails, sandy beaches, picnic areas, and playgrounds, so you can easily spend a whole day here. People-watch from the benches or dip your toes in the water.

Address and opening hours:

8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, WA 98117. Open 4:00 AM-11:00 PM daily.

7. Fremont Peak Park

A lesser-known gem, this park offers views of the canal, Ballard, and the Olympic Mountains, as well as outdoor art installations. It's a quiet spot away from the city hustle.

Best way to experience it:

Visit during autumn when the foliage adds a burst of color to your photos. Nearby cafes within walking distance of the park offer warm drinks for chilly days.

Address and opening hours:

4357 Palatine Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103. Open 4:00 AM-11:30 PM daily.

8. Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Located on Beacon Hill, this park provides a southern perspective of the Seattle skyline with stadiums in the foreground. Spot T-Mobile Park, Lumen Field, the Seattle Great Wheel, and more.

Best way to experience it:

Walk on Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge for the best photos, or visit during a game night for the illuminated stadium views. The adjacent dog park is perfect for pet lovers.

Address and opening hours:

1007 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144. Open 4:00 AM-11:30 PM daily.

9. Hamilton Viewpoint Park

Overlooking Elliott Bay, this 16.9-acre West Seattle park offers a postcard-perfect view of the Seattle skyline.

Best way to experience it:

Sunset hours provide a golden glow over the city. The park's expansive lawns are ideal for picnics and reading in the sun.

Address and opening hours:

1120 California Way SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Open 6:00 AM-10:00 PM daily.

10. Discovery Park

Visit Seattle's largest park, spanning 534 acres, and enjoy views of the Cascades, the Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound all in one place.

Best way to experience it:

Hike the Loop Trail for varied viewpoints. The park's lighthouse is a must-visit. If you want sightseeing and the best viewpoints in a single day, try a city tour by bus with Discovery Park and other iconic Seattle sights on the itinerary.

Address and opening hours:

Seattle, WA 98199. Open 4:00 AM-11:30 PM daily.

11. Volunteer Park Water Tower

This historic water tower in Capitol Hill offers a 360-degree view of Volunteer Park and the city, including the Space Needle, downtown, and the mountains. It's free to enter and climb the 107 steps to the top.

Best way to experience it:

Climb the tower in the early morning for a peaceful view. The adjacent conservatory is a treat for plant lovers — entry is free there on the first Thursday and Saturday of the month.

Address and opening hours:

Water Tower, 1247 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102. Open 10:00 AM-12:00 AM daily.

12. South Lake Union

South Lake Union is a bustling lake-side district with views of the water, downtown, and the Space Needle. The moving boats add a dynamic touch.

Best way to experience it:

Rent a kayak for a unique water-level perspective. The nearby Museum of History & Industry is worth a visit. If you’re already in the South Lake Union area, a walking street food tour is a must for foodie lovers.

13. Washington Park Arboretum

Take in views of surrounding waterways, the University of Washington, and Mount Rainier at this botanical garden that provides a quiet sanctuary near the shores of Lake Washington.

Best way to experience it:

Visit during spring to admire the varied pinks of the cherry blossoms. If you enjoy views just as much as outdoor adventures, the park's waterways are perfect for canoeing.

Address and opening hours:

2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle, WA 98112. 8:00 AM-8:00 PM daily.

14. West Seattle Bridge

This elevated bridge connects West Seattle to the rest of the city, offering a unique view of the skyline, harbor, and Mount Rainier.

Best way to experience it:

Drive or bike across during sunrise for a serene view, but be cautious of traffic during peak hours.

15. Seattle Space Needle

One of the most iconic structures in the United States, the Space Needle stands tall in the heart of Seattle. Offering panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, and on clear days, Mount Rainier, it's a must-visit for anyone in the city.

Best way to experience it:

Purchase tickets to the observation deck to get the full 360-degree experience. For an added treat, dine at the rotating SkyCity restaurant at the top. The best times to visit are during sunrise or sunset, capturing the city in a golden glow. For night owls, the night view is just as photo-worthy.

Address and opening hours:

400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109. Open 10:00 AM-8:30 PM daily.

FAQs

What are the best views in Seattle?

Seattle boasts a myriad of stunning viewpoints, including Kerry Park, Gas Works Park, Smith Tower Observation Deck, Alki Beach, Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, Golden Gardens Park, and Fremont Peak Park. These spots offer panoramic views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, and surrounding mountains.

Where is the best view of the Space Needle?

You can find one of the best views of the Space Needle at Kerry Park, located on Queen Anne Hill. From here, you can capture the Space Needle with the backdrop of Downtown Seattle and, on clear days, the postcard-worthy Mount Rainier. Another great spot is the Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, which provides a bird's-eye view of the Space Needle amidst the cityscape.

Where are the best free views of Seattle?

Seattle offers several spots where you can enjoy amazing views without any cost, like the Volunteer Park Water Tower. Some of the best free viewpoints include Kerry Park, Golden Gardens Park, Fremont Peak Park, Dr. Jose Rizal Park, Hamilton Viewpoint Park, and Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint. These locations provide a variety of city, water, and mountain vistas, so you can take in all the landscapes Seattle has to offer.