Seattle’s Space Needle, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most distinctive icons, rises 605 feet (184 meters) above the city. What was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River at the time of its construction—built for the 1962 World’s Fair—the tower features a rotating restaurant and an observation deck at 520 feet (158 meters) with 360-degree panoramic views over Seattle and its surroundings.
The Space Needle is a must-do for first-time visitors to Seattle. Book Space Needle observation deck admission to ascend to the flying saucer–esque top in the high-speed elevator, which zips to the sky-high viewing area in just 43 seconds. The sweeping view includes downtown Seattle, and on clear days, it’s possible to look out to Lake Union, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains all the way across the Puget Sound. A visit to this Seattle staple is included on many city sightseeing tours, some of which also head to Pike Place Market. For a real treat, reserve a table for dinner at the SkyCity at the Needle restaurant, which revolves over downtown Seattle, completing one full rotation per hour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to book admission tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long ticket lines.
- At the observation deck, check out the interpretive displays, which identify more than 60 activities in the Seattle area.
- Dinner at SkyCity includes admission to the observation deck.
- All bags are suggest to search prior to entry.
How to Get There
The Space Needle is located in the Seattle Center cultural and entertainment park, just northwest of downtown. The complex also houses Chihuly Garden and Glass, Experience Music Project (EMP), the Science Fiction Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum, and the Seattle Children’s Theatre. You can get to the Space Needle by bus or monorail, and the site offers valet parking.
When to Get There
The Space Needle is open year-round and daily from 10am to 8pm. The site is most crowded on weekends and around sunset, when visitors are afforded prime lighting for the panoramic skyline views. The skiest tend to be clearest during spring and summer.
The Wheedle on the Needle
The 1974 children’s book “Wheedle on the Needle” tells the tale of a large, round, furry creature called the Wheedle who lived in Washington state. Bothered by the whistling of workers first settling the city of Seattle, the grumpy Wheedle moved to Mt. Rainier to escape the noise (though it eventually followed him there). In an effort to silence the noise, the Wheedle gathered clouds in a large sack, returned to Seattle, climbed up the Space Needle, and threw them into the sky to make it rain. The Wheedle has since become a Seattle fixture, even acting as the mascot to the Seattle SuperSonics NBA team before they moved to Oklahoma City.