Willis vs. Hancock: Which skyscraper has better views?

View of the Chicago skyline (and Willis Tower) from John Hancock Center

View of the Chicago skyline (and Willis Tower) from John Hancock Center

Chicago has the best skyline in the US. (Yeah, I threw down the gauntlet, NYC.) To get the most sweeping views of the city, you need to go up high in the sky, and the two best places to do that are the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center. But if you have one afternoon… which one is better?

Building Height

The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) is the tallest building in Chicago at 1,451-feet. To put that in perspective, my dad is 6’3″, so that’s 232 dads stacked on top of each other. The Hancock Center is only 1,127 feet tall or 180 dads.

When you visit the Willis Tower, you can head up to the 103rd floor, but the Hancock Center only allows the public on the 94th, 95th and 96th floors.

Winner: Willis Tower… by 52 dads and 7 floors

Cost of Admission

General admission to the Willis Tower Skydeck is $19.50, and the the Hancock Center 360 Chicago is $19. Both options involve lines and sharing the views with lots of tourists and families.

You’ll still have to wait in line for the Hancock Center’s 96th floor Signature Lounge, but once there, you can sit and enjoy the views with a delicious cocktail for $15. Or skip the line altogether and reserve a table for brunch at the Hancock Center’s 95th floor Signature Room. For $45, you have a buffet starter, entree and dessert table.

Winner: Hancock Center. On the rocks.

Sweeping (and Somewhat Terrifying) Views

Let’s be honest, both buildings have beautiful, sweeping views of the Chicago skyline in every direction. The Hancock 360 Chicago also has a new TILT experience for those who want to pretend they’re slowly falling forward.

The Willis Tower has the Skydeck, where you can stand on a glass box over the city. I stood on the glass box for… um, 3 seconds until I had quite enough, thank you. Who can forget last year’s nightmare-come-true when tourists thought the glass was cracking beneath their feet? (Thankfully, it was just the protective coating and they were never in danger.)

Winner: Hancock Center

Bottom line: Skip the screaming kids at the Willis Tower, and head directly to the Hancock Center for drinks and time to enjoy the beautiful Chicago views.

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  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Chicago Adventures | Lost and Food

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