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See Seattle like never before at the SkyView Observatory

Located on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center, the Sky View Observatory features 360-degree panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding region, which includes Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, the city of Seattle and the Space Needle.

The Sky View Observatory is open seven days a week and the observatory sits at a height of over 900 feet, making it the tallest public viewing area in the Pacific Northwest.

The whole experience from start to finish is in stark contrast to what we encountered during our visit to the Space Needle.  Here at the Sky View Observatory, we encountered no long lines anywhere and no crowds.  While the views are similar, the view here at the top of the Columbia Center is much higher and it is indoors.  I wouldn't necessarily say it's better, just that it was a whole different experience from Seattle's other more famous observatory.

Here's what you can expect for your visit:

Check in and buy tickets (if not purchased online) and make your way for photo opportunity and line up for the elevators.

The new upgrades to the observatory include sweeping changes to the visitor experience, highlighted by an immersive elevator transformation that whisks guests 900 feet in just 70 seconds with a video backdrop of the history of Mt. Rainier.   The refreshed interior features new technology displays at each vantage point to tell the story of what awaits guests in the city and the region. A heightened food and beverage experience features cocktails, local beers, wine and snacks.

While perusing the fun facts and playing around with the new informational displays, you'll take in breath-taking views of Seattle:

View of Seattle and the Space Needle:

View of Lake Washington and Bellevue:

View of Elliott Bay looking towards the port area and West Seattle:

View of Seattle looking South towards Mt. Rainier: 

A regular admission ticket to the observatory costs $20 online. The Sky View Observatory is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the Summer and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m thereafter.

We visited the Sky View Observatory on a Sunday afternoon in July and were pleasantly surprised that there were no long lines and it was not crowded at all.  This was in stark contrast to our visit to the Space Needle a day before, where we waited for almost an hour to get up to the top (even though we had a timed ticket) and encountered crowds at the top.  If you have to choose between the Sky View Observatory and the Space Needle, you may have a better overall experience here - especially during peak travel times.