Top 10 Accessible Attractions in Seattle
By: Danielle Max | May 16 2017
When you think of Seattle, you probably think of rain, rain, coffee, and more rain. But don’t let the weather forecast put you off. Seattle actually receives less rain than many other U.S. cities*, so don’t be put off exploring this awesome urban city and enjoying its stunning natural backdrop. (*Okay we lied, sort of. Seattle may get less rain than other places, but it has more rainy days, so don’t forget to bring a raincoat and umbrella!).
Pike's Place Market
EMP Museum and the Seattle Space Needle share space on the Seattle Center grounds.
Photo: Tim Thompson / Visit Seattle
If you are looking for a museum that oozes cool, look no further than EMP. The museum, which has its roots in rock 'n' roll, is dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture and uses interactive technologies to engage and empower its visitors. Oh, and it’s housed in a Frank Gehry building inspired by electric guitars! Cool, right?
EMP facilities are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available through the coat check at the 5th Avenue N and Harrison Street Entrance, as well as the South Entrance, located at 5th Avenue N and Broad Street under the Seattle Center Monorail on a first-come, first-served basis (photo ID required).
Guided tours for visitors who are blind and those who have low vision are available upon request. These tours feature an overview of the museum and in-depth walk-through of the “Guitar Gallery: The Quest for Volume” exhibition. Tours should be booked at least two weeks ahead of time.
To schedule a tour, email or call 206-262-3256.
Find out more here.
Parking: Accessible parking is available on Harrison Street and at the Seattle Center 5th Avenue N garage.
Public Transportation: Bus #3, #4 and #82 to 5th Avenue N and Broad Street (2-minute walk).
Top Tip: A covered drop-off area is located inside the 5th Avenue N and Harrison Street entrance of EMP and is adjacent to a three-minute load/unload zone.
Photo: Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo/
Woodland Park Zoo is more than just a place to see animals; it is famed throughout the zoology world for creating revolutionary naturalistic exhibits that changed the face of zoos worldwide. These days, it works to save animals and their habitats through conservation leadership and engaging experiences, inspiring people to learn, care and act. Currently, the zoo exhibits nearly 1,100 animals representing almost 300 different animal species.
The zoo is wheelchair accessible. Manual and personal electric carts are available to rent.
Accessible restrooms and drinking fountains are located throughout the zoo grounds. Download the accessibility brochure to find out more about the site and other amenities.
To request an ASL interpreter, contact the zoo at least two weeks in advance at 206-548-2500 or 206-548-2599 (TTY).
Find out more here.
Parking: Free accessible parking spaces are available at each of the zoo's parking lots at the North (N. 59th and Evanston), West (5500 Phinney Ave and N. 55th) and South (N. 50th and Fremont Ave. North) entrances. Vehicles must display an official state-issued disabled parking permit.
Public Transportation: Bus #5 to the zoo’s West Entrance at Phinney Ave. N. and N. 55th St.
Top Tip: Take the bus to the zoo and save $2 off regular zoo admission. Present your valid Metro bus transfer as proof of ridership to redeem your discount.
Photo: Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center aims to ignite the curiosity in every child (and accompanying adult) and fuels a passion for discovery, experimentation and critical thinking in everyone, no matter their age. The museum brings science to life through interactive and engaging experiences that turns stuffy into an exhilarating, collaborative and joyful experience. Oh yes, and did we mention it’s fun?
Pacific Science Center is wheelchair accessible. Courtesy wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Denny Way entrance and the Information Desk in Building 1. (photo ID required).
The “Wellbody Academy” exhibit includes a stairway lift to take visitors in wheelchair guests from the lower to upper level.
Benches are located throughout the interior and exterior of Pacific Science Center.
Scripts of films are available upon advance request.
In addition to the visual aspect of the exhibits, many have hearing and touch elements.
TTY phones are available at the information desk in Building 1 and at reception in Building 5.
Aides accompanying a visitor with a disability receive complimentary general admission to the museum.
