Are you planning a Seattle family vacation but aren’t sure if the Seattle Space Needle is kid-friendly? As a local Seattle mom, I’ll share my personal experience of visiting the Space Needle with kids!
This guide to visiting the Space Needle with kids was written by Seattle 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.
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 in my city. So, when my 6-year-old started asking if we could go up to the top of the Space Needle, I was thrilled.
We hadn’t visited the Space Needle since the renovation with the revolving glass floor. So we decided to play hooky from school on a sunny Friday to check it out!
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 Space Needle and the 1962 World’s Fair
The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, held in Seattle, Washington. The fair was an opportunity to showcase the city’s growth and development, and the Space Needle was intended to be the centerpiece of the event.
My mom grew up in Seattle with her family and they remember all the hoopla surrounding the Space Needle and the 1962 World’s Fair, which they attended.
It was designed by architects Edward E. Carlson and John Graham Jr. and was inspired by the Futurist movement and the design of a flying saucer.
The tower was an instant hit, attracting thousands of visitors and becoming one of the most recognizable landmarks in Seattle.
The Space Needle was originally built as a temporary structure, but its popularity led to its permanent installation and continued use as an observation tower and tourist attraction.
How to Get to the Space Needle
The Space Needle is located at Seattle Center and there are a few ways to get there.
Since we are Seattle locals, we usually just drive and find parking near Seattle Center (which can be tricky and expensive).
Street parking is the cheapest and sometimes you can find spots on the backside of Seattle Center near the Seattle Children’s Theatre.
The easiest parking is at the Seattle Center 5th Ave N Garage. But, the cost to park there varies a lot, depending on what is going on at Seattle Center.
Seattle Center Monorail
If you have some flexibility in your schedule or you’re also planning on visiting downtown Seattle, I highly recommend taking a ride on the Seattle Monorail.
It’s a quick ride (less than 3 minutes) and it only goes between Seattle Center and Westlake Center (near Pike Place Market). Check out my Seattle Monorail tips for families!
There’s always the option of taking the bus to Seattle Center. There are frequent stops and it goes all over the city.
If you want to take an Uber or Lyft, there’s a convenient circular driveway right in front of the Space Needle where you can get dropped off.
How to Get Space Needle Tickets
When you arrive at the Space Needle, there are ticket kiosks where you can purchase timed tickets. There’s an option to do a timed ticket combination with the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.
We purchased our tickets at the kiosk for the next timed ticket slot, which was only 5 minutes later.
You can also purchase your tickets ahead of time to avoid the hassle of buying them on-site.
What to Expect at the Space Needle with Kids
When You Arrive
Once you have your tickets, you’ll head into the line to enter the Space Needle. There is stroller parking off to the side.
You’ll go through security and slowly walk up a long ramp that has tons of cool exhibits about the 1962 World’s Fair and how the Space Needle was built.
We only stood in line for about 15 minutes on our most recent trip. However, we’ve spent close to an hour in line on previous trips.
Everyone gets a free digital photo as part of their Space Needle timed ticket. It’s with a green screen and you can choose your background later.
They will scan the QR code on your ticket and you can pick your background later. There are a TON of cute backdrops to pick from.
After the photo spot, you’ll go in another line to get onto the elevator. There are actually two lines so just jump in the shortest one.
The elevator ride itself is a wonderful experience! It’s pretty quick and there’s just enough time for your guide to give a quick “elevator pitch” about what makes the Space Needle so awesome.
You’ll get off the elevator at the Observation Deck level. There’s an indoor area with food and drink options and some seating.
But, you’ll want to go outside to walk around and take in the gorgeous panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and downtown Seattle.
There are a bunch of glass benches where you can sit for photos.
My 6-year-old was a bit nervous to actually sit down on the benches because they are angled and he thought he might slide backward.
Photo Selife Spots
There are also a few selfie spots set up with kiosks where you can scan your QR code and a camera will take a photo of you. We’ve done similar things in NYC.
