It’s one of the most iconic towers in the United States, and has been seen in popular television shows like Frasier and Grey’s Anatomy. The Seattle Space Needle has been greeting visitors since it was built for the space-themed 1962 World Fair and is now a Seattle landmark.
When I lived in Seattle in the 90s, I always had to bring visitors there. I knew we’d have to bring the kids when we visited Seattle earlier this month. It’s easy to visit the Space Needle, but you will want to do a little advance research before you go. Here’s our guide to visiting the Seattle Space Needle.
Disclosure: We received two complimentary CityPASSES, which included admission to the Space Needle. We purchased two additional tickets. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
A Guide to Visiting the Seattle Space Needle
Space Needle Location
The Seattle Space Needle is located right in downtown Seattle, in Seattle Center. It’s walkable from many downtown locations, or there’s also a monorail that runs from Westlake Center to right outside the Space Needle.
Space Needle parking is available, if you’d prefer to drive your car. Valet parking is offered for 3 hours, with lower rates if you get your ticket validated.
Space Needle Hours
The Space Needle is open 365 days a year, from 8am to 12am. On occasion, hours may change for private events and special occasions, so check their website for details.
The Puget Sound area is known for their cloudy and rainy weather, so you’ll want to watch the weather before planning your Space Needle visit. If it’s too cloudy, your views from the top will be obstructed.
Ideally, you’ll be able to visit on a sunny day when you’ll be able to get incredible views of the Cascade Mountains. During this most recent visit to the Space Needle, it was partly cloudy. So while we did have great views of Seattle, we weren’t able to see the Olympic mountain ranges.
Ultimately, you may not have a choice in when you visit. Even if it’s cloudy during your entire visit to Seattle, it’s worth visiting the Space Needle.
Space Needle Tickets
The Space Needle offers timed tickets for entry, which are a great way to help limit crowds. Because of that, you’ll want to get your tickets as soon as possible so you can choose the 15-minute entry window that you want (note, you’ll need to enter during this 15 minute window, but you can stay as long as you’d like).
There are several different Space Needle ticket options offered. These include general admission, and a day/night pass. There are also combination tickets that include admission to other popular attractions, including the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Tickets can generally be purchased up to 30 days in advance.
If you have a Seattle CityPASS, you’ll have to do a ticket exchange once you are at the Space Needle. This can be done right at the kiosk by scanning the code on your CityPASS. Guests planning to visit more than two Seattle attractions should definitely look into a CityPASS because it can be a great way to save money. See more information on their website.
What You’ll Find at the Space Needle
Before visiting the Space Needle, I’d definitely recommend downloading their free app. It contains important information about your visit, and is also where you can view your free photos taken at the Space Needle. Unlike other attractions, these photos taken at the Space Needle are completely free to download.
Once it’s time for you to enter the Space Needle, you’ll go through a quick security check. Then, you can head to the elevators to go to the observation deck.
As you head in that direction, you’ll pass panels of information filled with the history of the Space Needle. Did you know, for instance, that the style of the homes from the Jetsons cartoon were inspired by the Space Needle.
Next, you’ll reach the area where your free photo will be taken. This is a “green screen” style photo. Once you load it on your app, you can change the background of the photo and download it for free. If you’ve already got the app, you can show the QR code so it’s automatically linked. Otherwise, your tickets will be scanned.
The elevators to the Space Needle move up the 520 feet to the observation deck pretty quickly – in less than a minute. We arrived at the Space Needle first thing in the morning, so we didn’t have to wait in line at all. However, later in the day, the lines were definitely longer.
The observation deck at the very top is where you’ll get the best views. Here, you’ll find an open air area with full glass floor-to-ceiling panes. You’ll be able to walk all around the top, getting a 360-degree view of the city.
In a few spots on the top, you’ll find benches where you can sit and pose for a photo. These are taken and are automatically downloaded to the app if you scan in your information, and you can also download these photos for free.
Walk down the steps to the “Loupe” level for the most exciting part of the Space Needle. Here, you’ll be on an all-glass, rotating floor. It’s a completely surreal experience, and once you’ll definitely want to experience.
You’ll find restrooms at the top of the Space Needle, as well as the Atmos Cafe and Atmos Wine Bar. We visited early in the day, but if we were there in the afternoon, I definitely would have had a glass of wine at the top of the Space Needle.
Once you are done at the top, you can get in line for an elevator going back down to the base. There, you’ll find a VR bungee jumping experience that is included with your ticket. You can sign up on a kiosk for your spot, and you’ll be texted when it’s your turn.
While you wait, you can visit the gift shop, which offers Seattle and Space Needle souvenirs. We enjoyed looking at all of the fun merchandise.
Strollers aren’t permitted at the top of the Space Needle due to space constraints. If you have a stroller with you, however, you’ll find stroller parking at the base.
Space Needle Restaurant
Before the recent renovation in 2018, there was a full service restaurant called Skycity Restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. That restaurant was closed and removed during the renovation. At this time, the only food available at the top is at the Atmos Cafe and Atmos Wine Bar.
I always wanted to visit the old restaurant, although I really do enjoy the renovation. I think the cafe is a great option for any guest wishing to have a quick bite or drink at the top of the Space Needle.
Hotels Near the Space Needle
When visiting the area, you may be looking for hotels near the Space Needle. The whole Seattle Center area is very accessible to guests taking the monorail, walking, or driving, so you don’t necessarily need to stay right near the Space Needle.
Nearby hotels include the following:
During our Seattle vacation, we stayed at the Hotel FIVE – A Staypineapple Hotel. It was the perfect location for walking to both the Seattle Center and waterfront areas of Seattle. I’d definitely recommend staying there.
Museums Near the Space Needle
Seattle Center is probably best known for being the home of the Space Needle, but there are other tourist attractions there as well. Some of these can be included in a combo ticket so you can save money on admission.
Museums include the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Pacific Science Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop). There’s also the Armory, a food court where you’ll find lots of food options.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Space Needle
We spent about 45 minutes to an hour at the Space Needle. However, we didn’t wait in any lines, so our visit was very quick. I’d recommend planning for at least 2 hours, possibly longer. You won’t want to be rushed once you get to the top, and you’ll want to save time for the VR experience.
I’d recommend visiting early in the morning, as we did, if you’d like to avoid crowds. If it’s a cloudy morning, however, you may want to wait until later in the day, if the forecast shows that it will clear up. For an evening visit, I’d probably go later in the day if possible.
For a standard visit, you’ll have to take the elevator. However, while we were there, we saw advertisements for an event called the Base 2 Space Stair Climb. This fundraiser takes place in September, and guests can walk up to the top.
These are timed tickets, so you’ll definitely want to purchase in advance.