10 of North America’s Coolest Observation Decks

If you are looking for a heart-stopping observation decks in North America to conquer your fear of heights, you must check out 10 of North America’s Coolest Observation Decks!


Image source: Flickr - Kenneth Cole Schneider
Image source: Flickr – Kenneth Cole Schneider

1. Glacier Skywalk
This incredible new observation deck/bridge is in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta’s Jasper National Park. Similar to the Grand Canyon attraction, this u-shaped bridge is glass underfoot with steel supports and glass edges. Glacier Skywalk opens Thursday, May 1st and allows visitors a view from 918 feet above the spectacular vista of the Sunwapta Valley. You’ll be higher than the Eiffel Tower as you appreciate the icy glaciers and spires of the nearby mountains. What makes the visitor experience unique is the interpretive education areas that explore the glaciers, flora and fauna of the region. Entry prices are $24.95 for adults and kids are half that price.


Image source: Flickr - B Campbell
Image source: Flickr – B Campbell

2. Stratosphere Tower
The Stratosphere is the tallest freestanding observation tower in America at 1,149 feet above the glitz of the Las Vegas strip. What rocks (and terrifies) about Stratosphere Tower, in addition to the stunning indoor and outdoor 360 degree views, are the thrill rides up top on the deck. Insanity is a spinning ride that dangles you face down more than 60 feet out to the side of the building while you experience speeds of up to 3 Gs. X-Scream is a giant teeter totter that puts you almost 30 feet of the side then tilts you face down above the heights. Tickets up the tower are $18 for adults and $10 for the kids. The rides are $15 each, but you can bundle with tower admission to get a better deal.


Image source: Flickr - Frank Pierson
Image source: Flickr – Frank Pierson

3. Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a cantilever bridge that extends 70 feet out over the edge of the canyon near the Colorado River. Walk out on the Skywalk, 65 feet in width and walk the U that takes you over stunning views of the canyon. Peer down through the glass under you and, depending on which part of the bridge you’re on, you’ll be looking 500 to 800 feet straight down below your feet. The bridge is an engineering marvel owned by the Hualapai tribe and opened back in 2007. The Skywalk is an incredible 1.6 million pounds of custom-made glass, steel and hardware. Tickets are $35 for children, $40 for adults and increase with add-ons like horseback and helicopter rides.

Image source: Flickr - Tania Liu
Image source: Flickr – Tania Liu

4. Willis Tower Ledge
Formerly known as the Sears Tower, this 1,451 foot Chicago skyscraper was once the tallest in the world. The Skydeck reinvented itself with the addition of Ledge in 2009. The project was inspired by forehead prints on the glass of the observation area from people trying to look down. The Ledge is a series of four solid glass boxes that protrude more than four feet from the side of the building. These are especially jitter-inducing because there’s not an inch of reassuring steel or obvious supports to be seen. The sensation is of being suspended 1,353 feet above street level Matrix-style. Tickets are $19 for adults, $12 for kids and an extra $40 if you want to skip the long lines at the elevators.


Image source: 360 Chicago
Image source: 360 Chicago

5. TILT!
This new attraction sits atop the John Hancock Center in what was known as the observatory but is now rebranded 360 CHICAGO. TILT! is a steel and glass platform and an engineering marvel. You step in, get secured and then, as the name indicates, you and eight other guests get tilted. Thirty degrees forward and you find yourself face down 1,000 feet above Miracle Mile. The experience takes about a minute and there’s literally nothing like it in the world. $18 for adults and $12 for kids gets you into the observatory and another $5 gets you tilted.

*Please note that TILT is closed for maintenance and enhancements however the rest of the observation deck remains open.

Image source: Flickr - Miss Shari
Image source: Flickr – Miss Shari

6. Theme Building Observation Deck
Although this is definitely not the highest observation deck on this list, it is incredibly cool. Based at the Los Angeles airport this 1961 tribute to the flying saucer underwent a $12.3 million renovation. New security apparatuses and structural upgrades were done to improve it. The design was originally designed by Disney and invites both flyers and non flyers to come use the free telescopes to watch the planes take off and land. The outdoor observation deck offers 360- degree views. This tower also offers a space theme restaurant where visitors will feel as though they have entered the world of ‘The Jetsons”. For anyone who loves planes, this is definitely the observation tower for them.


Image source: Flickr - gigi_nyc
Image source: Flickr – gigi_nyc

7. One World Trade Center
The newest observation deck in North America also happens to be the tallest on this list at 1,776 feet. Visitors now have the chance to head up to the 100th floor of the One World Trade Center via SkyPod, a particularly fast elevator that whips you up in less than 60 seconds. Floor-to-ceiling LED technology in each elevator will offer a time-lapse of the development of New York’s skyline from the 1500s to today. Other experiences that await visitors here is a program that tells the personal stories of those who helped build the World Trade Center, a short presentation about life in NY and breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Interactive technology is located throughout the deck and it truly promises to be one-of-a-kind.


Image source: Flickr - jmcd303
Image source: Flickr – jmcd303

8. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
This 54-foot observation tower isn’t the easiest one to get too but the views from the top can be absolutely breathtaking. The tower is located on the summit of Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond. Visitors will have to be willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top though. The road is paved making things a little easier but it is important to note that the hill is too steep for wheelchairs. It seems the earlier the better to catch an amazing sunset and avoid the crowds of people. Morning is also when the clouds are often low and you can see far out above them. Nature at its finest, this observation deck is a must do.


Image source: Flickr - Tiffany Von Arnim
Image source: Flickr – Tiffany Von Arnim

9. Space Needle
It takes only 41 seconds to whiz up the elevator to this observation deck located in the Space Needle in the wonderful city of Seattle. The deck sits up 520 feet and offers amazing panoramic 360-degree views of the city. Visitors will be privy to views of the Mountains including Mt. Rainer, the bustling waterfront and the city streets below. The camera at the top allows each visitor to take the perfect sky high selfie, for free. Just use your ticket, stand back and smile; the picture will be emailed to you later that day. There is an abundance of technology inside the observation deck as well, giving people information on how many visitors have been through, where they came from and more. This interactive experience coupled with spectacular views makes this observation deck once of the best in North America.


Image source: Flickr - gigi_nyc
Image source: Flickr – gigi_nyc

10. Empire State Building
It may just be the most famous observatory deck in the whole world, with dozens of films being done here and millions of memories being made. Sure it can be cold and windy, but not much can beat the view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. The deck wraps around the entire building and offers views of Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and many more iconic landmarks. High powered binoculars and multi-media handheld devices are there to enhance your experience. If you want to go higher, visitors can take the manually operated Otis elevator to the 102 floors where buildings can be seen up to 80 miles away. The entire city comes into view while looking out the windows on this floor. Whichever deck you choose to visit; the view of the city will be something captured in your memory forever.

These attractions are sure to pump up your heart! Conquer your Acrophobia and dare visit the coolest observation decks and attractions in North America! Thank you Rachel S of Entertainment Designer and Lindsay MacNevin of Escape Here for the original list!