The Price of Panoramic Views: My Skydeck Surprise

A quick trip to a Sox game turned into a full day of touristy stops for me and my family, and I sure did notice a few things. Most shockingly, how much it costs to visit the third tallest building in country.

Sidebar…it’s funny that whenever I see that building, I think that it’s the tallest building in the world, but then I have to force my brain to realize it’s not even in the TOP 25 anymore!!

Anyway, we were enjoying a GLORIOUS 72-degree day out in the right field seats when my son asked us if it was possible to visit that building we saw when we took the picture (referring to the Sear’s Tower).

(C) Nick Jakusz

Seeing as how great the weather was, my wife and I looked at each other and gave the “I’m cool with it. You cool with it?” face shrug and nod. Around the sixth inning of shockingly entertaining baseball, I grabbed my phone to buy tickets for the Skydeck.


Y’all, I’m not sure how much it was back when the last time I ventured to the top of the Sear’s Tower, but it could not have been this much! It was just shy of $50 for an adult and $40 for a kid! Since we already told our kids that we’d do it, we were kind of stuck at this point, so we decided to just get one adult ticket for me and I’d take the two kids. Of course, that doesn’t include parking, which was another $20-ish bucks.

So, we bit the bullet and made our way to the 26th tallest building in the world. It was not terribly busy, so we walked right in, stood in line for 15 or 20 mins as we made our way to the elevator which shot us 103 floors and about 1,300 feet in about 60 seconds. Once we got up there, I was hoping to see the awe overwhelm my little children as they gazed at the world from a Godly point of view, being able to see so much on this crystal clear day. What did I get? “Hey, Dad, this is pretty near. Can I get a bean?!,” as he pointed to a small model of Cloudgate for sale at the Skydeck’s gift shop.

“No, son. Come on.”

We checked out all the available sides we can view from…views to the east over the lake, the south to see the ballpark we just visited, and to the north where you can see the impressive Hancock and Trump Towers. Did we get to look west over the suburbs and plains of Illinois?! NOPE! That cost extra because that’s where “The Ledge” is…you know, those glass boxes that hang out four feet past the edge of the building. Yeah…you have to pay for that privilege as well, on top of your entry fee. It just felt so nickel-and-dimey!

After my kids checked off the “went potty at the top of the Sear’s Tower” box, we headed back down the elevator to reconvene with my wife where my son had another request, “Can we go to Bean!?”

I was less than ecstatic about the idea because it would be a solid 25 minute walk there and another 15 back to our parking garage and I knew for 110% fact they would complain about that. My daughter didn’t even want to go because she just learned how to ride her bike and wanted to go home and do that. However…since it was such a nice day and we had plenty of day light left, we said fine and set out to Millennium Park.

I am kind of glad we did because you forget how amazing the City of Chicago is, especially from an architecture stand point. The walk from the Sear’s Tower to Millennium Park takes you past some amazing structures, one of my favorites being the Monadnock Building.

Once at the park, we tried to enter from the South, but there were gates blocking our path. We soon realized that there were gates SURROUNDING the park and only one entrance point. I feared they were starting to charge admission, but that wasn’t the case. As it turns out, during large events (Pride Parade was that day, and NASCAR is this weekend), they gate off Millennium Park and set up a security check point that one must go through to enjoy the Bean, Pritzker Pavilion and other attractions. Honestly, I didn’t hate that.

After our requisite Bean photos…

Nick J
Nick J

…we started our trek back to the car, during which my son complained that his legs hurt, and to which I responded with an “I told ya so” type of giggle.

We stopped for dinner at Buona Beef where we redeemed our free sandwich coupons that we won during the Italian Beef Race promotions at the Sox game (thanks Juicy Beef!). We got home and passed out!

Chicago is a wonderful city, but I’ll likely never go to the top of the Sear’s Tower again.