Space Needle, Seattle

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  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by solopes Updated Feb 20, 2014

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    Seattle - USA
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    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.

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    The Space Needle: What Everyone Thinks Of

    by glabah Updated Jan 29, 2014

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    Space Needle at Night
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    Naturally when someone says Seattle the first structure that comes to mind is the Space Needle.

    One common story told by the elevator attendants in the needle has it that the Space Needle 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 (the Smith Tower on the south side of Seattle had previously held that title since 1914 to show what a huge contrast the Space Needle was to anything else on the west coast). Today, though, the Space Needle 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 or other winter month. The fact is that the wind is pretty cold in Seattle even in the summer months. There is, however, and indoor deck as well as the enclosed restaurant that is one floor below the upper deck. You may want to take a look around at the displays inside, as they give you land marks of what you are seeing. Also, from time to time there are special artifact displays in this room.

    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.) The deal offered in the 2012 CityPass book was pretty good, and I hope it is repeated for future tourists to use. It means you get to use a special line that moves faster than the normal elevator line, and it means you can go up in the Needle twice in a 24 hour period so you can get daytime and night time views.

    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.

    Parking is available around the Seattle Center (the complex on which the Space Needle sits) as well as valet parking at an extra price. However, I just took the bus there or walked, as there are a huge number of bus routes that converge near the Space Needle and thus it is less of a hassle to do that.

    A few more photos:
    I have some daytime photos from 14 August 2012 in a Travelogue here:
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/c2544/

    Less expensive alternatives with a view include Smith Tower, and Columbia Center Sky View, but there are also free of charge viewpoints that are quite spectacular such as the famous Kerry Park (offering the famous view of the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and downtown Seattle), as well as The Water Tower inside Volunteer Park.

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  • starship's Profile Photo

    The Space Needle ~ First on the List

    by starship Updated Jul 22, 2013

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    Seattle's Defining Monument

    One of the first places we wanted to see in Seattle was the "Space Needle", of course. When I think of Seattle, the Space Needle immediately comes to mind and as it has been the symbol of Seattle since opening for the 1962 World's Fair.

    Riding the elevator up to the top might just make you a little weak in the knees if heights bother you. But it is worth a little angst to experience the Space Needle. Topping out at 605 ft. tall, the Space Needle offers probably the best place from which to view the city and surrounding suburbs; and the views seem to go on forever! Just like the Empire State Building, there are permanently placed binoculars located every few feet to take advantage of the view upclose or at least a little closer.

    The Observation Deck is located at 520 feet and houses its own snack bars and small gift shop area. We had a small snack and drink before we went back down because we just didn't want to leave yet -- we just wanted to soak up as much of the view as possible. The famous, revolving "Sky City" restaurant is slightly lower at 500 feet and is the portion of the Space Needle that looks somewhat like a flying saucer!

    On the ground floor you will be overwhelmed by an incredibly large, but thoughtful and well-stocked gift shop with anything you can possibly imagine having to do with the Space Needle ~ postcards, framed art, books, bookmarks, clothes, cards, toys, and really just too much to mention. I thought there were actually some very tasteful souvenirs here.

    NOTE: For antique memorabilia of the Space Needle and the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, have a look in the antique stores in Pioneer Square!!

    Adult Admission: $13.00; Youth: $6.00 (2004 prices)

    The monorail leaving from the Westlake Center would bring you right to the Space Needle, BUT when we were there in 2004, and again in July, 2006, the monorail was still not operational due to a previous fire.

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  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by mickeyboy07 Written Feb 26, 2012

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    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

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  • joiwatani's Profile Photo

    Listen to Peruvian Music at the Space Needle

    by joiwatani Written Oct 7, 2011

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    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.

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  • Homanded's Profile Photo

    Top of Seattle Space Needle

    by Homanded Written Jul 11, 2011
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    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.

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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    A view from the Dinner Table

    by grandmaR Updated Jun 11, 2011

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    On a clear day 2011
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    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:

    THE UNEXPECTED
    * 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.

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  • HotSpotJ's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by HotSpotJ Written Apr 5, 2011
    Space Needle

    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.

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  • lashr1999's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by lashr1999 Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Space Needle

    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.

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  • wanderlust23's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by wanderlust23 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

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  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    View From The Top Of The City...

