Things to do in
Willis Tower

Also known as “Sears Tower”, Chicago’s most beloved skyscraper offers magnificent lake and city views.

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Willis Tower: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Experience more of Chicago by boat than on any other architectural cruise. See architectural highlights and enjoy an open-air deck or climate-controlled interior as you travel the main River and its north and south branches. View all of Chicago's architectural highlights during this comprehensive sightseeing tour. Be entertained by the expert and friendly tour guides as they explain the 130 year-long history behind the skyline, while bartenders and staff keep you comfortable with refreshments.  Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. The tour starts at the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and goes up the main branch of the Chicago River past Wolf Point. It then cruises along the north and south branches of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. On the way, learn about ornate, historic early skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the imposing art deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building. Don't miss the circular Marina City Towers, the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the tallest building in Chicago) the soaring AON Center, and more modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the new Vista Tower. During your cruise, have the opportunity to enjoy a full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

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Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

2. Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Enjoy an unrivaled view over the city of Chicago on a trip up the city's Willis Tower. This famous building, once known as the Sears Tower, is not only home to a Skydeck on the 103rd floor, but it also features The Ledge, a series of 4 glass-paneled boxes that extend out from the building's facade to give visitors a view straight down. As you wind through the ground levels of the Willis Tower, you will be surrounded by museum-quality exhibits highlighting the iconic tower. Learn about Chicago's rich history and culture through these informative visuals. Watch a video presentation, "Reaching for the Sky," where you will be briefed on the history of the building and of architecture in Chicago. Then step into your elevator and you will be amazed at how quickly it ascends. As you travel, your multimedia-equipped elevator will inform you about your vertical progress. Upon reaching the 103rd floor, step out onto the Skydeck, which offers views spanning over 50 miles and across 4 states. Then summon your courage to step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that hangs over the edge, for vertigo-inducing views 1,353 feet (about 412 meters) straight down to the city below! Download the Skydeck Mobile App for a free viewfinder which points out many of Chicago’s notable landmarks. Learn more about sights like Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History.

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Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

3. Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a 45-minute cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features a full-service cash bar and live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago- a perfect way to explore the city free of traffic noise and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the open-air decks that allow you to feel the cooling river breeze and see the city from many vantage points that provide perfect photo opportunities.

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Chicago CityPASS®: Save 50% on 5 Top Attractions

4. Chicago CityPASS®: Save 50% on 5 Top Attractions

Take in incredible views, fascinating science, world-class art, and more with Chicago CityPASS® tickets that include premium admission to Chicago’s top attractions and save travelers 50% off the price of the same tickets purchased separately. The CityPASS system is simple. Simply present your mobile (or printed) ticket to be scanned at any 2 of the 5 attractions for entry. What exactly can you experience with the CityPASS ticket? One-stop is the Shedd Aquarium, where you can see otters, lizards, whales, and dolphins – and much, much more. Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 32,000 animals, housed under one octagonal dome. You can also take in breathtaking views at Skydeck, which stands 1,353 feet above the city. The Field Museum is on the list too, home of “Sue” the world’s largest T. Rex. This pass includes prepaid admission to 5 must-see attractions: 1. Shedd Aquarium From angelfish to zebra sharks, meet 32,000 animals from aquatic habitats around the world at Chicago’s “must-sea” destination! See penguins fly through chilly waters, dolphins leap high in the air, monkeys scamper through rainforest trees, and stingrays swim below your feet.  You’ll have all-access priority admission including permanent exhibits, animal presentations, special exhibit, and Stingray Touch (seasonal), plus a 4-D Experience. 2. Field Museum See the world’s wonders! Visit an ancient Egyptian tomb with 23 mummies, explore over 10,000 years of Chinese history and culture, and “Sue” the world’s largest T. Rex dinosaur. You’ll get an All-Access Pass (admission to all permanent and regularly-priced ticketed exhibitions, and your choice of one digital 3D film). Film selection subject to availability. Additional charges may apply for specially ticketed exhibitions outside of the All-Access Pass. 3. Skydeck Chicago (Reopening Spring 2021) Atop the Willis Tower, Skydeck, invites intrepid visitors to step onto The Ledge, four glass boxes jutting out from the observatory. Situated at 1,353 feet (412 meters), the boxes provide a jaw-dropping view of 103 stories above the city. Includes expedited Entry to Willis Tower’s 103rd floor. Your ticket includes expedited entrance to the Skydeck as well as to The Ledge. 4. Your choice of 2 from the following attractions: 4.1 Art Institute of Chicago Travel the globe through galleries featuring the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas. The museum also has one of the largest Impressionist collections outside France and features classic artists like Van Gough and Georges Seurat.  You’ll get Fast Pass Admission to the permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions; including an audio tour. 4.2 Museum of Science and Industry Learn about the science of storms, tour a real World War II German submarine, and run on a human-sized hamster wheel. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is the largest in the Western hemisphere. Includes museum entry, plus one timed-entry experience. 4.3 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck Experience magnificent views of Chicago’s skyline, beaches, and historic waterfront from 1000 feet up. Includes express entry admission.

