Are you planning a Seattle family vacation but aren’t sure how to get from Seattle Center to Pike Place Market? As a local Seattle mom, I’ll share my personal experience of riding the Seattle Monorail with kids!
This guide to riding the Seattle Center Monorail with kids was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Have you heard about the Seattle Center Monorail?
My kids LOVE riding on it from Seattle Center to Westlake Center. It’s the perfect way addition to any family adventure in Seattle!
Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about the Seattle Monorail including how much it costs, where to get tickets, and what to do at each stop.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Seattle blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Seattle with kids.
Popular Seattle Tours/Activities
- Seattle Harbor Cruise (it’s the best way to see the Seattle skyline)
- Pike Place Market Food Tour (it’s the easiest way to hit all the tasty highlights)
- Space Needle and Chihuly Glass Museum (this combo ticket is the cheapest option)
- Seattle Underground Walking Tour (this is perfect for older kids)
- Woodland Park Zoo (great for younger kiddos)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book are really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Seattle Hotels
Brief History of the Seattle Monorail
The Seattle Center Monorail is a historic transportation landmark in Seattle, Washington. It was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition, which was held at the Seattle Center.
The monorail was designed by Alweg Rapid Transit Systems, a German company that specialized in monorail technology. It was built in just eight months, using prefabricated sections that were assembled on-site.
The monorail made its debut on the opening day of the World’s Fair and quickly became a popular attraction for visitors.
After the World’s Fair ended, the monorail was intended to be dismantled. However, it proved to be such a hit with the public that it was saved and has been in operation ever since.
Over the years, the Seattle Monorail services have undergone several upgrades and renovations to ensure its safety and reliability.
Today, the Seattle Center Monorail continues to be a beloved symbol of the city and an important mode of transportation for visitors and locals alike.
It runs a 1.2-mile route between the Seattle Center and downtown Seattle, with a top speed of 45 miles per hour.
The monorail provides breathtaking views of the city and is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Seattle.
Our Seattle Center Monorail Experience
When I decided to surprise my 6-year-old with a trip to the Space Needle, I knew how to make our outing good from good to great: a ride on the Seattle Monorail!
As I’m writing this, I can’t stop saying “monorail” like they did in that episode of the Simpson’s where they do a riff of the Music Man.
It cracks me up because that episode made monorails seem like an old-timey thing, when in fact they are supposed to seem more futuristic.
In fact, our Seattle Monorail was launched as part of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle as a transportation system for the future.
Anyway, after our trip up to the Space Needle, we headed into the Seattle Center and purchased tickets from one of the machines.
Then, we walked a few steps to the Seattle Center Station and waited for our train to arrive.
I think we waited 3-4 minutes and my son posed for about 50 photos as he anxiously waited the arrival of the monorail.
And then it happened. The monorail raced into Seattle Center Station and we patiently waited for the passengers to disembark and for the crew to check the monorail. Then, the doors opened and we were able to select our seats.
My son was a bit miffed that adults grabbed the seats closest to the conductor, but he found a whole bench seat to himself and he was a happy camper.
The ride is very, very short. It’s a total of 2 minutes. It was enough time for my son to get settled, look out the window, and ask if he could have a snack for the ride.
When we arrived at Westlake Center, we walked down 4 flights of stairs and then headed to the Pike Place Market. It’s within easy walking distance from the Westlake Center Station.
How Do You Use the Monorail in Seattle?
To use the Seattle monorail, you will need to purchase a ticket. You can purchase tickets at the monorail ticket vending machines at both Seattle Center and Westlake Station. Tickets are also available online at the Seattle Monorail website.
Once you have your ticket, you will need to board the monorail. The monorail runs every 10 minutes, so you should not have to wait long.
When you board the monorail, you will need to tap your ticket on the fare reader. The monorail ride takes about two minutes. When you arrive at your destination, you will need to tap your ticket on the fare reader again to exit the monorail.
10 Reasons Your Kid Should Ride on the Seattle Monorail
Kids 5 and under ride free
The Seattle Center Monorail only charges $1.75 for kids ages 6-18 and adults are only $3.50.
You can teach your kids about money
There are pay stations at the Seattle Center Station as well as the Westlake Center Station and you can have your kids buy tickets for your family.
There’s only 1 stop, so you won’t get lost
The Monorail travels directly between Westlake Mall (5th Avenue and Pine Street) and Seattle Center (adjacent to the Space Needle and MoPOP). It’s the fastest way to get between these destinations.
The ride is short
It’s only 2 minutes from platform to platform, so even if you don’t enjoy public transportation, you won’t be on it too long.
At Westlake Center, you can access the platform from the elevator located on 5th Ave (between Olive and Pine). At Seattle Center, there are ramps that allow for easy access. There are yellow gates at Seattle Center platform that pull out to allow wheelchairs easy entrance into the trains.
There are fun things on both ends
Seattle Center has the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Theatre, MoPop, Seattle Children’s Museum, the Chihuly Garden, and Space Needle plus countless festivals and events held on the grounds on any given day. Westlake Center has tons of Downtown shopping, plus it’s an easy walk to Pike Place Market.
It’s a unique experience
The Seattle Monorail is one of the few monorails in the United States, and it’s a fun way to get around Seattle.
It’s a fun way to learn about science and technology
The monorail is a great way to teach your kids about science and technology. You can talk about how the monorail works, and you can also point out the different parts of the monorail as you ride.
It’s a great way to start a conversation about public transportation
The monorail is a great way to start a conversation with your kids about public transportation. You can talk about the benefits of public transportation, and you can also talk about how to use public transportation safely.
It’s a convenient way to get around
The monorail runs every 10 minutes, so you won’t have to wait long to get where you’re going.
Seattle Center Monorail FAQs
Yes, the Seattle Center Monorail is still in operation. It is one of the few monorails in the United States that is not owned by a government agency. The monorail is operated by the privately-held Seattle Monorail Company.
The cost of a one-way ride on the Seattle monorail is $3.50 for adults, $1.75 for youth (6-18), and $1.75 for seniors (65+). Children 5 and under ride free. You can also buy a day pass for $12, which allows unlimited rides on the monorail for one day. There’s also the option to purchase tickets at the monorail ticket vending machines at both Seattle Center and Westlake Station. You can also purchase tickets online at the Seattle Monorail website.
The Seattle monorail runs between Westlake Center in Downtown Seattle and Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), and other popular attractions. The monorail ride takes about two minutes.
Yes, you can take the monorail from Seattle Center to Westlake Center. From there, you’ll walk a few blocks to the Seattle waterfront.
Riding the Seattle Center Monorail Wrap-Up
The Monorail provides a convenient and efficient way to travel between downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center, home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks such as the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, and the Chihuly Garden.
One of the greatest benefits of the Seattle Monorail services is that it connects visitors to all of these exciting attractions within easy walking distance of each other, making it the perfect way to explore the city.
For those looking to explore downtown Seattle, the Monorail provides easy access to popular destinations like Pike Place Market and the city’s bustling shopping districts.
Overall, riding the Seattle Monorail is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. From the stunning views to the convenient transportation, it is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the Emerald City.