The official, and unofficial, reviews
We think the JHO experience is pretty fabulous - but don't take our word for it! We've been given the thumbs up by Chicago Tribune, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviewers for having the best views in town. And as for our fiercest critics - popular opinion, judge for yourself!
Check us out on Tripadvisor.
Our rating is 4.5 out of 5 and we are ranked #2 of 377 Chicago attractions.
UK: The views from the observation deck are magnificent. The view north along Lakeshore Drive is breathtaking. There are also good views of Navy Pier and south along Michigan Avenue. I visited on a Thursday late morning and there was no queue. If you don't have time to visit the Willis Tower and the John Hancock then visit the John Hancock Center.
(no location given): I have to say that the John Hancock observatory deck is one of the top attractions in Chicagoland the great views coupled with the cafe make for a relaxing getaway. The audio guide that comes with it was very entertaining and informative and very well put together. All of the staff that worked there was friendly and courteous. I went at night with my wife and just enjoyed all the lights that twinkle in downtown Chicago though it is not the best time of day to look out into Lake Michigan it was still well worth the money and time. My only complaint is that the prices at the cafe were a bit high but hey its downtown Chicago everything is overpriced!
I highly recommend the trip to "Big John".
UK: Went here with my husband, 13 and 9 year olds. My 9 year old son was partically impressed. He loved the fast lift and really enjoyed the audio tour. He then spent ages telling me all he'd learnt. Wonderful views of a beautiful city.
Ohio: My six and seven year old daughters enjoyed the specialized "kids tour" that they could do at their own pace. Even when we stopped for a cookie, they wanted to keep going because they were having so much fun. As we went through the city later, they would point out things they saw and learned about on their tour.
UK: Despite fabulously sunny weather and clear skies, there were no queues when I arrived at the Hancock at 9 am (opening time). The friendly staff were courteous and helpful. The elevator took seconds to make it to the 94th floor. The views were amazing and far better than those from the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. The audio guide was useful and never boring and picked out spots that I would otherwise have missed. There was also a reasonably priced cafe from which to enjoy the panorama. I went back the next day with colleagues (there is a special discount ticket which I would recommend) to watch the sunset. If you have limited time and can only visit one attraction and the skies are clear, make this top of your list.
Dublin: “Not just another tall building…” We only went on the Hancock Tower tour on the last day of our visit to Chicago as we werent sure whether it was worth it. To be honest I've gone to a tall building in a few cities (eg Empire State in New York, Eiffel Tower in Paris) and found that you go to the top of a tall building and see other tall buildings and thats about it!
This, however, was totally different. It is more like a guided tour of the city. There is a really good audio tour included (excellently read by David Schwimmer of Friends fame) that brings the city alive in front of you - and the handheld that comes with it is really cool - when it refers to a building it often shows a picture on the screen (along with a big arrow!) so you have something to refer to among the sea of skyscrapers in front of you! If you do this tour you dont need to do a bus tour or a cruise tour - I learned as much about the city from this as a 2 hour bus tour.
I would highly recommend the hancock observatory - it is well worth the admission
(no location given): We purposefully visited the Hancock Observatory on our first afternoon in town. It gave us a great overview of the city so that we understood the layout of the neighborhoods and the landmarks. The observation floor is phenomenal and the headset tour, which is included in the price, is fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed this unique tour and it's a great bargain for the price. ALso offers some great photo ops. Definitely do this on your trip to Chicago, especially on your first day!
Mississippi: We love this!! Such a great way to see and learn about the city! The headphone guided tour was the best. You can go at your own pace, stop, rewind, repeat as much as you like. And the best part is the volume is totally up to you! A very good way to spend the afternoon! And since it's located right off Michigan Ave it's a nice walk to get there.
