Illinois, North America, USA

A Tale of Two Towers

April 5, 2014
Nothing could ever prepared me for it. Not for this.

Not the crowds. Not any of the other sunsets I’ve seen (MANY!). Not even the painful waiting time (a long 90-minutes, by the way).

I know I sounded dramatic there, but it truly is a blessing to be able to see such a sight from the top of the tower and I’m SO glad I decided to go up.

I said that because when we were first planning our itinerary for Chicago, I said to Ella that I wasn’t going to go up to any of the towers. After this post, I figured I don’t need to be spending outrageous amounts of money to go up any tower. If anything, I’ll just do the one tower and be content with that.

Then, I did further research and realized that entry fees aren’t as outrageous as I thought they would be (I’m looking at you, CN Tower!). With my opinion still firm, Jess and I chose to go up to the John Hancock Observatory (because there is little to no line) while Ella and Denny did the Sears/Willis Tower. I figured I would be satisfied with a view from the one tower. After all, I didn’t see that much of a difference in the views between the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller in New York City, so why should Chicago be any different, right? Wrong!

We reconvened over dinner and drinks that night and Ella started showing me pictures of the view from the Skydeck at the Willis-Sears Tower.

Views like this:


I was floored. It was more than enough to sway my opinion and I made up my mind to go to the Skydeck the next evening).

And that’s how  I met your mother! I ended up going to both towers.

Here is a collection of pictures and my experiences going to both towers.

John Hancock Observatory (now known as 360 Chicago)

Admission: $15/adult; Fast pass: $29

External view.

External view.

The tower was empty and rather dirty as construction is going on (see what they’re making here – It’s VERY cool!) when we went to visit. I wasn’t too upset though because it means I get to enjoy the view all by my lonesome without the crowds hogging the windows to take pictures/time-lapse videos with their cell phones (see Sears/Willis Tower).

Observatory1 Observatory2

Stunning coast line!

Stunning coast line!

See what I mean? EMPTY! Just the way I like it.

See what I mean? EMPTY! Just the way I like it.

Willis Tower

Admission: $17/adult; Fast pass: $30

I had one thing in mind when I decided I am going to the Willis Tower: I wanted to catch sunset (at approx. 7PM) from the top of the tower. Based on Ella and Denny’s experiences the day before, we decided we would start to make our way there at 5 PM, which will give us ample amount of time to line up and not miss the sunset.

This ended up working in our favour and we saw one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen!

Chicago's concrete jungle during the golden hour.

Chicago’s concrete jungle during the golden hour.

Observatory5 Observatory6

Pardon the dirty window and focus on the sunset. Look at those colours!

Pardon the dirty window and focus on the sunset. Look at those colours!

Having lined up for 90 minutes, I wasn’t going to take my pictures and head back down straight away. Seeing as we didn’t have anything planned for that evening, we waited until twilight passed and the city lights up.

Behold. What an amazing view!


Should you go up both towers? YES! Admission prices aren’t so bad and on a clear day, the views are amazing! If you can time it to go up at twilight hours and have the patience to wait until the city lights up like we did, I can promise you will be more than happy that you’ve done it.

Where is the most stunning sunset you’ve ever seen?


  • Reply Ella April 6, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Woah and to think that you almost missed out on these towers!! I still leave John Hancock Observatory in my list of places to visit when I come BACK to Chicago.
    Btw. Most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen were in the desert. Strangely, sunsets in Arabia are like nothing you’ve ever seen!

    • Reply Pauline April 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      I KNOWWW!! Can you imagine? I would cry, I think. But yes, I’d love to go back to John Hancock Observatory (360 Chicago, as it is now known) when we go.

      And yes, that’s one of the reason why I would want to spend the night in Wadi Rum… to witness that stunning desert sunset/sunrise *SIGH*

      • Reply Ella April 13, 2014 at 11:05 pm

        Wadi Rum was glamping! (sort of)
        I remember spending the afternoon (or the day?) just driving around the desert on 4×4 and after the first 30 min you gotta say everything starts to look the same haha. Anyways I hope you get to go some time soon and ride a camel too.
        Btw I also spent an impromptu night in the desert where our sedan tire got stuck in the sand and we got helped by some Bedouin guys, but I think I told you this story.

        • Reply Pauline April 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

          I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all your crazy “getting stuck somewhere deserted” stories. I don’t know man, I’m beginning to second guess my decision in going on a road trip to Utah with you in the near future…

  • Reply Joyce Pak April 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I love Chicago, and the John Hancock tower! It has much better views than the Sears, but it is good to go up both! :D Great sunset pictures!
    Joyce Pak recently posted…Random Things I Miss About MilanMy Profile

    • Reply Pauline April 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks, Joyce! I’ve been mentally debating which tower has a better view and I’m inclined to agree with you. Because of its location (right by the water), John Hancock has a much better view than Willis. It’s just too bad it was under construction and a little bit dirty when I was there. I’m hoping I can return to check out the Tilting window though… *fingers crossed*

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