A Thousand Feet Up – John Hancock Observatory

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Our visit to the John Hancock Observatory was complimentary. The Observatory also provided photos of our visit and treated us to drinks in the cafe. 

As an architecture student in college, the John Hancock Observatory was one of my most favorite places to view Chicago.

The view from there is THE BEST in the city, hands down.

Last weekend my kids and I were going to pick up some friends downtown and I decided that I wanted to spend the morning doing something special with my kids, so I reached out to the great people at the John Hancock Observatory and they offered to host our visit.

About the John Hancock Observatory

The John Hancock Observatory is located 1,000 feet above Chicago’s Magnificent Mile above the John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Avenue. Parking is available right in the building via a spiral access ramp. This ramp alone was a big hit with my kids and the observatory will validate parking for a stay of 3 hours or less for a rate of $10. I wish I had taken a picture of the ramp, but I was a bit busy maneuvering the narrow ramp in my van like a carnival ride.

john hancock observatory

The John Hancock Observatory also boasts a number of unique features you won’t find anywhere else in Chicago.

Chicago’s Best Views

Enjoy breathtaking 360° views stretching across 4 states, and Lake Michigan. Watch the spectacular sunset from 1,000 ft, or come up at night to see Chicago shining in lights. You’ll see why John Hancock Observatory has been voted Chicago’s best view.

It was a bit overcast but still a great day to visit 1,000 feet up! We could see pretty far and my kids loved being able to walk around the building and see in all 4 directions. Each view is different and unique. I was fascinated with how many rooftop gardens we spotted and my kids loved counting the rooftop pools.

Chicago Lake Michigan

Chicago Navy Pier

chicago from John hancock

chicago rooftop pools

Chicago rooftops


Chicago’s Best Location

Located in the heart of the city, we’re just steps from the most fabulous shopping, theatre, restaurants and bars in Chicago. They don’t call it The Magnificent Mile® for nothing, so take a look at what’s going on (and off) near John Hancock Observatory.

Right outside of the John Hancock Center is the best Michigan avenue has to offer – shopping, restaurants and more. My daughter’s favorite was the American Girl store of which she exclaimed “it’s my dream come true.” While we have told her she has to wait until she is 8 years old to get one of the dolls, she enjoyed looking around and we did buy a book about Caroline, her favorite American Girl doll. The John Hancock Center is also home to a Best Buy – the biggest one I have ever seen.


Chicago’s Newest Technology

It’s never been easier to explore Chicago with our ten panoramic interactive screens – in seven languages. Zoom in on famous locations, learn all kinds of cool stuff, and just enjoy having a play! Embark on our scavenger hunt with our mascot, Seemore Miles, through the eight kiosks throughout the observatory. In addition, take in Chicago’s history and hotspots with our Multimedia Tour, available in seven languages, for a small additional fee.

When it comes to getting kids attention, technology is a sure-fire way to engage even the most bored child. My kids were not at all bored up at the Observatory but the addition of the interactive screens provided them with a unique way to interact with the city views they were seeing. They could zoom into the buildings and city areas and select specific spots and a window would pop-up providing detailed information about the building.

There were also trivia and informational kiosks as well and it seemed that each one provided a different experience. My son was eager to explore each one.

john hancock observatory technology

Chicago John hancock

John Hancock screens


Chicago’s Highest Cafe & Bar

Our award-winning Lavazza Espression café lets you take in the amazing floor-to-ceiling views while sipping on a delicious italian coffee (or cheeky cocktail) – and there’s gelato for the kids! With a menu designed by a Michelin star chef, why not dine at 1,000 ft too?

We enjoyed drinks and snacks at the Lavazza cafe, and Abby insisted on getting a cookie in the shape of the building.

John Hancock cafe


Chicago’s only Open-Air Sky Walk

Find out why Chicago is called the Windy City as you step outside the building at 1,000 ft up. Ahhh, breathe in that fresh air.

The Sky Walk was pretty cool! We got to safely experience 1,000 feet up without being behind glass. It was actually kind of chilly up there!


And so much more!

The Observatory also has a gift shop and a photo area where you can capture the memory of your visit against the city landscape.

john hancock

There is a “window washer” booth with opportunities to experience what a John Hancock window washer must feel like, and a great photo op.

john hancock window washer

My kids and I both had a great time 1,000 feet up, and we were invited back in September after they complete some remodeling. I am sure we will take them up on that invitation!

john hancock building

Have you ever been to the John Hancock Observatory?

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