Seattle's Space Needle is an icon for the Emerald City. Located in Seattle Center, the futuristic structure is a legacy left over from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. While the structure is historical, it’s undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation in recent years and is now outfitted with new features that take it to the next level.
More than a mere jut into the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle provides a stage for many seasonal events, including a stunning New Year's Eve fireworks display, and it’s a fabulous place to take out-of-town visitors (locals probably either have seen it already or think it’s too touristy to check out, which is only half true…sure, it’s touristy, but it’s definitely worth a visit). Enjoy the view from 520 feet, dine in style, stand on a glass floor high up above the city, and more. Read on to learn what to expect at the Space Needle.
What to Do
First and foremost, see the Space Needle. You can do this from the ground totally for free and get some pretty sweet photos of it from the grounds of the surrounding Seattle Center.
However, the experience is really all about going up the Space Needle. While a trip up used to be pretty much going up, looking out the window, wandering around, maybe grabbing a snack, and going back down, the renovation has upped the ante. There are now two levels to explore. On the lower level, you can step onto the Loupe – a rotating glass floor (because it wasn’t enough to just have a glass floor). Watch Seattle Center go by just under your feet and enjoy a little dose of vertigo. On the upper level, floor-to-ceiling glass offers wide-open views of the city, Lake Union, the Puget Sound, all the way out to mountains in the distance.
There are also fun extras included with your ticket, like photos, a mobile app to enhance your experience, interactive displays, and Stratos VR – a virtual realty bungee jump from the Space Needle.
You can also grab a sky-high bite to eat. Before the renovation, the Space Needle was also home to a rotating full-service restaurants. Now it has two more casual dining options. Atmos Café serves burgers, sandwiches, local beers, wine and coffee. Atmos Wine Bar is located on the Loupe and serves wine, beer, charcuterie, cheese, and other snacks that pair well with wine.
How to Visit
The Space Needle is located at Seattle Center, which has plenty of parking options both on its grounds and nearby in parking garages, pay lots and on the street. Alternately, you can park downtown and take the Monorail from Westlake Center to Seattle Center (it arrives near MoPop). At the base of the Space Needle is also valet parking that’s not that much more expensive than parking in one of the garages.
Seattle Center is also located on several bus routes, and downtown Seattle is not huge so if you’re a walker, you can walk from many Seattle neighborhoods too.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. Last entry is 30 minutes before close.
Seattle Center is located at 400 Broad Street, Seattle, WA 98109
General admission for the Space Needle is $32.50-$37.50. Seniors 65+ are $27.50-$32.50, and kids ages 5-12 are $24.50-$28.50. Summer prices are at the higher end of the ranges and start in late May.
The Seattle Center is home to a number of other major attractions and you can bundle and save. Combo tickets pair up the Space Needle with Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Monorail, the Pacific Science Center, the Museum of Flight (which is not at the Seattle Center), Seattle Children’s Museum, Woodland Park Zoo (not at the Seattle Center), and others in various combinations. You can also get a CityPass as the Space Needle is one of the attractions available in those package deals.
The Space Needle was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair along with several other structures in Seattle Center, including KeyArena and Pacific Science Center. Indeed, the grounds of the Seattle Center were the grounds for the 1962 World’s Fair, but today what you see has been expanded and renovated a few times over since then. Newer structures like MoPop have also been added. The fair brought 2.3 million visitors to Seattle and the Space Needle saw 20,000 of those a day riding up and down to see the view.
The Needle measures a total of 605 feet high and can withstand an earthquake of up to 9.0 magnitude (if it goes past that, we’re all pretty much toast anyway).
The Needle’s iconic architecture combines the ideas of a few designers: Edward E. Carlson, John Graham, Jr. and Victor Steinbrueck. Over the years, the Space Needle has evolved with the times. For many years, there were two restaurants called Eye of the Needle and the Emerald Suite at the top of the tower. In 2000, those were closed and a new restaurant called SkyCity was opened. SkyCity closed with the newest renovation. Even the elevators have changed with the times – in 1993, the elevators were replaced with computerized versions that descend at 10 miles per hour.
What to do Nearby
The Space Needle’s location in Seattle Center means there’s lots to do nearby. It’s easy to pair a visit with one or more of the other Seattle Center attractions, which include the Pacific Science Center (great for families with kids), Chihuly Garden and Glass, MoPop, Seattle Children’s Museum and others. A walk around Seattle Center is also a lot of fun. Spend some time sitting by the International Fountain or let your kids run around one of the green spaces or play areas.
Hop onto the Monorail and take the short jaunt to Westlake Center in downtown Seattle (you can walk too as it’s just about a mile) and another world of things to do opens up. Not far from Westlake Center, you can explore Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, go see a show at the Paramount or 5th Avenue theaters, or shop along the streets of downtown Seattle.