Close to mountains and stunning waterways, Seattle is a great city for stargazing both in the city and in surrounding region. Seattle is an often overlooked city in the Pacific Northwest, but much beloved by the residents who call it home.
On free time, locals go hiking in the nearby Cascades and Olympic mountains, and explore the surrounding waterways of Puget Sound. They enjoy delicious food, a buzzing cultural scene, and some of the best cocktails in the country.
The beautiful natural surroundings lay the foundation for great stargazing opportunities. Whether you choose to head out onto the Olympic Peninsula, move inland toward central Washington, or just seek the dark skies you can surprisingly find all over the city, there are plenty of great spots to see the night sky in Seattle.
Traveling with family? The spots within Seattle city limits are great for small stargazers who don’t stay up late at night. Either way, read on to learn more about what stargazing is like in Seattle, and the where to go stargazing in Seattle.
The Best Spots for Stargazing in Seattle
Seattle’s parks and beaches make for great opportunities to stargaze within the city. You’ll definitely struggle with light pollution depending on the time of year and direction you’re trying to stargaze, but it’s still possible to get a great view of the Milky Way or bright planet on a good night.
Located in West Seattle, Alki Beach offers great views of the northern sky with limited light pollution due to its proximity to Elliott Bay. It’s also one of Seattle’s best beaches (with real sand!) so you can stand out on the beach while stargazing — something most people don’t know you can do in Washington!
1702 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116, www.seattle.gov
Fremont Peak Park
It’s hard to believe that a park in the middle of Fremont could possibly have good stargazing opportunities, but Fremont Peak Park has two advantages: it’s near the top of the hill in Fremont, and it’s well protected from outside light because it’s such a small park.
4357 Palatine Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103, www.seattle.gov
Gas Works Park
Gas Works is okay for stargazing — there’s a large amount of light pollution despite having South Lake Union as the border for most of the park. The reason it’s worth attempting to stargaze from Gas Works Park is the fact that you have the Seattle skyline as part of the view.
2101 N. Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103, www.seattle.gov
Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park also suffers from some intense light pollution, but there are parts of the park where you can get a clear view up into the night sky with less light pollution (particularly along the north shore of the lake and in Woodland Park in the south).
7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115, www.seattle.gov
Hamilton Viewpoint Park
Located out on the tip of West Seattle but above most of the streetlights along Alki Beach, Hamilton Viewpoint Park is a surprisingly great spot to try and catch a view of the clear night sky. It’s also a perfect place to enjoy the twinkling lights of the Seattle skyline without as much light pollution.
1120 California Way SW, Seattle, WA 98116, www.seattle.gov
Similar to Gas Works Park, the real winner of any stargazing attempt from Kerry Park is the Seattle skyline. If you’re looking for a great view of a full moon over the city, Kerry Park is the place to be.
211 W. Highland Drive, Seattle, WA 98119, www.seattle.gov
Paramount Park is a favorite for the Seattle Astronomical Society to host their star parties, in part because it’s far enough north of Seattle (in Shoreline) to reduce the light pollution from downtown. On a good night, it’s only a 15-minute drive from the city, but feels like it’s light years away.
946 NE 147th St, Shoreline, WA 98155, www.shorelinewa.gov
As the name suggests, Solstice Park is naturally astronomical — especially since there is a stone ‘sundial’ in this small park to mark the solstices! West Seattle’s Solstice Park has great stargazing views to the west, looking out over the dark Olympic peninsula.
7400 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136, www.seattle.gov
Sunset Hill Park
Golden Gardens Park may draw more visitors for the great bonfire pits and sunset views, but Sunset Hill Park is the best place for stargazing in the Ballard area. Protected from light by its own natural incline, it’s easy to find a bench in this small park to look up and be amazed by how many stars you can see.
7531 34th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117, www.seattle.gov
Theodor Jacobsen Observatory
Located on the University of Washington campus, Theodor Jacobsen Observatory is one of Seattle’s best opportunities for deep space stargazing right in the city. The observatory is open to the public every first and third Wednesday between March and November.
4324 Memorial Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98105, www.washington.edu
Stargazing Spots within One Hour from Seattle
Within approximately 60 minutes of Seattle, you can escape the light pollution of the city and enjoy some truly magical stargazing. Here are some of the best spots to try stargazing within an hour of Seattle.
Battle Point Park
Located on Bainbridge Island, it’s a pleasant ferry ride and short drive to reach Battle Point Park. The Battle Point Astronomical Association uses the park as a base for community activities, and you can visit both the Ritchie Telescope and John Rudolph Planetarium nearby.
11299 Arrow Point Dr NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, www.biparks.org
Covington Community Park
The Seattle Astronomical Association recommends Covington Community Park as one of its locations for star parties, so you know it has to be good. Taking advantage of open space and the convenient location of an unlit cemetery next door, there are plenty of dark skies to be found on a clear night in Covington.
