The Skydeck at the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) is reportedly the highest observation deck in the world, on the 103rd floor. Don't miss the Skydeck Ledge which are all around glass boxes that extend out above the bustling Chicago streets.
I'd say this would be a great place for all if it were just cheaper. It's not. There are people everywhere and it's difficult to find a window area that the kids can see out... and even when they do, the vastness of the Chicago landscape is lost to them. Cool, but too expensive for what it's worth.
Kids under 3, free
Kids 3-11, $12
People 12+, $18
You're looking at dropping at least $50 on your family, just to wait in long lines and be around crowds of people.
It's awesome being up so high to check out the gorgeous views. We're easily able to read the signs posted that highlight specific landmarks in your view window. That's loads of fun. The glass ledge is fun to walk out on the for an even better view, but it's mostly novelty. They're crowded, but worth checking out. Might as well get your money's worth!
If old enough, they'll enjoy walking around the circle to check out places they've been... the aquarium, Wrigley Field, Navy Pier... and they'll think the glass ledges are super daring (maybe? I have a daredevil) and fun. They'll surely want a picture to bring back to share with their teacher and classmates.
Tip 1: Grab a meal/snack before embarking on this journey. It can be a long wait to get up and down those elevators and the last thing you need is to spend MORE money on overpriced snacks at the top.
Tip 2: Skip out on the picture they force you to take. You'll get better views with your own camera without being superimposed into a photo.
We took two 11yr old and two 14yr old children. Since this was our first stop in Chicago, it really amazed the kids to see the skyscrapers and just how it looked. I think it was an excellent start to our tour of the city. We got to Willis Tower early and had already bought and printed out our tickets at home so there was absolutely no wait! We went right up and started taking photos. It did become very busy by the time we left so I would definitly go early.
It all depends on how long the lines are when you go. Pretty short and it's a worthwhile trip, very long and you might wish you'd gone somewhere else. The views are incredible of course, but I recommend spending more time enjoying the the city than looking at it from above. We haven't been there since they added the glass floor viewing areas, so I imagine they are a lot of fun for kids and scary for adults!
Not only is the a must see for all adults but this is a visit that kids will never forget. When you go up the elevator and they are telling you how fast you are going up it is quite amazing. Then when you walk off of the elevator the kids see how far up they went and realize how fast the elevator really was. Their eyes are in amazment when they look out at the skyline. There is not much for the kids to do up there though. So do not think that it will take up too much time in your day. I did think that it was hard to park for this . So plan for a little walking.
the younger kids took a long time before they werent and though they would fall...once everyone is on board nice family pictures can be taken, but after that its nothing really to do its more for just saying that you've been to one of the tallest buildings in the world in the greatest city :) Chicago
This is an attraction for older kids. The younger kids think it is awesome, until they have seen all the different views...then they are ready to leave. for the adults and older kids, there are so many photographic pictures to take up there. You can see for miles and it is a great place to see all of Chicago in 30 minutes. For the amount of time you are there I think the pricing is a bit high but its something you don't do everyday and that makes it worth it. I haven't been there since they put in the glass floor but I hear that is incredible.
Super fun! I had so much fun & so did the people I went with! I cannot wait until I go again! All the activites are so much fun! The gift shops are great & so are the resturants! So much fun to spend your day here! You will have a great time being here!
There is a great view of the city from this spot. You can see Wrigley field, the harbor, and the skyline. If you are bringing kids here they will get bored easily after they have seen all the different angles of the city. There are many pictures with history summaries with them. Chicago is more recommended for adults in my opinion.
We recently went there with guests. We took a picture on the 1st floor with a great background. We thought prices were very reasonble for what we see. We loved the new addition that's been added. we were little scard on the new additon but we still enjoyed it. One of our family member couldn't come so she stayed on the first floor and nice thing about it is that there's banches where she was able to sit. Gift shops had costly prices but we thought it was normal due to chicago's logo on it.
