On a super sunny Sunday afternoon in Seattle, I wandered over to the Columbia Tower for some (hopefully) epic photos.
Since it was Sunday, it wasn’t busy at all.
The streets were nearly empty.
The building itself was quiet.
I snapped some photos of Seattle’s tallest skyscraper from the outside.
I was a little annoyed because I couldn’t get a centered picture of the Columbia Tower skyscraper because of the construction in front of it.
I had to settle for an almost centered photo.
There was one other big building beside Columbia Center Tower.
No idea what it’s called.
But it’s pretty tall too.
Using a wide angle lens, I was able to get it into my shot pretty nicely.
Walking in to the building
Going into the building, I was a little nervous for some reason.
I thought I could just find an elevator and get to the top.
And I know most buildings prevent you from just going wherever you want.
So maybe I felt like I was doing something a little bad.
How naive I was.
I was looking around and a man appeared from nowhere.
He simply said “observatory deck?”
And I replied “yes.”
He then tells me I need to buy a ticket at the machine over there and then come back to see him.
I have to pay. Makes sense I guess. How naive of me to think it could be free.
So I walk over to the machine and this dude was taking forever on it because he was typing in his credit card. The other machine was broken so me and another person had to wait awhile for him.
Columbia Tower Observatory Deck Price
I don’t know how much it costs for a child or student, but it’s a lot cheaper from what I can tell.
A regular adult ticket to the observatory deck costs $14.75.
It’s not cheap… but what are you gonna do.
I went back to the man who greeted me and he walked me over to the elevators.
He told me restrooms on the observatory deck don’t work and I had to use the ones on floor 43 or whatever it was.
I’m like okay.
He didn’t check my ticket surprisingly. I was thinking I could have just pretended to buy one, or bought a child ticket.
He just swiped his key card into the elevator, pressed a button, and up I went.
So I realized I had to take a second elevator to the observatory deck.
The first elevator only takes you to floor 43 or something like that.
That’s where the restrooms were.
And it was also a chill area with seating all around.
I saw a few people chilling.
I took the next elevator to the top.
Columbia Tower observatory is on floor 73. Can’t miss the “sky view observatory” blue button.
Arriving at the top of the observatory deck
When I got to the observatory deck, I walked in and I guess I looked all confused or something.
There was a lady sitting at a desk.
She looks at me a little confusingly too.
I’m about to go through the glass doors into the observation deck and she stops me.
She’s like I need your receipt. And tells me I need to sign the one with the line on the bottom.
Good thing I kept them. I had no idea.
I pull the receipts out of my pocket and sign it.
She stamps my hand and tells me my pass is good until 8 p.m. tonight and I can come back as many times as I want.
Too bad the sun sets at around 8. So it wouldn’t really be dark enough to get a good night view of Seattle.
I also realized that it’s pretty much impossible to sneak your way to the observation deck.
First, you need to get swiped in for the elevator to work, and then someone at the top checks your receipt to make sure you actually paid, and paid the right amount.
Photos of Seattle’s Columbia Tower
So I’ve blabbed enough.
Here’s some photos of inside the observatory deck and of course, the sky view of Seattle.
You get a view of Seattle from almost every angle.
There was a section that was blocked off.
But it looks like it was overlooking an uninteresting part of Seattle anyway.
The photo above is the best view because it has the majority of the tall buildings in it.
This one below is to the right of the photo above.
Smaller buildings mostly. With this beast of a building in the foreground.
I used my wide angle lens for a lot of the photos with a lot of buildings in it.
The one below was taken with my zoom lens.
It has, you guessed it, the Space Needle in it.
Because no photo of Seattle is complete without the Space Needle in it.
Not actually true… but I digress….
And because we all love the Space Needle so much, here’s another photo with the Space Needle in it.
I was just using my kit lens with my Canon 70d so the quality isn’t so good fully zoomed in at 135mm but not to shabby ether.
It was around this time that I realized the wifi was password locked.
So I went back to the lady at the desk and asked for it.
She handed me a small piece of paper the size of a fortune cookie fortune with the password on it.
The wifi is strong here.
I proceeded to take more photos.
This shot is to the left of where you walk in.
It’s the more industrial side of Seattle.
And to the left of the photo above is a pretty cool view of the field where the Mariners, Sounders, and Seahawks play.
There just happened to be a Seattle Sounders (soccer) game going on while I was on the deck. They were playing Portland too (big rivals).
(btw I highly recommend checking out a game of anything while you visit Seattle (check Ticketmaster for prices), because sports are awesome).
My lens couldn’t zoom more than this.
It would have been cool to zoom in a little more and grab a closer look of the game from above.
On just the other side of Century Link Field is the field where the Seahawks play!
