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Seattle Sights: The Needle from Above with Kenmore Air

One of our trusted Tourist Tips Team Members experienced Kenmore Air's scenic seaplane flight over Seattle and brings you along for the ride...

They told me the only way to talk about it was to experience the Seattle Scenic Flight for myself.  OK, I can relate to that. After all, the Space Needle is the quintessential Seattle must see attraction.

Kenmore Air seaplane scenic tour see seattle from the air

Tourist Tip #1 – Kenmore Air did it first then, and does it best now.

My unforgettable experience started even before hopping out of the car when I spied an old fashioned paddle boat chugging by in the water next to the seaplane dock, nonchalantly harkening back to the era of the Emerald City’s beginnings. I entered the terminal and was immediately greeted and treated to their quick, no-hassle check in by the friendly staff.

Tourist Tip #2 – You don’t have to be on vacation to enjoy this – special occasions are a specialty.

It was only a short wait, but I witnessed the setting in motion of a very romantic marriage proposal plan. The staff, apparently used to such requests, were double checking the details of a charter flyover of Seattle starting with Discovery Park and ending with a huge “Will You Marry Me?” sign positioned just so at Golden Gardens. It’s amazing how many ‘pop the question’ moments have occurred from the heights of airplanes or towers. Then I thought, “I wonder how many gentleman have been on bended knee at the Observation Deck of the needle?”

The couple also booked on my flight arrived and our captain greeted us each with a handshake and he inquired why we booked the tour to see Seattle and Puget Sound from above. The couple was celebrating his birthday, what a great gift idea!

Tourist Tip #3 – Really great view of the Space Needle roof – new paint job coming soon!  

We climbed into the De Havilland seaplane, first built in the 1920’s, and taxied across Lake Union finally turning around at Gasworks Park. I must admit a few nerves about the water takeoff, but it was smooth sailing…err, flying all the way.  Space Needle on Scenic airplane tour seattle helicopterOur first banked turn to the right put us immediately on course for a ‘fly by’ of the Space Needle. It really felt like I was in a movie scene, buzzing the tower as we shot past at the same altitude as the O Deck. Breathtaking.



Tourist Tip #4 – Keep watch for whales! There are oceanic giants swimming just off the shore.

We climbed a bit higher and then headed out over the waters of Puget Sound skirting just off the coast of Alki Beach. The in-flight guided tour was interesting and I found myself really getting into it. As I leaned toward the window I spotted something in the water straight below. Then I noticed that there were a lot of them, and as far as the eye could see! I wasn’t quite sure, but it was confirmed… a huge pod of grey whales on their migratory path to warmers waters. They were spaced evenly and gently taking misty-spray breaths as they charted their course together.

Tourist Tip #5 - Bring your camera, there is no such thing as the aisle seat on this scenic tour.

Seattle Scenic Flight Airplane Photo credit - Ted Lansing Photo by Ted Lansing

Well, what could top that really? But we were only five minutes into the tour, more sights to see. Gently, we skimmed through the air tracing a path up the ship canal, over the Ballard Locks and then alongside the University of Washington Campus. The immaculate  campus was impressive. The grey skies prevented us from seeing Mount Rainier, but even without I was humming with adrenaline and excitement from the sights. One more turn and we headed back to Lake Union and an incredibly smooth landing.

Tourist Tip #6 – Why not continue a day ‘from the heights’, visit the Space Needle after your flight.


Kenmore Air - The deets

  • There are two sizes of seaplane, seating 5 or 9 people. Book from a few seats to the whole plane!
  • All ages are welcome, there’s even a place for your beloved pet on board.
  • Kenmore Express is the land plane service operating out of Boeing Field. Travel in comfort to San Juan Islands, Victoria BC, and other destinations around Seattle.
  • Flights are surprisingly affordable.  Take advantage of their Fall Seat Sale Now!

Visit the Kenmore Air website for more information and to book your flight.



* Photographs courtesy of Kenmore Air, Ted Lansing and Space Needle's Tourist Tips Team Member.


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