Standing on top of the world is a great feeling, whether you are
4 or 40. The Skydeck at Willis Tower (known until recently as the
Sears Tower) offers not only spectacular views, but the chance to
step out into the air on one of its "ledges," glass encasements
that jut out into the sky.
After entering the building on Jackson Boulevard, you begin your
journey by descending to the ticket center. Be warned that lines
get long, even on weekdays, and security is tight with metal
detectors and bag checks. Buy your tickets online to save time
waiting. Though it costs more, a Fast Pass bypasses many lines and
gets your family to the elevators more quickly.
Once you make it into the elevators, you travel 1,353 feet
straight up in 61 seconds in a small crowded space. As soon as the
doors open, you enter another world, perched over everything you
know. Kids rush immediately for the windows to point at familiar
landmarks. We printed a scavenger hunt from the Skydeck's Web site,
so my 7- and 8-year-olds already knew what they were looking for.
Their hunt was helped by several illustrated "I Spy" boards showing
how to find spots such as Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park and
even the faintly visible Wrigley Field.
I would have liked more time to study the interior walls of the
space, which are covered in displays about Chicago's history, but
my kids were too busy running from window to window in search of
the new ledges.
These magnificent windows do not disappoint. Although the first
step onto what appears to be a thin sheet of glass is
nerve-wracking, the feeling of standing on thin air is more than
worth it. Bring your camera for amazing pictures or wait your turn
for the ledge with a Tower staff member ready to capture your image
and sell it to you when you leave.
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