Planning a trip to Chicago? Then you’ve got to check out 360 CHICAGO during your visit.
Steps off The Magnificent Mile is the John Hancock Center, home to 360 CHICAGO, formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory.
The observatory located on the 94th floor offers unparalleled views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding urban terrain as there are no nearby buildings to block its view.
Thrill seekers are going to want to experience TILT. Step onto the ledge, hold onto the bars and watch as the ledge tilts outwards from the side of the building 1,000 feet up from the ground. Dare you look down as you feel the floor move forward underneath your feet?
Check out our helpful guide for visiting the 360 CHICAGO, packed full of ways to save on admission, tips for visiting, places to eat nearby, and much more.
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Tips for Visiting the John Hancock Tower
- Give yourself plenty of time to explore the cultural exhibits on the way to the elevators. There are a handful of connected rooms with videos and displays discussing Chicago and its neighborhoods, and are worth taking the time to watch.
- The best views are had on days with plenty of sunlight if you want to see the most possible detail. However, the views are still good if the sky is overcast or it’s nighttime. The city turns into a glittering jewel at night, and the flow of the cars along the expressways is a fascinating image.
- Views from the Hancock offer more detail than from the Willis, making it an optimal location for taking pictures of iconic buildings and landmarks of Chicago. Navy Pier is easily viewed from the east side while the Willis and Trump towers are seen from the west and south windows.
- The Architect’s Corner Cafe serves liquor and beer to those of legal drinking age. There are plenty of spots to sit down and enjoy the drink, or you can wander around the observatory with drink in hand.
- Make sure to pick up a brochure about the exhibit for information about 360 CHICAGO and all of the available activities.
Best Times to Visit
360 CHICAGO is most popular during the daytime year-round. The crowds aren’t as large during the weekday afternoons, and the attraction is easy to navigate with fewer people. You’re also less likely to wait long for an elevator.
Late spring/summer/early fall are the busiest times of year for visitors. The time of day to visit largely depends on what you want to see. If you want a chance to see the opposite shoreline, go during the day.
If you want to see the city’s famous orange glow, go up at night.
If you’re in town during the 4th of July, make it a point to go to to 360 CHICAGO at night on either the 3rd or 4th in order to experience fireworks near and far. You’ll never see fireworks in the same way again.
What to Do There
The John Hancock Center stands 1,127-feet tall and has a total of 100 stories. 360 CHICAGO is located on the 94th floor and offers excellent views of the lakefront, Navy Pier, Lake Michigan, the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
The western view is clear all the way to O’Hare airport and beyond. Hang out with a snack and a drink while enjoying one of the views, or sit down on the bleacher-style seating to watch the sun set in the west.
Do your best to name all of the tall buildings in your immediate view. Walk around the floor and take pictures from each cardinal direction to preserve your memories of your trip high above Chicago.
360 CHICAGO has windows that span from the ceiling to the floor for visitors to get the best possible views in all directions. It’s possible to see Indiana and Michigan shorelines across Lake Michigan on a clear day.
See Chicago from a whole new angle in the Tilt! attraction.
When Tilt is in its place, it looks like the rest of the glass walls in 360 CHICAGO. But looks are deceiving as the floor, wall and ceiling move outwards, putting people on a 30 degree angle for a view of the Mag Mile unlike any other.
Be sure to hold onto the handles as the ride leans outwards away from the building!
Riding Tilt! requires an additional ticket that is purchased at 360 CHICAGO box office. It holds up to eight people at one time so the whole family can experience the ride at the same time.
Some John Hancock Center History
- The concept for the John Hancock was originally created in 1964 and was financed by the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the same firm that designed the Willis Tower, were commissioned to design the John Hancock Center.
- Construction began in 1967, but was interrupted by issues with soil settlement when the building reached 20 stories high.
- Floors 44 to 92 are residential units.
- In 1981, Dan Goodwin made an unauthorized climb of the exterior of the John Hancock in an attempt to draw attention to the fact that there were no escape routes from the building in the event of a fire.
- The X-braced exterior made it possible for engineers to build to a record height. Its tubular structure system gives it the flexibility it needs to resist high winds without risk of collapsing.
- The elevators for 360 CHICAGO are considered to be the fastest in the Western Hemisphere. They move upwards at 1,800 ft/min, or 20.5 mph. It takes less than two minutes to go from the concourse level entryway to the observation deck.
- Tilt! was added to 360 CHICAGO in 2014.
The location of the John Hancock right on Michigan Avenue means it’s within easy walking distance of the high-end stores that line Michigan Ave. There are also interesting attractions nearby while getting to others require a short trip by bus or trolley.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art is a premiere venue for cutting-edge art and performance in Chicago, featuring rotating exhibitions of both ascendant artists and contemporary icons.
- The Water Tower and Pumping Station are one block south of the John Hancock Center. Both buildings survived the Chicago fire of 1871, and stand as a testament to Chicago’s indomitable will to rebuild after such a disaster.
- Take a short walk to the east then walk south along Lakefront Trail towards Navy Pier.
Places to Eat Nearby
There are plenty of dining opportunities both at the Hancock Center and in the immediate area that are sure to satisfy your appetite.
- The Architect’s Corner Cafe’ and Bar, located at 360 CHICAGO, features coffee, gelato, artisanal snacks and a full bar with daily cocktail specials.
- The Cheesecake Factory occupies the first floor and concourse level for easy access. Its known for its huge portions, great menu, and of course, delicious cheesecake.
- The Signature Room and Lounge at the 95th is famous for its cocktails, and quality menu options. Sit down for some cocktails and light fare with awesome views before a night on the town, or settle in for an unforgettable meal.
- L’Appetito in the concourse level is an Italian bistro/gourmet grocery store. It serves hot and cold foods along with Italian and American beverages. Sit down and enjoy the meal or take it with as you wander around Michigan Avenue.
- Get a refreshing drink at Argo Tea on Chestnut and Rush, a short walk west from the John Hancock Center.
- Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse on Rush and Bellevue is an iconic Chicago steakhouse that serves up the best possible cuts of meat.
Need to Know
- Daily, 9:00 am-11:00 pm. Last admission at 10:30 pm.
- Open 365 days a year. Please check website for special events.
Directions & Address
875 N. Michigan Avenue
94th floor, John Hancock Center
Chicago, IL 60611
From the Kennedy Expressway exit at Ohio Street (both Ohio exits are eastbound only) and go east to Michigan Avenue. At Michigan, take a left (north), then carry on to Delaware Street then turn right (one-way heading east). Unload at the first building entrance. The escalator in the Delaware lobby will bring you straight to the Hancock Observatory entrance.
Traveling south on Lake Shore Drive exit at Michigan Avenue. Carry on south on Michigan to Delaware Street, turn left (one-way heading east) and unload at the first building entrance. The escalator in the Delaware lobby will bring you straight to the Hancock Observatory entrance.
Traveling north on Lake Shore Drive exit at Monroe Street and go west to Michigan Avenue. At Michigan, turn right (north). Carry on north until Delaware Street then turn right (one-way heading east). Unload at the first building entrance. The escalator in the Delaware lobby will bring you straight to the Hancock Observatory entrance.
Public Transportation: CTA: Bus #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express to Michigan Ave. and between Delaware & Chestnut Streets.
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Remember, the Go Chicago® Card is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility, which includes 360 CHICAGO tickets, plus admission to your choice of other top attractions.
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