Discovering the best Seattle photography spots is an adventure in itself. While most associate the Emerald City with its coffee culture, grunge music, and landmarks like the Space Needle, there’s so much more to explore with your camera lens.
Whether you’re a professional photographer on the hunt for a unique shot, a visitor wanting to elevate your Instagram game, or a local re-exploring your city’s beauty, Seattle promises a visual treat around every corner.
Join me as I share some of the best photo spots in Seattle that have captured my heart and lens.
1. Pike Place Market
At a glance: The famous Pike Place Market sign, the iconic Gum Wall, and a bustling Farmers Market showcasing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pro tip: Pike Place Market is a major Seattle attraction and is often packed. Aim for sunrise before the market buzzes to life or wait until nightfall to get that perfect shot without the crowd. If you visit after dusk, the vibrant lights (especially post-rain) can add a magical touch to your photos.
Good to know: The Gum Wall started out small, with market workers and customers casually sticking gum to a portion of a wall. As time went on, this quirky spot expanded, drawing countless visitors from the Seattle area and beyond, and then securing its place in numerous magazines and TV shows.
2. Space Needle
At a glance: Nestled in Seattle Center, the Space Needle Observation Deck offers panoramic 360-degree views of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay, and Mt. Rainier.
Pro tip: For an amazing sight, visit the observation deck on a clear day. If it’s really clear, you might even see Canada!
Good to know: Standing at 605 feet, the Space Needle draws over a million visitors each year, making it one of Seattle’s top attractions.
Bonus tip: The Space Needle is included in the CityPASS, which saves you 47% on 5 top Seattle attractions. Other attractions in the CityPASS also on this list are Chihuly Gardens, MOPOP, and Woodland Park Zoo.
3. Seattle Great Wheel
At a glance: This iconic Ferris wheel offers a stunning view of Downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, West Seattle, and Elliott Bay.
Pro tip: Visiting at night with a tripod? Try a long-exposure shot to capture the city lights and the wheel’s motion. It’s the best time to see the city skyline light up.
Good to know: Choose between an enclosed gondola or an open-air car. The open option offers an even more breathtaking panorama.
4. Pioneer Square
At a glance: Pioneer Square is one of the artsy photo spots in Seattle featuring some of the most creative street arts.
Pro tip: Wander along 2nd Ave, where much of the area’s vibrant art is showcased.
Good to know: Often referred to as Seattle’s “first neighborhood,” Pioneer Square is celebrated for its First Thursday art walks, bustling nightlife, street art, tempting restaurants, and unique boutiques. It’s not the safest of Seattle’s neighborhoods these days, though, so keep your wits about you as you move through this part of the city.
5. Columbia Center Sky View Observatory
At a glance: The Columbia Center Sky View Observatory is set atop a historic building and boasts unmatched 360-degree views of the city, mountains, and Puget Sound.
Pro tip: It’s a prime spot for sunset views or stargazing. On clear nights, you might even spot the Milky Way.
Good to know: The Observatory welcomes visitors daily from 10 AM to 8 PM. Don’t miss out on some of the best views in town!
Seattle Parks and Nature
6. Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill
At a glance: Kerry Park is among the favorite spots in Seattle for photography, boasting breathtaking views of Mount Rainier when skies are clear.
Pro tip: Try sitting on the park’s railing. This elevated position helps you capture the entire city while eliminating some of the park’s shrubbery.
Good to know: Any Grey’s Anatomy fans out there? You’ll recognize this iconic vista from the show’s opening credits! It’s a great park for both fans and photo enthusiasts.
7. Discovery Park
At a glance: The largest city park in Seattle with a beautiful lighthouse and great views of the Cascade Mountains and Olympic ranges.
Pro tip: Opt for the South Beach Trail or the West Point Lighthouse Trail. These paths offer driftwood-laden beaches and imposing cliffs, making your photos truly stand out. For that perfect shot, time your visit during the golden hour when the sun casts a golden hue, highlighting the park’s tall grasses.
Good to know: Eyes on the Puget Sound! On a lucky day, you could spot whales making their majestic leaps. I’ve got recommendations on the best whale-watching tours in the city. Such a beautiful location for those in love with nature!
8. Gas Works Park on Lake Union
At a glance: A perfect place for a picnic with a striking skyline view of Downtown Seattle.
Pro tip: Though farther from the skyline compared to other spots, Gas Works gives you a broad view of Seattle with sailboats and ferries in the scene. Wait a bit, and you might capture a seaplane making its descent!
Good to know: This park was once a gas plant powering the city. Now, it’s a green space with remnants of the old plant. The hills make for great picnic spots. And come winter months, photos get an extra touch of magic.
