The Eight Best Places to Take Pictures in Washington State
An inside look at the most Instagrammable shots in Washington.
Commonly known as "The Evergreen State", Washington not only has incredible landscapes, it also has scenic seasides, panoramic cityscapes and bustling shops, restaurants and bars that attract locals and tourists from all around the globe. Some of the best places to take pictures in Washington may seem obvious—like the Space Needle or Pike Place Market—while others have been able to fly under the radar, remaining well-kept secrets of the PNW. Those who travel to this area of the U.S. often have a certain appreciation for nature (we highly encourage you to check out Leave No Trace's 7 Principles before visiting any photo location). Once you're in the great state, it's easy to see why so many people flock to the home of the nation's largest active volcano, Mount St Helens—beauty is everywhere you turn!
The first step in conquering the best places to take photos in Washington is to download the Explorest app. With expert insights and in-depth directions, the app will help you plan out your trip one location at a time. The next step is to scroll down and see our round-up of the best places to take photos. This guide is especially helpful if you've never been to Washington, but we bet locals will even learn about a new spot or two. Explorest is always uncovering hidden gems that are waiting to be found and we can't wait for you to get started on your journey to the eight best places to take pictures in Washington.
High Rock Lookout
For those up for an adventure, our first on the list of the best photo locations in Washington is High Rock Lookout. The vantage point lives up to its name, with a staggering height of 5,685 feet at the summit. In the early morning, the Nisqually River valley is kissed by the golden light of sunrise and from certain areas of High Rock Lookout, you'll have clear views of Mount Rainier standing prominently in the distance. It's a breathtaking sight to see the ambient light wash over the evergreens along the mountains, and no matter the time of day, we're sure you'll be able to snap some awe-inspiring images.
Now that the weather is warming up, more people will be heading to the beach to soak up the sun and dip their toes in the refreshing waters of the Pacific Ocean. We've already shared the ultimate guide to taking beach photos this summer and Ruby Beach is one of the best places to practice your seaside photo skills. Located 98 miles from Seattle and only 27 miles from Forks (any Twilight fans reading this?!), Ruby Beach is an easily accessible beach that stands out from the rest—especially if you're used to flat-sand beaches, like you'd find in San Diego. What makes Ruby Beach so unique is the plethora of sea stacks that line the shore. Some stand alone and others form together to create caves that make for one of the best places to take pictures in Washington.
Grab your bathing suit, a towel and some sunscreen and get ready for a day of fun in the sun!
The Space Needle
When seeing a photo of the Seattle skyline, it's most recognizable structure is undoubtedly the Space Needle. The circular observation tower reaches 605 feet into the air and is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that provide a 360-degree perspective of the city. What more could you ask for on your search of finding the best photo spots in Washington?
What's also great about the Space Needle is that the interior architecture is just as photogenic as the views. Explore the three viewing areas—don't forget to look down at the glass floor to take your experience to new heights—and then grab a drink at The Loupe Lounge afterward to sit amongst the clouds in the chic, rotating bar.
Just as the name points out, The Enchantments are a captivating region of the Cascade Mountain Range. The area is one of the most sought-after backpacking destinations in the PNW, with over 700 Alpine Lakes, a 23.6-mile loop trail, some of the nation's most challenging—yet rewarding—rock climbing paths and camping sites where you can sleep under the stars.
Regardless of the time of the year, The Enchantments are known as one of the best places to take pictures in Washington, but in our opinion, autumn in The Enchantments is like nothing you've ever seen! The orange larch trees pop against the landscape and their reflection in the water creates a mystifying sight.
Pike Place Market
Calling all foodies! In addition to being one of the most delicious destinations in Seattle, Pike Place Market also serves as one of the best photo locations in Washington. It's been a staple in the heart of Downtown Seattle since it was built in 1907 and today, visitors can pick up locally-grown produce, shop at the kitschy craft stores and support the city's small business owners. Even through a photo, you're able to capture the vibrancy of the area, which has become known as the "Soul of Seattle".
To capture your photos (and some #foodporn), we recommend getting to the market during lunchtime. Grab a bite to eat, walk around and start taking pictures of the open-air center. As the day turns into night, you'll be able to snap even more content with the neon lights illuminated against the darkening Seattle sky. A perfect day—start to finish!
Have you ever wanted to escape reality and travel to a land far, far away? Only 77 miles outside of Seattle, you can step into the magical Hoh Forest (part of Olympic National Park) and feel like you've been transported to a mythical land. The towering trees draped in effervescent moss make this rain forest one of the best photo spots—and most unique places to visit—in the entire state of Washington.
To maximize your time there, we recommend arriving the afternoon before you want to take photos and staying overnight at the Hoh Campground, which is located right next to the trailhead. In the morning, you'll be able to get an early start and capture how the forest changes throughout the day. It's a great time to experiment with shadow play as the sun pierces through the dense forest and creates depth and dimension, as well as layers of green colors throughout the landscape.
Resembling a Bob Ross painting more than a photograph, Picture Lake is one of the most photographed bodies of water in Washington (and for good reason). The rugged Mount Shuksan stands tall in the background and the lake reflects a crystal-clear image of the landscape—mirroring the scene of fluffy, white clouds, evergreen trees and snow-capped peaks. What's even more appealing, this vantage point is a few steps away from the parking lot. Meaning anyone, regardless of age or physicality, can visit!
Before venturing out to this location, pack a picnic bag and then enjoy a lakeside lunch while taking in the sights of this picture-perfect (no pun intended!) lake.
Falls Creek Falls
The Pacific Northwest is known for its waterfalls and Falls Creek Falls in Washington is no exception. Hike the scenic 1.5-mile trail through Grifford Pinchot National Forest where you'll be met with the soothing sound of rushing water from this multi-tiered waterfall at the end of the trail. Standing at the base of the 220-foot tall Falls Creek Falls waterfall is humbling. You'll feel small as you see the trees surrounding you and renewed as you feel the cold mist of freshwater against your face.
Warning: You may get wet at this location! Among many reasons, this location is one of the best photo locations in Washington because you're able to get into the water and incorporate the rocks along the stream in your shot. Wear waterproof shoes, and even a bathing suit, to ensure you don't get your clothes wet. We also recommend that you bring protective camera gear so you can enjoy photographing without the worry of damaging your equipment.
If you're looking for more of the most Instagrammable places in Washington, download the Explorest app today. We provide insider recommendations to help you capture your travels around the globe.