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15 Free Views Every Seattleite Should Know About

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Photo: Tom Wright

Anyone can pay to go to the top of the Space Needle to get a view of Seattle or Puget Sound, but any Seattleite worth their weight in coffee beans needs to know the special places that they can visit any given moment for free in order to get the requisite inspiration that's so easy to find here. Below, you'll find a map with fifteen "free views." Maybe you know some of them but it's the rare Seattle view-seeker who knows all of them. Know an amazing, cost-free view we didn't include? Let us know in the comments. H/T to Elizabeth Tudor for compiling.

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1. Green Stairs in Carl English Botanical Gardens

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Ballard Locks
Seattle, WA

Wander around the Dawn Redwoods--trees dinosaurs once stood beside--and you'll eventually find the green stairs. Appreciate the view of Salmon Bay, and the Hiram M Chittenden Locks among 570 species, and 1500 varieties of plants from around the world.

2. The Bench in alley behind Flying Apron Bakery

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3510 Fremont Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103

Who put this bench here? Who cares? Take a quiet moment to yourself, watch Fremont pass you by and keep an eye on the sliver of alley directly across for a glimpse to 35th Street.

3. Top of Volunteer Park Water Tower

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1247 15th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112

If you don't mind climbing about 100 steps, your efforts will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the city through caged windows. If it starts raining, stay awhile and read about the history of the park

4. Ward St. Hill at 5th Ave North

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5th Avenue North & Ward Street
Seattle, WA 98109

You don't need a permit or money to park up here and own the view of downtown and infinity.

5. Benches across from Parsons Gardens

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698 W Highland Dr.
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 684-4081
Visit Website

After your tryst with your paramour in Parsons Gardens, rest across the street, and let the view of Puget Sound help you forget your sins.

6. Howell Park

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1740 E Howell Pl.
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 684-4075
Visit Website

Between Madrona and Madison Parks, a hidden shore conceals nude sunbathers and Peeping Toms. Everyone knows you're not just here for the view of Lake Washington.

7. The End of SW Brace Point Drive

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Fauntleroy Way Southwest & Southwest Brace Point Drive
Seattle, WA 98136

Go to the very end of what looks like a private drive, and arrive at a small stretch of public beach. Remember you're sandwiched between private beaches, so don't let your excitement of watching ferries pass by get you arrested.

8. Hitt's Hill Park

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5234 37th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 684-4075
Visit Website

Named after the man who loved watching things explode, and founded one of the largest fireworks companies on the West Coast, this hilltop park boasts views of Lake Washington, downtown, and Rainier Valley.

9. NW 60th St. Viewpoint

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6001 Seaview Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Watch the boats that you can't afford rush past on their way to Puget Sound. Remember to wave or flash!

10. Fremont Peak Park

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4357 Palentine Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103

Follow the twisty silver ribbon on the ground to a panoramic view of Fremont and Lake Washington Ship Canal. Take pictures with the mysterious cement balls.

11. Wandering Rocks at Olympic Sculpture Park

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2901 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 654-3100
Visit Website

Sneak between the trees and find the black rocks aliens left behind millions of years ago. Stroll through Olympic Sculpture Park, and take in the view of Puget Sound.

12. Cormorant Cove

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3701 Beach Dr. SW
Seattle, WA 98116

Picnic with the Cormorants, and study the thoughtfully landscaped beach foliage. Launch your kayak or canoe into Puget Sound, and never return.

13. Northlake Park

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699 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105

The sign says there's a park here, but it's hard to figure out where to go. Once you find it, it's totally okay to stand and stare at the boats in Lake Union under the I-5 overpass for a few hours.

14. Mt Baker Ridge Viewpoint

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1403 31st Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98144

Views of downtown, Beacon Hill, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains will make you forget you're on a suspended metal platform far above the treetops. Say a Druidic chant as you watch the sun go down through a sunset stone.

15. Aurora Avenue Pedestrian Overpass

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Aurora Avenue North & North 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98103

Just off the Fremont side, you'll find a sweet spot that gives you an equal view of Queen Anne Hill, Lake Union, the Seattle Skyline and the very top of the Space Needle. It's a little bit of everything in one shot.

