Visiting Seattle's Space Needle
To the Space Needle and Beyond
When visiting Seattle and the great Pacific Northwest, it’s hard not to notice the Space Needle. Completed in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle rises 605 feet above Seattle. When it was completed back in 1962, not only was it the tallest structure in Seattle but also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
Today, as the Space Needle celebrates its 50th birthday (2012), it remains one of Seattle’s most visited landmarks with over one million visitors every year. If you happen to be in Seattle on a clear, beautiful day, the views from the observation deck of the Space Needle are simply amazing.
Visiting the Space Needle is fairly simple as it’s hard to miss. It’s located in the Seattle Center which is just north of downtown.
Seattle has a monorail that runs from the downtown area to the Seattle Center and they leave every ten minutes so this might be an option if you’re downtown and want to get to the Space Needle without walking. The Seattle Center makes for a great destination as it is home to the Pacific Science Center, the Experience Music Project, the Children’s Museum, and the Key Arena as well as the Space Needle.
What You'll See
The Space Needle has a 360 degree observation deck which is the destination for most visitors. The building also houses a retail store on the ground level and the SkyCity Restaurant which sits above the observation deck.
To get to the observation deck visitors can ride one of two high speed elevators that will take you to the top in a mere 43 seconds. The elevator ride itself is quite a trip as they ride on the outside of the building giving passengers a great view as they climb the tower.
Upon exiting the elevator visitors can go outside onto the observation deck for what is undoubtedly one of the finest views anywhere. On a clear day you will be able to see Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympic Peninsula, the Cascade Mountains and all of the city of Seattle. From this vantage point you can watch the seaplanes as they take off and land in the waters of Lake Washington or watch the ferry’s as they depart Seattle and head out into Puget Sound. The view really is spectacular so take your time as you traverse all the way around the deck looking at the numerous points of interest.
Seattle and Mount Rainier
When to Go
The Space Needle is open 365 days a year so you can visit at any time. Their hours vary depending on the day but for the most part they open between 9 – 9:30 am in the morning and don’t close until 11 – 11:30 pm in the evening.
While I have always gone during the day I think it would be great to visit at night or during sunset to get a really dramatic view. Whenever you do visit just make sure that you are going on a clear day so you can take in the beautiful views. June through September is the driest time of year in Seattle with little rain on average, so pick a nice clear day and head to the Space Needle. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and your camera.
Fees and Deals
Entry fees to go up the Space Needle can be a little pricey. Adults are $22, seniors cost $19, and kids ages 4 through 12 cost $14. Children under the age of 4 are free. If you happen to be a member of AAA you can get a discount on your tickets so be sure to bring your card along. A day/night ticket is also available which can be used twice in a 24 hour period. Visitors who want to see the views during the day and at night may want to look into this.
Probably the best deal is to purchase a Top Sights 5-Pack ticket, which cost $94 for adults and $60 for kids. This pass gets you into five of the top attractions in the Seattle area for one reasonable price. The Top Sights ticket includes a skip the line entry to the top of the Space Needle and entry to the: Seattle Aquarium, a Seattle Harbor Cruise, entry to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, and a round trip on the Seattle Center Monorail. There are a number of other combo tickets available, and the CityPass ticket that includes other attractions including the Museum of Flight, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Zoo, and the excellent Pacific Science Center. We’ve been to most of these attractions and they are all very worthwhile especially if you are traveling with kids.
Pacific Science Center
Enjoy your visit to the Space Needle and the Seattle area. It’s a beautiful part of the country that many people don’t consider visiting due to its rainy reputation. We’ve been to the Seattle area four or five times over the last 20 years always during July or August and the weather has always been spectacular with temperatures in the 70’s to 80’s and no humidity. Enjoy your visit.
Interesting Facts About the Space Needle
- While the very top of the Spaces Needle is at 605 feet the observation deck is at 520 feet, still very high.
- The SkyCity Restaurant located just above the observation deck is actually a revolving restaurant and moves 360 degrees so you can take in all the sights while you’re eating.
- The Space Needle was built to withstand wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
- The Space Needle was constructed to withstand an earthquake up to a magnitude of 9.1.
- There have been a total of six parachute jumps off of the Space Needle. Two of these resulted in the jumper being arrested as they were not authorized. The other four were part of various promotions and were authorized.
- Three people have committed suicide off of the Space Needle all coming in the 1970’s before a safety grid was installed.
- The Space Needle has 25 lightening rods in case of a lightning strike.
- More than 50 million people have visited the Space Needle since its opening in 1962
- On April 21st, 2012 the Space Needle celebrated its 50th birthday.
- The Space Needle is attached to its foundation with 30 foot long bolts, wow! There are 72 of them in all holding it to the foundation.
Ride the Elevator to the Top of the Space Needle
© 2012 Bill De Giulio