Day 2 of our Midwest Road Trip took us to downtown Chicago. When you plan a trip like this, you can’t pick and choose what will be happening in the city but you can make arrangements to have a successful day – no matter what! We were in Chicago on the same day as the Chicago Marathon which meant that there were more than 40,000 runners plus their family and friends converging on downtown at the same time we were there. But what we discovered is that the Chicago Marathon made it even more fun and didn’t disturb our visit to Willis Tower Skydeck or the downtown parks even one bit. If you are planning a trip to Chicago, here are some things to know about Willis Tower on your visit!
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Things to Know about Willis Tower Skydeck
We found a parking area near Washington Street right off I-90 for $10.00. When we visit a large city, we always want to park as quickly as possible and then walk or take public transportation. Since we knew the crowds would be larger downtown because of the Marathon, we didn’t spend much time looking for a perfect parking spot.
The great thing about walking in a large city is the opportunity to get amazing unexpected views.
Tip: Just put “parking” in your GPS when you get off the Interstate and take the first option you find. Sure, you can save a few dollars possibly if you keep looking at all the different parking garages and lots, but sometimes it’s better to take your first option and just walk a few blocks more. Just make sure you take a picture or save your location in Google maps so you can find your vehicle at the end of your day.
The Chicago Marathon was an energizing experience. To see so many runners of all ages racing to beat their best and fulfil their goals was inspiring. We joined the crowd cheering on strangers who were all united in a common goal to finish this classic race!
And don’t forget to look up as you are walking. Sometimes the views are amazing as you catch a glimpse of the blue skies between the skyscrapers!
When you arrive at Willis Tower, there are several great places to get photos. I call these our ‘proof of presence’ photos. These are the typical tourist photos that remind us that we were present on our vacation!
When you purchase your tickets, I highly recommend you pay the extra money for the City Pass or Fast Pass. Yes, it is a bit more money, but the benefits are paid out in your time. Three different times we were able to jump to the very front of the line and bypass the hundreds of people that were waiting. Something to note is that the day we were there was not a busy day. Many of the lanes for waiting were not even being used. I can’t imagine how much time we would have saved by using the Fast Pass on a day when all the lanes were filled.
Once you get through the lines and security, you are taken up an elevator ride to the 103rd floor. Since I know some people are skittish about elevators, it was reassuring to have a sign reminding you that the ride only takes 60 seconds!
The views from the top of Willis Tower are amazing! I’ll just stop a minute and let you appreciate all the amazing views. There are windows all around the top so you can easily get up and take your pictures!
Since most people visiting Willis Tower are not familiar with the city, it was nice to have signs at each window pointing out the different landmarks and buildings.
Although we were unable to stand on the Ledge that steps out over the city, the views from the windows were amazing. Just be prepared to stand in the crowd for a long time while you wait for one of the 4 Skydeck ledges to be available.
Find Willis Tower SkyDeck
233 S Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606
Looking for tips to do your own big city walking tour? Check out these tips for how to plan a city walking tour!