9. Washington Park Arboretum and Japanese Garden
At a glance: The Arboretum is a popular spot to take photos of cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Pro tip: This is also one of my go-to favorite places for fall photos in Seattle. Maples, ashes, and aspens proudly flaunt their vivid reds, oranges, golds, and yellows. The Japanese Garden is also a very tranquil, quiet spot year-round. If you’re craving serenity, don’t miss it.
Good to know: Besides the plants, keep an eye out for various birds and critters. It’s a haven for nature photographers and a testament to Seattle’s rich botanical gardens. There are limitations on the types of cameras you can bring into the Japanese Garden. Check the restrictions before you go.
10. Kubota Garden
At a glance: A serene space adorned with Japanese designs, including bells, bridges, and pagodas.
Pro tip: Aim for a fall visit. The tranquil Kubota Garden turns into a vibrant color show, making it the best spot for foliage photography.
Good to know: Kubota Garden was built by Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese settler from 1927. He devoted half a century to evolving this barren space into the picturesque retreat it is now.
11. Olympic Sculpture Park
At a glance: A vast 9-acre outdoor gallery showcasing sculptures from famed local artists.
Pro tip: After your photo session, stroll through the park for some top-tier Seattle vistas. Extend your walk on the Elliott Bay Trail up to Magnolia, an excellent place for hiking in the city.
Good to know: No need to reach for your wallet – entrance to the Olympic Sculpture Park won’t cost you a dime!
12. Volunteer Park at Capitol Hill
At a glance: A public park boasting a grand botanical garden reminiscent of London’s Crystal Palace, marking its significance as a historic site.
Pro tip: Make sure to visit Bruce and Brandon Lee’s Gravesite in the cemetery next door; it offers distinctive photo opportunities exclusive to this good spot.
Good to know: As you wander, you’ll encounter various greenhouses, showcasing a range from lovely blossoms to unique cacti, all ideal backdrops for your next snapshot.
13. Golden Gardens Park
At a glance: The perfect spot in the city for those dreamy sunset shots.
Pro tip: As the sun dips, aim for those shots of boats drifting calmly on the water, bathed in the warm glow.
Good to know: Known for its sandy beaches, Golden Gardens becomes a buzzing spot in the summer as locals flock here to bask in the sun’s embrace.
14. Freeway Park
At a glance: An urban oasis with unique sculptures and a captivating columned design.
Pro tip: Capture the park’s distinctive manmade canyons and if visiting on weekends, catch moments from park-commissioned activities such as kite painting and urban sketching.
Good to know: Freeway Park serves as a bridge, linking downtown Seattle with the Washington State Convention Center and the First Hill neighborhood.
15. Woodland Park and Rose Gardens
At a glance: A picturesque garden home to over 200 varieties of roses.
Pro tip: Wander through the garden’s paths, gazebos, and water features, but keep your focus on the roses. Their intricate details and rich hues make for striking shots. The zoo is equally as beautiful and makes for great shots as well.
Good to know: The garden is not only beautiful but eco-friendly too. Once they pesticide-free roses wilt, they become treats for zoo animals. Gorillas are particularly fond of these floral delights.
Bonus tip: Woodland Park Zoo is included in the CityPASS, which saves you 47% on 5 top Seattle attractions. Other attractions in the CityPASS also on this list are Chihuly Gardens, MOPOP, and the Space Needle.
Seattle Beaches, Lakes, & Waterfronts
16. Alki Beach Park
At a glance: Alki Beach is West Seattle’s sandy oasis and offers a unique view of the city skyline.
Pro tip: Use the paved trail to your advantage. Capture a rollerblader in motion or zoom in on the mini Statue of Liberty for a creative twist.
Good to know: Beyond the skyline, there’s a myriad of photo opportunities here. From intense beach volleyball matches in the summer to the calming waves, every snap tells a different story.
17. Bainbridge Island
At a glance: A popular picturesque island that is just 30 minutes away from downtown Seattle by water taxi or ferry.
Pro tip: On your return journey to Downtown Seattle, take unique shots of the Ferris wheel from the water taxi or Bainbridge ferry.
Good to know: The island is home to the delightful Winslow Village. This charming locale is a must-visit for every photographer or Instagram enthusiast.
18. Lake Washington Boulevard Park
At a glance: A serene haven in the city, Lake Washington Boulevard Park offers spectacular views of the water and skyline.
Pro tip: For the best light, visit during sunrise or sunset. The glimmering water complements the cityscape, making your photographs pop.
