Outings + Activities | Travel

Sky High? How to Do the Space Needle Right

Make the most of your pricey elevator ride

You don’t want to be that local who has never experienced their city’s most famous tourist attraction, but let’s face it, the Space Needle is expensive (tickets are $14–$22, with kids 4 and younger free), and little kids may be more interested in looking at stuffies in the gift shop anyway.

So what to do when a bucket-list item costs the proverbial arm and leg? Here’s how to get more value from your pricey elevator ride.

A museum twofer: Buy a combined ticket to Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Needle ($36 adult/$22 youth), which saves $8 per adult and $6 per child. You get access to the Space Needle observation deck at a specific “launch time” and to the Chihuly exhibition hall, garden and glasshouse at any time during the same day.

Double stuff: For much less than double the price of single admission ($32 adult/$24 youth), you can visit the Space Needle twice in 24 hours. Pick a launch time in the day and come back at night for a starry view of the city. Buy online.

SkyCity Restaurant: What’s cooler than a rotating restaurant? A meal at SkyCity includes a ticket to the observation deck and offers the same views in a quieter, less crowded environment (and little kids can see out the windows more easily than over the observation deck railing). At about $15 per plate, the kids’ menu (12 and younger) is the same for lunch and dinner, but lunch is much more affordable for adults. Weekend brunch is another option.

Pro tips: Knowing a few things in advance will make your Space Needle trip easier and less stressful.

  • To avoid long waits and limited availability, buy your tickets online in advance. You’ll get a timed ticket that’s good for the “launch time” and date listed. Arrive up to 30 minutes in advance. 

  • Leave strollers on the ground, but you can carry an infant in a car seat. 

  • All ticket prices include a free SpaceSpots photography digital download.

Space Needle alternatives: Views on the cheap

Skip the Needle and try one of these.

Kerry Park: Less than a mile from Seattle Center, perched on Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park offers a stunning view of downtown and Puget Sound — and while it’s not 360 degrees, it is free.

Sky View Observatory: It doesn’t have the historical cachet of the Space Needle, but in downtown Seattle, Columbia Tower’s Sky View Observatory is the tallest 360-degree public viewing area west of the Mississippi (902 feet to the Needle’s 520), and it’s cheaper ($14.75 adult/$9 youth).

Virtual Needle: Download one of two free Space Needle apps), which offer a variety of virtual experiences, such as flying over the city and around the Needle in a seaplane.


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