The Sky View Observatory (www.skyviewobservatory.com) opened almost a year ago inside Columbia Tower, the tallest building in Seattle at 932 feet, which also makes it the second tallest structure on the entire West Coast. While the views from the 73rd floor observatory aren't exactly panoramic, like the Space Needle, it does provide better close-ups of Mt. Rainier, CenturyLink and Safeco fields, Lake Washington, ferry terminal, local neighborhoods and nearby suburbs.
Here's more information about this new Seattle attraction.
LOCATION / HOURS
The Columbia Tower is located at 701 5th Avenue and takes up a whole block, allowing its tenants - the majority of them law firms - to enter the building at 5th and 4th avenues. If entering on 5th, the main elevators are directly ahead of you, but if entering on 4th, you'll need to ascend three escalators to the 5th avenue level (the elevators are to the right of the information desk). Two separate elevators are required to reach the 73rd floor - take the first elevator to the 40th, where there's a Starbucks (of course!) and the second elevator (just behind the first one) gets you to the 73rd floor. The Columbia Tower actually extends to 76 floors high, with an exclusive restaurant and bar at the top, but the general public only has access up to the 73rd. The Sky View Observatory is open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Adult tickets are $12.50, while seniors, kids 6 through 12, students and military (with valid ID) pay just $9.00. Children 5 and younger are admitted free of charge. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.skyviewobservatory.com, or at the front desk, where you can purchase binoculars, souvenirs and a few other items. Visit the website for group ticket information and further details.
The Sky View Observatory wraps almost completely around the 73rd floor in a fully enclosed space. Windows on the South side face out to Mt. Rainier, CenturyLink Field (home of the Seahawks and FC Sounders), Safeco Field (home of the Mariners), Smith Tower, West Seattle Bridge and the redeveloped industrial SoDo District. The East-end viewing area provides lookouts to Lake Washington, I-90 Bridge, Harborview Medical Center, Interstate-5 and Beacon Hill, Leschi, Madrona and Seward Park districts, along with the Eastside suburbs of Bellevue, Mercer Island and Medina, where Bill Gates resides. There's lots of window space looking out to the West with stunning glimpses of downtown office towers, Elliott Bay, waterfront with the Seattle Great Wheel, Bainbridge Island and ferries departing or arriving at Pier 52. Finally, to the North you'll see more downtown buildings and hotels, Space Needle and Seattle Center, Lake Union, University of Washington, Gas Works Park, 520 Floating Bridge and Capitol Hill, First Hill, Queen Anne, Eastlake and Westlake neighborhoods.
SEATING / COFFEE & SNACKS
Guests are welcome to stay as long as they'd like, during normal business hours. There's plenty of room to take photos, even to set up tripods, and if you'd prefer to relax your legs or not stand so close to the windows, the observatory does have seats and benches to sit down and rest, write, update your social media status, or enjoy a refreshment. Coffee, juices and a small assortment of snacks are available for purchase at a counter on the observatory's North side.