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Is Seattle CityPASS Worth It? A Budget Guide to Exploring the Emerald City

This trip was hosted by CityPASS and Visit Seattle. All opinions are my own.

I was recently invited to explore the Emerald City using a Seattle CityPASS in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the launch of CityPASS. I’ve used CityPASS in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, and we generally find these discount attractions passes to be a great way to travel on a budget, as long as you plan on visiting many of the city’s top tourist attractions.

But I know the first question whenever you look at a discount pass is…”is it worth it?” So I put together this Seattle CityPASS review to both answer the question “is Seattle CityPASS worth it” and to lay out an itinerary that will show you how to maximize your CityPASS in just three days in Seattle.

Seattle CityPASS review

Is Seattle CityPASS Worth It?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information. All opinions are my own.

The simple answer is…if you are visiting Seattle with kids than yes, absolutely, especially if this is your first trip. The Seattle CityPASS really hits all the top tourist highlights. The Seattle CityPASS discount attraction pass includes admission to: Seattle Aquarium, Space Needle, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, either the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) or the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass or the Pacific Science Center. All of these rank among the top things to do in Seattle with kids.

The Seattle CityPASS is currently $109 (as of 3/1/20) for adults and $84 for children ages 4-12. Not only does that save you 45 percent or more, but you can also skip the line at some top attractions, making it easy to fit everything in.

Even if you aren’t traveling with kids, CityPASS still covers many attractions that adults will love, including the Space Needle, Argosy Harbor Cruise, Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Let’s look at the break down to see how many attractions you need to visit to make Seattle CityPASS worth it: (Note: prices are subject to change, please check the websites for current pricing)

  1. Space Needle: Adults: $32.50
  2. Seattle Aquarium: Adults: $34.95
  3. Argosy Harbor Cruise: Adults: $31
  4. Museum of Pop Culture: Adults: $34 OR
  5. Woodland Park Zoo:Adults: $15.50
  6. Chihuly Garden and Glass: Adults: $32 OR
  7. Pacific Science Center: Adults: $25.95

As you can see, you really only need to visit four attractions to make the Seattle CityPASS a money saver. Unless you are only in Seattle for one day, fitting in four attractions is pretty easy if you plan it right.

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Seattle CityPASS Review: How to fit it all in

While the CityPASS is valid for nine days from the first date of use, chances are you will only be spending a long weekend in Seattle. If that is the case, you will want to make sure you can fit in everything included in the CityPASS to make it a worthwhile investment. This is how you can pack it all into just two days:

Day One: Seattle Waterfront

On your first day, kick things off with a visit to the legendary Pike Place Market (after all, it is free!) Then plan to spend the day along the Seattle Waterfront.

Pike Place Market sign

Morning: Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium otter

Use your Seattle CityPASS to skip the line and head right into the Seattle Aquarium. You will want to plan on spending about one to two hours exploring the aquarium. Two not to be missed exhibits are the Underwater Dome and the Otter Exhibit. Both of these reminded me of the Monterey Aquarium (still one of my favorites!) Plus those otters are so dang cute!! Note: CityPASS holders can also get a discount at the gift shop if you want to take home a cute otter stuffy.

Afternoon: Argosy Cruises Harbor Cruise

If you can catch a nice day, it really is wonderful to get out on the water and see the city skyline from a boat. If you have lots of time, you may want to look into taking a ferry over to Bainbridge Island. But at least take the one-hour harbor cruise with Argosy Cruises. After all, it is included in your CityPASS!

Argosy harbor cruise

Just make sure you get there at least 30 minutes early. You will need to check in at the desk or the Argosy Welcome Center to trade your CityPASS in for a ticket. Plus you will want to be one of the first in line to get a seat outside by the rail. But if you don’t, no worries, just head up in front of the bridge for unobstructed views.

While you are at the waterfront, you should also check out Wings Over Washington, especially if you like the Soarin’ ride at Disney. It is very similar, but you “fly” over Washington state. I will admit that I thought this was a lot of fun and it made me want to see more of the state.

You can also take a ride on Seattle’s Great Wheel at Pier 57. Note: these are not included in your CityPASS so budget some extra. Grab a classic touristy lunch at the Crab Pot and be sure to check out the original Starbucks store.

This is also where you can pick up the ferry from Seattle to Victoria if you want to add an international component to your trip.

Day Two: Space Needle Area

It is easy to fit the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, and the Pacific Science Center into one day since they are all within a five minute walk of each other.

Morning: Museum of Pop Culture

Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture was one of my favorite attractions in Seattle, and I’m not even a huge pop culture fan. First off, the design is very cool and fun to explore. The Sky Church is a large room with a giant screen and great acoustics that plays music videos and concert clips throughout the day.

The sound is fantastic and it is fun just to grab a seat and watch for a while. Music lovers can also visit the Guitar Gallery and Sound Lab, where you can test out your musical chops. Film and television fans will enjoy the SciFi and Fantasy Hall of Fame; the SciFi and Fantasy Exhibits, which highlight artifacts and clips in an interactive environment; and the huge Star Trek exhibit. There is even an exhibit for gamers and a soon-to-be-reopened Horror exhibit.

Afternoon: Chihuly Garden and Glass or Pacific Science Center

Younger kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Pacific Science Center, but tweens and up may prefer to the beautiful glass artwork of Dale Chihuly at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Just note that this is NOT a place to bring rambunctious kids that might accidentally touch or bump some of these valuable works of art.

The Pacific Science Center will take an hour or two to explore, depending on how engaged your kids are with the interactive exhibits. Meanwhile, the Chihuly Garden and Glass won’t take more than 30-45 minutes unless it is very crowded.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

There are a few food stands around this area, but you can also have lunch at the Collections Cafe at the Chihuly Garden and Glass (you don’t need to enter to eat here.) They have an amazing spinach and strawberry salad and I wouldn’t say no to the Beecher’s Cheese Curds either.

Afternoon: Space Needle

Space Needle

The restaurant at the Space Needle is closed while the Needle undergoes renovations, but you can still visit the Observation Deck. CityPASS holders just need to scan their CityPASS before entering. Plan on spending at least an hour. The line moves quickly but you will want some time at the top to take pictures and enjoy the view. Just be prepared for the wind when you are up that high!

While there is plenty more to do in Seattle, it is easy to get the maximum value out of the Seattle CityPASS in just a weekend.

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Seattle on a budget: How to save money in Seattle using CityPASS, a Seattle CityPASS review

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