Once the world’s tallest building when it opened in 1973 as Sears Tower, Willis Tower is still way up in the clouds. The 1,454-foot (443-meter) skyscraper reigns as the tallest building in the Midwest and the second-tallest building in all of North America with its spires just 325 feet (99 meters) shorter than Manhattan’s One World Trade Center. Though it functions as an office tower, the skyscraper’s 103rd-floor Skydeck Chicago draws 1.7 million annual visitors for a trip out onto The Ledge, an enclosed glass balcony extending four feet (1.2 meters) outside the 103rd floor, and for panoramic views that, on clear days, extend as far as Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Willis Tower can be seen from around the Windy City and is a highlight on most sightseeing tours and Chicago River cruises. Those looking to head to the top should book admission tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long ticket lines. The journey to Skydeck Chicago starts with interactive exhibits and the “Reaching for the Sky” film presentation, which covers the tower’s history and plays during the 70-second elevator ride up to the 103rd floor. At the Skydeck, you can admire the city from above and take a turn on the glass-bottomed Ledge, set 1,353 feet (412 meters) above the streets. For a unique Chicago dining experience, book lunch or dinner at Willis Tower, where you can eat Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza on either the 99th floor or at the Skydeck. Early risers can opt for an early-access breakfast experience at the Skydeck, 90 minutes before it opens to the public.