The Seattle Space Needle: Complete Guide for Your Visit from a Local’s Perspective

Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by admin

The Space Needle is the most iconic symbol of Seattle. The Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair to symbolize humanity’s exploration of space. At 605 feet tall, you will surely feel a rush of adrenaline when the elevator takes you to the upper viewing decks. Whether you’re planning to visit Seattle for a day or a week, a visit to the Space Needle is a must-do item on your itinerary. This post will provide you everything you need to know for visiting the Space Needle in Seattle.

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Seattle Space Needle Visit Guide

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Visiting Seattle on a rainy day? No problem! Check out our post on 24 Rainy Day Activities in Seattle.

Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions. For instance, if you plan on visiting the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden and Glass, or Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, we highly recommend that you look into purchasing the CityPASS. For more information about CityPASS, click here. 


About the Space Needle

Brief History

The Space Needle was built in about 400 days. It was built specifically for the World’s Fair in 1962, which Seattle hosted. During that first year, millions of people visited the Space Needle, including Elvis Presley! 

The Space Needle has changed a lot over the years. Today the Space Needle is painted white, but when it was first built, it was a lot more colorful. The core was painted an olive green, the saucer was a red-ish orange, and the roof was painted gold. (Only the legs were painted white at the time.)

The Space Needle continued to make headlines over the years. In 1989, a local news station ran a fake report on April Fools Days saying that the Space Needle had fallen over. Emergency lines were flooded with concerned callers! (Obviously it was just a practical joke.)

In 1999, the Space Needle officially became a City of Seattle Landmark

In 2018, the Space Needle underwent a major renovation to enhance the viewing experience. Glass walls and benches (“Skyrisers”) were placed in the outdoor viewing platform. Guests can now take photos on the top deck with no fences obstructing the view! Additionally, the world’s first and only rotating, glass-floor (“The Loupe”) was installed in the lower viewing deck. Now, you can literally see Seattle beneath your feet!

Currently, the Space Needle receives over one million visitors each year!

Be sure to see our post on the 101 Best Things to Do in Seattle. We put together the ultimate list!


woman and baby at the Space Needle
My baby and I at the top of the Space Needle. 


Visiting the Space Needle

Address: 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109

Operating hours vary by day of the week and time of year, so it’s important that you check the official website to see hours of operation on the day you want to visit. The last entry is 45 minutes before closing time.

Currently, you can purchase tickets in advance of your visit via timed entry. 

If you’re planning on visiting multiple Seattle attractions, you might want to purchase a CityPASS to potentially save money.

Parking in downtown Seattle can sometimes be stressful. If you’re bringing your own vehicle, we recommend that you park at the Seattle Center’s 5th Avenue N Parking Garage. (It’s a quick walk from there to the Space Needle.) You can also take the monorail, bus, or a ride share.

See our guide The Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle to help you plan your trip!

If you have young children and are bringing a stroller, please note that strollers aren’t permitted to the top. You’ll have to park them in a specially designated area outside. There was an attendant nearby, but we removed all of our belongings from our stroller before it leaving it there. (We didn’t bring our ergo baby carrier that day, but I wish we would have! If we had brought it, we wouldn’t have had to carry our baby the entire visit.)

Space Needle

See our perfect weekend itinerary for Seattle here. We share what to see in 2.5 days!

Visiting the Space Needle at Night

There’s no doubt that when you visit during the day, you’ll likely get excellent views of the city, the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. But what if you want to visit at night? Is it still worth it? We think so!

We’ve been to the Space Needle at night and really enjoyed the experience. We got to see the city lit up at night, and still experience all the adrenaline of traveling to the top of the needle. 

To get the best of both worlds, we recommend that you visit the Space Needle at sunset if possible. That way, you’ll see the daytime and nighttime views during the same visit.

baby and woman at the Space Needle
Check out that glass floor!

