Best Views in Chicago: John Hancock Observatory

I love tall places and the John Hancock Observatory has, in my not so humble opinion, the best views in Chicago. The John Hancock Center is the only building in Chicago with membership in the exclusive World Federation of Great Towers.  Just look for the building with the X patterns on all sides, it’s next to the Water Tower Place shopping center on Michigan Avenue aka the Magnificent Mile.

X marks the spot for the best views of Chicago

It takes just 40 seconds to get to the observatory in the fastest elevators in America which travel at a rate of 1,800 feet per minute– that’s 20 mph! If you’re lucky, there may be a special event during your visit. We enjoyed a free concert by a local high school orchestra while taking in the views. On a clear day you can see 4 states: Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois. If you haven’t been to the John Hancock Observatory recently there are many new additions. In the winter you can ice skate a thousand feet up! There’s an excellent 80 ft. exhibit about the city and a free audio tour narrated by Chicagoan, David Schwimmer (Dr. Ross Geller from Friends). There are 2 versions of the audio tour, one to make the city come alive for kids and one for adults. Both versions have fun and interesting tidbits about the city and the views which you listen to at your own pace. There’s also the Sky Walk which lets you feel what it’s like to be outside 1000 feet up. It’s an incredible feeling and not scary at all! The newest addition is the interactive telescopes, the first in the U.S.  (nominal fee).

The Sky Walk is Chicago's highest open air deck

You can even wash the windows-- just kiddin', but it is a fun photo op back drop!

Be sure to check the Navy Pier fireworks schedule - They're stunning from 1000 feet up!

On Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer and other special dates throughout the year, you can see the fireworks at Navy Pier from the 94th floor- which is especially nice from the Lavazza Espression Cafe. The cafe not only serves a variety of coffees, sandwiches, salads and desserts with recipes from a 3 star Michelin chef, it has FREE wi-fi!  They also serve a YUMMY signature cocktail- The Sky High, made with raspberry vodka as well as other spirits. For special occasions and celebrations champagne is available. It’s a great place to relax and drink in the 360 degree views of the Windy City, day or night.

Lakeshore Drive

New to us this visit was the  John Hancock Center in Legos. It took 50 hours and 22,680 Legos for creator Adam Reed Tucker to complete this amazing feature.

Now that's a LOT of Legos!

Our tips for when you go:

With CityPASS you receive 50% off admission, Fast Pass and $1 off a purchase of $5 at the Lavazza Espression Café- now that’s a good deal!

Get the Fast Pass! It will save you time both up and down. Time is valuable; there’s so much to see and do in Chicago.

Be sure to get your headset for the audio tour (7 languages available). It’s fun and informative!

Double your pleasure, double your fun…upgrade your ticket for $7 to a return at night.

Take time to see the informative and visually striking 80 ft exhibit about Chicago.

Check the sunset time, sunset is a beautiful time to go but often busy, so go early.

John Hancock Observatory Hours: 9am – 11pm, last admission is 10:30

Though tripods are not allowed, don’t forget to take your camera!

Children under 3 are free.

Check out the new JHO website 

 Become a Facebook Fan!

Follow JHO on twitter!

 The 360 degree views at the John Hancock Obsveratory are spectacular by day and night!

Chicago skyline by day

Chicago skyline by night

Where do you go for the BEST VIEW?  Please leave your suggestions below

In a grateful spirit and for full disclosure: Special thanks to CityPASS and to the John Hancock Observatory for sponsoring our #ChicagoFun twitter and Facebook social media production event with complimentary passes.

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4 Responses to “Best Views in Chicago: John Hancock Observatory”

  1. Claire
    May 31, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    he views were really good, but there look more expansive. Thanks for sharing this with us, I appreciate your post.
    Claire recently posted..What Is The Best Time To Try And Get PregnantMy Profile

  2. May 18, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    I love the views! It’s been many years since I’ve been there. I remember going to the top of the Sears Tower. I would love to take in the view from here in the cafe. That would be an awesome experience. Your photos of the skyline are gorgeous!
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..8 things to do in Kauai when you’re not lying on the beachMy Profile

  3. May 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    The views at the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis–it will always be Sears to me, are nice- you can see the Field Museum and Soldier Field. But the Hancock holds my heart.

  4. May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Great views! Years ago, before the Hancock, we went to the top of the Sears Tower. The views were really good, but there look more expansive. We’ll have to do it next time we’re there.
    santafetraveler recently posted..Behind adobe walls and coyote fences: Santa Fe homes and garden toursMy Profile

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