Over 50 years old, Seattle's most iconic building is as quirky and beloved as ever. The distinctive, towering, 605-foot-high structure is visible throughout much of Seattle—but the view from the inside out is even better. A less-than-one-minute ride up to the observation deck yields 360-degree vistas of Downtown Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, Elliott Bay, Queen Anne Hill, Lake Union, and the Cascade Range. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Needle has educational kiosks, interactive trivia game stations for kids, and the glass-enclosed SpaceBase store and Pavilion spiraling around the base of the tower. The top-floor SkyCity restaurant is "revolutionary" (literally—watch the skyline evolve as you dine) and the elevator trip and observation deck are complimentary with your reservation. If the forecast says you may have a sunny day during your visit, schedule the Needle for that day! If you can't decide whether you want the daytime or nighttime view, for an extra ten bucks you can buy a ticket that allows you to visit twice in one day. (Also look for package deals with Chihuly Garden and Glass.)
Oct 29, 2014
My spouse and I visited the Space Needle on a Monday morning in early August 2014. We did not purchase tickets in advance. However, guests can use the Space Needle website to select their desired tour date and time and to pay for their tickets. (Check out their website even if you do not purchase your tickets that way – it is flashy and informative!) Admission prices vary based on the season and time of day. More popular / crowded times of day command
higher ticket prices. If you want to pre-book and pre-pay for your, ticket but you are not sure what time you will visit, one option allows you to be flexible with your time. Thus, you select the day that you want to visit, but not the exact time. However, you pay the more expensive price even if you actually visit at a less busy time. You can buy different versions of an access pass: some combination tickets include entry to the Space Needle as well as entry to the nearby Chihuly Gardens and Glass. The Space Needle is located in Seattle Center, a parcel of land that is home to the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, the (Frank Gehry-designed) Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum (EMP / SFM), Children's Museum, International Fountain, and the Seattle opera and ballet venues. You can reach Seattle Center by walking, city bus, or by monorail (it is a 10-minute, $2.25 per person, one-way trip from Westlake Center Station to Seattle Center. You can also drive your own car: the Space Needle offers valet parking, although at busy times, it may be limited to guests who dine at the on-site restaurant. SkyCity is the revolving restaurant located on the floor beneath the observation deck. The chef is Jeff Maxfield, who has cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. The restaurant is open for lunch on weekdays, brunch on weekends, and dinner daily. It is located 520 feet in the air, and rotates 360 degrees. A counter-service café is located on the observation level, and serves sandwiches, snacks, and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). We purchased a combination ticket for the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens, which cost approximately $40 USD per person. The ticket price varies based on the time of day and the size of the crowds, and we visited during a less-expensive and less-crowded time (approximately 10:00 am on a weekday). Both the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens accept credit cards to purchase admission tickets. Before you board one of the elevators that whisks you 520 feet to the observation deck in 41 seconds (the actual top of the flashing beacon is 605 feet tall), a photographer takes your complimentary picture against a “blue screen” (more on that later). The staff member then directed us to a waiting elevator that took us to the top of the Space Needle. From the observation deck 500+ feet above the ground, guests have a panoramic view of the city, mountains, and water. In addition to the photo the staff member took of us on the ground, we took a “selfie” in the appointed spot on the observation deck (using their equipment). Later, you can use a self-serve kiosk in the enclosed portion of the observation deck (or in the gift shop at street level), to download and e-mail a complimentary photo to yourself. You can purchase additional special photographs from the photo desk. Your image is super-imposed against the Seattle background of your choice (top of the Space Needle, in daytime, at night, on a ferry, and so on). Choose wisely, because you can only e-mail your favorite (single) photo / background to yourself. (We sent ourselves several e-mails with all the various backgrounds, but ultimately, we received only the last photo that we sent.) When we planned our trip to Seattle, we debated about visiting the Space Needle, thinking that it might be too touristy. Yes, it is a popular, crowded, and frequently visited sight, and admission is pricey, but we are glad that we did not miss our chance to travel to the top of this icon Seattle structure!