Good to know: The park is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, so if you’re looking for a quieter moment to capture, early mornings tend to be less crowded.
19. Rattlesnake Lake
At a glance: Nestled at the base of Rattlesnake Ridge, this serene lake offers crystal clear waters surrounded by lush forests.
Pro tip: Hike up to the Rattlesnake Ledge for a bird’s-eye view of the lake below – an iconic shot that showcases the lake’s full beauty.
Good to know: The lake’s levels vary seasonally, revealing old tree stumps during certain times of the year, which provide a unique and hauntingly beautiful photo backdrop. Rattlesnake Lake makes our list of best hikes in the Seattle area.
20. Seattle Waterfront
At a glance: The Seattle Waterfront is a bustling stretch that offers panoramic views of the Elliott Bay, backed by the iconic Seattle skyline. With its various piers, the Great Wheel, and proximity to the historic Pike Place Market, it’s a must-visit for every traveler.
Pro tip: Capture a diverse array of shots from the different piers, each providing its own unique perspective. For a dynamic image, wait for the ferries to cross the bay, creating movements against the city backdrop. Also, consider visiting during the evening when the setting sun casts a golden hue over the bay and city lights begin to twinkle.
Good to know: The Waterfront is in the midst of a significant renovation, aiming to provide better access, parks, and public spaces. As a result, you might encounter ongoing construction. Nevertheless, it still retains its charm and offers numerous dining and shopping options, making it a vibrant hub for both locals and tourists.
21. Green Lake Park
At a glance: A serene urban oasis offering scenic water views surrounded by lush greenery.
Pro tip: The docks at Green Lake are not only picturesque but versatile, offering a backdrop of both water and trees. If you time it right, capturing reflections on the calm waters can elevate your photos.
Good to know: While the parking lot at the park might be small, convenient residential parking is available nearby. Beyond photography, paddleboarding and kayaking are popular activities here.
22. Snoqualmie Falls
At a glance: A majestic 268-foot waterfall, Snoqualmie Falls is not only Washington’s pride but also a celebrated location from the TV show Twin Peaks.
Pro tip: For a magical experience, visit during early mornings or late afternoons. The soft lighting can enhance the misty ambiance of the falls, perfect for dramatic photos. If you’re keen on capturing the sheer power of the falls, consider visiting during the rainy season when the flow is at its peak.
Good to know: Located just about 35 minutes away from Downtown Seattle, accessing Snoqualmie Falls is quite straightforward. Despite its popularity, the site has remained free for all, open from dawn to dusk. It’s no surprise that it draws over 1.5 million admirers annually, especially those heading to the Snoqualmie Pass. Here are some more ideas for those who want to capture more Waterfalls photos in and near Seattle.
23. A Secret Nude Beach
At a glance: A secluded soft-sand beach near Denny Blaine Park with stunning Mount Rainier views.
Pro tip: While the serene ambiance and scenic backdrop are perfect for photography, always remember to ask for consent if you plan to include any beachgoers, especially given the nature of this location. Opt for wide shots of the landscape or close-ups of nature to maintain privacy.
Good to know: Located at the terminus of 39th Ave E. and E. Harrison, this hidden gem boasts warm waters for those who fancy a dip on sun-drenched days. And for those wondering, yes, nudity is legal in Washington State, so don’t be surprised to spot some au natural sunbathers enjoying the beach’s tranquility.
24. Seacrest Park
At a glance: A serene park ideal for couples’ photos at sunset and a fun daytime spot for kids.
Pro tip: For a memorable shot, walk down the pier and lean against the wooden railing. The city’s skyline in the backdrop adds drama to your pictures. If you’re looking for dynamic shots, capture a moment while boarding the water taxi, which leads directly to Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle.
Good to know: Located just a short walk from Salty’s, Seacrest Park is not just a photogenic spot but also a recreational haven. Whether it’s a peaceful evening watching the sunset or a lively day with kids playing around, this park caters to all moods and moments.
Seattle Unique and Quirky Spots
25. Fremont Troll
At a glance: A quirky and iconic sculpture tucked beneath the Aurora Bridge in Seattle’s vibrant Fremont neighborhood.
Pro tip: Head down early to avoid afternoon crowds. With the troll as your backdrop, experiment with poses—whether it’s lying down in front of it or playfully interacting with the sculpture, your creativity is the best thing to make the photo pop.
Good to know: Crafted in 1990 by local artists, this 6.5-ton masterpiece is not just a unique place to capture memories, but also a testament to Seattle’s eclectic art scene. It’s adorned with a real Volkswagen Beetle, adding to its whimsical charm.
