Regarded as “The Emerald City,” Seattle, WA, is known for its outdoor scenery, coffee culture, and delicious seafood. Whether you’re a local renting a house in Ballard, a tourist for the weekend, or you’re moving to the area and just want to know what it’s like to live in Seattle, we reached out to local photographers to share their favorite places to take pictures that are uniquely Seattle. From Discovery Park to Pier 62, keep reading to see what they had to say.
19 Unique places to take pictures in Seattle
The many beaches of Seattle
A city surrounded by water, Seattle has a lot of shorelines to explore – each providing stunning water and mountain views and rocky beaches. Some notable beaches include Alki Beach, Golden Gardens Park, Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, Madison Park Beach, and Myrtle Edwards Park.
Bibiana Ruiz Photography shares, “No matter what time of year you’re going to take your photos, Seattle’s beaches are the best place to achieve the PNW look. From Alki Beach to Marina Beach in Edmonds, you can find rocky beaches, mountain views, and cloudy skies – PNW ingredients for beauty.”
Gas Works Park
The site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, Gas Works Park is a 19.1-acre park located across the lake from Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. This is a great park to relax and take pictures because of its beautiful views of Lake Union and the Seattle skyline. During the summer, you can see many kayakers, paddleboarders, and boaters enjoying the festivities on the water.
Erick Ramirez Photography raves, “Gas Works Park is a favorite of mine to not only take photos, but to take in the city and people watch. During sunset, the city begins to light up and is perfect when it gets closer to blue hour. It has a great vibe with all the people enjoying their time and the easy access to restaurants around the park.”
Volunteer Park Conservatory
Volunteer Park Conservatory is a large greenhouse modeled after London’s Crystal Palace. It is considered a historic landmark. The conservatory lives on Volunteer Park which features botanical gardens, trailways, and play fields that you can explore while taking pictures.
“My favorite photography spot would be the Volunteer Park Conservatory,” notes Victoria Redko Photography. “There are multiple locations that look amazing for wedding photography. The flowers in the spring and summer are beautiful. You also have a mix of everything, from greenery and trees to the beautiful indoor conservatory filled with cactuses and unique plants.”
Pier 62 is a one-acre waterfront public space next to the Seattle Aquarium. The area is designed for a wide range of recreational, cultural, and educational activities, from yoga to farmers’ markets to festivals.
“One of my favorite photo spots in the city is Pier 62 just next door to the Seattle Aquarium,” shares Amanda Lloyd of Lloyd Photo and Films. “It recently reopened after renovations and is a beautiful pier that features views of the skyline, a dock you can now walk down to, the Ferris wheel, and the water. We love catching the ferry and the amazing sunsets.”
Cory Parris Photography adds, “One place that might not seem obvious is Pier 62. It is an empty pier that is open to the public that has beautiful views of the waterfront, the sound, and the city. It is enjoyable to photograph people there around sunset.”
Located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Kubota Garden is a 20-acre Japanese garden maintained by the Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Kubota Garden Foundation.
Courtney Martin Photography notes that “Kubota Garden has to be one of the most peaceful areas in Seattle. Not only is this a perfect park for photography of all kinds, but it’s also wonderful for an afternoon stroll, reading a book, or taking a picnic. It has many animals to observe and photograph, especially in the spring, like rabbits, ducks, koi fish, and many types of birds.”
Harbor Ave Vista Point
“My absolute best spot for stunning images of Seattle is Harbor Ave Vista Point in West Seattle at the blue hour, where the Seattle skyline is spectacular,” notes Folrev Photo.
Harbor Ave Vista Point is a lookout point with sweeping views of the Seattle skyline. It is located in the north end of the West Seattle neighborhood.
Colman Park and Mount Baker Park
Colman Park and Mount Baker Park are adjacent parks that feature picnicking areas, large grass fields, natural areas, trails, and beaches.
Dani Weiss reveals that two of her favorite locations are in Rainier Valley.
She says: “Colman Park has terrific lake views and wonderful options for variety with a nice lawn and beautiful willow tree. Another spot close to there is Mount Baker Park with loads of greenery and was designed by the Olmsted Brothers.”
“Discovery Park in Seattle has a dreamy landscape with so much to offer,” boasts Briana Calderon Photography. “With trails that view the Puget Sound, wildflowers that dot the fields in spring and summer, and a sweet little lighthouse on the water, this has become my favorite spot in Seattle to photograph.”
Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle, spanning 534 acres. The park offers stunning views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, meadowlands, and beaches. A beautiful lighthouse, known as the West Point Lighthouse, also lives in the park and marks the northern end of Elliott Bay.
Maria Alcantara Photography notes, “Discovery Park in Magnolia is a wonderful spot to catch a Summer sunset and take memorable photos. The golden hour light here is incredible due to its expansive, unobstructed view of Puget Sound. Walk towards the sun on a clear day and catch the views of the Olympic Mountain ranges, plus a peek of Mount Rainier. When the sun sets on the bluff meadow area, everything turns golden making for a completely nostalgic experience.”
Loc Le Films adds, “The sunset over the water behind the Olympics creates spectacular golden hour lightning, plus the open grass field will make this place unique for engagement, weddings, family, and maternity.”
In fact, with so many areas to explore, it’s easy to spend an entire day in Discovery Park. Some notable areas include the visitor center, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, North beach, and South beach.
Breanna + Kevin says, “There are hundreds of acres to explore, and each time we are there we find a new spot to shoot. From golden grass fields to views of the sound, even a sandy beach – there are beautiful backdrops everywhere you look.” Dream Catcher Pictures adds. “It’s massive, so it never feels crowded, it’s got everything in one park – trees and trails, tall grass, open meadows, a bluff overlooking the water, and a gorgeous lighthouse. The view from the beach is breathtaking when you visit on a sunny day.”
“It is a universal location if you want a little bit of everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer,” raves Jahni Lynn Photo. “You walk through trails of the forest and fields down to the beach and lighthouse at the bottom, and if you get lucky, you can see the mountain on a clear day.”
Perhaps the best thing about Discovery Park is its vicinity to Downtown Seattle. It only takes about 30 minutes by car to get there from downtown making it a quick local trip.
“My favorite photography location near Seattle’s vicinity is Discovery Park,” notes NWLifeshots Portrait Photography. “If you are looking for a photography spot with beautiful postcard scenery, huge open meadows, miles of trails, a secluded beach, mountain views, and a lighthouse, Discovery Park provides it all.”
With 300 acres of land, Seward Park is home to lush greenery, bike and walking paths, and an amphitheater. On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier from a distance.
“My favorite ‘secret’ spot for a traditional Northwest outdoor scene is Seward Park in South Seattle,” shares Jennifer Loomis Photography. “Here you get it all — beautiful views of Mount Rainier when it is clear, the traditional feel of the old-growth Northwest forest, and a gorgeous beach on the north end of the park.”
Occidental Square Park
Located in the heart of the Pioneer Square district, Occidental Square Park provides goers with numerous recreational activities, beautiful London Plane trees, and small shops and businesses. It is a great place to capture people reading, relaxing, or grabbing a bite to eat.
“My favorite spot to take photographs in Seattle would probably be Occidental Square. There’s so much urban variety within a few blocks of this location. Old buildings, tall, arching trees, chairs and tables, many symmetrical elements to play with, and even the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums for a backdrop,” raves Travis Lawton Photography.
A Seattle gem in the Queen Anne neighborhood, Kerry Park provides a stunning viewpoint of Downtown Seattle and the Puget Sound. On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier in the distance and ferry boats crossing the Puget Sound.
“I have been photographing in Seattle for many years, and Kerry Park comes to mind,” says Anita Nowacka. “I am often drawn to the iconic landmark famous for its classic view of Seattle. The spot offers timeless elements of the Pacific Northwest: Elliott Bay, the Space Needle, the city, Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, and ferry boats gliding in the distance.”
HSB Visualz shares that Kerry Park is his favorite photography spot in Seattle because it captures the heart of downtown Seattle. “The pockets of greenery create a calming effect and the buildings lit up at night elicit a feeling of togetherness. By encapsulating the ambiance of Seattle, Kerry Park is a spectacular place for residents and tourists to socialize and enjoy a captivating view.”
Washington Park Arboretum
Washington Park Arboretum is located in Washington Park and is jointly managed by the Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum Foundation. There are many activities to do here like birding, biking, or exploring one of the many gardens like Azalea Way, Pacific Connections Garden, Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden, and the Japanese Garden.
