Seattle is one of those world cities you don’t just visit once. There are plenty of reasons to return and take snaps (even with a smartphone) as Seattle ranks among the world’s top-photographed cities.
There’s plenty to shoot to boost your Instagram, photography portfolio, or old-school photo album. Just go out and find which viewpoints appeal to your eye!
If you’re looking for the best photography spots in Seattle, this article will give you some of my favorite places to take pictures in this beautiful city.
From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, there are plenty of iconic spots to choose from. So whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur with a camera phone, you’ll be sure to find the perfect place to snap a few shots on this list.
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15 Of Seattle’s Best Photography Spots
Don’t have time to read this whole post? Here’s a high-level overview of what I’ll be covering more in-depth below:
- Space Needle Tower
- Museum Of Pop
- Pike Place Market
- Gas Works Park
- Olympic Sculpture Garden
- Ferris Wheel
- Kerry Park
- Capitol Hill
- Seattle Aquarium
- Washington Park Arboretum
- Seattle Art Museum
- Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Smith Tower
- Fremont Troll
Table of Contents
1. Space Needle Tower
The Space Needle is a photographer’s dream location.
Here, you’re going to get city views and sunsets, as well as a great vantage point looking down on parks, street life, and the surrounding landscape from the Olympic Mountains, Mt Rainier, and the Puget Sound below.
Built in 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition (or Seattle World’s Fair), The Space Needle is an iconic landmark.
The Space Needle is the city’s highest point, with an observation deck 520 feet high. It was designed to be part of an area in the city, a fairground surrounded by public buildings associated with the city’s cultural and economic life.
As much as photographing the Needle from street level or at various other viewpoints is attractive, being on top and looking down at the landscape below you is what inspires photographers.
And at that height, the vistas and views across the city’s downtown are one of the most exhilarating photography experiences.
2. Museum Of Pop
Photographers looking for unique architecture will find that the Museum Of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is a fascinating building and a spot you must not miss out on for that once-in-a-lifetime selfie.
Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed MoPOP – an architectural piece that’s scathingly been described as either a smashed guitar or something that’s ‘crawled out of the sea…and died’. These descriptions lure photographers who take pictures of facades and hope to do justice to the architecture.
This place is one of the most photographed places because of the fact that you can get very different shots depending on what time of the day you choose to visit.
The MoPOP building looks like science-fiction architecture – you can expect wavy stainless steel panels from the space race and computer programs.
The wrapped sheet metal and steel construction stand out through its fusion of textures and colors – gold, silver, deep red, and blue. The most exciting to photography is capturing the shimmering purple, a color associated with America’s rock era!
The building is a challenge to photograph in its entirety (because of its huge size), which makes photography here that much more exciting.
But not only is the outside amazing to photograph — so is the inside! The museum’s exhibits themselves also attract photographers and a lot of them were made to be photographed with.
And if you are in town at the right time, don’t miss out on some of the best festivals here, like the famous ‘Sound Off!’ battle of the bands here. Armed with a camera, you will not be bored – with plenty of people watching and funky scenes, and great photography fun.
Belltown is a densely populated neighborhood in Seattle featuring tall buildings and alleyways that inspire photographers to linger longer for that perfect shot.
Belltown is hip and trendy, with many indie boutique stores, coffee shops, and small galleries perfect for exploring and perusing throughout the day.
Few can resist returning the next day to take more photographs of the city’s gem eateries and bars. This is one of the city’s best experiences on foot with your camera in hand.
More recently during the pandemic, murals have flourished in the desolate streets of Belltown.
If you are into photographing colorful alleys, this is the place to go to see them, backdropped by some of the best tall buildings, high-rise condos, and small shops.
4. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a photographer’s paradise. Imagine a farmer’s market with crowds in one of the city’s best locations overlooking Elliot Bay waterfront on Puget Sound.
Yup, you are in the right place – it’s the world’s 33rd most visited tourist attraction! And the best part is? There are heaps to photograph here.
A major drawcard is the open-air Pike Place Fish Market, where stories about fishing compete with photographs as a lasting memory. The fish market has been going for over ninety years, since the 1930s, and draws close to 10,000 visitors daily.
One of the best things to photograph is how bustling it is!
This market section is notorious for ‘fish throwing’ – a custom in which the fish is thrown to the back to be cleaned and wrapped. To add to the excitement, on occasions, staff throw a rubber fish into the crowd to get them to participate in this curious ritual of fish tossing.
Lastly, if you love magic as I do, don’t miss the Market Magic Shop of Pike Place. So old-timey and magical, it’s my favorite area of the market!
For a snack, head to Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian bakery located in Pike Place Market serving over 20 varieties of handmade piroshki! They are so good!
