Yesterday I played tourist in my city of Chicago. My cousin was in the city visiting on his long layover he had and right away requested to go to the “glass overhang thing”. Right away I knew he was talking about the Skydeck Ledge in Willis Tower, formally the Sears Tower. If you talk to any Chicagoan, they still call it the Sears Tower.
Anyways, they have updated the whole entrance now. You enter Willis Tower for the Skydeck on Franklin Street. You take the escalators down two levels. It is nice there are workers directing people everywhere to get to the lower level. Once there you will get in line to purchase the tickets. There are a few different types of tickets and split in between Adults and Youth.
General Admission: Adults $22.00 Youth $15.00
Fast Pass: $49.00 (I would definitely recommend it if you are going on a weekend because the line can be hours long. More on that later.)
Chicago City Pass: Prices vary depending on how many attractions/museums you plan to go to. Worth the price if you go to two or more. Other attractions include Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Museum of Science & Industry.
The Line…We went on a Thursday afternoon around 3. We only waited about ten minutes to get to the elevator that takes you up 104 floors. It took us about five minutes to walk down the crazy long hallways, through the empty lines. We zig zagged and weaved our way all around just to get to the elevators. There isn’t much to look at if you are stuck in the long white hallway. Until you get closer they have some facts on the walls as well as the video. Make sure to have something to keep you busy if you are stuck in line back in the white hallway. I’m sorry to break it to you, you will be there for quite some time.
Once you take the one minute elevator ride up 104 floors to the Skydeck floor, you walk out to the floor to ceiling windows and shops and benches and telescopes. There are stands to tell you some of the major things to see in the distance. Looking to the south first, you can see Guaranteed Rate Field (where the White Sox play), to the east Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, to the north they point out things such as Wrigley Field and John Hancock Building, to the west United Center (where the Blackhawks and Bulls play). The views are great. They will tell you before you even enter if the visibility is bad or even high winds. There are some benches you can sit on as well to soak up the views as well. Of course souvenir stands with t-shirts and coffee cups and puzzles and such. Some good buys for any tourist wanting a souvenir. Side note: A ton of great tourist shops after you go back down to the ground floor. I would definitely recommend getting souvenirs from the ground floor versus the on the Skydeck.
The Skydeck Ledge, where the glass over hang is literally above the street. There are lines for the 4 ledges. There are employees there to time people with taking personal photos as well to take a group photo. It is a crazy feeling stepping on that glass. Your knees go weak, at least mine did. And I’m not even afraid of heights! Super crazy feeling seeing just glass below you. Amazing views. You can see as far as 50 miles on clear days. To the north is Wisconsin, south to Indiana, east to Lake Michigan and the state of Michigan, west to see the city and more of Illinois. Very cool sight to see.
Overall, it is definitely a spot I would recommend to go to visiting Chicago or even if you live in the city or surrounding areas and have never been. I think it is something every one can experience. If you don’t want to go on the glass ledge you don’t have to. Some people get too weak in the knees. Perfectly fine to stand against the wall and look from afar. You can get great photos and just a view to remember. I hope you enjoy it and I hope this helps with getting tips for the trip to Willis Tower aka Sears Tower. 🙂