17649 SE 240th St, Covington, WA 98042, www.covingtonwa.org
Green River Natural Resources Area
Green River has a dark history, but thankfully it’s not as dark as the night sky when you head out Green River Natural Resources Area to stargaze. As protected land, you’ll face limited light pollution in the area.
22161 Russell Rd, Kent, WA 98032, www.kentwa.gov
Lake Kachess Campground
Lake Kachess Campground is just past the apex of Snoqualmie pass, and one of the great, easy-access alpine stargazing opportunities close to Seattle. Mountains protect the night sky from Seattle’s light pollution, and the lake provides an excellent opportunity for reflection astrophotography too, if that’s something you’re interested in.
Bakers Ln, Easton, WA 98925, www.recreation.gov
Stargazing Spots within Two Hours from Seattle
If you’re willing to drive a little farther for the best stargazing possible, Seattle is a great city to start from. Mountains, state parks, and even national parks become the perfect destination where light pollution is minimal and the stars seem even brighter.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
Lake Wenatchee is a short drive outside Washington’s Bavarian mountain town, Leavenworth. If you’re planning a trip up into the mountains, a late-night stop at Lake Wenatchee will be well worth your time. Very low light pollution make for stunning night sky views.
21588 SR 207, Leavenworth, WA 98826, www.parks.wa.gov
Mount Rainier National Park, Sunrise Visitor Center
Mount Rainier National Park is beautiful during the daytime, but some of the most beautiful astrophotography photos from Washington come from capturing the state’s most famous mountain as the stars whirl overhead. Sunrise Visitor Center has specific hours for stargazing, and occasionally hosts events.
39000 State Route 706 E., Ashford, WA 98304, www.nps.gov
Rattlesnake Ledge is not for the faint of heart: you’ll need to hike to reach the ledge and be rewarded with the night sky views seen from there. That said, the most ambitious stargazers in Washington claim it’s one of the few places you’re guaranteed great night skies and good views of the Milky Way.
Snoqualmie Region, North Bend, WA 98045, www.wta.org
How Good is the Stargazing in Seattle?
Seattle is a pretty big city, both geographically and by population. As such, there’s a wide spread of light pollution in Seattle that can interfere with your ability to stargaze in any particular neighborhood.
That said, there are some aspects that make Seattle a good destination for stargazing:
- Lots of parks and green spaces, which help break up light pollution a little.
- Waterways — including Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and Lake Union — that do a great job of breaking up light pollution.
- Mountains surrounding the city which are easy to reach to truly get away from the light.
Some negatives about stargazing in Seattle:
- Hills, mountains, and lots of trees in most of the city, which can obstruct your views of the sky.
- Notoriously rainy/cloudy weather that will dampen your spirits if you’re hoping to stargaze and the sky is obscured.
All in all, Seattle is a pretty good destination for stargazing.
Best Times of Year to Go Stargazing in Seattle
Seattle is located near between the 47th and 48th parallels north, which means it has pretty large swings in sunlight hours between winter and summer. While summer promises better weather and a better chance of clear skies at night, you’ll need to stay up later to see a truly dark sky.
As such, May and August are great months for stargazing in Seattle, when the sun doesn’t dominate the evening sky, and the weather is most likely to be clear.
In May, you can potentially see the Eta Aquarids meteor shower almost all month. In August, the Perseids meteor shower is the biggest astronomical event to watch for while stargazing.
Can You See the Milky Way from Seattle?
It is possible to see the Milky Way from some spots near Seattle; light pollution in the city will make it almost impossible to see the Milky Way.
Based on Seattle’s location on Earth, the Milky Way is best viewed in the summer — as mentioned above, this makes months like May and August a great time to visit!
Other Space-Related Experiences in Seattle
Need daytime activities to fill the rest of your Seattle itinerary? Try these space-related experiences:
- Visit the University of Washington Planetarium, which offers 45-minute shows to the public on the first Friday of the month at 5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8:30pm. (website)
- Check out the exhibits at the Pacific Science Center, which sometimes have space topics. (website)
- Visit The Museum of Flight, which is home to a variety of aviation and aerospace exhibits. They also hold occasional space/Mars themed day-long events. (website)
Where to Stay When Visiting Seattle
As the city which is home to the Space Needle, you’d think Seattle would have loads of space-themed hotels, right? Unfortunately not! Instead, book at one of these popular Seattle hotels:
- The Edgewater, located on the Seattle waterfront, is where famous visitors to Seattle stay. The list includes The Beatles and, more recently, Anthony Bourdain! Rooms start from $179/night, but can be quite expensive in Seattle’s peak summer months. Click here to book: TRVL.com or Hotels.com
- Inn at the Market is a perfect spot if you also want to see Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. You’ll be right in the heart of downtown, with plenty of hustle and bustle outside the hotel to enjoy — you can even hear the fishmongers hollering in the market! Rooms start from $215/night. Click here to book: TRVL.com or Hotels.com