There are a number of places to get a good view of downtown Seattle and the Puget Sound, three of which we visited, and a fourth that was closed for renovation.
The Space Needle ($16): Arguably the most famous, this tower is an iconic Seattle landmark,originally built for the 1962 world’s fair. There’s even a restaurant up top, but we usually go there just for the 360 degree views.
This one’s a bit pricy, at about $16 a person, but is also included in the city pass. This spot offers great views of downtown Seattle from the north, as well as views of the Puget Sound to the west, Green Lake and Queen Anne Hill to the north, and Lake Washington and Bellevue to the east. You also get a great view of all the museums below.
The Columbia Tower Observation Deck ($18): The best view of Seattle, hands-down – although it’s not a full wrap-around, the 73rd floor view deck is fantastic – from the tallest building in downtown. Situated on the south end of the CDB, you have great views of the waterfront, Pioneer Square, the two stadiums, and Bellevue across the water.
Smith Tower ($7.50): although it was once the tallest building west of Mississippi, the Smith Tower is now dwarfed by the surrounding buildings, and was closed for renovations when we were there, but at $7.50, the price is right, and it looks to offer some decent views of Pioneer Square and the south side of Downtown.
Volunteer Park Water Tower (Free): The water tower here is a cool historic brick tower, originally built in 1906, that’s still in use.
It’s a bit of a climb (at 108 steps, no elevator) but the price is right.
The views used to be better, but the trees of the park have grown up to block a lot of the vista. Still, it’s free.