Skydeck Chicago (with Giveaway!)

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

Website: Skydeck Chicago

Location: Willis Tower (still the Sears Tower to me), 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Phone: 877-SKYDECK

Hours: Open 365 days a year.
April-September 9:00 am-10:00 pm
October-March 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Last entry 30 minutes prior to close.

Admission: $18/adult (12 & up), $12/child (3-11)
FastPass $40/person (VIP access to elevators)
Tickets can be purchased online

Parking: It’s downtown Chicago so parking is expensive. Parking information is available on the Skydeck Chicago site. The Willis Tower is also accessible by public transportation.
If you do choose to drive and park, I strongly recommend you try SpotHero.com to find parking; we parked about two blocks away for only $14.

Bathrooms: There are bathrooms with changing tables.

Nursing: There is no designated nursing area. There are benches once you get to the top of the Willis Tower.

Handicapped/stroller accessibility: The Willis Tower is handicapped and stroller accessible. We brought a sit-and-stand stroller and had no difficulties.

Other amenities:

Food: There are several restaurants in the Willis Tower (see a list here).

Special events:

Activities:

  • Photos are taken at the Visitor Center and on The Ledge and can be purchased.

We paid: We received complimentary passes for the Skydeck Ledge. Tickets for 2 adults and 2 children would be $60. We purchased a photo of us on the Ledge for $24.

Our experience:

I’m afraid of heights. Not an uncomfortable-in-high-places kind of afraid of heights, but a shaking, crying, unable to breath fear of heights. Some people get scared if they look down; I get scared standing on the ground and looking at something that’s high.

Despite my fear, I knew the kids would get a kick out of the Skydeck Ledge at Willis Tower (Sears Tower) and John has really wanted to go too. I wanted to face my fear a bit and try to be sure I’m not passing it on to my kids. My parents heard we visited the Skydeck Ledge and were shocked; they remember family road trips were I would cower on the floor of our station wagon (back before seat belts were required by law) as we drove over bridges.

I took a picture of the Skydeck Ledge while we were on the ground, but I couldn’t actually look up; I pointed my camera up and clicked.

Skydeck Ledge - exterior - Toddling Around Chicagoland

We arrived at the Willis Tower on a Saturday afternoon and the line was halfway down the block. I expected a long wait so we came prepared – we brought our sit n’ stand stroller (even though we wouldn’t be walking much I knew the older boys would complain about standing), snacks, water bottles, crayons and coloring books, and Leapfrog video games. The first line is to get onto the elevator. We made it into the building pretty quickly and were warned by the employees that the wait would be 2 hours. The elevator takes you downstairs (not up!) where you wait in line to go through security. That line moved a little slower than the one in the lobby. We broke out some snacks and video games and read the trivia posted on the walls and on the video screens.

After security there’s the line to purchase tickets. We had tickets waiting so we were able to bypass the line for Will Call. There’s another line after you purchase tickets to get to the elevator that goes up, but we had a fast pass and got to bypass that line as well. Off to the elevators! Total time in line for us was about 1 hour.

It takes only one minute to get to the Skydeck. (And it’s a good thing because I get a bit nervous in elevators too.) I could feel my ears popping as we went up; I was a little concerned about this causing discomfort for the kids, especially the baby, but there weren’t any complaints about it.

The Skydeck is pretty incredible. The view is amazing and you can truly see the whole city.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

 

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

At this point I wasn’t trying to appreciate the view, but concentrating all my effort on not grabbing my kids, screaming, and running to the nearest elevator down. Luckily, I manage to keep my composure and did my best to hide my fear from the kids. It was crowded, but after the long wait in lines it actually wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.

There is a gift shop, trivia on the walls, telescopes (bring quarters!), and, of course, lots and lots of windows. John and the boys were happy to wander and look out the windows, but I was anxious to get to the Ledge. I was terrified, but I wanted to do it.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

I was surprised to arrive at the Ledge and find… not a line. Well, not an organized line at least. Everyone sort of huddles around the Ledge to get in there and take a picture. Seeing the crowd I was pretty nervous about standing there with the kids; I was expecting some pushing and rudeness. Amazingly, everyone was very polite and considerate. No one shoved ahead or attempted to squeeze in; everyone waited their turn, took a reasonable amount of time getting their photos on the Ledge, and offered to take pictures of others.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

When it was our turn someone offered to take a picture of all 5 of us. After we got our family pictures John and I took turns taking photos of each other and the kids. The boys loved looking down to see the ground below them.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

 

Skydeck Chicago - Toddling Around Chicagoland

I don’t look nervous at all, right?

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

I took photos, posed for photos, and barely held back tears. But I did it! As soon as we got off the Ledge I excused myself to go change Campbell’s diaper (& cry out of sight of the older boys).

We spent some time admiring the city from the windows and taking some fun pictures. Cooper wanted to take a picture that looked like he was holding a building in his hand.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

I wasn’t sure how good the family photo came out so we decided to head out on the Ledge again for a professional photo. One of the Ledges is set up specifically for photos taken by Skydeck photographers. (You line up for these photos, but there wasn’t much of a line – only one group ahead of us.) Again, I was terrified, but I wanted to be sure we had a photo of the family on the Ledge. The photographer promised me she’d be quick and she was, but Dexter kept looking away at the last second. After the 3rd retake we decided it was fine if he was looking away.

We probably spent about an hour exploring the Skydeck before we were ready to go. The exit is similar to a mall – a gift shop, a couple places to eat, small arcade.

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

You can purchase photos of your group. We decided to buy our Ledge picture, and here it is:

Skydeck Ledge - Toddling Around Chicagoland

Worth the wait. This was definitely an experience you need to have in Chicago.

Giveaway

Win 4 passes to Skydeck!

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Comments

  1. Great post! Actually love all your posts! Thanks!! xo

  2. Oh my word!!!! I am terrified of heights too! The kids looked like they had a blast!!!!

  3. Awesome!!! I would LOVE to take the family to the skydeck!

  4. Anne Bierman says:

    HI! HAPPY TUESDAY!!! Looks like an awesome but scarey experience!!! =)

  5. I never used to be afraid of heights until I got a little older. This makes my stomach turn, but I know my 3-year old would LOVE it!

  6. kristin b says:

    Your pictures turned out cute! I haven’t been there in forever

  7. I Love your blog and I’d love to take my kids to experience Chicago in this way! Plus I’ve never experienced it this way either.

  8. Love the sky deck!! So much fun!

  9. We live in Valparaiso, IN so we have always wanted to take our 3 yo but haven’t had the chance. This would be so great to win. Thank you for the opportunity!

  10. Cool! thanks for all the info! This is on our list of things to do this summer…..

  11. Thanks for another great write up!

  12. It’s still the Sears Tower to me too!

  13. Christine Uniejewski says:

    Living in Chicago for so many years, and I never took my boys to the SkyDeck. This would be so cool!

  14. Jennifer Young says:

    Fingers crossed, I would love this! We are planning to go to Chicago next weekend and this would be a lot of fun!

  15. Latasha Sandoval says:

    It would be nice to take my teens here. They’ve never seen it.

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