From there, be sure to pop into the first-ever Starbucks Coffee shop.
And while you are here, bring a pack of bubble gum to take a selfie with the city’s most talked about and photographed gum wall, just around the corner!
5. Gas Works Park
One thing all cities have in common is people and buildings, even very curious and strange ones like Seattle’s Gas Works Park.
The Gasworks has been reimagined (and constructed) with the plant’s exhauster and compressor building painted and used in what’s a kid’s play barn structure.
This is where you find photographers not just taking snapshots, but lying down flat on the ground to get shots that look like abstract art!
Gas Works Park is basically one huge art installation – its function is taking on new forms and expressions for photographers.
And if you’re looking for something special to happen at Gas Works Park, don’t miss out on Fourth Of July Fireworks here or the curious Solstice cyclists and the city’s World Naked Bike Ride.
For the best shots, head to the Great Mound, with thousands of cubic yards of rubble covered in topsoil, grassed over, and used for much-photographed events like the Summer Solstice. The Mound also works as an artificial kite-flying hill and has a sundial at the summit.
The sundial is worth photographing while you’re here. Two local artists used rocks, shells, glass, and bronze, and the sundial uses a visitor’s body as the gnomon to tell the time.
If you’re into sunset shots, you’re in luck with this one, because Gas Works Park is one of the city’s most photographed buildings especially at sunset when you catch the towers’ silhouettes.
6. Olympic Sculpture Garden
For photographers who are into art, there’s nothing more exciting than the Olympic Sculpture Garden, arguably the most dramatic human-made artifact in the city.
The Olympic Sculpture Garden comprises of nine acres of sculpture park along the waterfront, the city’s most significant green space.
These are site-specific installations like that of Alexander Calder’s painted sheet steel Eagle. The sculpture stands 38 feet 9 inches high and is about 32 feet wide, which makes it an exciting challenge to photograph.
Another reason to be here is the sunsets over Puget Sound from the park – a photo opportunity that draws people and an experience that’ll be glued in your memory!
7. Seattle Great Wheel
Waterfront Park is one of those quintessential Seattle spots you have to see once during your visit. With its stunning views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains, it’s the perfect spot for a casual stroll or picnic.
The park also has a playground and public art, making it a great place to spend a day with family or friends. And if you’re looking for something truly entertaining and fun to photograph, Waterfront Park is also home to the Seattle Great Wheel, an iconic Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of the city skyline.
Remarkably, photographers haven’t only looked at the city from the rotating height of the giant Ferris but have also managed to photograph the Great Wheel from downtown.
Professional photographers and Instagrammers have even explored taking long exposure shots of the Great Wheel’s lights at night.
8. Kerry Park
Anyone here will tell you that Kerry Park has the most iconic view of the city’s skyline. The park is in the affluent Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, a setting that’s 100% worth photographing.
You can capture so much in one shot, including the iconic Space Needle, Elliot Bay, and the spectacular Mount Rainier in the Cascade Mountain range.
Besides the Mt Rainier view, Kerry Park is the spot for a panoramic view of the city’s downtown and enigmatic-looking Space Needle at night.
Equally spectacular to photograph from Kerry Park is Elliott Bay on the Puget Sound – and no photographer misses out on taking pics of West Point and Alki Bay!
9. Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is where you can not only enjoy yourself but also photograph the heartbeat of the city’s nightlife and entertainment.
This is the neighborhood you want to be in when you want a break from the big city views! This vibrant neighborhood is home to a bunch of eclectic bars, restaurants, and shops. You can find everything from vintage clothes to local art, and the nightlife is always hopping.
Whether you’re looking for a lively nightlife scene or a quiet place to enjoy a cup of coffee, you’ll find it here.
Be sure to check out the farmers’ market on Sunday mornings, where you can find fresh produce and local artisanal goods. If you’re here midday, browse the Elliott Bay Book Company, sip coffee at the stylish Starbucks Reserve Roastery, go bowling at Garage, or visit a brewpub!
When in Capitol Hill, do not miss Ristorante Machiavelli–the food here is to die for I tell you! After dinner, wander down the street to one of the many bars or catch a show at the Paramount Theatre!
Did you get enough photos here? I hope so–there’s something to see at every literal corner.
10. Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is on Elliot Bay’s waterfront. Some of the features of the building that has been marveled about and photographed are the ‘Window On Washington Water’ – a 120,000 US gallon tank with salmon, rockfish, and sea anemones.
For legit photographers, the aquarium’s intertidal pools create opportunities to experiment with light and color.
And one of the most fascinating exhibits to photograph is the 12 feet high donut-shaped glass enclosure with a giant Pacific octopus, jellyfish, and sea stars. And let’s be honest, when have photos of jellyfish ever come out bad? Those tanks were made to be photographed!
