I’ve lived in Seattle my entire life, and even though I realize how rare it is that a city is surrounded by water, mountains, and so much greenery, sometimes I take the views for granted. It’s easy to get caught up in your daily routine and forget to stop and take in the beauty we are surrounded by on a daily basis. I thought in order to do just that, I would play tourist in my own town town and put together 20 of the most Instagram worthy spots in Seattle. I hope you will find this helpful if you’re a local who’s looking to explore a new part of town, or someone who’s planning a trip to the city and wants to take in the stunning views!
City Skyline Views:
Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge, Beacon Hill/International District: As some of you know, I grew up in Ballard (a neighborhood that’s in the northwest part of the city). I’ve only lived north of the Ship Canal Bridge, so I haven’t explored most of the neighborhoods south of downtown as much as I wish. I took this blog post as an opportunity, as this is one of the most famous viewpoints in all of the city. This bridge is directly over the 1-5/1-90 connector and gives you a spectacular view of the skyline. This is what you’ll see when you first arrive into the city from the airport, and it does not disappoint.
Salty’s Restaurant, Alki Beach West Seattle: Technically this dock does not belong to Salty’s, but it’s directly next to it, and Salty’s has the same view! Salty’s is a delicious restaurant with spectacular views of the city from the south, and it’s one of my favorite special date night spots. West Seattle is so close to the rest of the city, but the vibe is extremely laid back and beachy. If you’re looking for a casual stroll along the water with tons of delicious restaurant options, spend the afternoon along Alki. You may even see some people playing beach volleyball on a warm summer day!
Ferry Ride To Bainbridge or Bremerton Island, Downtown: Seattle is so lucky that we have tons of incredible islands we are able to explore at just a quick boat ride away. A lot of people from out of town are surprised that our ferry boats aren’t just passenger boats – you can drive your car on too! I highly recommend taking a day and taking a ferry to one of the many islands around the city (Vashon, Bainbridge, and Whidbey to name a few). If you’re wanting those skyline city views though, Bainbridge is the way to go. You can catch the ferry right in the middle of downtown near Pioneer Square.
Gasworks Park, Fremont: Ahh, too bad it doesn’t have a paintball course like in 10 Things I Hate About You! But Gasworks park does have some stunning views, trails for running, and on a windy say you may see people flying kites up at the top of the viewpoint hill. Fun fact: Kite Hill has been one of the stops on The Amazing Race twice! During the summer there are also plenty of yoga classes and bootcamps available, and you’ll probably see a wedding or engagement shoot here as well.
Kerry Park, Queen Anne: If you’ve ever received a postcard with Seattle on it, it was most likely taken from Kerry Park. With views of downtown, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and the Puget Sound, what more could you want? It’s a great spot to people watch or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views.
Palisade Restaurant, Magnolia: Another one of my favorite special date night spots is Palisade Restaurant. The views are absolutely spectacular, and their seafood trio (scallops, crab, and salmon) is to die for. You can take the Elliot Bay Trail from the sculpture park here for a 2.5 mile stroll along the water.
Stunning City Views
Sky View Observatory, Columbia Tower Downtown: If you’re looking for 360-degree views of the city, there is no better place than the Columbia Tower. While the Space Needle is iconic and I love it there too, the Columbia Tower is twice the height and half the price! You see everything from the Great Wheel, the ferries taking off and coming in, the Smith Tower, Century Link and Safeco Field stadiums, Mount Rainier, Bellevue, and plenty of neighborhoods. It’s funny how flat Seattle looks from 902 feet high!
Anthony’s Pier 66, Belltown: One of my favorite summer activities is having a chilled glass of rosé and a few crab cakes while enjoying the view on Anthony’s outdoor deck. It’s warm but the breeze off the water makes it bearable. You can also walk along the waterfront towards downtown, or up to the sculpture park and beyond.
Olympic Sculpture Park, Belltown: Can we just take a moment to appreciate how unbelievably stunning the Olympics are looking in this photo?! And of course, the photo does them zero justice since I’m not a professional photographer! But, regardless, the sculpture park is such a great park in the middle of downtown. During the summer I love to take my lunch and sit in the park and enjoy the view. Walking through the park also is a nice break in the day if you work close by!
Golden Gardens, Ballard: I was born and raised in Ballard so I’m 100% biased, but this is my favorite spot in all the city. Something about it just feels so peaceful here. I love coming down to the beach during the winter and seeing the snow capped mountains, or having a bonfire and BBQ here in the summer. There is a huge field where you can play frisbee or bocce ball (might I recommend glow in the dark bocce – it’s a blast). The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous whether you’re on the beach, or in the marina near by. Ooh and if you like soft serve, Little Coney’s has the best swirl in town!
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, Downtown: This restaurant is inside the Motif hotel downtown, and they have done a fabulous job with the decor. Everything is so modern and beautiful, and the deck outside puts you smack in the middle of all the skyscrapers downtown. It really makes you feel like you’re in a concrete jungle!
Westward, North Lake Union: A relatively new restaurant, but one of my favorites for many reasons. One, I saw two of my great friends get engaged here! Bahhh! And two, their rose, clam dip and homemade chips on a hot summer day cannot be beat. Plus, the views don’t suck either.
Instagram Worthy Local Favorites
Occidental Square, Pioneer Square: This is the perfect place to come and people watch or read a book on a sunny summer day. This square is in the middle of the Pioneer Square neighborhood where there are bars (Damn The Weather – appropriate for Seattle, huh? – is a local favorite) lunch spots (London Plane is a food and flower shop in one) and shops aplenty. Plus, you’re only a few blocks from the stadiums if you have tickets to a Sounders, Seahawks, or Mariners game!
Chihuly Glass Museum and Garden, Lower Queen Anne: Oh my I’ve died and gone to Instagram heaven. Every single corner you turn in this museum is more beautiful than the last. I’m not sure how they did it. But if you are in town for a visit, make sure this is on your list of places to go to. This museum is absolutely worth visiting. And if you’re a local and you haven’t been, you get $5 off admission price if you live in King County!
Pike Place Market, Downtown: I couldn’t NOT include Pike Place on this list! Be it the farmers market, the restaurants, the fresh flowers, or of course the gum wall, Pike Place is not a place to miss. Be sure to hit up Beechers for delicious local cheese and Piroshky Piroshky for Russian pastries that are worth waiting in (the sometimes long) line for.
Other notable spots:
- Four Seasons Hotel: No matter where you are in the hotel – in one of their rooms, the spa, outside on the pool deck, or dining in the restaurant Goldfinch Tavern, there are stunning views everywhere you look. My favorite hotel in the city, bar none.
- University of Washington: The architecture here is beautiful, as is the view of Mount Rainier on a clear day from Red Square, but my favorite part about UW are all the cherry blossoms on campus come March!
- Space Needle: I don’t even know if words are needed here…! But I will say one: iconic.
- The Smith Tower: Check out their speakeasy-style bar and observatory for a drink and beautiful views of the sound and the city.
- Volunteer Park: Plenty of trails to run or explore, as well as a museum or two inside the park, but my favorite is climbing the tower and checking out some Seattle history (and of course a spectacular view of downtown).
I hope this was helpful! Any place I missed that you think should be on this list? Let’s have a discussion in the comments! Also, check out the map below so you can see where each of these places are in the city. Happy exploring!