I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life, but the Space Needle never gets old. Whenever we drive past it, I get a sense of pride about my city. So, when my 3-year-old started asking if we could go up in the Space Needle, I was thrilled.

The Space Needle graciously offered me 2 tickets. Since children under age 5 are free, I decided to make this a fun play date. I invited my friend and her 3-year-old to join us for this adventure. We rode on the Seattle Monorail to get there, which I highly recommend!

When we arrived, I tried to head to the Will Call booth to pick up my tickets but it was closed. So, I stood in the long line for the ticketing windows for about 10 minutes before the Will Call window opened. I ducked out of line and waited patiently for my turn.

After picking up the tickets, we headed into the 11:00am-11:30am line. It was just before 11:00am. The line slowly crept up to the security area where we were told to open our bags. The security officer was very friendly. We continued to slowly work our way up to the photo area. There were a couple of tour groups that bypassed our section of the line. This slowed the line down a lot.

Seattle Space Needle Photo Op
This was the photo backdrop we picked to download at the Seattle Space Needle. Photo credit: Space Needle

When we finally got close to the elevator, we were invited to take a group photo. I haven’t met a photo op I didn’t like, so I was thrilled! We were ushered to stand in front of the green screen and they took one photo and moved us along. There wasn’t even time to get my baby to turn his head. But, it was super busy. I wonder if they take a few more shots on less crowded days.

After our photo, we waited in another line for the elevator. The kids had a lot of questions about why were were waiting in yet another line. When we got in the elevator, the guide encouraged all kids to come forward. The elevator is made of glass and this was a great opportunity for the kids to see the view as we raced to the top of the Space Needle. Our kids loved it! The guide also did his “elevator” speech about the Space Needle and showed us where scenes from Grey’s Anatomy took place.

Seattle Space Needle
The kids weren’t sure about hanging on the deck in the rain.

When we got to the observation deck, we realized just how rainy it was. The inside area was packed and hardly anyone was outside. Being the Seattle natives we are, my friend and I just ushered the kids outside to see what we were dealing with. Because of the wind, we were able to walk around the deck to get to spots that were shielded from the rain.

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Seattle Space Needle
My baby was a trooper as we wandered the nearly vacant observation deck in the rain.

There are several doors that lead inside around the observation deck. We ended up walking outside until we reached a door. Then we’d walk inside until the next door that led outside. This was a good way to keep the kids happy.

Seattle Space Needle
This was one of the few hands-on exhibits inside the observation level of the Seattle Space Needle.

I was really surprised that the Space Needle wasn’t more focused on serving children. We saw plenty of families with children and we were there on a weekday in May. I can only imagine how many kids visit during the Summer. My friend and I noticed that there were no step stools or areas for children to actually see over the wall on the observation deck. We kept having to lift them up, which was difficult as I already was carrying a baby.

Seattle Space Needle
The boys found these levers that weren’t connected to anything and it entertained them for quite awhile.

However, the kids didn’t seem to mind the lack of kid-oriented activities. They were pretty content looking at different telescopes, pulling levers, and trying to figure out the photo kiosk. They were both excited to know they were at the top of the Space Needle.

Telescopes at Space Needle
The telescopes were a hot commodity for our kids!

Of course, like any tourist attraction, the exit was through the gift shop. Normally, I find that a bit irritating when I’m traveling. My family tends to linger in the gift shop. However, this gift shop is one of my favorites. Not only is it enormous (it takes up the whole base of the Space Needle.) But it offers locally-made items with a Pacific Northwest flair. I was really impressed with the children’s section. I found lots of children’s books, toys and clothing that didn’t scream “souvenir.” I will probably swing by next time I’m at Seattle Center just to shop for gifts.

Seattle Space Needle Gift Shop
This was the first item that “caught” my eye at the Seattle Space Needle gift shop.

6 Tips for Seattle Space Needle with Kids

  1. Park your stroller. There is handy stroller parking located to the left of the Will Call booth. Take your valuables with you, just in case.
  2. Be prepared to wait. We spent about 45 minutes in line just to get our photo taken before waiting another 5-10 minutes to get on the elevator. Tour groups may also cut in front of you, which will slow down the line. Videos on the iPhone may be your saving grace.
  3. Scoot kids to front of elevator. Normally I’m not a fan of trying to give kids special treatment. But, this elevator is made of glass and the view is pretty cool. It’s a short elevator ride and little kids can really only see if they go right up against the glass.
  4. Skip the Photo Kiosk at the top. We made the mistake of waiting in line to choose our photo backdrop and get it emailed to ourselves. The kiosks were really slow and frustrating. When we got home, the wrong photos were emailed to both my friend and I. Thankfully, we were able to log in with our photo ticket number to choose the correct ones.
  5. Bring your lunch. There are lots of bar tables and chairs that overlook the observation deck. This is a great opportunity to relax and enjoy lunch with a view! You can also get limited food there.
  6. Visit the gift shop. Like most tourist attractions, the elevator lets you off inside the gift shop. Normally I find that annoying. However the gift shop here has a ton of high-quality Seattle items for kids. Plus, they have souvenir penny and medallion machines.
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Seattle Space Needle

The Space Needle gave me 2 complimentary tickets. All opinions are my own.

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

46 Comments

  1. I like how Space Needle are very kids-friendly and offers learning opportunities and exhibitions for kids. I did not visit gift shop there and so much like you, I dislike to be in a gift shop while travel. I can imagine how happy the kids are when they enter the gift shop and found out there is a children’s section.

