by Robin B
What goes down, must come up.
Not exactly true, but in the case of accessing the Skydeck in Chicago, it certainly is! Home to the eighth-tallest building in the world, the Willis Tower offers the highest public viewing area in the entire United States. Located on the 103rd floor is the Skydeck with stunning views – into four states up to 50 miles on a clear day!
With over one million visitors annually, it is no wonder this is a ‘must-see’ destination stop in the city. The Skydeck ledge box extends four feet out from the Willis Tower, on the west side of the building, above the Chicago River and Wacker Drive. The true highlights of the western view are the spectacular sunsets.
(photo courtesy of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower)
Some things we learned on our Skydeck adventure:
- The main-level entrance to the sky deck is non-descript, almost a lobby feel. All visitors take the elevator down in order to access ticketing/security lines and the elevator up to the 103rd floor.
- There is a 9-minute movie presentation, Reaching for the Sky, that tells the history and construction of the tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).
- The elevator ride (not for the claustrophobic) is a brisk 60-seconds to the 103rd floor. On a windy day, it takes 90 seconds.
- The skydeck is a whopping 1,353 feet above the ground.
- Once you are on the 103rd floor, you can take your time exploring each direction and pointing out all of the great landmarks in the city. They have bathrooms and a small gift store on this floor.
- There are four ledge glass balcony’s in all (one or more may be reserved for professional photographers, of which photographs are available for purchase). You’ll need to wait in line again to access a Ledge. The lines were about 20 deep on the day we visited, and it went pretty fast.
- The Skydeck is a popular place so be prepared to wait in line for tickets and the security check. Weekdays tend to be slightly less crowded. The website suggests to visit just after opening or after 5 p.m., if possible.
- You can purchase Fastpass admission with express entry to the Skydeck elevators or early bird admission (early bird offered Saturday & Sunday only).
- If a family member doesn’t want visit the observation/skydeck, they can wait in the lower museum/ gift shop area or waiting area at the entrance.
- If you plan on visiting other attractions such as Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago, consider the purchase of a City Pass.
Call (312) 875-9696 for the General Information Line, recording available 24/7
233 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago (Enter Skydeck on Jackson Blvd., south side of building)
For driving directions enter address as 232 S. Franklin St., Chicago
Hours: Open 365 days a year!
April – September 9am-10pm*
October – March 10am-8pm*
*Last entry 30 minutes prior to closing.
Tickets can be purchased online or are available from the Skydeck ticket window.