For more information about accessibility, call 206-443-2001 or 206-443-2887 (TTY) or download the Accessibility Map.
Find out more here.
Parking: Accessible parking is available in the Claypool Garage, located on the corner of 2nd Avenue North and Denny Way, which provides a covered walkway directly into the south entrance.
Public Transportation: Seattle Center Monorail from Westlake Center or bus #1, #2, #3, #4, #8, #13, #24 and D Line to the entrance of Pacific Science Center.
Top Tip: Visitor drop off and pick up is available at the Denny Way turnout.
Sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium
Photo: Seattle Aquarium
If there’s something Seattle isn’t short of, it’s water. Visit the Seattle Aquarium to experience the amazing wonders of the marine environment, both local and a little more exotic. Enjoy the playful sea otters and harbor seals, touch a sea anemone or hermit crab and see for yourself how many suckers a giant Pacific octopus has (clue: each arm has about 280), and so much more!
Seattle Aquarium exhibits and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Courtesy wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the Guest Services desk. A credit card is required for check-out and will be charged $600 if the wheelchair is not returned.
The Aquarium offers two “Deaf Community Days” featuring sign language interpretation at all program talks. One takes place in May, the other in November. More information can be found on at SeattleAquarium.org.
The Aquarium can also arrange an ASL sign language interpreter or a sighted tour guide at no extra cost. Email or call 206-693-6196 at least two weeks in advance.
Find out more here.
Parking: Paid accessible parking is available at the DPS private parking lot across the street from the Aquarium. Metered parking is available along Alaskan Way (free with valid permits).
A passenger drop-off/pick-up zone is available in front of the main entrance to the Seattle Aquarium.
Public Transportation: Bus #99 to the Aquarium. Many other routes stop within a 15-minute walk of the site.
Top Tip: Visitors with a disability receive a $2 discount off the regular price of admission at the Seattle Aquarium. Aides receive free entrance.
Museum of Flight
You don’t have to be a flying aficionado to get a thrill from learning all about the incredible journey of making the dream of flight a reality, so pay a visit to The Museum of Flight – one of the largest air and space museums in the world. The Museum's collection includes more than 150 historically significant air and spacecraft, as well as the Red Barn – the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co.
The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. Courtesy wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Audio guides are available to rent.
Find out more here.
Parking: Free parking available adjacent to the Museum, with limited parking next to the Library, Airpark and Aviation High School.
Public Transportation: Bus #124 stops directly in front of the museum.
Top Tip: Don’t know where to park your plane? Don’t worry! There are five spaces available for fly-in parking at the Museum (seriously!).
The 175 foot tall Seattle Great Wheel.
The Seattle skyline may be dominated by the Space Needle, but it has some competition from the Seattle Great Wheel when it comes to soaring views. Standing 175 feet tall, the wheel, the largest observation wheel on the west coast, has 42 fully-enclosed gondolas that can each seat up to eight adults (one VIP cabin provides an intimate ride for four, complete with leather bucket seats, a stereo system and glass bottom floor for a 360-degree lookout). The wheel extends nearly 40 feet beyond the end of the pier, over Elliott Bay and keeps on spinning, no matter the weather.
The Seattle Great Wheel is wheelchair accessible. A lift and ramp allows wheelchairs to roll directly into the gondolas. The door width is 30”.
Service animals are allowed onboard.
Parking: Paid metered parking directly across the street on Alaskan Way.
Public Transportation: Bus #99.
Top Tip: Print out your tickets in advance to cut down on waiting times.
As part of the City of Seattle's public arts program, the Seattle Arts Commission installed Hammering Man in 1991 at the entrace to the Seattle Arts Museum.
Visit Seattle/Tim Thompson
The Seattle Art Museum, or SAM for short, is actually spread out over three locations including the Seattle Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum (currently closed for renovations) and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Focus on the downtown gallery and wander through art from Asia, Africa and Ancient American, as well as modern and contemporary art and decorative arts and design. Don’t forget to spend some time looking at the outside of the museum, which is covered in a permanent video instillation by artist Doug Aitken and features hundreds of hours of changing footage.