I have always heard about "The Sears" tower and felt that this was a must on our trip. We went about a half a hour before sunset so we could get the experience of the day, sunset, and night view. It wasn't disappointing. I don't think that this would be very exciting for young children. Overall it was not my favorite thing that we did and not worth the full price ticket. We had a city pass where we got to see 5 or 6 things for a set price. Doing that made it worth seeing.
the view of Chicago is great, but the enjoyment by children is limited, for obvious reasons. Outside of the view, it doesnt hold much for kids. Teens will probably get a bigger kick out of it, especially if they can picture out where the baseball field is and other landmarks. Refered to as "big willy" by local residents.
It is a good view, of course. But it's expensive and you will wait in line. Always. I have done this many times and there is always, always, always a line. I'm not sure if it is really worth it. But it is unique to Chicago.
If you must go, just keep your expectations in check. Long line and fairly costly for a family.
But you do get a bird's eye view of a beautiful city.
Our trip to the Willis/Sears Tower was an incredibly frustrating experience. We went on a Saturday afternoon, two day after Thanksgiving, hoping that this would help us avoid the work week traffic. While we may have beaten the traffic, we ran head-long into huge crowds. From entering the line to getting to the 103rd floor Skydeck took two hours. While waiting in line there are no seats or benches available. On the Skydeck, again, there is no place to sit so if you or anyone in your party can’t stand for at least three hours then this is probably not the trip for you. By far, the biggest disappointment was going to see the “Ledge” in the late afternoon. It never even occurred to us that the Ledge boxes are on the west side of the building so any attempt to take pictures is directly into the setting sun. Add to that, again, the crowds. Even getting a glance down at the street through all the feet was a challenge, and essentially ruined the view. Then came another one hour wait in line just to get into the elevators which conveniently empty out into a hallway that herds you through two gift shops to get back out to the street. The Fast Pass ($30) and City Pass ($69) holders were directed to the front of all lines, saving them at least half an hour or more. If you’re going to be in the city long enough to see the other major attractions covered by the City Pass (Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry and the Adler Planetarium) then the $69 is well worth it, particularly for the Field Museum which is so large that you may need two days just to see it all.
On a Monday morning at 10:40am in July 2009, I took my nephews (ages 2, 4, 7) and their parents to the Sears Tower Skydeck / Willis Tower. The lines were terrible, but the glass-bottom sky boxes were the kids favorites.
In front of the building was a line about 20 minutes long to the elevators. We had FastPass tickets which didn't get us through this line, but did help us avoid the 20-30 minutes long ticket purchasing line. All in all, we had to deal with about 30 minutes of waiting. Without the FastPass, we'd probably be looking at about 50-60 minutes of waiting.
"The Ledge" which are the 4 retractable glass-bottom sky boxes were cool for the one year old as well as the 7 year old. The older kids loved posing for the pictures and pretending that they were falling onto Wacker Drive below. There were 3 lines to enter the Ledge and it took about 10 minutes to get into the box. We were unfortunately in front of an overeager group who were very impatient and quickly crowded our space. I noticed that the group in the other box were much more friendly and accommodating.
Everything is very stroller friendly, so definitely bring it for the younger ones. Try to go early in the morning before 10:30 to avoid the crowds. Weekdays are typically better than the weekends although the summer and holiday season is quite crowded regardless of the day of week.
The admission price for entering the Skydeck is overly expensive ($14.95 for adults, $10.50 for children), but the views of the city are nice. We have not been back since they addition of The Ledge, but I don't know that we'll rush out to do that given the cost.
Granted you choose the right day and time to go, you can avoid the heavy crowds and busy queue lines in order to get a fabulous view of Chicago. Otherwise you should be prepared to wait in line but some might say the view is definitely worth the wait!
On a clear day, it seems that you can see forever from the Skydeck. If the kids get tired of looking out the windows, they can visit the "Knee-High Chicago" area on the interior walls. I'd give this five stars, but it's expensive, and some kids may not like sitting through the requisite movie before going up in the elevators to see the view.