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Willis Tower and Our Skydeck Experience—Chicago


During our travels we have been to the top of a few tall buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Space Needle and the Vancouver Lookout Tower at Harbour Center in Vancouver. Thus when we were in Chicago, we had to go up to the top of Willis Tower. I will continue to call it by that name on this post, but not without saying first that it will always be the Sears Tower for me.

All right, now that I got that off my chest, I wanted to say, we had a great time on our visit. Apparently we are not alone in wanting to see the phenomenal views, because it was stated that approximately 1.5 million tourists visit the Skydeck each year.Willis-Tower-1We had bought a combo ticket at the Art Institute so we just had to go to the elevator and get our pictures taken. Once that was done, we went into a little theatre and watched a short little video called The Skydeck Experience. Like it said, it’s really short, but gave some information about the Tower, its history, and its name change from Sears Tower to Willis Tower. After the video, we got in line for the elevator that took us up to the 103rd floor. Man, that is high.

Willis-Tower-2After the very quick ride up the elevator we were able to get our first view of the city. It was just before dark and it was absolutely breath taking. I liked the fact that they also had boards with highlights of some of the buildings, parks, monuments etc. It helped to be able to find things, especially when you are not from the city.  More on our experience in a few, but I wanted to share a few facts about Willis Tower and its history.  

Willis-Tower-3The tower itself is 1,450 feet high (1,730 feet including twin antenna towers), and is the eighth-tallest building in the world; However, it is the second tallest building in North America and the Western Hemisphere. On a clear day, they say, you can see four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Visibility from the Skydeck is approximately 40-50 miles. Earlier, I said the elevators were fast: well they operate at 1,600 feet per minute. Sadly the elevator is a closed box so we weren’t able to see the view going up like we did at Harbour Center and the Space Needle, but it was still amazing.

Willis-Tower-UsOne of the most interesting parts of the tower (besides the amazing views) was what they call the Ledge. They are glass boxes which extend out 4.3 feet from the skyscraper’s Skydeck.  It is so cool to be out there on the Ledge. You look out and down at the city and almost feel like you are flying. It was thrilling. Sadly there were a ton of people there also taking the same incredible photos, thus it took a while to get in one of the boxes, but it was definitely worth it. I cannot recommend this enough if you are on the Skydeck.


After we left the Ledge boxes we just walked around a little more and took some more pictures.  It was so beautiful up there, and we hit it at a great time. We were there right before dusk so we got to watch the sun go down and the city lights come on. Absolutely incredible.  If  you haven't been up the Wills Tower, you definitely need to make sure it is on your agenda while in Chicago area. We are so glad we did.

Hope you enjoyed our visit and experience. Please let us know if you have been to the top, and what you thought in the comments below. Would love to hear your stories. Thanks so much.



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I haven't been on this one, but I have gone to a few, including Empire State and the old World Trade Center in NY. I always enjoy the view, but if there's an open observation area, I find myself with small chills and odd feelings in my legs as if I were going to matter how secure it is! So for me, it's the view plus a thrill ride!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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