Few city skylines feature a single landmark as unique and instantly recognizable as Seattle’s Space Needle. The iconic tower, built for the 1962 World’s Fair in a futuristic style that continues to captivate in every decade, is at the top of most first-time visitors’ sightseeing itineraries. If you’re eager to get your Seattle adventures started as soon as you land at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac), traveling directly to the Space Needle in downtown Seattle, approximately 15 miles away, is quite straightforward. In as little as an hour after landing, you could be in the skies once more, soaring up to 520 feet above the city and taking in 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, beautiful Mount Rainier, and the distant Olympic and Cascades mountain ranges.
Travel Downtown Using Light Link Rail
Sound Transit Light Link Rail connects Sea-Tac Airport with downtown Seattle and other destinations. It doesn’t go directly to the Space Needle, so one transfer to a King County Metro bus or the monorail or a 1-mile walk is necessary in addition to a train ride. The Sea-Tac / Airport station on the Light Link Rail line is connected to the fourth floor of the airport parking garage. From baggage claim, go up one floor to the mezzanine level, walk across a covered walkway to the garage, turn left and follow the path to the station. The walk takes approximately 5 minutes.
Before boarding, purchase a ticket from a vending machine at the station using cash, Visa or Mastercard, or download the free Sound Transit app and buy tickets on your phone. If you’re going to connect to a bus route, purchase a ticket to the University of Washington Station ($3.25 for an adult one-way fare). If you’re going to connect to the monorail or walk, get a ticket to Westlake Station ($3). Board the next train going toward downtown.
By Light Rail and Monorail
To connect from Light Link Rail to Seattle’s Monorail, get off the train at Westlake station – Bay A, at 4th Street and Pine. Walk, following signs to the Westlake Center Monorail station on the third floor. Tickets are $2.50 for adults and payable in cash only. The ride from the Westlake station to the Seattle Center station at the base of the Space Needle takes only 2 minutes. There are only two stops on the Monorail line, so it’s almost impossible to go wrong. Exit the station at Thomas Street and walk to the Space Needle.
By Light Link Rail and Metro Bus
If you’re continuing to the Space Needle by bus, get off the train at the University of Washington station. Two King County Metro bus lines connect directly to the Space Needle: No. 3 / Downtown Seattle East Jefferson Street; and No. 4 / Seattle Pacific University Queen Ann. Pay the fare in exact cash ($2.75 one-way for adults) in the fare box next to the driver, or use the Transit GO mobile app.
Pick up the No. 3 bus from the stop at 3rd Avenue and Pike Street, a 2-minute walk from the station. Get off at 5th Avenue and Broad Street (listen for the previous stop: Cedar Street and Denny Way), and walk for about 3 minutes, south on 5th and west on Thomas Street, to reach the Space Needle. The bus ride takes approximately 9 minutes.
The bus stop for the No. 4 bus is at S. Jackson Street and 5th Avenue South, just a minute’s walk west from the station. Get off the bus after approximately 17 minutes, at 5th Avenue North and Broad Street and walk to the Space Needle, heading south on 5th and west on Thomas.
Light Rail and 1-Mile Walk
From the Westlake station, it’s only a mile to the Space Needle, a journey that takes approximately 20 minutes on foot through a lively area of downtown Seattle packed with shops and restaurants. Exit the train station and turn right onto 4th Avenue, which leads almost all the way to the Space Needle. Walk nine blocks straight along 4th; then follow it as it veers slightly right past Clay Street. Turn right onto Broad Street, then almost immediately left toward the base of the Space Needle. You’ll be able to see the landmark throughout the walk.
By Rental Car
Sea-Tac Airport has 13 major car rental companies based at its separate rental car facility. Book a car in advance for the best rates. Shuttle buses transport customers to the facility from pick-up areas outside baggage claim. After picking up a car, it’s a 30-minute drive to the Space Needle via I-5 with no major traffic delays. Get on WA-518 E, drive 0.9 miles; then merge onto I-5 North. After 14 miles, take exit 167 for Mercer Street. Drive on Mercer St. for 1 mile, then go left on 5th Avenue North and right on Broad Street. The Space Needle is at 400 Broad Street. There are numerous parking garages within a few blocks of the landmark, and the Space Needle also offers valet parking.
By Taxi, Limo or Ride-Share
Taxis are available at the Ground Transportation Plaza on the third floor of the parking garage at Sea-Tac Airport. The approximate cost for a ride directly to the Space Needle is $39. Limo and town car service can be arranged in advance or upon arrival using the information boards in baggage claim. Pick-ups are either curbside or from the Ground Transportation Plaza. Ride-share services also pick up customers at the plaza.