Aimed squarely at those visitors leaving their headprints on the glass of the Willis Tower, the Ledge at Skydeck takes that impulse one step further, so to speak. Thanks to some architectural wizardry, sightseeing daredevils no longer need to stop at the rail of the 103rd floor perch, but instead can continue out into one of the glass-encased pods protruding from the Skydeck wall on the west side of the building to get a true 360-degree view – including the people and traffic going about their business a stomach-turning 1,353-feet directly below.
In addition to the panoramic viewing platform, the Skydeck also features a variety of interactive and educational exhibits highlighting some of the most noteworthy civic and cultural touchstones in the city’s rich history. But despite the generally stunning views and the compelling story of Chicago and its citizens, don’t be surprised if most of the chatter among your fellow passengers on the high-speed elevator trip back to street level centers on the fascination of living on the Ledge.
Back down on terra firma, get another view of the Chicago River from the far less harrowing perspective of the outdoor patio at nearby Rivers, where you can rub elbows with the decompressing financial pros and sample a wide-ranging menu of American favorites while watching the passing tour boats and gazing at the buildings – this time from the ground up. 30 S. Wacker Drive. 312/559-1515.