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1. Green Stairs in Carl English Botanical Gardens

Ballard Locks, Seattle, WA

Wander around the Dawn Redwoods--trees dinosaurs once stood beside--and you'll eventually find the green stairs. Appreciate the view of Salmon Bay, and the Hiram M Chittenden Locks among 570 species, and 1500 varieties of plants from around the world.

Ballard Locks
Seattle, WA

2. The Bench in alley behind Flying Apron Bakery

3510 Fremont Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103

Who put this bench here? Who cares? Take a quiet moment to yourself, watch Fremont pass you by and keep an eye on the sliver of alley directly across for a glimpse to 35th Street.

3510 Fremont Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103

3. Top of Volunteer Park Water Tower

1247 15th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112

If you don't mind climbing about 100 steps, your efforts will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the city through caged windows. If it starts raining, stay awhile and read about the history of the park

1247 15th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112

4. Ward St. Hill at 5th Ave North

5th Avenue North & Ward Street, Seattle, WA 98109

You don't need a permit or money to park up here and own the view of downtown and infinity.

5th Avenue North & Ward Street
Seattle, WA 98109

5. Benches across from Parsons Gardens

698 W Highland Dr., Seattle, WA 98119

After your tryst with your paramour in Parsons Gardens, rest across the street, and let the view of Puget Sound help you forget your sins.

698 W Highland Dr.
Seattle, WA 98119

6. Howell Park

1740 E Howell Pl., Seattle, WA 98112

Between Madrona and Madison Parks, a hidden shore conceals nude sunbathers and Peeping Toms. Everyone knows you're not just here for the view of Lake Washington.

1740 E Howell Pl.
Seattle, WA 98112

7. The End of SW Brace Point Drive

Fauntleroy Way Southwest & Southwest Brace Point Drive, Seattle, WA 98136

Go to the very end of what looks like a private drive, and arrive at a small stretch of public beach. Remember you're sandwiched between private beaches, so don't let your excitement of watching ferries pass by get you arrested.

Fauntleroy Way Southwest & Southwest Brace Point Drive
Seattle, WA 98136

8. Hitt's Hill Park

5234 37th Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98118

Named after the man who loved watching things explode, and founded one of the largest fireworks companies on the West Coast, this hilltop park boasts views of Lake Washington, downtown, and Rainier Valley.

5234 37th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98118

9. NW 60th St. Viewpoint

6001 Seaview Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98107

Watch the boats that you can't afford rush past on their way to Puget Sound. Remember to wave or flash!

6001 Seaview Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107

10. Fremont Peak Park

4357 Palentine Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98103

Follow the twisty silver ribbon on the ground to a panoramic view of Fremont and Lake Washington Ship Canal. Take pictures with the mysterious cement balls.

4357 Palentine Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103

11. Wandering Rocks at Olympic Sculpture Park

2901 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

Sneak between the trees and find the black rocks aliens left behind millions of years ago. Stroll through Olympic Sculpture Park, and take in the view of Puget Sound.

2901 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

12. Cormorant Cove

3701 Beach Dr. SW, Seattle, WA 98116

Picnic with the Cormorants, and study the thoughtfully landscaped beach foliage. Launch your kayak or canoe into Puget Sound, and never return.

3701 Beach Dr. SW
Seattle, WA 98116

13. Northlake Park

699 NE Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98105

The sign says there's a park here, but it's hard to figure out where to go. Once you find it, it's totally okay to stand and stare at the boats in Lake Union under the I-5 overpass for a few hours.

699 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105

14. Mt Baker Ridge Viewpoint

1403 31st Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98144

Views of downtown, Beacon Hill, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains will make you forget you're on a suspended metal platform far above the treetops. Say a Druidic chant as you watch the sun go down through a sunset stone.

1403 31st Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98144

15. Aurora Avenue Pedestrian Overpass

Aurora Avenue North & North 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98103

Just off the Fremont side, you'll find a sweet spot that gives you an equal view of Queen Anne Hill, Lake Union, the Seattle Skyline and the very top of the Space Needle. It's a little bit of everything in one shot.

Aurora Avenue North & North 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98103