You can see them side by side in the photo below.
It’s actually quite cool how well my camera could zoom in.
Heres a far view of the stadiums/fields.
I’m not sure how much I zoomed in here, or if I zoomed at all.
The two structures in front of the stadium are pretty dope. One is still under construction as of this blog post, but they are both elegant glass window exterior structures and are absolutely gorgeous close up (I walked over to the stadiums the day before).
Columbia Tower Height
The Columbia Tower is the tallest building in Seattle as I mentioned earlier.
It is the 4th tallest building in the west coast.
There are actually about 7 floors I think below it as well, which makes Columbia Tower the biggest building with most floors west of Mississippi.
Wikipedia told me this.
The Columbia Tower is 937 feet by the way.
It is the tallest building I’ve ever been in (I think!)
Looking down from Columbia Center Tower
I’m not scared of heights.
But looking down, it was really high of course.
But I don’t think anyone would be scared to look down.
The above shot was a zoomed in shot.
Maybe I should have taken one with no zoom.
That would be more fitting.
I guess I’m just a dummy sometimes.
Cause I don’t have a shot really shows just how tall this building is.
Anyway, I always like to take some photos of the surrounding area of the “attraction” as well. I always find that interesting.
Photos of the Columbia Center Tower observatory itself
It wasn’t too busy.
Maybe about 20-25 people inside.
A ton of people taking selfies.
And a lot of smeared glass windows.
But it was really nice inside. About what I would expect for an attraction like this.
It’s really nice just to stand there and look at Seattle from such a high viewpoint.
Like these two people here.
There was a bunch of info along the walls.
I hardly read anything.
I had been walking a lot before I got here and I guess my brain didn’t want to work any harder.
I really like the photo below.
It shows you different popular structures in Seattle and how tall they are in relation to each other.
The Space Needle is a fairly tall structure.
But you can easily see how tall the Columbia Tower is compared to it.
The only thing I actually read was this photo below.
It’s actually very very useful.
I recommend you read it and use the tips when you take photos in similar situations later on.
Just to let you know, it was extremely bright and sunny the day I went up Columbia Tower.
So there was maximum glare from the light.
To reduce the glare as much as possible, I put my iphone and my dslr (canon 70d) right up against the window.
It really helped reduce glare.
In some photos you don’t even notice any glare.
Below is 3 groups of different people peering out into Seattle.
And a zoomed out view. Of the same photo.
At this point I’m just walking around taking a few snaps of the interior of the observation deck.
My favorite interior shot is this one below, where I put my camera on top of the table.
The table just looks buttery smooth. And this shot gives you an idea of how big the observation deck is.
There is a cafe thing inside.
Not really sure if it’s a cafe.
But it serves basic foods.
It was fairly busy actually. I wasn’t expecting that.
Sky View Cafe baby!
I guess I just answered my question. It is indeed a cafe.
Some of the last shots I took was of the ferris wheel area.
I think of all the shots I took, this one of the ferris wheel is maybe my favorite.
I like it because it’s minimal.
The photo has a lot of dead space (the water) and then subject is clearly the ferris wheel.
These photos always captures my attention. Which is probably why I love it so much.
Below is a ferry that is arriving to port.
And another shot of the ferris wheel area.
And the calm waters surrounding Seattle.
Neato hey (yes I’m Canadian).
Below is a replica of Columbia Tower.
It’s right in the center of where you walk in.
So that’s all the photos I have of Columbia Tower.
I took probably close to 150 photos while I was up there.
I spent around 35 mins there.
Do I recommend visiting Columbia Tower Viewing Area?
I think so.
It’s not very cheap for an adult ticket.
But what touristy thing is cheap these days.
I think if you’ve never been high in a building before then you gotta do it.
There views are really nice.
If you work in an office high up in a city like NYC, maybe it might not be worth your time.
But if anything, you get to see the Space Needle from a distance. What better things could life offer than a view of the Space Needle?
I wouldn’t pay to go up it a second time though.
Hotels near Columbia Tower Seattle
The surrounding area around Columbia Tower is a great place to stay. It’s really really central in the downtown area, and you have close access to popular attractions like Pike Place and Columbia Tower observation deck (lol).
I walked around this area a lot, and though you can choose pretty much any hotel in this are, I think the following hotels near the Columbia Tower would be great choices:
Good hotel ideas near Columbia Tower:
And I stayed at Hotel Max (about a 15 minute walk to Columbia Tower)
You can choose any hotel that suits your budget in the Pioneer Square area and you’ll be really close to Columbia Tower.
Have you been up Columbia Tower?
If you’ve had the chance to see Seattle from its tallest building, let me know about your experience!
I’m always curious about what other people’s experiences are.
Let me know how you liked it in the comment section below.