26. Chihuly Garden and Glass
At a glance: A vibrant museum that showcases the exquisite glass-blown artwork by the talented Dale Chihuly.
Pro tip: Head to the glass garden room for optimal lighting and a unique angle of the Space Needle through the glass windows. It’s among Seattle’s best photography spots, especially with the contrasting hues of Chihuly’s work. The shots are particularly dramatic on a rainy day.
Good to know: Beyond the artworks, the gift shop offers some beautiful souvenirs and the museum frequently hosts events like photography classes and yoga sessions.
Bonus tip: Chihuly is included in the CityPASS, which saves you 47% on 5 top Seattle attractions. Other attractions in the CityPASS also on this list are the Space Needle, MOPOP, and Woodland Park Zoo.
27. Museum of Pop Culture
At a glance: An iconic masterpiece designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, reflecting a kaleidoscope of colors, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Pro tip: While the exterior is a must-see and among Seattle’s most Instagrammable places, ensure you circle the building for diverse shots. Also, for those with a penchant for pop culture, venture inside to capture the essence of music history and exclusive exhibits – from legendary Nirvana lyrics to Sci-Fi and Fantasy displays.
Good to know: Beyond its stellar exterior, MoPOP is an immersive journey through pop culture’s evolution. With a reasonable entry fee of around $35, visitors can delve deep into a treasure trove of pop culture artifacts. Whether you’re a history buff, music lover, or just in it for the ‘gram, this popular spot ensures every visit is memorable.
Bonus tip: MOPOP is included in the CityPASS, which saves you 47% on 5 top Seattle attractions. Other attractions in the CityPASS also on this list are Chihuly Gardens, the Space Needle, and Woodland Park Zoo.
28. Georgetown Hats and Boots
At a glance: An iconic duo of a massive 44-foot-wide Stetson hat and 22-foot tall cowboy boots, remnants of a 1954 cowboy-themed gas station.
Pro tip: While capturing the history-riddled Hat and Boots, venture into the surrounding Georgetown – a vibrant neighborhood teeming with top-tier restaurants and breweries. Don’t forget to explore and soak in the quirky, hip vibes of the area.
Good to know: Situated in Oxbow Park, the Hat and Boots aren’t just eye-catching sculptures; they tell a tale. Once functional parts of a gas station – with boots serving as restrooms and the hat housing the gas attendant – these statues became symbolic of Georgetown’s eclectic spirit. Relocated in 2003 for preservation, they’ve since become an emblematic pit-stop for travelers and photographers alike, making Georgetown’s Hat & Boots Park one of the most unique spots in Seattle.
29. Seattle Selfie Museum
At a glance: Dive into the world of unique photography backdrops at the first selfie-centric museum in the United States.
Pro tip: To maximize your experience, bring a tripod or selfie stick. Each room has its own distinct theme, so don’t rush; take time to experiment with angles and lighting for the best shots. If you can, visit during off-peak hours to have the spaces mostly to yourself.
Good to know: Seattle Selfie Museum celebrates the evolution and artistry of the selfie. Whether you’re looking to refresh your Instagram feed or spend a fun day with loved ones, this museum offers an interactive and memorable experience.
Seattle’s Cute Cafes, Rooftop Bars, and Restaurants
30. Lula Coffee Co.
At a glance: A chic cafe with all-pink interiors and creatively named drinks.
Pro tip: Make the most of their Insta-worthy decor. Position yourself against the chic backdrops and include their aesthetic drinks in your frame for that perfect shot.
Good to know: The SODO location didn’t just pop up overnight. It’s a manifestation of immense dedication and hard work. Today, it stands as a great place to chill, snap photos, and create memories with friends.
31. Merchant’s Cafe
At a glance: A restaurant and bar with a spooky twist: it’s said to be haunted!
Pro tip: For thrill-seekers, capturing the eerie ambiance during low-light or evening hours can make for a captivating photo. Dimmed lights and shadowy corners might just reveal an unexpected guest in your frame.
Good to know: Choosing where to dine? Upstairs offers its own charm, but heading downstairs is where the real action is. After all, it’s a great spot where multiple ghosts have reportedly made appearances.
32. The Nest
At a glance: A rooftop bar atop the Thompson Hotel, boasting unbeatable views of Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, and Elliott Bay.
Pro tip: While daylight offers clear, vibrant shots, coming in at sunset lets you capture Seattle’s cotton candy skies, followed by the mesmerizing dance of city lights. And don’t miss out on the sight of the Great Wheel in the backdrop.