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Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

5. Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the 875 N Michigan, the Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's impressive landmarks as your tour guide provides entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Enjoy exploring this dynamic city with the freedom to hop-on and hop-off as many times as you wish to visit attractions such as the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. You’ll travel down the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The bridge connects the north and south sides of the city. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. There are 13 stops, where you can hop-off to visit attractions and explore places of interest. The stops are conveniently located to make navigating your way around the city easy, and with a choice of Classic, Premium or Deluxe tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago. Be sure to take advantage of admission to the Chicago Architecture Center, included with the Premium and Deluxe tickets, to dive deeper into the city that invented the skyscraper. So don't wait, just hop-on an exciting journey through Chicago.

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Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

6. Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

Skip the lines at the ticket office and climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise for a 60- or 75-minute cruise of all 3 branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, Marina City, Willis Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. End your tour in the same place where you boarded the boat.

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Chicago: Go City Explorer Pass Choice of 3-7 Attractions

7. Chicago: Go City Explorer Pass Choice of 3-7 Attractions

Save up to 40% off the retail price of admission at 25 top Chicago attractions and tours for 1 low price. Visit top sites such as the Navy Pier, Skydeck Chicago and The Field Museum. Create your own itinerary using the free digital guide included. Explore at your own pace on a hop-on and hop-off trolley tour and lake and river cruises. Enjoy the flexibility to choose the attractions when you get to Chicago, no need to pre-select activities. You have 60 days to use your pass from your first attraction visit. Included Attractions: Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour 360 CHICAGO Navy Pier Centennial Wheel and Rides Adler Planetarium Ten Pin Bowling Lounge America Writers Museum Shoreline Architecture River Cruise Shoreline Classic Lake Tour Field Museum Museum of Science and Industry LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bike Chicago: 4 Hour Bike Rental Tall Ship WINDY Big Bus Chicago: Panoramic Night Tour Chicago Children's Museum Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour Chicago History Museum Museum of Contemporary Art Robie House Chicago Theatre Tour Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home Historic Chicago South Shore Tour Grand Tour

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Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

8. Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass by Go City provides free admission to the city’s top activities, attractions, and tours, offering the ultimate in convenience, savings, and flexibility. Choose durations of 1, 2, 3 or 5 days at a low, pre-paid price. Save up to 45 percent compared to buying individual attraction tickets. The more you see, the more you save! Take a trip up to SkyDeck Chicago, visit the Field Museum, have fun at Navy Pier, and enjoy a cruise. All these and more are included in the cost of your Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. See the complete list below. The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass comes with a digital guide including useful attraction information. Use it to help you decide what to do, where to go and how to get there. Activities, attractions, and tours included with the Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: • Shedd Aquarium • SkyDeck Chicago • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour • 360 CHICAGO • Adler Planetarium • Museum of Science and Industry • Field Museum • Navy Pier Centennial Wheel and Rides • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise • Shoreline Classic Lake Tour • Chicago Children's Museum • LEGOLAND Discovery Center • Bike Chicago: 4 Hour Bike Rental • Tall Ship WINDY • Chicago History Museum • Lincoln Park Zoo Rides • Museum of Contemporary Art • The Escape Game Chicago • Robie House • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour • Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour • Historic Chicago South Shore Tour • Grand Tour • Chicago Theatre Tour • Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home • 10pin Bowling Lounge • American Writers Museum

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Chicago: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

