Willis / Sears Tower - Chicago, IL

Willis Tower is a fantastic place to visit when you want to take in rooftop views of Chicago.

The Warrior lives a life full of adventure, living on the edge of opportunity. Life on the edge keeps him in a space of heightened awareness and totally in the moment; therefore no matter what comes his way he is always prepared. ~James Arthur Ray.

The Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is a 110-story skyscraper located in downtown Chicago.  Head on up to the Skydeck for spectacular views that span across the city.

Tickets are available online and it may save you a few minutes to buy your tickets in advance.  These general admission tickets won't help you skip the line, though.  General admission wait time is usually at least 2 hours, so make sure you bring a stroller for the littles, along with snacks and charged devices for everyone.  When you arrive in the Skydeck check-in area (on the lower level), you will go through a security checkpoint with a metal detector.  Once through security, there is a bathroom with drinking fountains.  There is one more restroom as you proceed through the line.  You are allowed to bring snacks and drinks through security and some items are available for purchase once you get up to the Skydeck, but be prepared to pay a premium.

If you'd like to skip the long wait, check out the details for the CityPASS or Fast Pass.  It may seem expensive until you realize it will likely save you about 2 hours of time waiting in line.  When I asked the Willis Tower representative in the lobby if there is a particular day or time to visit when you don't have to wait, he told me that it's always busy at the Skydeck.  Although, he did tell me that it helps to get there right when they open in the morning.  

Once you make it through the line, you will pack nice and snug into an elevator to head up to the Skydeck viewing area on the 103rd floor.  Exit the elevators and enjoy the views!

The Ledge Experience allows you to step out 4.3 feet into an enclosed glass area for a whole new view of the city.  There are separate lines you need to wait in for each of the Ledges, so be prepared.  We waited for the Ledge immediately after arriving at the Skydeck level.  I figured we'd get all of the waiting out of the way, then we were able to walk around and leisurely look out upon the city through the other windows.  If you want to do a bigger group shot on the Ledge, you may want to have part of your group wait in one line and the rest in the line that splits off from that same Ledge.  Otherwise, you will be crowded into the Ledge with a bunch of other people.  There is an employee by the Ledge, but they didn't seem to be policing time spent in the Ledge.  I heard that it's basically 1 minute that you have in the enclosure.  I thought it was worth it, but wish we had some extra time to stand and enjoy the expanded viewing area.

Willis Tower - Skydeck:

  • Willis Tower is located between Adams, Jackson, Wacker, and Franklin in the Loop.
  • You will find Public Parking lots in the area, but there is a close (although pricey) Self-Park lot at 211 West Adams Street in Chicago.
  • The Skydeck is open 365 days a year.
    • March - September 9 am - 10 pm.
    • October - February 10 am - 8 pm.
  • Allow at least 4 hours for this experience.

 

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