Since its founding in 1994, Amazon has since become a staple in Seattle’s livelihood. With over 1.5 million employees, Amazon is one of the world’s most notable companies and is constantly on the forefront of technology while also focusing on environmental impact and the importance of community.
This combination of ideals led to the eventual opening of the Seattle Amazon Headquarters in 2018. Designed to foster a sense of community, the headquarters has grown into a sprawling botanical garden complete with art exhibits, restaurants, and so much more. Below is a complete guide to visiting the headquarters, what to explore, how to get there, and more.
What Exactly Is The Amazon Headquarters?
The Amazon Headquarters is a 5 part urban campus and conservatory. Less of a corporate office and more of a sprawling urban park, the Amazon Headquarters are home to botanical gardens, urban architecture, art exhibits, technology classes, dog parks, and more, all housed in the heart of South Lake Union.
Perhaps the most famous part of Amazon Headquarters is the Spheres. Consisting of two enormous glass spheres, the building serves as part office building and part garden. The Spheres are home to over 40,000 plants from over 30 countries. It also has enormous living walls constructed of more than 25,000 plants woven into mesh walls.
The HQ Urban Campus
This is one of 2 outdoor areas at the Amazon Headquarters. This space is designed to connect the urban neighborhoods of South Lake Union with the headquarters. This area is home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes, most of which are locally owned. It is also the place to find Amazon’s banana carts and is home to multiple dog parks.
The Urban Arboretum
This is the other outdoor area at Amazon Headquarters. This space combines the urban architecture and landscape of the city with botanical gardens. This area is specifically designed to host plants from many different geographical regions such as Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and South America that are well suited for the Pacific Northwest climate, thus providing a refreshing space for city dwellers while simultaneously building a habitat for native pollinators.
This area serves as an art exhibit and is meant to display the connections between art, engineering, and technology. The Understory is constantly showcasing new artists and pieces of artwork. Guests can even talk to the artists themselves when visiting the Understory.
The AWS Skills Center
Focusing mostly on technology and the future possibilities of cloud computing, the AWS Skills Center is an interactive space designed to educate visitors of all ages. Regardless of your experience or knowledge with technology, the AWS Skills Center is a place where everyone can learn, either by interactive display or engaging classes.
Visiting the Amazon Headquarters
All 5 areas of the Amazon Headquarters can be visited by the public. Some areas will need reservations while others can be visited at your own leisure. Guests can choose to visit just one section or multiple areas at once.
Amazon Headquarters has both self guided and guided tours. Their guided tours will take guests through their Seattle headquarters, including the Spheres, and takes approximately 90 minutes. Guided tours are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM and 2 PM.
Self guided tours are more readily available and can be completed at any time. The Understory can be visited Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM and requires no reservations. The AWS Skills Center is free to visit Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
The Spheres are open to the public for self guided tours on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Urban Arboretum can be explored at any time as it is entirely outside.
Amazon also offers a free audio only tour of their headquarters on Audible. There is also a visual photography tour of the Urban Arboretum on the Spheres website. These options are great for those who are unable to make it to headquarters but are still curious about the area.
How To Book A Tour Of The Amazon Headquarters
Amazon Headquarters is a bit unusual in that most of the time reservations are not needed when visiting. The only part of the headquarters in which a reservation is needed is the Spheres. Their public visitation days on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month use reservations to monitor the flow of visitors in the Spheres to avoid overcrowding.
To book a tour of the Spheres, simply visit the Spheres website, scroll down, and click the button that says “Book a Visit”. This will lead to a website that has lists of availability and details about visiting the Spheres including maximum group size, FAQs, and time limits.
Transportation: Getting To The Amazon Headquarters
For public transportation, the bus stop closest to the Amazon Headquarters is the 7th Ave & Blanchard St. stop, which is located right outside of the headquarters. The second closest stop is the Blanchard St. & 6th Ave stop across the street.
There is no light rail station directly in front of the Amazon Headquarters. The nearest light rail station is the Westlake & 7th station on Westlake Ave which is a couple of blocks away.
