360 CHICAGO Observation Deck#9 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
One of Chicago's most notable attractions is its skyline, and one of the best places to experience it is at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, 360 CHICAGO towers 1,000 feet over The Magnificent Mile from its location on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. Encased by floor-to-ceiling windows, 360 CHICAGO boasts expansive views of the city; on a clear day, you can see for 55 miles in any direction. Meanwhile, the interactive screens will help you identify different landmarks that appear in your panorama.
For a different point of view (and an adrenaline rush), test out 360 CHICAGO's TILT. In this mechanized room, visitors hold on to handlebars as the top of the room's windows extend outward, tilting you toward bustling North Michigan Avenue down below. Should you prefer to experience the view without feeling your heart skip a beat, grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a snack at the cafe and bar or look for souvenirs in the gift shop.
Past visitors say 360 CHICAGO's shorter lines, abundance of windows and better views make this attraction worth visiting over its more famous counterpart, Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago. Some travelers bemoan the 360 CHICAGO's high ticket prices, however, if you have a Go Chicago Card or a Chicago CityPASS, your entrance fees are covered by your attractions pass.
Parking garages are situated nearby, but the easiest way to get to 360 CHICAGO is to take the L's Red Line to the Chicago subway station or one of several bus routes to the Michigan & Chestnut or Chestnut & Mies Van Der Rohe bus stops. The property is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., but keep in mind that last entry is at 10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $21 for adults and $14 for children between 3 and 11, and you'll have to fork over an additional fee to experience TILT. To learn more, visit the 360 CHICAGO website.
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#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.
At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.
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