Seeking an elevated experience on your next trip? There’s no better way to get the lay of the land in a new destination than by heading to an observation deck.
Generally located within iconic buildings in a city’s skyline, observation decks are stepping up to entice visitors, and most go beyond offering incredible views. From recreating the famous “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” photo in New York City to diving off the tower at The Strat in Las Vegas, these unforgettable experiences will take your vacation to new heights.
View Boston, Boston
Boston’s brand-new View Boston opened in 2023 atop the renowned Prudential Center building. Spanning the 50th through 52nd floors, the attraction features a 360-degree indoor observatory, an outdoor wraparound roof deck, a restaurant, and an indoor/outdoor cocktail bar.
View Boston is designed to be an immersive experience, with interactive exhibits, like a projection-mapped 3D model of Boston, a theater with a 270-degree screen, and display screens that offer detailed explanations of what you can see from different angles of the observatory.
Top of the Rock, New York City
On the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the Top of the Rock has long been a must-visit site in New York City. A new ride, The Beam, is another reason to check it out.
Recreate the famous 1932 photo of ironworkers lunching on a steel beam 69 feet above the city (which was taken during the construction of the building). The Beam lifts visitors 12 feet above the observation deck before turning 180 degrees for unobstructed views and a great photo opp. Unlike in the original photo, visitors wear seatbelts (and don’t actually go over the side of the building).
360 Chicago Observation Deck
Get panoramic views of Chicago and Lake Michigan from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, located 1,000 feet above the city. Want to see a unique angle of the skyline? Add on a ticket for Tilt, a set of eight windows on a moving platform that angles viewers 30 degrees down and out of the building for two to three minutes.
After a ride on Tilt, head to the elegant CloudBar to continue drinking in the views.
Edge, New York City
Feel the breeze on your face from 100 stories up at the Edge, the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush for you, a section of the outdoor viewing platform is made of clear plexiglass, allowing you to look straight down the street if you dare.
For extra bragging rights, get tickets for City Climb at the Edge, the highest open-air building ascent in the world. You’ll be securely tethered to the building before climbing an angled staircase to a platform where you can lean over the edge for an unforgettable view.
The Space Needle, Seattle
Seattle’s iconic Space Needle observation deck features 360-degree views of the downtown Seattle skyline, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and the Puget Sound through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The space’s highlight is the Loupe, an indoor observation deck with the world’s only revolving glass floor, where you can watch the city turn beneath you as you dine.
Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas
At 1,149 feet above the Las Vegas Strip, the Stratosphere’s observation deck is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. Each of the observation deck’s 10 floors offers a thrilling experience—from getting married at the Chaple in the Clouds on level 103 to dining at the revolving restaurant Top of the World on level 106.
Thrillseekers should head up to levels 108 through 112, where you can leap off the building on the SkyJump, a decelerator descent that takes you on a controlled fall, reaching speeds of 40mph. Or, strap into the Big Shot rollercoaster and get hurled up 160 feet in the air at 45 mph.
Reunion Tower, Dallas
Nicknamed “The Ball” for its unique shape, the Reunion Tower stands out on the Dallas skyline. The exterior is brightly lit with 259 colorful LED lights that capture the eye. The Ball’s circular-shaped observation deck offers 360-degree views of the city from 470 feet.
There are indoor and outdoor viewing areas so that you can enjoy the Reunion Tower in any weather.
Smith Tower, Seattle
Built in 1914, Seattle’s Smith Tower was once the tallest building on the West Coast. Today, visitors are still whisked to the observation deck in the original Otis elevator. Sign up for the Talking Towers tour to learn more about the building’s colorful past—including the legend of the wishing chair. Rumor has it that if you’re single and sit in the Smith Tower’s magical chair, you’ll be married within the year.
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