The Willis Tower Skydeck – On Top of the World?

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Standing at over 1400 ft, Willis Tower is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. We had previously visited the summit of the Empire State Building in New York City, NY but at 200 ft taller, the Willis Tower was going to prove to be another landmark.

The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and is a must for anyone wanting to traverse a variety of skyscrapers across the world.

willis tower

The picture above is the view from the bottom of the Willis Tower and gives little in terms of scale as to the enormity of this building. I was particularly excited heading into the building especially knowing we would have the opportunity to step out on the glass Skydeck ledges that were a particular attraction though for many with a distinct fear of heights, these could be classified as a terrifying experience.

We waited in line after getting through security for about 60 minutes which is about par for an attraction of this scope and with everything that has happened in recent year, I could certainly understand and appreciate the vast amount of security in place trying to get to the summit of the Skydeck.

willis tower

One of the most amazing features of this building was the vast amount of office space, given that this was initially designed as the home of Sears (hence the original name, ‘Sears Tower’) and I think we sometimes forget the reasoning behind these vast structures as they are not simply for tourist attractions.

After entering the elevator, we began rising to the summit of the 103 floors and the speed at which the elevator rose was particularly astounding. As the elevator rose from one floor to the next, tourists are presented with a video displaying details of other global landmarks and their heights as you pass above and beyond these.

willis tower

After reaching the 103rd floor, we were immediately presented with an incredible view of downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. One of the amazing views was over Lake Michigan and thinking about the setting of Chicago’s vibrant city life on this beautiful lake.

willis tower skydeck

As we walked around the Skydeck we finally arrived at the glass ledges which was we were most excited about. Heather’s fear of heights led to a sense of trepidation at the thought of venturing out over the ledge but I think the excitement overcame her fears.

The Skydeck website publicizes the ledges perfectly as, “Step outside the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the third tallest in the world. At 1,353 feet in the air, the Ledge’s glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from Skydeck.” The views from within the glass ledges were amazing, looking down directly by your feet almost 1400 feet was particularly enthralling. The picture to the left shows the view of our experience from within the perspex glass ledge.

willis tower

The gift shops located throughout the descent from the summit of the Willis Tower provided ample opportunities to purchase a memento Willis Tower or a variety of glasses, key rings and magnets were also reasonably priced.


  • Awesome views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan
  • Skydeck glass ledge is a must for anyone (including those with a fear of heights as this gives an opportunity to conquer those fears)
  • Great location downtown with weekend parking reasonably priced ($14 for all day within a secure parking garage at the Prudential Plaza was a great choice)


  • Price at $17.50 was a little on the expensive side especially with a 60+ minute wait before even ascending to the summit

The Willis Tower is a definite key landmark for anyone visiting the Windy City. This is a must especially on a nice day when views of up to 50 miles into surrounding suburbs and states is available.

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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]


  1. Aaaah the Skydeck! I live in Chicago and have been there a few times – I think it’s worth waiting in line for the views! Chicago’s skyline is one of the most beautiful ones anywhere… 🙂 The ledge was fun too and less scary than I had expected.

    • Couldn’t agree more! It’s nice for a Chicago native to appreciate something in your hometown. I know that sometimes we take our hometown attractions for granted but the Skydeck really is great. We have ventured up several skyscrapers but the Willis Tower certainly has to be the most impressive on our resume so far! Thanks for the comments, they are greatly appreciated.

  2. I remember when this use to be called the Sears Tower before Willis purchased it. I haven’t been in the glass ledges since it was added. It looks exciting. Great place to overcome your fear of heights.

    • It really is great and definitely a place to venture if you have a desire to overcome your fear of heights. It will probably always be known as the Sears Tower to the locals in the Windy City!

  3. Insider tip – take the elevator to the Sky Lounge at the Hancock for better views (albeit a bit shorter) and a cheaper price with no wait time! I haven’t been to the Sears Tower since I was a kid, as I always opt for the Hancock. They have great Chicagoland microbrews on tap, too!


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