On Monday, Seattle will be at a great vantage point for the solar eclipse, starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 11:39 a.m. Though we won’t be able to see a total eclipse, from our angle 92 percent of the sun will be blocked.
For those of us not taking time off work to travel into the “path of totality” in Oregon where most of the organized events are going down (though the Pacific Science Center's hosting an official Seattle shindig), there are plenty of local parks, viewpoints, monuments and rooftops to see this astronomical wonder from. Here are 10 free or inexpensive places to watch the eclipse near downtown Seattle. Just don't forget those viewing glasses to protect your eyes!
Kerry Park in Queen Anne
The site of many wedding and prom photos, Kerry Park in Queen Anne gives visitors a panoramic view of the Seattle skyline that is postcard perfection. This will be an ideal but undoubtedly popular spot to see the eclipse from on Monday morning, so plan accordingly. Arrive early and park your car in the neighborhoods north of the park where parking is free and more available than in the park’s tiny lot.
For holidays with fireworks, Gasworks is a notorious Seattle viewing spot. Why should the eclipse be any different? Lay in the lush green grass or climb one of the old stacks from the former Seattle Gas Light plant that used to occupy the park to get one of the best views of the Seattle sky around. This will be another popular destination, so do plan accordingly. It’s best to park in the surrounding neighborhoods and walk down or Lyft to Gasworks. Bring a picnic and make it an early lunch.
Staircase next to Seattle Marriott Waterfront hotel
This outdoor staircase next to the Seattle Marriott Waterfront hotel on Alaskan Way carries you to the iconic Pike Place Market (where the new MarketFront could also offer sweet views) and faces the Seattle waterfront. The views during the climb are spectacular, but it is steep so keep that in mind if your party includes children or seniors. About halfway up the stairs there’s an overlook where you can pause and rest—perfect for the eclipse.
Public Rooftop Garden at Fourth and Madison
During weekday business hours, the public can access a rooftop garden at the Fourth and Madison Building (925 4th Ave.). To get to the garden, enter the building from 3rd Avenue, take the elevator to the seventh floor and exit the elevator through the right door. There, you will find a garden that wraps around three sides of the building—a great spot to watch the sky.
Smith Tower Observation Deck
The Smith Tower invites eclipse-watchers onto their open-air observation deck on Monday. They’ll offer specialty “eclipse” mimosas and coffee, as well as stunning 360-degree views of the city. Be sure to bring your own eclipse glasses, as they will not be provided. Capacity is 400 people, so it's first come first served. Tickets go on sale at 8:30 a.m. and run $15-$19 (save 10 percent by booking online).
Seattle’s Great Wheel
Bring your friends—each gondola on the Ferris wheel holds about eight people—and ride the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57 during the eclipse. The wheel opens at 10 a.m., but get there early: lines are always long and will be longer during a rare event. Tickets to ride the wheel are $9-$14.
Ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island
A unique way to experience the solar eclipse on Monday morning would be on one of Seattle’s quintessential ferries. The best views will be on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which leaves from the downtown Seattle dock. Here is the WSDOT ferry schedule so you can plan your ride around the peak time for the eclipse.
Sky View Observatory
On the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center building, the Sky View Observatory offers a 360-degree view of Seattle. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 11pm, tickets are $10-$15 and kiddos under 5 get in free.
For a quieter experience more immersed in nature, try hiking out to the lighthouse on the shores of Seattle's flagship park to catch the eclipse. Pack a lunch and stay the day if you're boss won't notice: Discovery Park offers views and hikes you can’t get anywhere else in town.
Located on Admiral Way in West Seattle, Belvedere Park’s viewpoint gives a staggering view across Elliot Bay. It’s a popular destination for wedding photos and ought to make for a scenic eclipse viewing spot. Take some time to appreciate the park’s historic totem pole, too, which was carved by a fifth generation descendent of Chief Seattle.