It’s easy to get from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle. With only about 1 mile between these two iconic Seattle destinations, it’s just a matter of navigating a few city blocks. Public transportation, rideshares, and bike rentals are all options to get from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle, but I recommend walking.
Why do I recommend walking to the Space Needle? Simple, there is tons of iconic Seattle art, culture, and urban life between Pike Place market and the Space Needle. I think anyone who is able to walk should walk, to best enjoy the journey.
My experience walking downtown Seattle
For more than four years, Pike Place Market, the Space Needle Neighborhood (Queen Anne Hill), and Belltown (the neighborhood in between the two) were my stomping ground. After moving to downtown Seattle and selling my car, I walked these streets daily.
I made it a point to practice taking a different route and trying different shops and restaurants along the way. Over the years, I discovered routes for getting from major points of interest in downtown Seattle that were easier, faster, or just more interesting than Google Maps’ default routes.
In this article, I’m sharing from my own experience some of the cool spots between these two destinations that you might miss if you hopped on public transportation or a taxi.
From infinite combinations of ways to navigate the blocks between Pike Place Market and Seattle Center (the park that houses the Space Needle), here are my three favorite routes:
3 ways to get from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle on Foot:
1. Fastest: Walking Down 4th Avenue
(1 mile / About 20 minutes)
This is the most direct route. Here’s a google maps link. While it’s the fastest- shaving about 5-10 minutes off more scenic routes – there’s nothing special about 4th Avenue.
Home to urban chaos, traffic, and one notable donut shop, 4th Avenue is indistinguishable from any other downtown sidewalk in a large American city.
If you’re on foot and in a hurry, this is the route you should probably take, but if you’ve got a little time to wander, check out the alternate routes below. With slight detours, you’ll see scenic views of the waterfront, tiny patches of restored Puget Sound beaches (called “pocket beaches”), and amazing street art.
2. The Scenic Route from Pike Place to Space Needle
Things to see on the way: Waterfront / Olympic Sculpture Park / Pocket Beaches
(1.2 miles, about 25 minutes – but give yourself at least 60 minutes to enjoy the journey) Google Map Link
If I have plenty of time to get from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle, you can bet this is the route I’m going to take.
It circumvents the chaos of downtown Seattle sidewalks and instead follows the Puget Sound waterfront all the way to Pier 70. Pier 70 is the last pier before the Olympic Sculpture Park. It offers amazing waterfront views of Myrtle Edwards Park and the Elliott Bay Walking Trail beyond.
Scenic Stop #1: Bell Street Rooftop Park
To take this route, use this Google map or simply follow the main street through Pike Place Market north. Pike Place turns into Western Avenue 1 block later and then into Elliott Avenue a block after that. When Elliott Avenue hits Bell Street, hang a left onto what will look like an unassuming urban plaza. If you follow this sidewalk towards the waterfront, you’ll actually find yourself, in about 100 yards, coming out on Bell Street Rooftop Park– an amazing overlook that most tourists never find.
⚠️ Because it’s adjacent to a cruise ship terminal, Homeland Security closes Bell Street Rooftop Park when a cruise ship is docked or expected to dock soon. If you see a heavy metal gate closing the entrance, keep walking. Go two more blocks to the intersection of Elliott St & Wall St, and proceed downhill to the waterfront via Wall Street to reconnect with the next stop.
From Bell Street Rooftop Park, you’ll find both a staircase and an elevator leading down to Alaskan Way. This road runs parallel to the Seattle waterfront and will guide you toward the Space Needle. Proceed down to the ground level and continue on Alaskan Way, heading northwest away from Pike Place Market.
Stop #2: Olympic Sculpture Park
When you reach the large fountain with sculptures of a couple of nude people, that’s where Alaskan Way ends and the Olympic Sculpture Park begins!
You can follow the curve of the road onto Broad Street and proceed directly to the Space Needle, but highly recommend that you can take a few minutes to explore this park and neighboring beaches.
The Olympic Sculpture Park is free to walk through and allows access to view huge modern art exhibits. Be sure not to miss the Vivarium– a unique greenhouse/art exhibit. It’s volunteer-run and open by luck or by chance, but always worth checking.
Once you’ve had your fill of waterfront and modern art, you can head directly up Broad Street (and I do mean up! You’ll have some elevation gain here as you leave the waterfront for high ground). It’s easy to get to the Space Needle from here since you can navigate visually to the looming landmark on the horizon (see image below).
Scenic Stop #3: Downtown Seattle’s Pocket Beaches
If you’re a typical tourist that will only be seeing urban Seattle, the pocket beaches between Pike Place Market and the Space Needle are an absolute can’t-miss stop.
As you walk up the waterfront, the Olympic Sculpture Park gives way to two classic driftwood-filled beaches covered with a kaleidoscope of colorful glacier-deposited rocks. These little beaches that appear all over Seattle’s waterfront are called “pocket beaches.”
Unless you will be headed out to the Olympic National Forest or up to the San Juan Islands, these carefully restored pocket beaches are your best opportunity to experience a real Pacific Northwest beach.
At low tide, I’ve seen many starfish on this beach (though sea stars are one of many species struggling to survive in the Puget Sound recently).
I recommend timing your visit to these pocket beaches with a low tide if you can. Despite the proximity to the city, these beaches are covered with marine life at low tide.
Last Stop: Seattle’s Space Needle
Once you turn away from the waterfront and began walking uphill, you’ll soon reach Seattle Center. Seattle Centre is the fountain-filled park that is home to the Space Needle.
Within 3 to 4 minutes of reaching the boundaries of the Seattle Center, you’ll find yourself at the base of the Space Needle having completed your journey from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle.
The Urban Art Route
(about 1.5 miles, or 30 minutes)
The final option for a walking route is a roundabout route that covers some of Seattle’s best urban art. It’s perfect for those willing to walk just a bit longer and explore a little more of the neighborhood between Pike Place market and the Space Needle.
The streets on this map, explained more in detail in my article on Murals in Seattle, are picked specifically for the impressive street art exhibits. In my opinion, these pair well with the more abstract modern art in the sculpture park.
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Artist, digital nomad, and highly sensitive person, Lynli started traveling full time as a digital nomad in 2018. Writer and Illustrator by day, remote-destination explorer by other-days, Lynli is passionate about pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone, exploring the world as a plus size, one-bag traveler, and journaling it all on WanderBig.com