Amazon Headquarters has plenty of parking options nearby, including the Day 1 Garage and the 2121 7th Ave Garage, both of which are right next door. There is also the Doppler Garage or the Frontier Parking Garage.
What To Do At The Amazon Headquarters
Each area at the Amazon Headquarters has its own unique offering of things to do. At the Spheres, guests can take in the scenery or learn about the plants in the exhibit by asking one of the members of Amazon Horticulture. Meanwhile, the Urban Arboretum allows guests to take in the sights of the botanical garden combined with the views of the city.
The Understory is a great place to connect with art, nature, and technology. Guests can view works of art, get to know some of the artists in residence, and learn more about art, engineering, design, and more.
The AWS Skills Center gives visitors a place for hands-on learning with the help of interactive displays and games that educate the public about the importance and usefulness of technology. They even have free technology focused classes that guests can sign up for.
Lastly, the HQ Campus allows guests to enjoy local shops and cafes and serves as an intersection between the headquarters and the city. Visitors can enjoy a banana from Amazon’s banana stands or check out one of the many dog parks on campus.
Food Inside of the Amazon Headquarters
Willmott’s Ghost, named after flowering plant botanist Ellen Willmott, serves Italian food with a focus on Roman cuisine and pizza. The restaurant is located within the Spheres themselves and is a full scale restaurant with both bar and table seating. They even have take home frozen pizzas, fresh pasta from Pasta Casalinga, wine, and pre-made cocktail kits for sale.
The second restaurant at Amazon Headquarters is the adorable coffee and doughnuts shop known as General Porpoise. The adorably cozy and plant filled store serves 5 different doughnut flavors and coffee brewed from Stamp Act, a local roaster.
It is important to note that unlike Willmott’s Ghost, General Porpoise is only open to visitors on the first and third Saturday of each month by reservation only. Fortunately, General Porpoise has other locations in Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square that are always open to the public.
Deep Dive is a bar with a small food menu consisting of charcuterie, caviar, beef tartare, and more. On top of signature cocktails, they also serve champagne and have tasting course menus. This is the priciest dining option at the Amazon Headquarters.
Nearby Food And Activities
For those looking for something to do or a place to get a meal after visiting the Amazon Headquarters, there are plenty of options. Visitors can easily find what they need within a few blocks walking distance or take the bus or streetcar to explore nearby neighborhoods.
If you are unable to try out General Porpoise but still have a craving for coffee and doughnuts, there is a Top Pot Doughnuts just across the street from Amazon Headquarters. There are other coffee shops nearby, including Fulcrum Cafe and Grumpy Bean.
Directly next door to the Spheres is 2120, a New American restaurant featuring local wines and a rotating seasonal menu that utilizes fresh ingredients from local farms. They have an outdoor heated patio with a great view of the Spheres.
You can find Italian fine dining at Cinque Terre Ristorante or Barolo Ristorante. To the north is Momiji South Lake Union which serves delicious sushi and amazing cocktails. The Butcher’s Table is also nearby and serves steak but is the priciest dining option in the area.
Other dining options include burgers at Shake Shack, Vietnamese food at Pho Bac and Vinason Pho Kitchen, Hawaiian food at Marination, Mediterranean food at Anar, and chicken at Ma’ono Fried Chicken.
Juice is available at JOE & THE JUICE. Bubble tea can be found at The Moo Bar and Happy Lemon, both of which also serve small sweet snacks like ice cream, cakes, waffles, and more.
Just across the street is ROOM 5280, an escape room game facility. Nearby is Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, a historic jazz club that has been in business for over 30 years.
For shopping, guests can trek a block north to Sub Pop Records to peruse their vinyls; their store also has a resident dog. Although it is more of a walk, the Pacific Place Mall is also nearby and includes restaurants, shops, and an AMC movie theater.
Art lovers can visit the Seattle Glassblowing Studio. This functions as part gallery and part classroom as visitors can learn about glassblowing in a hands-on setting if they so choose. Glassbaby Downtown Seattle is also nearby and hosts a boutique of handmade glass decor.