The Seattle skyline always calls to mind images of the Space Needle. The 605-foot icon, located in Seattle Center, was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and at the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in Seattle. The Needle is still home to the tallest observation tower in the state (and the third-tallest in the US), though several taller skyscrapers have come to populate the city’s skyline in the past decades.
The 43-second elevator ride takes you up to the observation deck of the Space Needle where you can take in the panoramic scenery looking through the telescopes. You will also have opportunities for spectacular Seattle skyline photos, as well as pictures of the Cascades, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier. You can also visit the gift shop for a souvenir and stay for a dinner at the rotating SkyCity restaurant with lovely views, particularly of the downtown Seattle skyline at night.
The Seattle skyline features nineteen of the tallest buildings in Washington. The tallest of these, at 937 feet, is the Columbia Center, which was built in 1985. At the time, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, and it’s still the second-tallest building on the West Coast, after the US Bank building in Los Angeles. One of the unique facts about the building is the annual race to the top—firefighters race up the stairs as part of a fundraiser for the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The second-tallest building in Seattle is 1201 Third Avenue, at 772 feet, followed by Two Union Square, the Seattle Municipal Tower, and Safeco Plaza. In addition to great views of the skyline, the downtown area of Seattle offers visitors a variety of things to do and see, including shopping at more than 2,000 retail venues, a wide variety of restaurants, attractions, and museums.
An interesting feature of the downtown district and one that provides an assortment of Seattle skyline photos are the examples of street clocks, ranging from intricate nineteenth-century pieces to modern pieces displayed along the streets throughout the area.
If you’re interested in Seattle history, step back in time at the Smith Tower, completed in 1914 and the oldest skyscraper in Seattle; it’s also one of the only buildings that still employs elevator operators. Smith Tower was the city’s tallest building until 1962, when the Space Needle was constructed, and it’s a popular destination for the beautiful Chinese Room on the 35th floor, which has a hand-carved ceiling and furniture from China, and a wraparound observation deck where you can observe the Seattle skyline at night.
Some of the best views of the Seattle skyline can be had along the waterfront, which is also one of the city’s biggest tourist areas. Here, travelers will find a relaxing place to sample fresh seafood, visit Pike Place Market, take a boat ride to the islands of Puget Sound, or charter a sailboat for the day. With the city as a backdrop, the waterfront district is a prime location for taking skyline photos. You can also stroll down the waterfront in the evening to see the brightly lit Seattle skylight at night.
There is an array of attractions near the skyline’s landmarks as well. Families can enjoy the many examples of the Pacific Northwest water inhabitants through exhibits at the Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59, visit the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center, or relax at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Adults and children also can play games at the Seattle Waterfront Arcade or visit the Tillicum Village for dinner and a NW Coast Native American dance show.
The city’s monorail system provides transportation between Seattle Center and Westlake Center, which means easy access to Seattle Center that hosts the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, and Repertory Theatre. Within the downtown area, public buses are free until 7 pm, and there are taxi cabs easily available as well.