One of Ashley Thompson’s favorite spots in Seattle is the Washington Park Arboretum, starting near the Graham Visitor’s Center. She notes, “It’s always in bloom with seasonal flora, so the backdrop for your portraits will be gorgeous and varied year-round. In a one-hour session, you can find secluded fern-covered corners, open fields, tree-lined paths, artistic bridges, and romantic benches overlooking quaint and quiet ponds to pose and interact for family, engagement, maternity, or senior portraits.”
“You have so many options in this park such as a bridge, garden area, beach, and trails,” says Alicen Lum Photography. “Each season has its own unique look for a beautiful background. There’s even a Japanese garden for more photo opportunities.”
Red Poppy Photography adds, “One of my favorite locations for family sessions is the Washington Park Arboretum. This beautiful park offers endless trails, small ponds, and lots of trees that provide plenty of shade. It’s especially beautiful when the Cherry trees are blooming.”
She also shares a pro tip: “Get there early in the day to beat the crowds (and to find parking easily) and enjoy the many trails and hideaway spots this location has to offer.”
Jack Block Park
Jack Block Park is a 15-acre park located in the West Seattle neighborhood. There is a public beach, walking pier, observation tower, and children’s play area.
“One of my favorite photography spots is Jack Block Park. This is a Port of Seattle park, just around the bend from the popular Alki Beach Park, which makes it less crowded. It features a variety of options for photo backdrops: a giant grassy hill, native plants and trees, a beach area, and cool viewpoint area to view the Seattle Skyline,” reveals Native Light Photo.
Memorial Way at the University of Washington Seattle Campus
Memorial Way, located at the University of Washington Seattle Campus, features sycamore trees, stone pylons, and memorial plaques. At its entrance is a large “W,” the logo of the University of Washington.
“Memorial Way on the UW campus works wonders at all times of the year,” reveals Quinn Russell Brown. “Stand your model on the sidewalk under the London Plane sycamore trees, and the sun will trickle through with soft and even light. For an alternate backdrop, move to the grass nearby. I’ve shot in this location on hot summer days with bright sun and overcast days with light rain.”
If you are looking to take some photos for fun, there are many local rooftops that you can check out that have beautiful views of the Seattle skyline and its surrounding nature.
“If you’re a city enthusiast or just trying to catch the last bits of light of a beautiful summer day, check out the local rooftops of your area. Think parking structures, bars, or social clubs. You’ll get an incredible scenic view of your surroundings (and if you’re lucky, the iconic Seattle skyline) and usually be able to avoid people you might encounter in more popular places,” says Chelsea Abril.
Places to take pictures around the Seattle area
Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is a natural forest located along the western side of the Cascade Mountain range. Here you can find many breathtaking hikes such as Bridal Veil Falls, Lake Serene, Hidden Lake Lookout, Goat Lake, and Park Butte. Each hike provides different and unique things to capture, like lakes, mountains, and glacier views.
“Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is one of my favorite places to photograph couples and one of the most popular places to get married in Washington. This park offers beautiful backdrops for engagement photos, elopements, and weddings. Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the closest options to Seattle to get epic mountain views, lakes, rivers, and forests,” reveals Rachel Syrisko, Elopement & Wedding Photographer of Rachel Syrisko Photography.
A popular trail for walking or running, Rattlesnake Lake leads hikers along the edge of the lake for some scenic views.
“For a few years in a row, we made a sunrise trek to Rattlesnake Lake for the beautiful soft morning light, that glorious mountain in the background, and relative privacy,” shares Amy Paine. “When the water is low, we head left on the main path and find some rock steps that lead to a small area perfect for photo sessions out of the way from the main visiting area.”
“Franklin Falls is a well-known trail out past Issaquah going into the Cascade Mountains,” notes Andrea Michelle Photography. “During spring, summer, and fall, Franklin Falls can be accessed for a magical picnic or fun hike with the family, including the four-legged ones.”
Located in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest in the Snoqualmie area, Franklin Falls is a 2-mile out-and-back hike that leads to a stunning waterfall, which freezes over in the winter.
Crystal Mountain is an alpine ski resort located in the Cascade Mountain range. There are many things to check out at Crystal Mountain including skiing, dining, mountain biking, and some breathtaking views
“One of my favorite spots for photos in the Seattle area is Crystal Mountain. Not only do you get to take a gondola up to the lookout but on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier up close and personal. It’s a must-see for locals & tourists alike,” raves Greenhouse Photo + Co..