As a hub for iconic neighborhoods and outstanding architecture, there is plenty to admire in Chicago. Every year, tourists enjoy the city from a panoramic view on two breathtaking observation decks, Skydeck Chicago and Chicago 360.
A visit to Skydeck Chicago or Chicago 360 is more than just a day's trip with amazing views. However, skyscrapers in the same city can often make visitors ask themselves which one offers better views. Here is a detailed guide to help make an informed decision.
Skydeck Chicago (Willis Tower)
Willis Tower, home to Skydeck Chicago, is the tallest building in Chicago. Standing at 1,353 feet high, Skydeck Chicago's Ledge gives tourists a quintessential Chicago experience. The spectacular views are the highlight of the destination, as visitors can enjoy a view of four states through the ceiling-to-floor windows. In addition, the sweeping views are exceptionally breathtaking at night, making it a suitable spot for romantic couples.
The observation deck is situated 103 floors up, but that shouldn't be a problem for visitors with a phobia of heights as personalized tours with a guide can be arranged. Additionally, a backup observatory is available on the 99th floor, making it a breath of fresh air for tourists who prefer less crowded places. To avoid long queues, most visitors prefer early mornings or nighttime.
Photography at Skydeck Chicago is the icing on the cake for first-timers. The Ledge, a state-of-the-art laminated glass, allows visitors to experience views of the street directly below their feet. The spot is a favorite to photography enthusiasts, thanks to the instagrammable glass boxes that extend out to the Chicago streets. Additionally, Skydeck offers a professional photography team consisting of friendly guides who ensure all photos are ready before the visitors leave.
Formerly known as Sears Towers, the newly renovated Willis Tower raises the bar higher regarding unforgettable experiences. The building features an outstanding museum focusing on Chicago's unique history, culture, and neighborhood. In addition, history buffs can bask in the museum's lower section with interactive technology, which includes a theater displaying movies filmed on-site.
Visiting Skydeck Chicago is an interactive experience for tourists with a family. The building features ramps that make it convenient to navigate with strollers. While Skydeck Chicago is popular for adult-oriented activities, plenty of exciting adventures keep the little ones always wanting more. Children's entertainment includes fun facts, quizzes, coloring pages, and scavenger hunts.
Skydeck Chicago's proximity to restaurants and shopping malls makes it a complete package for a family getaway. Visitors can complete their Skydeck Chicago experience with a sumptuous meal at Brown Bag Seafood. Other incredible eateries include Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, Urbanspace, and Sushi-San.
- The address is: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, US
- Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM (weekdays and Sundays), 8:30 AM to 10 PM (Saturdays)
- Basic Admission: $30-$44 per adult (age 12 and up), $22-$26 per child (age 3-11), Free for kids under three years.
Chicago 360 (John Hancock Centre)
Standing tall between Navy Pier and Oak Street Beach, Chicago 360 enthralls thousands of visitors annually. Formerly known as John Hancock Centre, the destination provides 360-degree observation from a 1,000 feet vantage point. Visitors can experience zooming views of the outstanding Chicago City with video screens connected to cameras. Additionally, the place is equipped with interactive technology available in seven languages to help visitors learn more about Chicago 360 during their tour.
This place will make adrenaline junkies sweat. It features clear glass windows and TILT, a thrill ride that leans visitors away from the tower for that adrenaline rush. On a clear day or night, the sweeping views can extend up to 55 miles in any direction. Interesting sights include Lake Michigan and some states like Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Chicago 360 boasts shorter queues, owing to the fast customer service and hospitable tour guides. The place doesn't fall short of viewing events, with thrilling activities like yoga, painting, and intriguing art exhibits. Equipped with tripods all around, the observatory is a photographer's paradise.
Besides short queues and tilt rides, Chicago 360 offers an added bonus of an outdoor enclosed walkway. Visitors can experience the lake's breeze and the sounds of the busy city as they enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at The Signature Lounge. Alternatively, guests can have a bite at Revolution Brewing, which specializes in local craft beers and cozy seating.
Alternatively, tourists with a family can enjoy their tour at the International Museum of Surgical Science, whose education, art, history, and architecture are enough to spark wonderment from history buffs worldwide. Sky School, a program that prints out material for kids to learn about Chicago, is also another site in the building that is worth seeing. Depending on the child's age, the program is available in four stages: Early Childhood, Lower School, Middle School, and High School.
- The Address is: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611, US
- Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 11 PM
- General Admission: $30 per adult (12 years and over), $20 per youth (3-11 years), Free (kids below 3 years)
While both observatory spots deliver incredible views and a twist of family fun, a few differences are worth noting before planning the trip. Visitors who prefer more height for observatory will be happier at Skydeck Chicago, but those in a hurry can go to 360 Chicago since it has shorter queues. Past visitors say Chicago 360 is more expensive, but the TILT makes it worth every penny. No matter the visitor’s choose, an extraordinary experience is guaranteed from both points.