Naturally when someone says Seattle the first structure that comes to mind is the Space Needle.
It was built somewhat by accident: the vendor that was supposed to have that site at the 1962 World's Fair backed out, and so a local construction company was asked what they could put there to fill the void.
50 years later that "What Could You Put There?" is still there, and still a monument to the optimistic side of the 1960s. The flying saucer top of the structure still resembles structures from the cartoon family "The Jetsons" and the goal of being a 21st Century Eiffel Tower for North America has been reasonably fulfilled.
When completed it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, but now is only the 6th tallest building in Seattle, but still by far the most recognizable of the structures that dot the Seattle skyline.
Thankfully, while it no longer dominates the Seattle skyline as it once did, it still dominates the north side of town as most of the structures surrounding it are only a few stories tall. Thus, for now at least, it is still possible to get some impression of what the skyline of Seattle once was like when the Space Needle was new, and stood apart among the various structures of the city.
By far the best deal for visiting the Space Needle is what is included in the Seattle City Pass and a few other such coupon books. For this booklet provides two entries to the Space Needle with the purchase of the book - it isn't a discount entry ticket such as the $2 off coupon for the Woodland Park Zoo, but a complete entry ticket to the Space Needle - and (at least in the current CityPass Book) you can actually enter the Space Needle twice in 24 hours - once during the day to see the daytime features, and once at night to see the night features. If it isn't economical to buy everything that is included with the CityPass, you may also want to consider purchasing a joint ticket for the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is next door to the Space Needle (see my Chihuly Garden and Glass tip.
Keep in mind the outdoor deck is quite a bit colder and windier than what you feel at ground level. This is especially important to remember if visiting at night, or during December.
The problem with visiting the Space Needle in late summer is that is when the pollution and haze is most obstructive of the view. You may be able to see a little ways, and especially out into the Olympic Mountains, but the view to the east will likely be obstructed that time of year. For a true 360 degree view of the snow capped peaks including the Cascades and Mount Baker, you need a clear winter day, but that is when the wind at the outdoor viewing deck is going to be the coldest and harshest.
While there is parking around the Space Needle and the Seattle Center, I highly suggest getting there on public transit. Weekdays are generally less crowded.
The basic configuration:
+ The bottom floor is almost completely a gift shop. Some things are better off purchased elsewhere, but a few things are unique to the Space Needle gift shop as the family that owns the Space Needle (yes, it remains privately owned) contracts certain unique items for sale in their store that are unlikely to be found anywhere else. Valet parking is available, but really due to congestion in the small area that makes up the Space Needle drop off area it is best to take public transit here.
+ If you have a CityPass or similar card, you will be directed to the special upstairs area, where you get a Space Needle photo (at least for 2012 this is included in the CityPass ticket for the Space Needle). You will be asked to go through a security check point where they check purses, backpacks and the like for weapons or bombs, and then board the elevator.
+ If you just have a ticket for the Space Needle, you will board at the gift shop. There is a special waiting area set aside there.
+ The elevator operator provides a well-timed speech during the 82 second trip to the top of the Space Needle. There are windows in the elevators, but usually they are crowded to capacity so that only those that plan their elevator entry carefully are able to see out the windows.
+ The top deck is where you are typically let off, unless you are specifically going to the restaurant just below the observation deck. The indoor section of the observation deck is slightly higher than the outdoor section, so that it is possible to see over the top of people outside from inside.
+ If you look at photo 4, you will see that there are multiple computer touch screens inside. These provide information about a number of different landmarks that may be seen from the Space Needle, but a number have also been left out I noticed.
+ Photography from the top of the Space Needle is possible, but it is necessary to lean over the railing and point the camera through the protective wire mesh. Items below the Space Needle are blocked by the protective barrier (which is designed to also be part of the Flying Saucer styling), and if possible those are best photographed from the elevators, which have no such obstacles looking downward. However, it is not possible to be very selective about which elevator you are put into for your ascent or descent - it all happens to be where you fall in line.
+ The prices in the restaurant will knock your socks off, at least if you look at the online menu. However, the observation deck itself features a number of snack items, and even wine and a few other items, that really are not too badly priced. So, it is possible to eat up there without spending the huge amount of money required for the restaurant.
I would never have gone up into the Space Needle if it hadn't been for someone giving me a partly used CityPass book. There are simply too many other great viewpoints in Seattle that are free of charge. However, it is still a very good viewpoint, and the one of the few with a true 360 degree view, but to really take advantage of it it needs to be a very clear day.
Ticket Prices (if not purchased as part of CityPass or other special package): $19, or $26 for a double entry ticket for one entry during the day and one during the night. See also the web site for the Chihuly Garden and Glass as they have a joint entry ticket with the Space Needle that winds up being a decent deal as well.
Hours: Typically open 9 am to Midnight. However, special events or maintenance may close part or all of the observation deck. Check the web site to see posted events to make sure your visit does not conflict with any closures.
A few more photos:
I have some daytime photos from 14 August 2012 in a Travelogue here:
The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle and a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest region.Located at the Seattle Center it was built for the 1962 World's Fair,during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators.The Needle is 605ft(184m) high and 138ft(42m) wide and weighs 9,550 tons.It features an observation deck,gift shop and a rotating restaurant named 'SkyCity'.from the top of the tower one can see spectacular views of downtown Seattle as well as the 'Olympic' and 'Cascade' Mountains.
