As one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in Chicago, Willis Tower welcomes more than one million tourists through its doors each year. If you are looking for spectacular views of the Windy City, it is hard to beat the panoramic vistas offered from SkyDeck Chicago near the top of the building.
Willis Tower History
Originally known as the Sears Tower, Willis Tower was constructed to consolidate the main offices of Sears, Roebuck, and Company. With nearly 4.5-million square feet of office space, it was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It was also the first time its iconic multi-tower, tubular design was used in a skyscraper. When the final touches were placed on the building in 1973, it was officially the tallest building in the world. While this record fell in 1998, it is still the third-tallest freestanding building in the Western Hemisphere.
Naming rights shifted to Willis Group Holdings in 2009 and the historic structure changed names from the Sears Tower to the Willis Tower. However, many locals and tourists still refer to the building by its old name.
Attractions and Hotels Near Willis Tower in Chicago
Willis Tower’s location along the Chicago river and close proximity to the 90 and 290 Interstates places it within minutes of many popular Chicago attractions and hotels. Millennium Park and Grant Park are only a few blocks to the east. Magnificent Mile and Gold Coast areas of Chicago are less than 15 minutes north. Heading south from the tower offers the exhibits and attractions of the Chicago Museum Campus and McCormick Place. Heading west finds both Chicago O’Hare International and Chicago Midway International airports for anyone planning to fly into the Windy City.
At the tower itself, SkyDeck Chicago offers views of the city and the thrilling Ledge experience. Constructed of laminated glass, the Ledge extends four feet from the edge of the tower to offer true bird’s eye view of the streets below. For more observation opportunities, 360 Chicago features 360-degree views from the former John Hancock Observatory in the Magnificent Mile region of the city.
Accommodations in the area are equally plentiful. From the glamor and luxury of the rooftop lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago – A Four Seasons Hotel to the budget-friendly comfort of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Chicago-Downtown there hotels near Willis Tower in Chicago to fit any preferences and budget.
Getting Around Chicago
Like many large U.S. cities, traffic in Chicago is quite heavy during peak hours. Add to this the cost of parking at many popular stores and attractions and the price of a business or leisure trip to the city can increase quickly. Fortunately, the city also maintains one of the largest public transportation systems in the country.
The Chicago Museum Campus, Magnificent Mile, and many beaches feature services stops within minutes of their doors. By purchasing a pass for the duration of your trip, you can enjoy unlimited trips around the city for a price lower than the fare of just a few taxi rides or the parking fees at a single location. If you need help securing transportation, talk to the concierge at hotels near Willis Tower in Chicago for the best method for your needs.