Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the city. Not only do people line up for the chance to view Chicago from 103 stories up, but they can’t stop talking about The Ledge.

The 4 glass boxes that literally dangle in the air above the Chicago River bring people flocking for the experience of stepping out onto the ledge.


Skydeck Chicago is an awesome experience. It’s a destination that needs to be included in your travel.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your Skydeck Chicago experience:

  1. Pre-Purchase Tickets: You will have to stand in line a lot during your experience: to get through security, to ride the elevator up, to take a turn out on the ledge, to ride the elevator down, to use the bathroom, etc. The only line you have the option to easily bypass is the one to purchase tickets.
  2. Fast Pass: If you are visiting on a day with an expected high volume of people, I highly recommend taking advantage of the fast pass ticket option. It is a considerable price increase, but you will gain hours of your day back.
  3. Security: The Willis Tower has a phenomenal security screening. Keep in mind that you will need to pass through it in order to enter. I don’t know the specific rules as to what’s allowed or not, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you have a question, then you probably shouldn’t bring it.
  4. Elevator: You will be packed in pretty tight into the elevator. It’s 60 seconds of your life (well, 120 if you count the ride down too.) Although they tell you to move to the back, most people try to grab space on the sides first. If you are claustrophobic, it’s probably a good idea to stand on the side or front.
  5. Keep Moving: As soon as you get off the elevator, traffic will come to a complete stop. Everyone wants to peak out of the first pane of glass they see. If you move like 5 feet over, your view will be virtually unobstructed. And you’re pretty much seeing the same thing that the people who waited in a line 20 people deep saw.DSC_3134
  6. Gift Shop Warning: You will filter through about 3 different gift shops during your Skydeck experience. It seemed like everything breakable or fun was on the outside edge. Keep an eye on your children and prepare them in advance if you are or aren’t going to make any purchases.
  7. Ledge #4: As you approach the side of the building with the ledges, you will see some very long lines. For whatever reason, most people stand in the first line they see and don’t investigate other options. There are 4 ledges to walk out on and take photographs. I highly recommend that you make your way to the furthest ledge. There is a professional photographer in that area and I believe it discourages people from choosing that one. After snapping a professional picture, the photographer is more than happy to take additional pictures on your personal camera.
  8. Professional Picture: Unless you are traveling with a 10 foot tall person, you will not be able to get the same awesome angle as the professional camera. The camera is mounted on the ceiling, and undoubtedly takes the best group photos. Skydeck Chicago
  9. Check Photo On Spot: You are able to quickly view your photo on a screen up at the Ledge. Take a peek. I guarantee if one of your kids has their eyes closed, you will not be trekking back to the top for a re-shoot. Don’t go home disappointed!
  10. Allow Time To Exit: There will be another line to board the elevators going down. Depending on the crowds, it may take about 15 minutes to leave once you are in line. Then there is another maze of gift shops to wander through before you are officially out of Willis Tower. If you are on a time schedule, make sure to allow plenty of time.

In addition to these helpful hints, make sure to check out the official “How To Get The Most Out Of Your Experience” section on the Skydeck website.

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