We tried this twice but I don’t think the photos actually took because they weren’t in my account when I logged in. Other visitors were saying that they didn’t know whether or not their photos worked, either.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND they guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
Revolving Glass Floor
After you have thoroughly enjoyed the Observation Deck, you’ll head down a winding staircase to the Revolving Glass Floor level. The staircase might be tricky for toddlers and preschoolers, so make sure to hold their hands.
There’s a sign when you get there that explains that the floor is moving and you’ll carefully step onto the revolving glass floor.
It moves very slowly (so slowly that some tourists next to us weren’t sure IF we were moving). I personally think this is one of the best indoor activities in Seattle for families!
Most people will sit or lie down to take photos on the glass floor. My son was really nervous to stand on the glass floor and it took some coaxing for him to realize it was safe. I only mention it because other kids might have the same worry.
Space Needle Food Options
For those who remember the old revolving Sky City restaurant at the Space Needle, this is like a mini version of that. They only have cocktails/wine and small bites. But you’ll still enjoy the rotating view of Seattle.
This is on the Revolving Glass Floor level and it’s only for people ages 21 and older. So, it makes a great date night spot if someone can watch your kids. But, it’s not somewhere to eat with kids.
You’ll probably end up stopping at the Atmos Cafe when visiting the Space Needle with kids. It’s on the Observation Level and it has Pinkabella Cupcakes and Whidbey Island Ice Cream for kids and an espresso bar, beer, and wine for the grown-ups.
We grabbed an apple juice here and I think it was $6, so be prepared.
Atmos Wine Bar
Another option on the Observation Level is the Atmos Wine Bar. It has beer and wine, soft drinks, coffee, and grab-and-go snacks.
Seattle Center Gift Shop
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. There were tons of children’s books, toys, and clothing that didn’t scream “souvenirs.” I will probably swing by next time I’m at Seattle Center just to shop for gifts.
6 Tips for Seattle Space Needle with Kids
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.
Be Prepared for a Long Wait
In the past, we’ve 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.
Scoot Kids to the Front of the 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.
Skip the Photo Kiosks
We made the mistake of waiting in line to choose our photo backdrop and get it emailed to ourselves. The kiosks were painfully slow and frustrating.
My photos never actually got emailed to me. Thankfully, I was able to log in with my photo ticket number to get them. It’s MUCH faster to do it on your phone or computer vs. the kiosk.
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.
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 wax Space Needle machines.
Seattle Center Space Needle FAQs
The Seattle Space Needle is a landmark tower located in Seattle, Washington. It was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and is now a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning views of the city, Puget Sound, and the surrounding mountains.
The Seattle Space Needle is 605 feet tall, including its observation deck and antenna.
The Seattle Space Needle is located in the heart of Seattle and is easily accessible by car, bus, and light rail. There is also a paid parking lot available for visitors.
The cost of admission to the Seattle Space Needle varies depending on the time of year and the type of ticket you purchase. Prices range from $22 to $36 for adults and $16 to $30 for children.
The best time to visit the Seattle Space Needle depends on your personal preferences and the weather. However, it is generally recommended to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds and to take advantage of the best lighting conditions for photography.
Yes, the Space Needle is wheelchair accessible. The tower has elevators that are equipped with accessibility features, including braille buttons and audio announcements. There are also ramps and wheelchair-accessible restrooms available. Visitors with mobility impairments are welcome to visit the Space Needle and enjoy the stunning views from the observation deck.
Kids under 5 years old are free. Kids 5 years old and older do need a ticket.
From the Seattle Space Needle, visitors can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, Puget Sound, and the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction.
Yes, and it’s a great way to save money! First, purchase CityPASS online for immediate, paperless delivery to your mobile device. Next, you’ll need to use the Space Needle Ticket Exchange module to make your timed-entry reservation. Finally, bring your CityPASS and timed-entry ticket to Space Needle for admission.
Visiting the Space Needle with Kids Wrap-Up
Visiting the Space Needle with kids is an exciting and unforgettable experience that offers stunning views of downtown Seattle and the Seattle skyline.
The outdoor deck is the perfect place for families to take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and the glass floor provides a unique and thrilling perspective for kids.
Whether you are a local or a tourist, the Space Needle is a must-see attraction that offers a memorable and educational experience for families of all ages.
So make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Seattle, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top of this iconic tower.