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Views of Chicago: John Hancock Observatory

Views of Chicago: John Hancock Observatory

The John Hancock Observatory in Chicago is the sixth-tallest building in the United States and was the tallest building constructed in Chicago in the 1960’s. It’s located in arguably the best section of the city for tourists, part of the Magnificent Mile on North Michigan Avenue.

The Observatory is easily one of the top tourist attractions in the city and if you want some amazing views of Chicago, this is one of the best places to visit. We arrived at the John Hancock Observatory in the early afternoon and looked up in awe at the impressive structure standing before us.

Looking up at the John Hancock Observatory

Looking up at the 1127-foot tall John Hancock Observatory

After getting our tickets and taking the standard touristy green-screen photo, we patiently waited a couple of minutes until the elevator filled up with other visitors. It was then time to make the journey up to the 94th floor, which is where the observation area is located.

The 1000-foot ride took a mere 40 seconds with the John Hancock Observatory elevator traveling at speeds of 20 miles per hour – the fastest elevator in North America! Believe it or not, it was an incredibly smooth ride up as well.

We hopped off the elevator and were immediately handed what looked like an iPhone that would provide us with a free audio tour.

Free Multimedia Sky Tour with David Schwimmer

Free Multimedia Sky Tour with David Schwimmer

Each window in the Observatory had a corresponding number to type into the device which would then provide you with an interesting commentary voiced by former Friends’ star David Schwimmer. The commentary included pointing out famous buildings and landmarks to look out for through that window and the history behind them such as the United Center, the Michael Jordan Statue and how he influenced Chicago’s basketball team during the 1990’s.

But the commentary was just a nice addition to the experience – the real reason we were here was to check out the amazing views. And boy, did we get some amazing views!

Looking north from the John Hancock Observatory

Looking North from the John Hancock Observatory

Looking south from the John Hancock Observatory

Looking South from the John Hancock Observatory

A view of Navy Pier

A view of Navy Pier from the John Hancock Observatory

A view of Willis Tower from the John Hancock Observatory

A view of Willis Tower from the John Hancock Observatory

The John Hancock Observatory is also home to the open-air sky walk which can show you exactly why Chicago is called the ‘Windy City’. We went on a warmer day in Chicago so it wasn’t too bad but the two of us can only imagine what the wind chill would be like during a typical Chicago winter. Photo opportunities from the sky walk are rather limited unfortunately.

The Open Air Sky-Walk at John Hancock Observatory

The open-air sky walk at John Hancock Observatory

Just through the doors from the sky walk is a cafe where you can enjoy coffees, cakes and/or cocktails whilst enjoying the beautiful view of Chicago.

Because of the detailed audio tour, we think that the John Hancock Observatory would be a fantastic place to begin your first trip to Chicago. It can help you identify the landmarks/attractions you want to visit and their locations in relation to one another.

The Important Details

Address: 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago (Google Maps)
Ticket Prices:
General Admission – $17.50 Adults, $11.50 Youths, Children Under 3 Free. Other ticket options are available such as the Sun & Stars which gives you two admissions into the John Hancock Observatory to see the views by day and night ($24.50 Adults, $18.50 Youths). Prices correct as at 19 September 2012.
Hours of Operation: Daily between 9:00AM and 11:00PM.

Disclaimer: We received complimentary admission from the John Hancock Observatory. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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