The museum is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available through the coat check at the 1st Avenue and Union Street entrance on a first-come, first-served basis (photo ID required).
Infrared hearing devices are available for programs in the Plestcheeff Auditorium and Nordstrom Lecture Hall. Contact a SAM employee at the South Hall Admissions Desk for more information prior to the start of the event.
The museum has a TTY for outgoing and incoming calls located at coat check at the 1st Avenue and Union Street entrance.
Sign language is available for all public tours upon request with four weeks notice. Email or call 206.654.3123 or 206.654.3137 (TTY) for more information.
Printed copies of the current audio tour may be available at the ticketing desk.
Magnifiers for use in the museum galleries, educational resource rooms and the Bullitt Library are available at the 1st Avenue and Union Street coat check (photo ID required).
For certain exhibitions, an audio guide with extended visual descriptions and may be available, though the museum is not currently offering braille for special exhibitions.
Free Art Beyond Sight program provides regular tours of the museum’s collection to visitors with low or no vision. Tours are held at all three SAM locations and are free with advance registration. Private tours are also available upon request. For more information, email or call 206-654-3123.
For more information about accessibility, email or call 206-654-3210.
Find out more here.
Parking: Paid accessible parking is available at the Russell Investment Center Garage (request a discount voucher at the SAM Ticketing Desk to apply as you leave the garage). Access to the museum is via an elevator that takes visitors directly into the museum.
A three-minute load/unload zone is located in front of the main entrance on the east side of 1st Avenue near Union Street. There is also a 15-minute permanent load zone on 2nd Avenue between University and Union Streets.
Public Transportation: Many buses pass close to the museum. Click here for more details.
Top Tip: Admission to the SAM collections and installations is available by donation. Pricing is fixed for tickets that include the special exhibition.
Photo: Chihuly Garden and Glass
Gorgeous, stunning, dazzling, amazing. You’ll run out of adjectives to describe Dale Chihuly’s glass creations on show at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The centerpiece of this long-term exhibition is the Glasshouse; a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space filled with an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.
The site is wheelchair accessible.
Benches are available in a number of exhibition galleries, including the Sealife, Mille Fiori and Chandelier Rooms. The theater also has visitor seating to watch short videos about the exhibition and the artist.
An audio tour is available.
Parking: Valet parking is available at the base of the Space Needle.
Public Transportation: Monorail from Westlake Station.
Top Tip: Save money by buying a combined ticket for Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle, which is right next door.
The Space Needle watches over boaters on Lake Union on a summer day.
If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Seattle is rain, the second is likely to be the Space Needle, the iconic tower that dominates the landscape. Of course, there’s every probability that you will get to enjoy both of these Seattle “attractions” together, but even a big downpour can’t take away from the fantastic view from 520 feet up. You can see it all from up here – the outlines of the Cascades, Mt. Rainier as well as ferries and boats cruising through Elliott Bay.
The Space Needle is wheelchair accessible. Staff will guide you to the proper elevator.
Parking: Valet parking available at the base of the Needle.
Public Transportation: Monorail from Westlake station.
Top Tip: Pre-purchase a ticket to save time and money.
Faye G. Allen Grand Atrium
Photo: Daniel Sheehan / Museum of History and Industry
Learn about the history of Seattle and the Puget Sound region at the Museum of History and Industry. With a collection of over 4 million objects, documents, and photographs from the Puget Sound region’s past, MOHAI’s cutting edge, hands-on interactive experiences make history come alive through the unforgettable stories of the people who built Seattle from wilderness to world city.
MOHAI is wheelchair accessible. Two wheelchairs and two walkers are available to borrow on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Parking: Six accessible parking spots are available for visitors next to the museum with valid parking permits.
Public Transportation: SLU Streetcar to SLU Streetcar & Terry Ave N
Top Tip: Drop-off is available next to the museum. For access, pull up to the gate at the South end of Lake Union Park and follow the instructions.