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Willis Tower

Willis Tower

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.

Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

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

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features an indoor and outdoor deck, along with live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Treat yourself to a full-service cash bar at your own expense. 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, exploring 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.

Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

3. 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.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

4. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

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

5. 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.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

6. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

Relax as you glide over the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan on this cruise. Enjoy the glow of the sunset on Chicago's sparkling skyline. Have the option to purchase delectable drinks and snacks at the onboard bar as you sail. Start your sunset cruise on the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue. Make your way along the main branch of the river towards Lake Michigan before entering the Chicago Locks, a modern engineering marvel, that will transfer the vessel onto the great Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along Lake Michigan as the sun sets behind the wonderful skyline offering several amazing views. Your local tour guide will give a very brief commentary along the Chicago River and entrance to Lake Michigan, but most of the 1.5-hour cruise is spent without narration, leaving you to watch the sun put on a beautiful display with the City skyline. Admire the many angles of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Capture magical views of Chicago's twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and the John Hancock Building. You'll also get to admire the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. During your cruise, treat yourself at the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products. Try local beer and spirits and Garrett’s Popcorn. Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. 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.

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Open-top Bus

7. Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Open-top Bus

Experience the best of Chicago at your own pace from the unique vantage point of a Big Bus tour. Board our open-top, double-decker bus as you take a relaxing ride through the city's most iconic landmarks, from the Magnificent Mile to Millennium Park. Hop on and off at our convenient stops throughout the city to discover Chicago's vibrant neighborhoods and world-famous attractions including 360 CHICAGO, Willis Tower, the Chicago Riverwalk, Museum Campus, The Bean, and more. Spend your day shopping on Magnificent Mile, riding the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, or sampling authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. With our flexible and convenient tour, create your own itinerary and explore the city at your own pace. Track bus arrivals in real time with our free downloadable app so you always know when the next bus is coming. Marvel at the stunning skyline as you enjoy professional digital commentary in multiple languages, with earbuds provided. Hear expert insight into Chicago's rich history and culture, as well as tips on the best places to eat, drink, and shop. With comfortable seating and panoramic views, our Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour is the perfect way to see the city. Hop off the tour as many times as you like within the validity period of your ticket and simply hop on again when you're ready to keep exploring.

Chicago: Go City Explorer Pass - Choice of 2 - 7 Attractions

8. Chicago: Go City Explorer Pass - Choice of 2 - 7 Attractions

With the Chicago Explorer Pass by Go City you can visit top sites such as the Navy Pier, Skydeck Chicago, or The Field Museum, all on one handy pass. Enjoy great savings on admission to your choice of 2 to 7 top Chicago attractions and tours, and pay nothing at the gate. Explore at your own pace on a hop-on and hop-off Chicago bus tour, or aboard one of two lake cruises. You have 60 days to use your pass from your first attraction visit. To help you create your own itinerary you'll also get a free digital guide. Use it to help you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. The most popular activities require advanced reservations, check instructions on the included Go City guide, and make sure to place reservations well in advance to avoid disappointment. Included Chicago attractions to choose from with your Explorer Pass: • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour • 360 CHICAGO (reservations required) • Skydeck Chicago (reservations required) • Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and Rides • Adler Planetarium • 10pin Chicago 90-minute Bowling & Pizza (reservations required) • America Writers Museum • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise • Field Museum • Museum of Science and Industry • LEGOLAND Discovery Center • Bike Chicago: 2 Hour Bike Rental • Chicago Children's Museum • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour • Chicago History Museum • Museum of Contemporary Art • Robie House: A Modern Home Guided Interior Tour • Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour • Downtown Chicago TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour • Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home • The Forge Adventure Park • $20 Food and Drinks Credit at The Cauldron Chicago • Chicago Must-See Architecture Walking Tour • Mobsters and Haunted Mysteries Walking Tour • Chicago Pizza and Drink Combo • Skyline Tour and Lake Hopper Cruise • Museum of Illusions Chicago • Lincoln Park Hauntings Chicago Ghost Tour & Ghost Hunt *Savings based on itineraries on Go City website.

Chicago: CityPASS® Save 48% or More on 5 Top Attractions

9. Chicago: CityPASS® Save 48% or More on 5 Top Attractions

Make use of the Chicago CityPASS® on your next trip to Chicago. See amazing animals, incredible views, fascinating science, world-class art, and more with your Chicago CityPASS® tickets. CityPASS® tickets offer convenient instant delivery and are valid for 9 consecutive days, allowing ample time to experience each attraction. Save 48% on prepaid admission to 5 must-see attractions: • Shedd Aquarium – All-access admission • Skydeck Chicago – Expedited entry to Willis Tower’s 103rd Floor with admission to The Ledge Plus your choice of admission to 3 of the following attractions: • Field Museum – All-Access Pass, including admission to all permanent and regularly priced ticketed exhibitions, plus your choice of 1 digital 3D film. Movie selection is subject to availability and specially ticketed exhibitions outside the All-Access Pass may be subject to additional charges • Art Institute of Chicago – Fast Pass Admission to permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions • Museum of Science and Industry– Museum entry to Science Storms, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, YOU! The Experience, and much more, plus 1 timed-entry experience for a Giant Dome Theater film or Motion Ride • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck (Expedited Entry will be unavailable from February 1 to March 31) • Adler Planetarium – All exhibitions and 2 Sky Shows • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

10. Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

This half-hour Seadog Speedboat ride along Chicago’s lakefront is one of the best ways to view the city’s skyline while learning about the city. Combine an exciting speedboat ride with informative and amusing stories about the world-famous Windy City. As you depart Chicago's Navy Pier, your captain will tell you interesting facts about the pier and the lakefront as he cranks up the music and races to key lakefront landmarks. Stop near the picturesque lakefront park of the Chicago Museum campus, where you’ll learn about the architecture and history of Chicago. Admire views of the Magnificent Mile neighborhood, including the Buckingham Fountain, Sears Tower, Grant Park, and Chicago's largest shopping district. Listen to the thrilling sound of the turbo engines as you race around the Lake Michigan waterfront and back to the Navy Pier. Upgrade to the Extreme Thrill Ride Option and experience exhilarating speeds and full 360° spins. This jet-propelled ride blasts off to start and splashes down to stop. Experience full-throttle slalom runs, sharp twists and turns, and the raw power of Seadog Extreme's 1400 HP engines.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Willis Tower

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What people are saying about Willis Tower

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 10,689 reviews

I love that this pass includes five attractions. I wish, however, the reservation process was explained better and the add-ons were clearly mentioned so that I didn’t have to get out of lines. You cannot easily make the reservations for places like the museum, Sky Deck, and Tilt. Everything was great. Tilt is not worth the money. You’re not even at a 45 degree angle and the attraction is not even two minutes. The views at the Sky Deck are much better.

Great time! Was a little chilly- but to be expected in February- the down stairs bar and bathrooms were a nice place to get a drink and warm up! The guide was great! Would definitely go again!

Brooke was an engaging, informative and fun guide. A fascinating tour. Team were also great and hot chocolate went down a treat on a cold day. Thank you.

Lovely tour, with the loveliest, well informed guide ever (John).

Best experience! Would recommend to anyone visiting Chicago!