There aren’t many skylines in the world that match the pure physical beauty of Seattle, Washington. The city draws in photographers with its gorgeous views of Mount Rainier, the Space Needle and northwest sunsets. Below are my top five viewpoints the city has to offer, plus some honorable mentions. For more information, click the links.
- Ursula Judkins Viewpoint and Ella Bailey Park (Magnolia): Both of these parks offer nice views of downtown, but they feel a very long ways away. Definitely bring your zoom lens. Besides this, power lines can get in the way of your shots. Still worth checking out, especially since this is one of the city’s most relaxing and quiet neighborhoods.
- University of Washington: Okay, so no great views of downtown here, but the UW offers one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Whether its Mount Rainier behind Drumheller Fountain or Suzzallo Library or the cherry blossoms in the spring, you can spend hours here finding plenty to photograph.
- Northeast 45th Street Bridge: I’d recommend this for night shots, mostly because you can get some great traffic trails here. Running right below the bridge is I-5, the busiest road in the state of Washington. Set up, try to find a nice angle (unlike my poor effort below) and enjoy.
- Volunteer Park: The one place on my list I haven’t been — at least with a camera. But it also has some nice views of the Seattle skyline from the always-entertaining Capitol Hill neighborhood.
5. Harborview Park Viewpoint: This is a tremendous place to get up-close and personal with the Seattle skyline. In fact, it feels like you can almost reach out and touch Smith Tower or the cars traveling along I-5. While you can pay for Harborview Medical Center parking, I found some street parking that worked just fine.
4. Kerry Park (Queen Anne): Located in Queen Anne, Kerry Park is THE place to take tourists. But to me, this view gets a little old after your first trip. You’ll get Seattle Center (including the Space Needle) in front of the rest of the skyline, and that’s the main draw. The park itself is tiny and feels very safe, thanks to it being in a residential neighborhood. It is a nice place to catch ferries coming in and out of the city.
3. Beacon Hill: Well, there are a few options here. The appropriately named Beacon Hill Viewpoint is fine, but it wouldn’t make this list. I recommend heading to Jose Rizal Park because you get a spectacular view of I-5, I-90, the stadiums, and downtown. If you’re feeling adventurous, try setting up your equipment on the Jose Rizal Bridge, which will have I-90 running directly beneath you.
2. Gas Works Park: Not only does Gas Works Park offer an amazing view of Lake Union and downtown Seattle, but it’s just an awesome park in general. The city bought the land in the 1950s from the Seattle Gas Light Company. Thus the park has some interesting gasification plants left over. For the best viewpoint, you can either go right up to the water or venture up a winding path to the top of the park’s hill.
1. West Seattle: Saving the best for last, West Seattle offers multiple viewpoints that rank among the best of any around the city. All of the following are highly recommended: Admiral Way Viewpoint, Hamilton Viewpoint Park and Jack Block Park. However, the best view of Seattle you’ll find is from Alki Beach — there’s nothing like capturing the city from this popular destination.
What’s your favorite Seattle viewpoint? Find any others you want to share? Or a location that isn’t on the beaten path? Let me know in the comments.