Sky View Observatory: Seattle from up in the clouds

Photo by Sky View Observatory.

“Ascend to the city’s highest peak…no hiking boots required. Stretch your imagination, change your outlook, get a new perspective.”, says the official website for the Sky View Observatory, which stands proud on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center. It is not just the tallest public-viewing tower in Seattle, but the whole of the Pacific Northwest.

Photo by Sky View Observatory.

Downtown Seattle is home to a lot of shiny skyscrapers, but the 76-story Columbia Center dwarfs everything all around it. Developed by Martin Selig and completed in 1985, the gleaming observatory went through $25 million worth of renovations recently and reopened to the public on June 28th. 

We visited the newly spruced-up observatory to see for ourselves. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the skyline-piercing view that sprawled for as far as the eye could see. We saw the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay and Mount Baker. We saw airplanes zooming across at almost eye-level, miniature cars whizzing down below, the Space Needle at half the height, and all of Seattle spread out like a charming toy city. It is a strange feeling where you feel both on top of the world and minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

We were thoughtfully given binoculars when we entered, which elevated the experience even further (no pun intended!). We watched the sun dip deep into Lake Washington, and waited as the glittering city lights slowly turned on and cloaked the city in its glittering nightly robe. Towering at 902 feet, the Observatory is about twice the height of the Space Needle.

Photo by Sky View Observatory.

Go there for a special celebration with your loved ones, a spectacular sunset or to simply stop to take in the hustling, breathing city alive under your footsteps. It is a great place to skip the long lines at the Space Needle and bring out-of-town guests to. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer unbroken, panoramic views, and you can walk around the tower for a 360-degree view of the city. The entry fee of $20 is a steal for what is undoubtedly the best view of the city. You can buy the ticket at

There are information panels at every vantage point, and soft Northwest music playing in the background. There is no time limit to your visit and you can linger over coffee or wine at the Sky Cafe. You must try the aptly named Seattle 73, a gin-based cocktail flavored with local Washington huckleberries. Unfortunately, there isn’t an outdoor area, which makes taking photos without any reflections a bit tricky. The food and drinks can be a bit pricey, but that comes with the lofty view. All in all, the postcard view of Seattle makes it totally worth it.

Sky View Observatory     |    Columbia Tower, 73rd Floor     |      (206) 386-5564