    • marciecheung Reply

      The children’s section of the gift shop was amazing!

  2. I have never been to Seattle, but we did the CN Tower in Toronto, which is similar to this. It was a great view of the city from up there 🙂

  3. I had dinner at the revolving restaurant and it was amazing! I wish I could’ve also seen the view by day! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • marciecheung Reply

      How awesome! I still haven’t eaten at the revolving restaurant! It’s on my bucket list!

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle and I have two kiddos so this looks like it would be a perfect place to add to our itinerary once we actually plan a trip. Great tips at the end, nothing like being a tourist + not knowing the ins and outs.

    • marciecheung Reply

      If you do visit, I can help you with your itinerary!

  5. This is so cool. I’ve always wanted to go myself after seeing it in so many tv shows. I don’t have kids myself but this seems like fun as well. Thanks for sharing and giving this information.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s perfect for adults! They have a great revolving restaurant with an unbelievable view!

  6. I grew up in Seattle and never tire of the Space Needle either!! It’s such a great gem. Good thing they offered you free tickets though because it’s a bit overpriced for locals, I must say. But for people visiting or first time visitors of the needle it’s definitely worth the price, I’d say. How fun to go with a friend and your kids! Thanks for sharing

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I tend to get sticker shock nowadays. But, I think it’s a must-do for visitors (and locals) at least once.

  7. It sounds like the experience of visiting the Space Needle with children could have been better if there were enough facilities for kids as well. I guess they might not have stools as a security measure? I like the idea that you can have lunch at the observation deck and the souvenir store looks really nice. I love this kind of stores, even if I usually don’t buy anything more than a fridge magnet.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I never thought that having stools might be a security issue. That’s an interesting idea! I was just surprised that it wasn’t very accommodating in certain areas.

  8. I have never been to Seattle, but this landmark is on my bucket list to visit! i have no fear of heights, so I can’t wait to see the observation deck!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It really doesn’t even feel that high when you get up there. Please come visit!

  9. I have never been to Seattle!! I do hope that I can head over there with the kids one day and discover this great city together.

  10. Seattle is one of the places on my bucket list! It’s all the way on the other side of the country for us (we are in Florida), but there are so many beautiful places to see, and great things to do!

  11. I haven’t been to Seattle in probably 18 years. I didn’t know there was so many kid friendly activities to do there.

  12. Despite the limitations of the place for kids, it appears that your children still had a fab time from their smiles! I’ve never been to Seattle, but the space needle would be a place I’d love to see when I do visit!

  13. How fun! We visited in November but didn’t go up! We just hung out at the bottom and played at the park for like 2 hours and ended up falling asleep on the swings! LOL
    I wish we went to the top though, this seems fun!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Hahaha! There’s always next time! That park is pretty awesome!

  14. That looks so fun, the views would be amazing! As long as there are no clouds!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes on a clear day, the view can’t be beat!

  15. I may come to Seattle with my husband for work one day so thank you for preparing me for a visit to the Space Needle. Sounds like I need to make sure to bring snacks!

  16. It is fun to stay in your hometown and play tourist every once in a while. It looks like you had a good time despite the weather and the lack of child focused activities. You are braver than I am to withstand those waits in line with small children.

  17. This looks like an awesome day out! And doing it with kids must be tougher, but we love the challenge that brings! We travel with a little one too. Thanks for sharing this place. Added it to my USA bucketlist

  18. I’ve never been to the Seattle Space Needle before so it’s nice that you shared your experience with us. I’m sure it’s a fun experience for the kids, I just wish it was more kid-friendly though. I would still love to experience it in person.

  19. I haven’t been to Seattle, but this sounds almost exactly like my experience going up the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada! This would be such a great play date idea though, even though you and your friend had to lift your toddlers to see out the windows. You and your friend were entertained by incredible views, and your kids looked like they were having a blast just running around the Space Needle! Hopefully you’ll be able to visit again on a less rainy day- sunny days always make the best views!

  20. How fun! Would love to visit the Space Needle! My kids would love it, we do the CN tower here in Toronto and they just love it.

  21. My boys would definitely like Seattle Needle. I will also ride through Monorail. I hope view from top must be stunning.

  22. Looks like so much fun even on a rainy day. I’m surprised there aren’t more kid-oriented activities, but I guess the view and the telescopes are enough to keep them entertained.

  23. I like that your kid and his friend were eager to explore the Space Needle. The staff should provide step stools/ladders for the little ones so they can get a better view of the deck.
    Your kid’s red rain boots look adorable. It’s Lightning Mcqueen, right?

  24. This looks like a really neat experience! I’ve never been, but I would love to take my children!

  25. I love Seattle. We took our daughter there when she was 15 months old and while she didn’t get it, it was a fun family experience for us.

  26. I used to live a few hours from there. I’ve been so many times on my own, but I’ve never taken my kids. I think they would have a lot of fun I just have so many little ones ha!

  27. Ohhh what fun! I’ve been wanting to plan a family trip to Seattle and we’ll have to stop at the Space Needle!

  28. I hear so many great things about this! I can’t wait to take my kids there someday! It’s definitely on our bucket list 🙂

  29. Omg how fun!!! I have driven by the space needle before in a road trip, but never got to go inside!!! Must have been one fun experience

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