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