Willis Tower Skydeck
Take in stunning views high above Chicago
Talk of the town: The brave can try out the Skydeck’s new feature, the Ledge: stand on a glass shelf jutting out from the building and look 103 stories straight down.
Word to the wise: You’ll find equally captivating views at the John Hancock Observatory (see separate entry) – and the lines there are usually shorter.
Built in 1973 as the Sears Tower, this 1,450-foot building – now renamed the Willis Tower – was once the world’s tallest, and is still the tallest building in the western hemisphere. It is far taller than New York’s Empire State Building, for example, which has always pleased Chicagoans greatly.
Almost all visitors to the Windy City are tempted to scale the tower and take in the panoramic views from the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. Tourists flock here year-round, from morning ’til night, so expect long lines and camera-happy tour groups. Avoid afternoons and weekends, and you’ll miss the worst of the visitor crush.
Your reward for braving the crowds is a sweeping 360-degree view of the city and Lake Michigan, with Chicagoland extending into the distance. On a clear day, you can also see the farmland of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana on the far shores of the lake.