Note: See an updated version of this list here.
Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center
At a whopping 933 feet, Columbia Center is the tallest building in the Seattle skyline. Use the 5th Avenue entrance and take two separate sets of elevators to get to the 73rd floor observatory. The lookout boasts a breathtaking 360-degree view of Seattle and local history lessons detailed on the interior walls. Among their insights into regional geography and notable figures, the walls also provide instructions on how to eliminate glare and get the best photos when snapping photos through the windows. Views documented, sit back with refreshments from the Sky View Café. Admission: $14.75 adults, $9 children ages 6-12. Downtown, 701 5th Ave.
Get an up-close view of Seattle’s skyline from the 35th floor of Smith Tower, the city’s first skyscraper. Your ticket includes a tour that commences with the Smith Tower Provisions general store, then ventures upward toward the Observatory, exploring local history all the way. Built in 1914, this Pioneer Square landmark includes an open-air observation deck and the Temperance Café and Bar, a beautiful speakeasy-style restaurant that offers small bites, craft cocktails and a rich history. Formerly called the Chinese Room because it was furnished with gifts from Empress Dowager Cixi, the café features East-Asian accents including the Wishing Chair, an ornate throne that is said to bless single women with marriages within a year. Admission: $14 adults, $10 children ages 6-12. Pioneer Square, 506 2nd Ave.
Photo by Nic Lehoux. The Nest at Thompson Seattle.
The Nest at Thompson Seattle
Aptly named rooftop bar, lounge and terrace The Nest is perched on the 13th floor of the Thompson Seattle, a contemporary boutique hotel. Located a few blocks from the famous Pike Place Market, The Nest offers sweeping views of Elliott Bay, ferryboats and Seattle's downtown city streets. With a craft cocktail off the bird-themed menu in hand, enjoy the view from either the indoor bar or one of the plush fireside couches on the patio. Downtown, 110 Stewart St.
This public park in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood is the perfect romantic date spot and a favorite for New Year’s fireworks. Visit around sunset with a significant other for a picture-perfect photo opportunity and soak in an unobstructed view of downtown as the city lights sparkle. If you’re ready for a bite to eat, local staples Molly Moon’s Ice Cream and Top Pot Doughnuts are just a few blocks away. Queen Anne, 211 W Highland Dr.
Photo courtesy of Space Needle LLC.
The Space Needle
Seattle’s most famous landmark (which is getting a major renovation) is a popular choice for its 360-degree, 520-foot view. However, there are even more reasons it entices visitors: the PanoCam, an interactive log of panoramic photos that you can use to see the city’s best views from the past, and SkyCity restaurant. Make reservations ahead of time to enjoy the stunning view with a decadent meal featuring Northwest dishes, Washington’s award-winning wines and a free pass to the observation deck. Admission: $22 adults, $14 children ages 5-12. Seattle Center, 400 Broad St.
Gaze upon Seattle’s skyline far from the city’s crowded streets at this waterfront restaurant in West Seattle. Diners eager to try out the Northwest’s famous seafood but uncomfortable ordering in English will appreciate Salty’s menus in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters. After your meal, take in more of the view with a stroll along Alki Beach. West Seattle, 1936 Harbor Ave. SW.
Photo courtesy of Mbar.
Dine at this new, contemporary rooftop for Middle Eastern-meets-Northwestern cuisine and a unique view of Lake Union and the Space Needle. Watch seaplanes take off and land through floor-to-ceiling glass windows or from the colorful outdoor patio, which includes woven basket chairs and sleek creative modern accents. Make reservations for a special way to see New Year’s or Fourth of July fireworks. South Lake Union, 400 Fairview Ave. N.
Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater
Nestled inside the legendary Edgewater hotel, Six Seven Restaurant offers dishes like Roquefort-crusted filet mignon and bouillabaisse alongside a stunning view of Elliott Bay. While patrons have the option of dining inside or out, the outdoor patio is the obvious choice, with sleek tables pressed flush against glass paneling, creating an up-close experience with the water that you won’t easily find elsewhere. Belltown, 2411 Alaskan Way.
Photo by Schwartz Brothers Restaurant Group. Daniel's Broiler.
Reserve a table at this elegant steakhouse for a unique glimpse of Bellevue and, if it’s clear outside, the surrounding mountains. Located on the 21st floor of the Bank of America building in the Bellevue Place complex, this scenic view comes with an interior of warm wooden undertones, leather seating and live piano music every night. Take in the Seattle skyline from a distance by requesting a table on their stunning, glassed-in patio that flanks the building, if weather permits. Bellevue, 10500 NE 8th St.
The Great Wheel
The Great Wheel on Pier 57 opened for business in 2012, offering tourists and locals alike a chance to watch the ferryboats dock in Elliott Bay from above. The giant ride operates year round thanks to enclosed gondolas and an easily accessible location by the Pike Place Market. And while the wheel glows with white LED lights every night, it exhibits special colorful displays on holidays and game days. Take the experience to new heights with a ride in the glass-bottomed VIP gondola. Admission: $14 adults, $9 children ages 3-11, $50/person for VIP gondola. Downtown, 1301 Alaskan Way.
Ray’s Boathouse and Café
This iconic seafood restaurant in Ballard, which our readers recently annointed as the best restaurant view in town, perches on the edge of Puget Sound with windows facing the Olympic Mountains. Ray’s Boathouse is only open for dinner, but those in search of lighter fare or an earlier meal can venture upstairs to the more casual Ray’s Café, where they offer lunch, dinner and a popular happy hour. Both café and boathouse boast outdoor patio tables, complete with blankets to help diners make the most of the views even on cooler days. Ballard, 6049 Seaview Ave. NW.
Photo by Svetlana57. Snoqualmie Falls.
This gorgeous 270-foot waterfall is a must for any Seattle bucket list (especially among Twin Peaks fans), with a park and an easily accessible viewing area for those who don’t want to hike. Visitors can easily make this a half-day trip, as the falls are only a 30-minute drive from downtown without traffic. Look up the Salish Lodge & Spa, perched at the head of the falls, if you want to enjoy lunch or even consider staying the night. Snoqualmie, 6501 Railroad Ave. SE (closest address).
Pike Place Market
Enjoy marionberry Greek yogurt from Ellenos or a roll from Piroshky Piroshky as you peruse this famous local destination, snap some photos with the famous Pike Place Market sign and then head over to Victor Steinbrueck Park, a nearby waterfront green space that offers a perfect sunny-day view of Elliott Bay. Check out the newest addition to the market: the MarketFront, a new space for vendors with large displays of public art and a breathtaking view of the water and the Olympic Mountains. Downtown, 85 Pike St.