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 10, 2010

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    Looking up at the Space Needle
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    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.

    Hours:

    Observation Deck:
    Sunday – Thursday 10:00am – 9:00pm
    Friday – Saturday 9:30am – 10:00pm

    Admission:

    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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  • travelfrosch's Profile Photo

    You Needled Me...

    by travelfrosch Updated Mar 3, 2010

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    Sara and me on the observation deck

    A trip to Seattle wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Space Needle. While you can go to the restaurant or the gift shop, the obvious thing to do is to go to the observation deck for a 360 degree view of the area.

    As of March 2010,A trip to the observation deck costs $17 for an adult, $9 for children 4-13 years of age, and $15 for seniors. Annual passes and various other combinations are available -- check the website for details. And speaking of the website, you can order your tickets online. Make your purchases, receive a confirmation number, and either receive tickets in the mail or pick up the tickets at the Space Needle ticket booth.

    The observation deck is open daily from 9AM - Midnight. Occasionally, the deck is closed for a private function -- check the website for details.

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    Go up in That Thing

    by goodfish Updated Feb 11, 2010

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    That thing
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    Every city has its big-tall-thing-you-must-go-up.
    They always cost too much.
    They always involve standing in long lines.
    They always try to sell you overpriced souvenirs you will hate once you get home.

    The Space Needle is no exception.

    Built for the 1962 World's Fair, this landmark is nonetheless Seattle's most-recognized icon and so The Husband said what the h*ll - we can say we did it. Fortunately, we're early risers so made the queue at the opening hour and only stood around long enough to be mildly annoyed. An elevator with a chatty operator takes you up 520 feet to an observation deck with 360 degree panoramas of city and bay. You look around. Take some pictures. Mission accomplished.

    So, there's a snack bar on the O.D, a very expensive restaurant on a different level, and a tchotchke shop at the base so blindfold the kids before you exit the elevator. Tickets for the big people are $17 a pop, less for smaller people and seniors. You can also get the $22 combo ticket that lets you stand in line not once but twice - once during the day and once again that evening. The view? Yes it's very nice but there's another place that's even better and FREE so watch for it farther along my tip list.

    I would put this on the back burner on a rainy or very hazy day.
    The Needle is located on the southeast side of an area called Seattle Center. Other attractions here are an IMAX theater, Seattle Children's Museum, Children's Theater, Experience Music Project, monorail and a bunch of other stuff. See the Needle website for info on that, and Seattle Center website for the skinny on the general area.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 9, 2009

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    Space Needle adds some B-movie flair

    If Seattle has one bona-fide sight it is surely the Space Needle. Back in 1962 when it was built for the World's Fair it must have been pretty....well, spacey. Now, it is more hokey but that's okay. It has this B movie aura that is somehow perfect for the nerdy, caffeine-infused culture that is Seattle. Standing at 605 feet there are certainly taller towers in the world and even taller buildings in Seattle but its solitary location and odd shape make it easily the first thing you see when arriving in town. You can take an elevator to the top (well, not quite the top but up to the observation deck at 520 feet) for $16 or shell out $21 for the privilege of going up during the day and that same night. There's also a restaurant 20 feet lower for those that just can't get enough of the place. My guess is the food is overpriced and not all that great but hey, it must have a nice view. My only problem with this view is the iconic Space Needle is nowhere to be seen . That's because you are in it. For the classic shot of Seattle, head up to Kerry Park where you can see the entire Seattle skyline including the Space Needle. If you are lucky you can see Mount Rainier looming in the background. The combination of Rainier and the Needle IS Seattle. Man's quest to better nature, failed again.

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  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo

    Space Needle

    by SteveOSF Updated Oct 18, 2008

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    The Space Needle
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    This 600 foot high tower was built in 1962. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River. The top of the Space Needle houses an observation deck. An elevator will rapidly take you to the top after what might be a long wait below. The observation deck offers panoramic views of the city. We ascended the Space Needle on a clear night and were treated to fantastic views of Seattle.

    Drinks and snacks are available at the observation deck. A restaurant is situated just below the deck. This restaurant will fill up so reservations are highly recommended.

    The admission price for the observation deck is about $15. This makes the Space Needle a bit of a tourist trap. However, it is worth visiting at least once on a clear day or night to see the views. A rather large gift shop is located in the base of the tower.

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