John Hancock Observatory

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The third-tallest building in the city (Sears Tower and Aon Center claim the top spots) has spectacular views from its 94th floor observation deck. On a clear day, you can see as far as Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Start at the concourse level, where a re-creation of the Hancock's 1965 construction site (the structure was completed in 1970) includes blueprints and exposed steel beams. From there, take the 39-second ride on the fastest elevator in North America to the top, 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile. View the Windy City from all sides--and even feel it from the Skywalk, a patio-like enclosure with industrial-strength screens. "Soundscope" binoculars zoom in on city sights, with narration in English, Spanish, French or Japanese. The observatory cafe serves snacks, beer, wine and spiked coffee drinks. Other activities are the virtual reality Windows on Chicago, interactive computers and the History Wall with maps and photos depicting Chicago's swampy beginnings to the present day.