The entire Seattle Center (the facility of which the Space Needle is a part) has been turned into a very successful venue for a number of different activities and events, including various performance groups, the Space Needle (of course), several museums, and various event spaces.
The Pacific Science Center is only one museum of several on the grounds of the Seattle Center. As a general rule it makes very good use of the structures it has, which have obviously been repurposed from the event 50 years ago known as the Seattle World's Fair. The structure has a lot of odd features that most such museums would not have (such as the large reflecting pool in the middle of the facility).
Also as a general rule, a very large portion of the exhibits are aimed at getting children interested in science, but at the same time a curious adult could probably make use of some of the interactive explanatory exhibits as well. The sciences on display are a wide range of things, including everything from dinosaurs to space exploration. Interactive exhibits include fully functioning water cannon (see photo 3) built in the old reflecting pool at the center of the old World's Fair exhibit space. There is also a collection of tropical butterflies that may be observed in various stages of development, including flying around in a special tropical garden enclosure in which visitors may get close (but not touch!!!) these wonderful colorful butterflies. See my Tropical Butterfly House travelogue.
Other live animals include several snakes and Naked Mole Rats.
Most tourists from out of town are probably most interested in what is in building 4. This is the part of the building devoted to visiting special exhibits, and there is sometimes some very special shows in this space. Admission to the Pacific Science Center does not include some of these special events (that is, if you buy general admission you don't necessarily get to see what is in Building 4), but at the same time buying entry to the special event in building 4 will almost always include general admission to the exhibits in buildings 1, 2 and 3.
Additional tickets are required for the planetarium shows and the iMax theatre shows. It is possible to purchase tickets to everything as a discount but the total price may be quite high, depending on what shows are showing.
There are two entrances to the Pacific Science Center. The one on the north side of the building faces the large dancing fountain that is part of the grassy courtyard at the center of the Seattle Center, and near the decorative arches over the central reflecting pool. The other entrance faces Denny Way, which is a fairly major through street in Seattle. Parking is available on the far north side of the Seattle Center in a parking garage, but it is also possible to find nearby surface lots. My own suggestion is to take any of a large number of bus routes that go past the Seattle Center as that way you won't have to worry about parking. Bus routes 33 and 24 used to have a stop directly in front of the Denny Way entrance but those have now been removed and the nearest stop for those is now about two blocks west. However, route 8 still serves this stop. Bus routes C, D, 1, 2, 8, 13, and 32 are also nearby, on Queen Anne Avenue and some of those (C, D, and 1, 2 and 8) operate very frequently. 3, 4, and 16 have stops close to the Space Needle, which isn't too far from the Pacific Science Center, and of course there is also the Seattle Monorail, which also is very close to the Space Needle.
This place is more for kids and adults who are big kid. I enjoyed the butterfly room, the music area, and the body exhibit the most. I like the water play area as well but let the kids work the tools in those areas.
The Pacific Science Center has many tremendous buildings built for younger visitors to explore the world around them. One of these is the Butterfly house. A small greenhouse set with lush plants, literally hundreds of butterflies from several dozen species, it is a pleasant stay. They flutter around, landing on people on occasion. There is a space on the side for the pupae as well, so you can watch them hatch into their adult stages. It's a lot of fun, colorful and pleasant. Just sit on the rocks, watch them go about their lives.
For the Pacific Science Center:
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sat-Sun-Holidays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Close at 3 p.m. Dec. 24.
Closed Dec. 25
Adults (13-64) $11, Seniors (65+) $9.50, Juniors (6-12) $8, Kids(3-5) $6