One of the best ways to see Chicago is from 1,000 feet high at the John Hancock Observatory (aka Chicago 360), and yes, it’s better than the view from the Sears Tower. There are interactive kiosks and historical murals throughout so you can learn exactly you’re looking at if you want to know. I personally just have fun checking out the 360 degree views and taking pictures. Did you know that Chicago has a beach? Like, a real sandy shore, beach towel, sun-bathing beach! And I love the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan!
It will cost you $28 for an adult ticket to the observatory or get the Chicago City Pass which gives access to this and five other attractions for discounted admission. It’s located downtown on Michigan Ave so there is a lot to see in the area and you can certainly make a day of it.
Can you imagine viewing a full fireworks show from the 94th floor of the Hancock Building? Every Wednesday (9:30pm) and Saturday (10:15pm), from Memorial Day (last week of May) through Labor Day (first week of September) Chicago’s Navy Pier creates a huge fireworks display for all to enjoy. The Observatory at the Hancock Building is probably the best viewing spot you can find.
Additionally, I really enjoyed taking a break at the café and bar at the John Hancock Observatory. It’s called the Lavazza Espression Café and they serve salads, paninis, coffee, cappuccino, beers, wines and cocktails. Just like in Europe, you can stay for hours and not be rushed. Alternatively, just one floor below is The Signature Room Restaurant and Lounge which offers floor to ceiling windows of the same views, minus the admission cost. The food and drinks are expensive but you’re paying for the view here. In my opinion, it’s only worth it if you get a table by the window.