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Explore the PNW: Top 10 Seattle photography spots

One of the top questions on most people's mind when they visit a new city is where they can capture the best pictures.
5. Gasworks Park, Wallingford

A picture is worth a thousand words – this saying has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of social networking and digital photography. Anyone can be a travel photographer and one of the top questions on most people's mind when they visit a new city is where to capture the best pictures.

Here's a list of the top 10 places around Seattle from where you can capture an iconic photograph of the city apart not named the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

1. Kerry Park, Queen Anne

If you are looking to capture the quintessential Seattle skyline view, head straight to Kerry Park. Here you will be able to get that iconic shot with Space Needle right in the center and Mount Rainier in the background on a clear day. This view looks good any time of the day -- sunrise, sunset, blue hour, blue skies, moon rise. The list of photo ideas from Kerry Park is endless.


Tips: Be prepared to fight with other tourists and local photographers for a tripod spot, this place can get really crowded on a good weather day.

2. Jose Rizal Bridge (12th Avenue Bridge), Beacon Hill

This is one of my favorite places to shoot sunset and the after sunset colors. If you have a tripod, try a long exposure to capture the light trails from the rush hour traffic, those curves on Interstate 5 look really good with the red and white lights. Depending on the season you might be able to catch a sunset over CenturyLink or Safeco Fields from this bridge.


Tips: The bridge shakes quite a bit when buses pass by, so try to time your shots in between the bus runs.

3. Jose Rizal Park, Beacon Hill

A little further up the street from the 12th Ave Bridge at Jose Rizal Park, you can enjoy a slightly different view of the city. You won't be able to get an uninterrupted view of I-5 from here, but you do get to see Seattle Great Wheel. I love framing the city with the trees in the park; it's a great look if you are into the theme of man versus nature.


Tips: This park is rumored to be a little unsafe after dark, though I have never had any issues there myself. It's better to be careful though and go with a buddy if you can.

4. West Seattle

Another popular location to get a panoramic view of Seattle skyline is from West Seattle. On a calm evening, you can capture some cool city light reflections in the water. It is a great place to watch a sunrise over the city or a gorgeous sunset behind the Olympic Mountains.

West Seattle also offers a great view of our favorite volcano – Mount Rainier. Alki Beach is a great place to hang out at on a warm sunny day. There are a few spots in West Seattle where you can get different shots of the city. I recommend driving along Harbor Avenue Southwest and stopping at a spot that you like.

My favorite spots along this road:

5. Gasworks Park, Wallingford

Another location for shooting the Seattle skyline view with beautiful reflections is Gasworks Park, located on the north shore of Lake Union. There are some very cool gas plants here, and you can catch fire dancers and other performers during the summer as well. Don't miss the sundial on top of the kite hill.


6. Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, Downtown

If you only have time to stop one place and want to maximize the views and photo opportunities, go to the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center. Columbia Center is the tallest building in Seattle and has a 360-degree panoramic view that includes Mount Rainier, Bellevue, the Cascades, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, Space Needle and the city of Seattle.


Tips: You will be shooting through the glass from here, bring some black cloth to cover up the reflections from the lights inside the observatory. You can even ask the security guard to turn off the lights after dark if it's not too crowded.

7. Pier 66 (Bell Street Pier), Belltown

There are a few spots on Seattle waterfront along Alaskan Way which offers great sunset and city views. One of my favorites is Pier 66 or the Bell Street Pier. You can go on top of the Bell Street Cruise Terminal building (when there are no cruise ships docked at the pier) or the Bell Street walking bridge for photos of the city that include Mount Rainier and the Seattle Great Wheel.


8. Piers 56, 57- 62/63, Seattle waterfront

I like to call all these piers 'Great Wheel piers,' as I love capturing different patterns on the Ferris wheel known as Seattle Great Wheel from here. These are great spots to capture a sunset, the stadiums and even Mount Rainier on good days. Pier 62/63 also offers the possibility of catching some great puddle reflections of the city during rainy season.


9. Myrtle Edwards Park/Sculpture Park, Seattle Waterfront

Another great spot for a leisurely walk and photography during the evening/sunset hour is Myrtle Edwards Park. You can check out the interesting installations at the Seattle Art Musuem's outdoor sculpture park, capture gorgeous sunsets and get some great shots of Mount Rainier from this park.


10. Discovery Park, Magnolia

This is not really a city view, but I wanted to include one of my favorite photo spots a bit away from the city as a bonus. The West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park offers the most amazing foreground for a colorful sunset shot. And you can get a great view of Mount Rainier from here as well.


Get more photo ideas from these locations from Sigma's blog.