After living in Seattle for an internship for six months, this modern, green city has always been in my heart. When my kids were old enough to truly appreciate it, I decided to take them to visit the Pacific Northwest to experience Seattle for a week. Although it’s mostly known for the Space Needle, the city of Seattle offers lots of other fantastic family-friendly activities.
If you are planning to visit Seattle, you may be wondering what top attractions to visit and how to save money on your trip. The Seattle CityPASS (not Seattle City Pass – as some mistakenly refer to it), is a great way to save money. With one CityPASS ticket fee, you’ll receive admission to many of the most popular Seattle attractions.
Disclosure: Our trip to Seattle was in the summer of 2019, prior to the events this year. We received two free CityPASS passes. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
All About the Seattle CityPASS
Is a Seattle CityPASS Worth It?
The CityPASS can be a great way to save money on the best things to do in Seattle. Before deciding to purchase, take a look at the list of attractions. If you are planning to do most of these things, a CityPASS can be a great idea.
How the CityPass Works
To purchase a CityPASS, go to their website and select the destination that you are visiting. There are currently 14 cities offered – Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.
For Seattle, there are two types of tickets. One for adults 13 and older, and one for children aged 5 to 12. Currently, the ticket price for the CityPASS gives you admission to five different attractions – representing a savings of around 41%.
Once you purchase the CityPASS, it’s valid for a year. Upon the first use, you have 30 consecutive days to visit all of the attractions included. IDs may be required, and you’ll need to show the pass to gain admission. If members of your group want to split up, you’ll each need to have possession of your own pass.
Before deciding to purchase a CityPASS, look at the attractions that are offered. Make sure that you plan to visit most of them to really get maximum value for the cost of the pass.
In 2020, some of the attractions are requiring advance reservations. It’s a good idea to review operating procedures and hours to make sure you’ll be able to visit while you are there. You can make the required reservations right from their website if you’d like.
What’s Included in the Seattle CityPASS
In 2020, there are five attractions included with your CityPASS purchase. These include the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Seattle Aquarium. Two attractions that were included in the past – the Pacific Science Center and the Argosy Cruise Harbor Tour – are currently closed with plans to reopen in 2021.
With the Seattle CityPASS, you’ll be able to visit the iconic Space Needle twice – once during the day and once at night. Both visits will need to occur within a 24 hour period. You’ll only need reservations for your first visit.
We have a full guide to the Space Needle here – check it out before your first visit. We definitely recommend looking at the weather forecast in advance if at all possible. When it’s cloudy and/or rainy out, visibility is much lower.
The views of Seattle are absolutely beautiful from the Space Needle. You’ll get a 360-degree view by walking all the way around the observation deck, so be sure to save time for a full visit.
Before going, be sure to download the Space Needle app. We found it to be helpful and it was nice to have immediate access to the official photos we took there.
MoPOP: Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture is a unique museum located near the Space Needle in Seattle Center. Formerly known as the Experience Music Project, this museum’s focus has expanded to include more than just music. However, pop music is still a major part of the museum.
We really enjoyed visiting MoPOP with our kids. It was great for them to experience some of the music we enjoyed, including local Seattle bands like Pearl Jam.
The Museum of Pop Culture also includes several traveling exhibitions (current exhibits include Minecraft and Tattoo Culture). We spent several hours exploring the museum and felt it was worthwhile.
In 2020, the museum is open for limited hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You’ll need to make sure it’s open during your visit. Advance reservations are required.
Some of the exhibits, including the Sound Lab (which we really liked), are temporarily closed. Take a look at those before heading out so you aren’t disappointed when you arrive.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
One of the most unique and beautiful museums that I’ve visited is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, also located in Seattle Center. Partially indoors and partially outdoors, this museum features gorgeous glass sculptures.
If you are planning a trip to Chihuly Garden and Glass, I’d recommend visiting with older kids. Younger kids may not understand the museum or appreciate the exhibits.
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum isn’t too large, so you can definitely combine a visit there with another of the Seattle Center attractions. On our visit, we visited the Space Needle first thing in the morning, and then went next door to the Garden and Glass.
Be sure to take plenty of photos because it really is beautiful. While you can walk through quickly, I’d recommend taking your time to admire each sculpture.
Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo is located on Phinney Avenue in Seattle. It’s currently open for timed admission. Paid parking is available in a few different on-site lots.
CityPASS holders, however, don’t need to make advance reservations. Once you show up, you’ll be offered admission for the next available time.
Right now, admission is only available through the West Entrance. All exits are open, however. Walking paths to the exhibits are one way, so be sure to follow the directions – especially if you’ve been to the zoo before.
There are lots of different exhibits at the Woodland Park Zoo, including an African Savanna, a Rhino Preserve, a butterfly garden, and a tropical rain forest. Events at the zoo are currently limited, and guests can check out the calendar in advance to better plan your visit.
The Woodland Park Zoo is open daily, except for special hours on Wednesdays. In the cooler months, it closes earlier in the evening.
Located along the Seattle Waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium is one of my favorites to visit. Advance reservations are currently required and can be made online prior to your visit.
The aquarium features lots of fun exhibits for families. Our favorites include the tide pools, the river otters, the harbor seals, the sea otters, and the Pacific coral reef.
Some of the exhibits are outdoors, so it’s best to choose a nice day to visit. We spent several hours during our visit.
Reopening in 2021: Pacific Science Center and the Argosy Cruise Harbor Tour
During our visit to Seattle, our CityPASS included admission to the following:
- The Space Needle
- The Seattle Aquarium
- A one-hour Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
- A choice of either The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) or the Woodland Park Zoo
- A choice of either the Chihuly Garden and Glass or the Pacific Science Center
However, this year, both the Pacific Science Center and the Argosy Cruise Harbor Tours are closed. Therefore, in 2020, the pass includes everything that is currently open. We loved visiting the Pacific Science Center and going on the harbor tour, so hopefully, they will return in the near future.