The Seattle Great Wheel is a can’t-miss icon that speaks to the fun-loving nature of the city’s residents. One of the biggest Ferris wheels in the US, the Seattle Great Wheel features enclosed gondolas that afford spectacular coastal views. It stands above 175 feet (53 meters) and weighs in at more than a quarter of a million pounds.
Located at 1301 Alaskan Way, at the end of Pier 57 on Seattle’s waterfront, the Seattle Great Wheel boasts 42 climate-controlled gondolas, each of which can carry up to eight passengers; a luxe VIP gondola with red leather seats and a glass floor seats four. During the summer, ride times are between 12 and 20 minutes due to the time needed to load and unload larger crowds; during winter, the ride usually lasts 10 to 15 minutes.
While the Ferris wheel offers wonderful views of Seattle, a Puget Sound sailing excursion provides unique views of the Great Wheel itself.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Children 2 years old and younger ride for free but still require a ticket.
- The ride is wheelchair-accessible; a lift and ramp allow wheelchairs to roll directly into the gondolas.
- The wheel will stop operating if winds reach sustained speeds of 55 mph (88.5 kph) or higher, or if there are lightning strikes within 1 mile (1.6 kilometers).
How to Get There
The Seattle Great Wheel is located at the end of Pier 57 on the waterfront, and within short walking distance from most of the city’s main attractions like Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, and more. From Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, it’s about 25 minutes’ drive. The nearest light-rail station, University Street Station-Bay A, is a few blocks away.
When to Get There
The Seattle Great Wheel operates year-round. Open hours are Monday through Thursday 11am to 10pm, Friday 11am to 12am, Saturday 10am to 12am, and Sunday 10am to 10pm. In the fall, the wheel lights up on the evening of any University of Washington or Seattle Seahawks home football game; light shows also take place during other special occasions and holidays.
The Seattle Aquarium, located on Pier 59 right next to the Seattle Great Wheel, features six major animal exhibits. Window on Washington Waters, for example, includes a 120,000-gallon tank that replicates the coastal waters of Washington state. The museum also has a gift shop and café.