What to Bring to the Space Needle

  • Packable rain jacket (Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, the weather can change quickly. This rain jacket folds down small and can be easily packed in a bag for when you need it.)
  • Comfortable daypack (When exploring the city, you’ll want a comfortable daypack to place all of your belongings, snacks, and souvenirs.)
  • Portable charger (You’ll be using your phone for maps, navigation, and photos, so make sure you don’t run out of battery while you’re on the go.)
  • Insulated water bottle (This water bottle will keep your water cooler for longer.)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (When exploring a new city, you’ll be walking quite a bit. Make sure you have comfortable shoes! Brooks has been my favorite brand so far.)
  • Flannel shirt (This is Seattle after all. Time to look the part in your photos!)


Things to Do at the Space Needle

You might think of a visit to the Space Needle as a singular experience, but there’s actually a lot to do during your visit!

Riding the Elevator

The elevators to the top have glass windows, so you can see the city as you rise up 520 feet to the viewing platforms. It takes 43 seconds to travel to the top. When you first enter the elevator, try to get a spot next to one of the windows for the best views. When you’re boarding the elevator, it won’t be immediately obvious where the windows are, so you can always ask the operator where you should stand for a good view.

Welcome Photo

A professional photographer will take your photo and you can have the digital copy. You can choose from several Seattle backdrops. The digital downloads are easy for sharing!

Indoor Observation Deck

Even on a rainy day, you can enjoy a visit to the Space Needle. The indoor observation deck has glass panels that will still let you see the city around you.

Open-Air Viewing Area

This is one of my favorite areas of the Space Needle. The glass benches are called “Skyrisers.” Although they are securely placed against glass walls, they are not for the faint of heart! They provide unobstructed views of the city. 

The Loupe 

The Loupe floor below features the world’s only glass, rotating floor. You can even see the gears turn below your feet! If you’re afraid of heights, this might be a difficult experience. But don’t worry, engineers have worked hard to make the glass floor safe. There are 10 different layers of structural glass in the Loupe floor.

Walk the Oculus Stairs

The staircase the connects the Loupe with the upper viewing deck is made from glass, steel, and wood. 

Try the Stratos VR

The Stratos VR is a virtual reality experience that visually simulates what it would be like to bungee jump.

Atmos Café

No reservations required, this cafe sells coffee and espresso (a Seattle staple!), beer and wine, and local snacks.

The Loupe Lounge

If you have a larger budget, you might enjoy making reservations for seating at the Loupe Lounge. They offer curated meals and drinks for adults ages 21 and over. (See their website here.) This experience would make for a fabulous date night.

Gift Shop

At the base of the Space Needle is a gift shop filled with all sorts of local souvenirs. As far as gift shops go, it’s one of our favorites! There’s lot of things to choose from across every budget. If you need to pick up some gifts, this is a good spot to do your shopping. We also recommend purchasing souvenirs at Pike Place Market. (We wrote a full post about what to buy here!)

view of MoPOP from the Space Needle
View of the MoPOP from the Space Needle. 


You can check out our post on the MoPOP here. (It’s one of our favorite places to visit in Seattle!)

Seattle is known for coffee. Want to find the perfect cup? See our post on the best coffee shops in Seattle.

Special Events

Base 2 Space

Ever wondered what it would be like to skip the elevator and take the stairs to the top? During the Base 2 Space event, you will scale 832 open-air stairs to support cancer research. More details on this event can be found here.

Drinks on the Deck

This special event is coming soon to the Space Needle. When available, you can purchase to have seated drinks outdoors (afternoon) or indoors (sunset champagne). More information about this event is linked here.

New Years Eve Fireworks

Every New Year’s Eve, fireworks are lit atop the Space Needle. Last year, the event was purely virtual due to covid. I’m not sure if they will be hosting a New Year’s Eve party this year, but hopefully the tradition will return as soon as it’s safe to participate!

Happy New Year from Seattle, Washington's Space Needle, USA - pink and white“Happy New Year from Seattle, Washington’s Space Needle, USA – pink and white” by Wonderlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo Tips for the Space Needle

In addition to taking photos while at the Space Needle itself, we recommend the following locations for excellent photos of the Space Needle.

