Skydeck Chicago Family Guide

The Willis Tower's main attraction has a new interactive museum.

You can’t beat a skyline like Chicago’s. There are so many places to catch a breathtaking view of the skyscrapers along Lake Michigan. But, if you’re looking for one of the best bird’s eye views of our amazing skyline, Willis Tower is your spot.

Skydeck Chicago, the skyscraper’s observation deck, has provided guests with easy access to their top floor since 1974. On a clear day, you can see four states — Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. And you can’t miss out on stepping on the Ledge, glass boxes giving you a clear view 1,353 feet below.

In 2021, the downtown attraction reopened with a new, interactive Chicago-themed museum. Before riding up to the 103rd floor, guests can walk through fun displays and learn about Chicago’s history including architecture, food, music and more.

If you’re planning to visit Skydeck Chicago soon, take a look at our family guide with everything you need to know before heading downtown.

Attractions included

Photo Credit: Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago is not only known for its views, the Willis Tower spot also offers guests interactive experiences.

Chicago-themed museum

As soon as you check in on the lower level, walk through a museum filled with Insta-worth displays. Hop aboard the L that takes you through Chicago’s neighborhoods. Hungry? Take a seat on a Chicago-style hot dog bench. Plus, you can’t miss posing next to the Obamas and other well-known city legends!

Beyond the fun photo ops, you can dive into the Chicago’s history as well. Get a brief overview of The Great Chicago Fire, notable architecture like the Marina City and Rookery Building, and the best tastes in our city.

Observation deck

 How tall is Willis Tower compared to other landmarks? As you take the elevator up to the observation deck, a screen informs riders when you passed the height of iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Space Needle.

When you arrive on the 103rd floor, the observation deck has a whole new look. Features include interactive monitors and footprints where the Ferris Bueller cast stood when visiting. You don’t have to leave forehead prints against the window like them anymore, though.

The Ledge

Probably the most popular experience at Skydeck Chicago, The Ledge offers four glass balconies where you can stand 4.3 feet from Willis Tower. Each glass box weighs 7,500 pounds and if you’re brave enough to look down, you’re in for a marvelous view. 

Ticket pricing, hours and COVID-19 protocols

Photo Credit: Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago is open Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Ticket prices for ages 3-11 range from $22-$26. Adult tickets range from $28-$35. Children 3 and under can get in for free. If you want to skip the lines, ­you can get an expedited entry for $55 that includes general admission.

Buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended due to limit capacity and timed ticketing. Cleaning protocols are in place and you’ll find social distance markers in lines. Guests and staff are required to wear face coverings in Skydeck Chicago and Willis Tower. Hand sanitizer stations are also available.

More family tips

Photo Credit: Skydeck Chicago

 When visiting Skydeck Chicago with kids, here are more things to know before you go:

  • Strollers, wheelchairs and ramps are allowed. Ramps are set up to make access easy.
  • Family restrooms are located on Lower Level 2 in the Skydeck Marketplace.
  • Print out this scavenger hunt to see if you can spot landmarks from all sides of the building. This activity is fun for adults, too!
  • Some of the best times to visit is right after they open or after sunset. 

Things to do nearby

Photo Credit: Skydeck Chicago

Willis Tower’s Catalog gives your family a chance to grab a bite to eat before or after your visit. You can access the space via Jackson Boulevard, the same entrance for the Skydeck Chicago. While the five-level space is planning to open more shops and restaurants in the future, the Catalog currently has Shake Shack, Tortazo, Brown Bag Seafood, Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, Sweetgreen and Starbucks.

While you’re downtown, you can find plenty of other family-friendly attractions like The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk and more.


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