Here are real YELP comments, from real people - yeah -
Las Vegas, NV: For many people, this would be the perfect way to start out a trip to Chicago if you're a first timer. There is so much you can see from the Hancock Observatory. General consensus seems to be that this is better than the Sears Tower Skydeck, and it definitely seems like it is. Even if the Sears Tower (I'm not a Chicagoan but my family are, we don't care that it's official name is Willis, it's Sears dammit) is taller, it's location kind of sucks. The Hancock tower has a MUCH better location and therefore gives you a much better view. Looking out onto Lake Michigan, I almost thought I was looking at an ocean. It's so vast. The walkman thingy they offer you as you step out of the elevator gives you a history lesson for the direction you are looking out upon. Something weird: After they said that the Magnificent Mile was modeled after Paris it also said that Chicago has a building that looks similar to the Eiffel Tower which could be seen right in front of you. I saw nothing of the sort. Could someone correct me if I'm wrong? This place is great. The admission is very reasonable for what you're getting. Memo to myself: Next time I visit Chicago, come to this place after 7:00 PM.
San Fran: After our snub at the Signature Lounge, we opted to go to the John Hancock Observatory instead. It was only $15 and you ride the super fast elevator to the very top. Here you get beautiful 360 degree views of Chicago. Not only do you get to enjoy the views of the Chicago skyline, there are displays that give you a quick 15 minute lesson on Chicagoan history. Your $15 also gets you a headset that narrates your experience, but my friend and I opted out of that. It was a wonderful way to close out our Chicago trip.
The observatory is open until 10pm, so it could be a perfect way to end a date and get a first kiss (cheesy, I know).
CA: We stopped here during our afternoon tour of the city on foot during my first trip to Chicago and let me tell you, the views from the 94th floor are breathtaking. I definitely got a lot of good shots of the city and realized just how big (and beautiful) it is.
This place is a definite MUST see if you're visiting Chicago for the first time, and even if you aren't just a visitor, I'm sure on a clear pleasant day it's nice to go up there and check out the whole city to remember just how amazing it looks from the sky.
Atlanta: Having been to Chicago a few times this year for work, I was thrilled about finally visiting the city for pleasure!
What would be better than exploring the city on foot? Starting out by seeing the city from here! The views were breathtaking and we could see out for miles. Luckily for us, there were no lines (crowds) or clouds to hamper our visit.
I really enjoyed the audio tour as well. Definitely a must-do to get a lay of the land!
Arlington, VA: The view is absolutely spectacular. As I said, this was my first time in Chicago and I was amazed at just how many skyscrapers there are. It was cool how you could look down one of the streets below, which look like canyons downtown and seem to stretch across the landscape interminably into the west. it was almost like looking at the actual lines of latitude. I dug the view of the waterfront as well. From that vantage point, it quickly becomes clear why they call them the great lakes, as they really are bigass bodies of water. I also thought the green silhoutte of michigan in the distance was beautiful. That's also most likely the only instance in which I would ever use "michigan" and "beautiful" in the same sentence.
This building is like a metaphor for the city to me. From a dtstance, it has an almost non-descript exterior. However, when you get closer, you see that it really is aesthetically beautiful, and once at the top, you see all that it has to offer. It reminds me of what a world city Chicago is, and how you could live here your entire life and not be able to see it all. And ruminating on all this right now is enough to bring me back to the realization that it's time for what the late great H.S. Thompson often quoted, "an agonizing reappraisal " of my situation.
CHICAGO!!!: All I could say was "wow" after my visit to the Hancock Observatory. Before a recent trip on a clear, sunny Saturday, I hadn't gone since I was in grade school. I can say with certainty that this is one spot that every Chicagoan should check out at least once, and every visitor should make an effort to go to if they're in town during good weather. I've lived in Chicago my entire life and I still found the views breathtaking.
The $15 price tag gets you up to the top of the Hancock where you can check out 360 degree views of the city. You can even go outside and discover one of the reasons why Chicago is known as the Windy City. David Schwimmer and some Chicago historians contributed sound bites for the free headset that you can listen to as you walk around. You just type in the number displayed on the window you are standing in front of and you get a summary of what you see as well as a mini-history lesson. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I think this is awesome.
If you get hungry while you're up there, don't fret, there is a small cafe where prices are reasonable and the treats are yummy. The seating area looks out over the South and West sides of the city, so you can enjoy a gelato and views of the skyline at the same time. I'll be definitely be adding this site to my list of favorite Chicago activities.