Kerry Park

Kerry Park Seattle Space Needle

One of my favorite places to view the Space Needle is from Kerry Park. This small park has expansive views of the Seattle skyline, and it’s where many postcards of Seattle are photographed. Chances are, if you’ve seen a postcard of Seattle, the photo was taken from this spot! On a clear day, you can even see Mount Rainier in the background.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Space Needle from Chihuly Garden and Glass

With admission to the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, you can see the Space Needle through the glass roof in one of the final exhibits. It makes for a cool photo due to the sharp contrast between the steel Space Needle and the delicate glass flowers of the museum. Both space and earth are represented symbolically.


Seattle Space Needle and MoPOP

If you head to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), you can take photos of the Space Needle in the background with the metal panels of the museum in the foreground. It’s the perfect spot to capture Seattle’s funky vibe! See our full post on the MoPOP here for more information on what to do at this interactive museum.



Where to Stay in Seattle  

The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is a 5-minute walk from Pike Place Market. It’s a gorgeous 5-Star hotel located centrally in downtown Seattle. If you can afford it, this is our first recommendation. The hotel has an outdoor infinity pool with a view of the Seattle waterfront, lots of amenities, and is within walking distance of a lot of Seattle attractions.

The only hotel that’s actually within Pike Place Market is the Inn at the Market. You can’t get a better location! You’ll be able to watch Pike Place Market come alive in the morning, and you’ll be well-positioned to grab lots of delicious meals and snacks. See our full post on Pike Place Market here for food ideas!

The Charter Hotel Seattle is a moderately-priced hotel that’s only one block away from Pike Place Market. It’s also only a mile away from the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is located). The hotel is sleek and many of the rooms have nice city views.

The Seattle Marriott Waterfront has views of the water, as well as an indoor-outdoor pool. Every room has a view of the mountains and water.

For a full list of hotels in Seattle, click here.

We wrote an article about our favorite hotels in downtown Seattle. You can check it out here! We go into greater detail about hotel locations, amenities, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you visit the Space Needle if you have a fear of heights?

The entire experience is based on showcasing its elevation. The elevators have windows, the outdoor viewing deck has glass walls, and the Loupe observation deck has a glass floor. That being said, it’s possible to remain on the upper deck (inside) with the non-glass floor if you desire.

How long should you spend at the Space Needle?

We recommend at least spending 2-3 hours at the Space Needle. By the time you ride to the top and look at all three viewing areas, you could easily spend an hour or two. If you want to have beverages or snacks, you might need more time.

Is visiting the Space Needle worth it?

Yes! Don’t leave Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. You’ll get to see sweeping views of the city, and you’ll get to experience the world’s only rotating, glass floor. You will also be able to take amazing photos on the Skyrisers.

When is the best time to visit the Space Needle?

We recommend visiting the Space Needle at sunset, if possible, so you can get both daytime and nighttime views during the same visit. If you’re able to choose your date based on the weather, a clear day will give you more expansive views. (You might also be more comfortable on the outdoor viewing deck.)

Why is it called the Space Needle?

The term was first coined by Edward E. Carlson in 1959. He had drawn a picture of the structure on a napkin and called it a “Space Needle.” The name stuck!

Why is the Space Needle painted orange?

The top of the Space Needle was re-painted its original gold (orange-ish) color in 2022 to celebrate its golden anniversary. The Space Needle is now 60 years old! The original color will last for 6 months to commemorate the anniversary. 

Summary: Our Visit to the ‘Seattle Needle’

We hope you enjoyed this post on the Space Needle! We worked hard on researching the information for this article. I’ve been to the Space Needle more times than I can count, and it never disappoints. It’s truly an iconic Seattle landmark. If you’re visiting Seattle, you absolutely must add the Space Needle to your itinerary. The Space Needle is one of our favorite places to take guests – we hope you enjoy it too!

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