9. Chicago: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

Cruise for 2 or 3 hours on Lake Michigan and see the sights of Chicago from a luxury boat, The Odyssey. Board the boat at Navy Pier and enjoy a personal greeting. Smile for the ship's photographer to capture the memory, then embark on an elegant dining cruise along the Chicago shoreline. After being seated at your private table, tuck into your gourmet brunch buffet or 3-course lunch or dinner consisting of creative meals prepared fresh daily by the on-board executive chef. After your meal, dance to the live music or relax on any of the 3 climate-controlled decks as you watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by. SAMPLE LUNCH AND DINNER MENU Starters (choice of one): Caesar Salad Lobster Bisque (dinner only) Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (dinner only, available for additional price) Seafood Tower (dinner only, available for additional price) 2.5oz 1/2 Lobster Tail (dinner only, available for additional price) Main Course (choice of one): Jumbo Forest Mushroom Ravioli Oven-Baked Atlantic Salmon Filet Oven Roasted Frenched Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Thyme Braised Beef Short Rib Pan-Seared Fresh Pacific Cod (dinner only) 8 oz USDA Choice Filet Mignon (dinner only, available for additional price) 18 oz USDA Prime Striploin (dinner only, available for additional price) Two 5 oz Broiled Maine Lobster Tails (dinner only, available for additional price) Choice of Dessert:(choice of one): Eli's New York Style Cheesecake Duo of Sorbet Freshly Cut Fruit and Fresh Strawberries Triple Chocolate Mud Pie (dinner only) Odyssey Signature Warm Butter Cake (dinner only) French Macarons (dinner only, available for additional price) Champagne Chocolate Truffles (dinner only, available for additional price) SAMPLE BRUNCH BUFFET MENU Early Risers: Seasonal Fruit Breakfast Pastries Scottish Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Meats Breakfast Potatoes Build Your Own Belgian Waffle Station Late Risers: Caesar Salad Shrimp and Farfalle Pasta Salad Potato Salad Roasted Cedar Plank Oregano Salmon Maple & Mustard Glazed Chicken Hand Carved Strip Loin, USDA Choice Desserts: Odyssey Signature Dessert Station Chocolate Fondue Menu items are subject to change.

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Chicago: Food, Architecture and History Tour

10. Chicago: Food, Architecture and History Tour

Start your tour under the dazzling marquee of the Chicago Theater (which you might recognize from the movie-musical Chicago). Your first stop is inside one of the best-preserved spaces built for shopping in Chicago, featuring an unforgettable atrium at its core. Then head towards the Chicago Pedway, a uniquely Chicago feature used by locals and commuters daily. Afterward, head back above-ground near City Hall and head inside to see the classic interior design and architecture. Next, enjoy a sweet treat, and local tradition: Chicago-style popcorn. Weather permitting, take a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk while taking in views of several soaring buildings, including Marina Towers, the Britannica Building, and the Willis Tower. From there, make your way to another delicious destination where you can sample locally made chocolate from a Chicago staple. Next, take a stroll through the beautiful lakefront parks along Michigan Avenue. End up in the picturesque Millennium Park, home to the iconic Bean sculpture. By then, you’ll hopefully have built up an appetite because it’s time to begin your ultimate food experience.  Travel with your guide up to the River North neighborhood, the original Chicago foodie destination. Start your food tour with a well-known Chicago fare: the Chicago-style hot dog. Every Chicagoan has their own preference as to how the dog should be made, and you’ll get a chance to try your guides’ favorite version. Next up is the world-famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, the staple of the Chicago food scene. Visit a pizza place that’s an icon to Chicago natives to try the real deal for yourself. After you’ve filled up on pizza and hot dogs, take a stroll through two more establishments, each one essential to Chicago’s food culture. Then continue your tasting journey with a classic Chicago sandwich: Italian beef.  Sample this sandwich in a real Chicago institution. Your tour ends here, and your guide will be happy to direct you back to your accommodation or share tips for what else to see and do in the city.

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Planning Your Visit

  • Where is it

    The address of Willis Tower is 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Public transportation is easy because it's in such a central location -- off Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple and Red Lines on the ‘L.

  • Where to Park

    Parking is available at 221 W. Adams, and purchasing a parking card in advance online will get you a discount.

  • When to Go

    Skydeck Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9AM to 10PM April through September and 10AM to 8PM October through March. View at night for the romantic glittering cityscape, by day for the sweeping view of Lake Michigan.

  • Admission

    The basic price for adult admission is $19.50. A variety of ticketing bundles with other Chicago attractions, like a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, are available.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    April - Sept: 9:00AM - 10:00PM |
    Oct - March: 10:00AM - 8:00PM
  • Is it expensive?
    $19.50
  • Will I need a guide?
    Nope, but they are available if you want special insights into the building and its surroundings.
  • How to get there
    Take the L, walk, or drive.
  • Additional information
    As with other spectacular views, the best times to visit the SkyDeck are in the early morning and around sunset.

Other Sightseeing Options in Willis Tower

Want to discover all there is to do in Willis Tower? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Willis Tower

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 6,437 reviews

Es un paseo muy bonito, bien explicado, las bebidas a bordo deliciosas, y las fotos que se pueden tomar en el paseo de las 5pm son increíbles, Chicago de noche se ve hermoso.

The tour guide, Jack, was the star of this trip- engaging, knowledgeable, and funny! I would highly recommend a tour with him!

A great way to figure out where you want to spend additional time. Canopy on the roof keeps you warm, even when chilly.

We had beautiful clear skies and really enjoyed the views and listening to the tour guide.

The tour guide for the 2pm sailing was out standing!!