Good to know: As you relax with a cocktail on the expansive patio, position your camera on the glass ledge for some pristine shots across the Bay. Though popular, weekday evenings are the perfect place and time to enjoy both the ambiance and the photo opportunities with a tad less crowd. The Nest also makes our list of best rooftop restaurants in Seattle.
33. Oddfellows Café & Bar
At a glance: A hip spot in Seattle, Oddfellows blends a unique aesthetic with a century-old history.
Pro tip: Come not just for the food and drinks, but for the photogenic surroundings. From wooden benches to sepia portraits and antique seltzer bottles, every detail screams to be captured. Even the dishes served are a visual treat!
Good to know: The building housing Oddfellows has stood for over a hundred years, with the café opening exactly a century after its construction. This age-old charm, combined with its purposefully curated décor, makes it one of Seattle’s favorite places for both photographers and food enthusiasts.
More Seattle Hidden Gems
34. University of Washington
At a glance: A picturesque campus with buildings reminiscent of Hogwarts, surrounded by cherry blossoms and vibrant green spaces.
Pro tip: The Suzzallo Library is enchanting and is a must-visit, featuring a Harry Potter-like ambiance. Additionally, Raitt and Miller Hall, with their old-world charm, are perfect for shots against a brick wall or exploring different angles for that perfect composition.
Good to know: Parking in the Central Garage is free on Sundays, and while some buildings might be closed, the exteriors are just as captivating. The Quad is an Instagram dream, especially during cherry blossom season. It’s a hub for professional photographers, often chosen for engagement photos and sessions. Beyond the Quad, the arboretum and botanical garden further underscore the campus’s scenic reputation.
35. King Street Station
At a glance: A historic Beaux-Arts style train station in Seattle with striking architectural details and an iconic skylight.
Pro tip: For a dramatic shot, visit at sunset when the station’s skylight casts a golden hue over the interiors. To capture the breathtaking view of downtown Seattle’s lights, Lumen Field, and the station, position your camera close to the ground from across the street.
Good to know: Built in 1906, King Street Station isn’t just a transit hub but also a photographic goldmine. Its ornate details, from clocks to the grand staircase, are a delight. While the station has seen renovations over the years, its essence as one of Seattle’s historic gems remains intact.
36. Amazon Spheres
At a glance: Three futuristic glass orbs in Amazon’s downtown campus showcasing a rich rainforest environment.
Pro tip: For capturing the Spheres’ majestic exterior, stand across the street and aim your camera upwards. The reflective surfaces of the orbs offer unique visual effects, especially when the city lights bounce off them.
Good to know: While primarily a relaxation spot for Amazon employees, the Spheres also welcome visitors on guided weekend tours, albeit with prior reservations. If you have a friend at Amazon, you can score a free private tour through them!
37. Seattle Central Library
At a glance: An architectural marvel of glass and steel offering a fusion of innovative design and serene reading spaces.
Pro tip: Dive into both exterior and interior shots. On sunny days, capture the glint of sunlight on its glass and steel facade. Inside, let the sun stream through the unique grid windows onto the bookshelves for an ethereal shot. Don’t miss the reading room on the 10th floor–it provides a prime viewpoint of Elliott Bay.
Good to know: This 11-story masterpiece, crafted by architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, stands out in Seattle’s skyline. Its vastness lets you capture wide shots, often free from tourist interruptions, making it a go-to for many seeking a slice of this beautiful city’s spirit.
38. Smith Tower
At a glance: Iconic early 20th-century tower boasting a speakeasy vibe, rich history, and unparalleled 360-degree views of Seattle.
Pro tip: Once you’ve taken in the vintage charm of the elevators and enjoyed a cocktail, venture out to the observation deck. While the white railing might be a challenge, a little creativity with your angles will reward you with stunning shots of the skyline, Mount Rainier, and beyond. Don’t forget to time your visit for the golden hour if you’re chasing that perfect sunset shot.
Good to know: Not just a high vantage point, Smith Tower weaves a tale of Seattle’s past. Begin your journey through its mini-museum that recounts the tower’s significance during the Prohibition Era.
Venture Outside Seattle for More Photography Spots
The entire city is bursting with spots that’ll make a high-quality camera worth the investment. But if you’ve got a bit more time the outskirts of Seattle are just as snappable.
A short drive can lead to some seriously jaw-dropping shots, including epic mountains like the snowy peaks of Mount Rainier in the winter and the green valleys of the Olympic Mountains in the spring.
So on your next trip to Seattle, bring your sense of adventure and the best cameras you have–from drones and action cameras to DSLRs and film! I personally have a Fuji X-T4, which I’ve used to take a majority of my travel photos.