Manny Photo Ideas: Downtown Seattle

Seattle is very scenic with it’s downtown core and the beautiful surrounding nature.  I recently spent a few days downtown Seattle and would like to share some of my favorite photography spots.  I should mention that I have been somewhat lucky with the Pacific North West spring weather as I managed to stay out of the rain for the most part!  Some spots I visited would be great for sunset or night photographs but unfortunately the rain made it impossible for me.  In any case I will give you destinations with visual reference.  Here are my favorite spots.

Dr. Jose Rival Park

This Park gives you a great view of the Seattle Downtown core.  You can access the area by bus route 36.  Take the bus 36 from 3rd Ave. and get off at 14th and Judkins St.  Once you are there, walk next to the top of the edge of the hill and you’ll have a great view.  After you take some shots walk down to the bridge.  There is a spacious sidewalk where you could setup with your tripod.  Be aware that the bridge moves a little with traffic.

Smith Tower Observatory

This historical building was Seattle’s first skyscraper.  You can buy a $17 US pass which includes a self guided tour of the tower and access to the 35th floor bar and observatory.  From there you can enjoy food and prohibition inspired drinks.  Then you can go outside and take photos from the balcony.  There are safety bars, but they are spacious enough to fit a DSLR lens through.  The bar and the observatory is open until midnight on most nights.  The museum closes at 1800.  I would recommend bringing a wide angle, 11-16/10-20mm as you are close and at lower level than the other skyscrapers around.  I would definitely recommend coming back at night time.

Sky View Observatory

This is the highest point where you can photograph Seattle from land.  The Sky View Observatory is currently Seattle’s highest building and for $14.75 US you have access to the 73th floor.  There isn’t much to the viewing area at the moment when you get up there but the views are astonishing.  You will find yourself above everything!  It is a perfect place to capture the Seattle downtown and beyond in the same shot.  Depending on the season, it closes at 1600 or 2000, so you need to be there at the right time to capture a sunset photo.  It was closed too early for me to get a sunset photo but I can only imagine what type of shots I could capture from up there.  I captured several good close ups of some interesting buildings with my 24-70mm and lots of great all around shots with my 11-16mm.

The Public Market

The market is super busy during day time.  There is lots to explore in and around from food, the very first Starbucks, craft breweries and more.  This is a great place to stop for a snack and snap a few shots.  Things quiet down around 1700 and it becomes a great area to explore and take photos of the neon signs or the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57 which is just a few steps away.  Also make sure to take a look at the famous gum wall…  I would recommend walking around with your camera and a tripod.

Walk Around 5th and 6th


There are some very interesting buildings downtown worth photographing.  The Amazon area on 6th has the Spheres and make sure to photograph the Public Library as well.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum


Now I am not a big museum photographer but when it is pouring rain outside…  In all fairness this is an amazing display of art.  I am glad I spent the $24 US because every penny was worth it.  You can take photos of the exhibition as long as you don’t touch anything.  The light is perfect and the black glossy surfaces make every images amazing.  I am glad I took images just so I can look at the Chihuly blowing glass art later on!


Kerry Park

I don’t have any images to show you as the weather didn’t cooperate and my stay was too short.  I saw some great images online of the downtown core that includes the Space Needle and Mount Baker.  This is a must see place if you have decent weather.  You can access the park on bus 13 from downtown on 3rd and Bell Street, and get off at Queen Anne Ave. N And Highland Drive.

Space Needle

The Space Needle was under renovation during my stay.  I can only imagine that the view is great from up there.  Plus you can save money by purchasin a combined ticket for Chihuly and the Space Needle which works well because they are located next to each other.

The Final Word

I am sure that there are other amazing places to photograph on the outskirts of Seattle, I only just scratched the surface.  There are a numbers of ferry, boat, helicopter, and sea plane tours available.  All in all, it was a blast and I hope to explore for a longer period of time next time I visit.

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