- 233 S. Wacker Drive
- Chicago, IL 60606
- (312) 875-9447
Being a tourist in Chicago is always a little weird…but at the same time, I’ve missed out on some neat things just because I’ve always thought of them as touristy things.
After spending a few days in Traverse City, we made the long drive back to Chicago for a few more days of vacation. It’s hard to explain why we had to go to Chicago without being to specific, so you’ll just have to take my word that there was a reason that J needed to be at the top of the Willis Tower at 9 AM.
As for L and I, we decided to tag along. J parents joined us because, even though they have lived in Chicago their whole lives, they had never been to the Willis Tower either.
Skydeck Chicago is the tourist part of the Willis Tower (or as most people still know it, the Sears Tower). It’s the part of the building that has those really cool ledges that let you hang over traffic 103 stories above the street.
The Willis Tower is located on South Wacker drive, but the entrance to Skydeck is on Jackson Boulevard between Wacker and Franklin. Make sure you go in the big glass entrance on Jackson. If you try to go in to the Willis Tower, they will kick you unless you have business there.
J got an express ride up to the top right at 9:00, but the rest of us had to wait with everyone else. There was a little line that had formed right as the Skydeck was opening at 9:00, so we hopped in line and waited for the elevator to take us down….yes…down…to the entry area for the Skydeck.
Once downstairs, there is a long queue area that leads to a metal detector. Security moved through pretty quickly and that put us right in to another line which led to the ticket window.
Luckily L was still free because tickets are a little expensive. It’s $19 for adults and kids over the age of 12. Kids ages 3-11 are $12, so it’s not a cheap attraction in the city.
After tickets are purchased, it’s through more queues and through a small movie theater where they show a movie about the construction and history of the tower. We passed through all the of that without stopping and headed straight for the line to the elevators that take you up to the 103rd floor.
We waited in line for a little less than ten minutes before we were shuffled in to a large elevator. To my surprise, the trip to the 103rd floor took less than two minutes. I don’t know why, but I had pictured this being a long ride with a couple connecting elevators. Damn was I wrong. Two minutes.
J was waiting for us when we got to the top. The Skydeck is pretty much all windows all the way around. On a clear day, you can see 60 miles or so in any direction. It was a little overcast on the day we were there, but the views of Chicago were still pretty amazing. I knew it was going to be a unique view of the city but I was pretty amazed by just how amazing the view was.
The Ledge is only on one side of the Skydeck and there are four of the cubes to walk out in to. I grabbed L and we went and got in line. Once it was our turn, I was shocked that L just ran out on to the glass. It didn’t phase her. She put her hands on the outside glass and looked down on the cars below. I spent a couple of minutes taking pictures of her because, again, I was shocked at just how much it didn’t phase her. Once I got done with that, I joined her and the view was pretty amazing. Looking down 103 stories isn’t something you get a chance to do everyday.
Eventually, J and her parents joined us and we all had a little fun on The Ledge before it was time to head back down.
The elevator that takes you down is the same as the one that brings you up. It takes you back down to that entrance below street level and the path weaves you through two different gift shops before getting back to the original set of elevators that take you back up to street level.
In somewhat of a surprise, we had a blast at Skydeck Chicago. Until we were somewhat forced to go, the thought had never really crossed anybody’s mind, but once up to the top, all five of us were glad we did. It’s something unique that you probably don’t need to do more than once, but that once is a pretty cool experience.