Being a tall building in Seattle is a rough gig. After all, it’s hard to get any attention when you have the Space Needle in your town! And now, with that handsome new Great Wheel in the spotlight? Sigh. A spot with a view really needs to pull out his A-game to attract a height-obsessed kid or two! We’re showing a little love to some of the other great ways to see Seattle from the sky, in fact, you’ll be looking down on the Needle from one of these spots. Wait for a day when the clouds are few and far between, grab you camera and your sunglasses and check out the view!
Columbia Center Sky View Observatory
How high: All the way up on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center (often known as the Columbia Tower), you’ll be nearly 1,000-feet from the ground by the time you get to the Sky View Observatory! That’s over 300 toddlers stacked head-to-toe…not that envisioning 300 toddlers is helping our case…at all. Once you make the journey to the observatory (you will need to take two elevators to get there!), you’ll find a quiet place to check out the nearly 360-degree view of Seattle. The observatory itself isn’t anything to write home about — it’s all about the view! Bring lunch or a snack, pull up a place next to the floor-to-ceiling window, and let your kids discover Seattle from a whole new point of view.
When to go: Open daily from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (last ticket sold at 7:45 pm).
Good to know: Before you go all the way up to the Observatory, stop on the 40th floor, which is home to the highest Starbucks in the world! It’s a free ride and a great place to grab a treat and a caffeine fix before shooting up those last 33 floors to the top (it’s closed on weekends, FYI).
Cost: Children ages five and under are free, ages 6-12 and students with valid ID are $6 and adults are $9 (cash or credit cards accepted — you pay when you get to the observatory). Parking in the garage at the Columbia Center itself is going to cost you nearly $14 for one hour — grab a spot on the street (yes, there is street parking!).
Find it: The Columbia Center is located at 701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, which is in the lower Financial District of downtown. You’ll need to take a couple of elevators to get to the top — start in the main lobby, which is actually on the 4th floor. Get in the elevator labeled “37-76,” but only take it to the 40th floor (this is where you’ll find the Starbucks). When you get off the elevator on the 40th floor, find the new elevator labeled “66-76,” and take it to the 73rd floor, where the observatory is located.
Smith Tower Observation Deck
How high: At over 100-years old and 35-floors in the sky, a visit to the the Smith Tower Observation Deck is more than just a cool new way to check out the city, it’s a historic adventure! Your kids will probably recognize the Smith Tower as the building near the stadiums with the triangle on the top. The nearly ancient elevator that will take you to the top is operated by a true elevator conductor, who is happy to answer any curious questions that your kiddos may have on the way to floor 35. You’ll arrive in the Chinese Room — can you find the famous Wishing Chair? Warning: It’s also known to bring fertility! Then head out on to the deck to get a true 360-degree look at Seattle.
When to go: Open daily from 10:00 am — 5:00 pm. Be sure to give them a ring before you go (206-622-4004), as they are occasionally closed for events.
Good to know: The observation deck is outside, so you’ll want to throw on an extra layer before heading up to the top…even if it’s sunny outside, it can be windy 35-floors up!
Cost: Children ages five and under are free, children ages 6-12 are $5, students are $6 and adults are $7.50 each.
Find it: The Smith Tower is located at 506 Second Avenue, Seattle, all the way in lower downtown where Pioneer Square and SoDo meet. You can usually grab a spot to park on the street, if you’re willing to take a few minutes to loop the block, or grab a spot in an open lot nearby — there are plenty to choose from!
Where is your favorite place to take in the views of Seattle? Let us know in the comments section below.
— Katie Kavulla
Photo thanks to Seattle kids, Dillon and Erin Currie