There are also many sections with colorful coral reefs. Also, potbellied seahorses, fur seals, sea otters, and fish in Puget Sound can be photographed here.
11. Washington Park Arboretum / Japanese Garden
For those looking to snap up some photos of nature, head to Washington Park. Here, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore reflections, colors, and textures.
The trees and plants are some of the most popular sites for photographers, especially the magnolia walkway when it’s in bloom! Inside the conservatory, the exotic plants form a colorful and often exotic backdrop for even the most effortless selfie.
You can walk on meandering trails that show off the botanical garden’s uniqueness and photograph these, then head to the Japanese Garden.
The Japanese Garden is located at the southern end of the Washington Park Arboretum on Lake Washington Boulevard East.
The layout of the Seattle Japanese Garden is a lesson in line, design, and symmetry for any photographer. And the koi ponds with koi are some of the most majestic things to capture!
You can walk around the colorful garden for a small admission fee and even sit on the benches, either meditating, resting, or soaking it all in.
Pro Tip: Our favorite time to visit these gardens is either in the spring season (when everything is in bloom) or fall season (when the leaves change colors)!
12. Seattle Art Museum
In a city as picturesque as Seattle, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of great indoor spots for photography lovers to explore.
The Seattle Art Museum is one of the best photography spots in Seattle. With its beautiful architecture and stunning art collections, it’s the perfect place to snap some photos.
The museum offers a variety of contemporary exhibits that are sure to interest and engage you and your group. This museum is actually a multi-location museum trifecta, which also includes the Olympic Sculpture Garden and Seattle Asian Art Museum!
In addition to the main galleries, the SAM also offers a cafe and a gift shop, so you can take a break from exploring the galleries and grab a bite to eat or pick up a souvenir.
Pro Tip: Buy your tickets in advance! If you purchase a ticket online in advance, you’ll save a couple of dollars off the day-of price!
13. Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum
For some truly unique photos that you can’t really take anywhere else, you’re going to want to prioritize backdrops like the Chihuly Glass Museum, offering an abstract perspective and taking the cake as one of the city’s most photo-worthy locations!
This is the premier place to marvel at Dave Chihuly’s unbelievably intricate blown glass! Even if you’re not normally a fan of art, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of the glass sculptures.
Next to the famous Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden And Glass Museum attracts photographers interested in experimenting with light on glass and through the glass. Some are keen to use the museum’s exhibits as a backdrop for different experiments and even portrait photographs.
The exhibit includes both indoor and outdoor spaces, and visitors are able to explore at their own pace. The outdoor gardens feature a collection of vibrant glass sculptures set against a backdrop of lush greenery, while the indoor gallery offers a more intimate look at Chihuly’s work.
What every photographer says, and you must’ve heard this before, each city has its story, and you must capture it! The offbeat uniqueness of the glass museum is something you cannot miss while in Seattle.
And if you need a break from all the walking and picture-snapping, there’s also a cafe where you can relax with a cup of coffee or tea.
14. Smith Tower
Smith Tower is one of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks, and it looks good from wherever you are. The 38-story building was completed in 1914 and was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at the time.
If seeing the building from below is not enough for you and you’re fiending for that quintessential cityscape photo, take the elevator up to the top for a completely different perspective!
You’ll be greeted with a 360-degree view of Seattle as you walk around the observatory deck, a very popular spot for photographers in Seattle.
The observation deck on the 35th floor offers stunning views of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier.
The building is also home to a historic carousel, which dates back to 1909. The carousel is located on the ground floor and is open to the public during regular business hours.
If you’re looking for a unique place to take photos in Seattle, Smith Tower is definitely worth a visit!
15. Fremont Troll
If you’re looking for one of the oddest yet most Instagrammable photo spots in Seattle, look no further than the Fremont Troll!
This 18-foot-tall sculpture is made of cement, rebar, and chicken wire and is located under the Aurora Bridge. It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and makes for some great photos.
Here are some tips for getting the perfect shot of the Fremont Troll:
- Get there early. The best time to take photos of the troll is in the morning before the crowds start to come in.
- Use a wide-angle lens. This will help you capture the whole troll in your frame.
- Experiment with different perspectives. Climb up on something or shoot from down low to get an interesting perspective on this iconic Seattle sculpture.
Trust me, you’re not going to find a photo opp like this in any other city!
Seattle is a beautiful city with plenty of great photography spots. From obvious spots like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to more abstract areas like Gas Works Park and MoPOP, there are plenty of unique places to get some great shots.
So get out there and start snapping up all the goodness with your camera!