I live in the suburbs south of Seattle and took my boyfriend up to the Smith Tower observation deck on a sunny weekend, as I had a Groupon to use, so we decided to play local tourist for the day. Neither of us had been up there and it was a pleasant surprise!
An elevator operator takes you up to the 34th floor, as the elevators are still manually operated. It was a nice touch to step back in time and picture the Smith Tower during a time when it was the tallest building on the West Coast. Upon getting off on the 34th floor, you enter the Chinese Room (be sure to check out the ceiling!), decorated with carved guardian lions and furniture, namely the famed Wishing Chair where legend says any wishful woman will be promised marriage within a year of sitting in the chair.
It was a sunny (albeit smoggy) day in Seattle on the day we were there, but the views were just as nice as from the Space Needle. And the best part? You're paying MUCH less than to go up the Space Needle. Admission is typically $7.50 adults (compared to $18 adult for the Needle). The observation deck was wide enough for perhaps 2 ppl to stand side by side comfortably and for someone like myself who has a slight fear of heights, the bars around the viewing area are enough to feel secure, but wide enough apart to put your arms and camera out to take photos without any obstructions.
The only thing I was bummed about was the smogginess of the Seattle air this weekend, so we couldn't get any views of the Olympics or Mt. Rainier, but we had a great time enjoying the view of our beautiful city skyline and Elliott Bay and its surroundings.
So if you're looking for views of the Seattle skyline on a gorgeous day but looking for a cheaper alternative to the Space Needle, head to Smith Tower! I personally liked the Smith Tower view better than the Space Needle and will recommend it for visitors coming into town that don't want to spend an arm and a leg on various city attractions.
Also be sure to visit their website (or call) beforehand to check the current month's schedule - opening/closing hours may vary at times, as the observation deck and Chinese room can be booked for private events.
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