Opening Times:Sun-Thu-9am till 1pm,Fri-Sat-9am till 12am
See website for ever changing prices
A really beautiful structure, a fast elevator, but the best pictures are taken from the ground, and the price you pay to go to the top is exaggerated for what you get there.
However, even knowing that, everybody goes to the top, so... we did the same.
This group had been singing at the Space Needle for a long time. Every time I have visitors, I bring them to the Space Needle and while waiting for my visitors at the Space Needle, I just sit down closeby and listen to their Peruvian music. I enjoyed their instrumental cultural music. I bought three of their CD's.
Apart from singing with their Peruvian instruments, they also sell some arts and crafts from Peru including their own CD's.
You can support them by buying their CD's for $15.00 and buying the crafts they are selling and/or giving them donations. They used their guitar case to throw your donations. They appreciate it.
Very touristy (I almost added it to the "Tourist Traps" section) but a must do if you're in Seattle.
We were fortunate and went on a day with no crowds, early morning with clear blue skies and zero wait time.
By the looks of the cordoned off areas however we could tell it was a virtual Disney World or Epcot Center during busy times.
Many others have given the specifics of the Space Needle, so I'll skip that and just tell you my experience.
Since I was taking a class from 8:15 to 3:15, I had only the late afternoon and weekend in which to squeeze all the sightseeing I wanted to do.
Since I also was by myself, I had to figure out a place to eat that was interesting. I discovered that when you eat dinner at the Space Needle, your elevator ride is included in the price, plus you don't have to stand in line for a ticket. So I did that.
My dinner, including tea to drink, dessert and tip was $37.05. At the time, the elevator ride was $6.00 so my dinner was really only $31.05. It was a good dinner, and I enjoyed the view. I did this again in 2011 with Bob.
I found the following information on their website amusing:
* Plans to build a stork's nest atop the Needle were canceled when it was learned that storks could not live in Seattle's climate and would migrate to warmer climates.
* The city of Fife, Washington offered $1 million to move the Space Needle to its downtown.
* During the fair, private planes that flew near the Needle were reported to the authorities only if they were so close their wing numbers could be read.
* There have been six parachute jumps from the Needle; two were unauthorized and the other four were part of a promotion.
* As an April Fool's joke a local television station aired a phony report that the Space Needle had fallen over. Emergency phone lines were swamped with calls. The Space Needle received more than 700 calls, even though there was a flashing alert during the entire report telling the audience that it was a joke. One Spokane man even jumped in his car and began driving to Seattle because his daughter worked at the Space Needle.
* The Space Needle moved 312 feet SW in June 1987. The move was only on paper, however. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began a 10-year project of re-mapping the earth by satellite. Major structures, such as the Space Needle, were used as landmarks.
Seattles Space Needle has always given the cities horizon that unique look, hovering above the trees and hills of the city. It is very easy to get to and has a ton of parking, and for just under $20 you can take a ride to the top. there is also a restaraunt in the needle, and for that it would be smart to make reservations. The restarant serves by pre-paid courses, so bring your budget.
This is one of the more memorable symbols of Seattle which was built for 1962 World's Fair. At over 600 feet tall, the Space Needle has the best views of the city. Try the day and night pass to see the city bathed in light and then in darkness.
If you have the coin, check out the revolving Sky City restaurant for a romantic dinner with a great view that changes. I love seeing the city at night. If you don't have a chance to go here, at least check out the webcam below for a view of the city.
From the top of this landmark, made for a World's Fair, one can see the Cascade range of mountains, Mount Ranier (a 14,000 ft. volcano), Elliot Bay, and the surrounding islands. An elevator takes travellers to the top of this landmark.
The cost is $13 for adults (ages 14-64), $6 for kids ages 4 to 13, $11 for Seniors (65+), and free for children under age three. Military discounts are also given as well as day and night passes.
There is a restuarant, "SkyCity," at the top which revolves 360 degrees in one hour, giving one a complete view of Seattle from every angle. For views, visit SkyWay Restaurant.
The Space Needle is the most famous symbol of Seattle. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair and was literally finished the day before the Fair opened.
The architecture of the Space Needle was a compromise of two designs - one of a giant balloon tethered to the ground and the other of a concept of a flying saucer. The end result is not a very pretty building.
The Space Needle is 605 feet high and 138 feet wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. It was built to withstand winds of 200 mph and earthquakes up to 9.5 magnitude. It also has 25 lightning rods on the roof the prevent lightning damage.
The Space Needle has an observation deck at 520 feet, and a gift shop with the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet. From the top you can see the downtown skyline as well as the surrounding mountains and islands.
Elevators to the observation deck travel at 10 mph and the trip to the top takes 43 seconds. On windy days elevators are slowed to 5 mph.
This is a very popular attraction in Seattle and the wait for an elevator can be an hour long, but it's definintely a must see in Seattle. Hopefully you can make the trip when the sky is not too cloudy!
You can buy your tickets online to avoid the lines. Check website for details.
Sunday – Thursday 10:00am – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday 9:30am – 10:00pm
Adult (ages 14-64): $16.00
Youth (ages 4-13): $9.00
Child (age 3 & under): Free
Senior (ages 65+): $14.00
Please note that all visitor information is correct as of this writing.
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