A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Seattle Space Needle. This stunning attraction went through a $100 million renovation in 2017 and 2018, transforming it from a Seattle must-see into a Seattle must-do. Standing at 605 feet, the Space Needle in Seattle is one of the city’s most recognizable sights and is the city’s most popular attraction.
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair along with several other structures in the city, the Space Needle in Seattle can attribute its futuristic design to the fair’s exposition themes centering around the space age. The idea for the Needle was to symbolize our Space Age.
Since its opening in 1962, the Seattle Space Needle has continued to embody the innovative and progressive spirit of the city. If you haven’t seen it in person, you likely have seen it in movies or on television in popular favorites like Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy, and Sleepless in Seattle.
The recent renovation of the Seattle Space Needle focused both on preservation and updating. When the building reopened, it introduced a number of attractions that brought the Space Needle right into the 21st century.
This sky-high adventure begins when you step into the elevator to take you up to the top of the Needle. The entire trip in the Space Needle elevator takes 41 seconds, so keep your eye peeled during the ride to the top.
The elevator door opens into a multi-level, floor-to-ceiling glass viewing experience including an outdoor observation deck with open-air glass walls and the now-famous Skyriser glass benches that allow you to lean back and take in the breathtaking views of the city, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. This upper floor is connected to the Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor, by the Oculus, a grand wood, steel, and glass staircase.
Visiting the Seattle Space Needle is fun in itself, you can enjoy stunning views both day and night, but if you want to add something extra to your trip, plan a wine tasting experience at sunset. The tasting in the Atmos Cafe includes four wines paired with four appetizers, Space Needle admission, reserved seating on the upper observation deck, and gratuity. Serving times vary based on seasonal sunset times.
While reservations are highly recommended, we weren’t aware of this option on our Space Needle visit. As sunset approached we wanted to grab a glass of wine and watch the sun go down and that’s how we learned about the tasting option. Fortunately, they were able to accommodate us on a walk-in basis and it was a great ending to a day of sightseeing in Seattle. Don’t leave it to chance, though, plan ahead and make a reservation.
Unfortunately, there is not currently a fine dining option at the Space Needle. That area is undergoing renovation and there’s been no word on if or when a fine dining restaurant might return to the Needle.
If you happen to be visiting the Seattle Space Needle in September, you can opt to take part in the Base 2 Space climb. Claiming to be Seattle’s most iconic climb, rather than take the elevator, you will scale the tower’s 832 open-air steps, all in the name of charity. The number of climbers allowed is limited, so if you do want to take part, make sure that you register early. As well as making the climb, you will get full access to the observation deck and the Loupe once you have made it to the top, plus a swag bag, T-shirt, and a finisher’s medal.
Space Needle Ticket Information: Space Needle tickets cost between $32.50 and $37.50 for regular admission, $27.50 to $32.50 for seniors, and $24.50 to $28.50 for children between the ages of five and 12. You should note that before you enter the building, you will be required to go through a security check.
Included in the ticket price to the Seattle Space Needle are professional digital photos, including the Skyhigh Selfie and Zoomie, access to powerful telescopes, and Stratos VR, which simulates a heart-stopping bungee jump. You should also download the free Space Needle app before your visit, which promises to unlock Seattle’s secrets and enhance your visit.
Tickets for the Space Needle can be booked up to 30 days in advance and during peak travel times (summer and holidays), we recommend that you buy them before your planned trip. Tickets are timed and booking in advance will ensure that you do not have to wait in line too long before gaining entry. If you are spending a few days in Seattle and are planning on visiting many of the city’s attractions, we recommend purchasing a Seattle CityPASS. Entrance to the Space Needle is included – both a day visit and a night visit.
If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit the Seattle Space Needle early in the morning. However, if you feel more strongly about the kind of views you will have than the number of people you will be contending with, check the weather forecast before booking your ticket. While Seattle weather forecasts are never a sure thing, you can try your best to avoid fog and rain.
I’d recommend allowing around two hours visiting the Seattle Space Needle, longer if you’re going to have a bit to eat and shorter if you do not need to wait around in lines.
Space Needle Hours: The Seattle Space Needle is generally open 365 days a year, 10 am-8 pm, with the exception of Thanksgiving, when the opening hours are 11 am-9 pm. The last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing time. Occasionally, the attraction or parts of it may be closed due to special events, holidays and/or facility upgrades; closure dates are listed on the Seattle Space Needle’s website.
How to Get to the Space Needle: There are a few ways to get to the Space Needle, the classic is via the Seattle Center Monorail. Just as much an iconic landmark of the city as the Needle itself, the Seattle Monorail was also built for the World’s Fair and was the nation’s first commercial monorail system. It continues to provide a convenient and fast link between the downtown area and the Seattle Center campus, the Space Needle, and other attractions. The non-stop route runs between Westlake Center (the station is on the top floor adjacent to the food court) and the Seattle Center (just through the Museum of Pop Culture).
The Space Needle also offers valet parking. There are also paid parking lots within a few blocks. Street parking is limited, hard to find, and only for short durations.
Thanks to the Seattle Space Needle’s central location, there are other attractions and things to do nearby once you have finished your visit. The Pacific Science Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Children’s Museum, and MoPOP (the Museum of Popular Culture) are all located on the Seattle Center Campus. These attractions are all covered by the Seattle CityPASS (learn more about saving on Seattle attractions in my review of the Seattle CityPASS here.