What is the best way to take in a new city or destination, upon first arrival?
By getting up as high as possible of course! With summertime being the peak travel season, it’s time to take a closer look at observation decks around the country.
How did the phenomenon of an enclosed, or open, space to walk around in and observe, begin?
Some say the fascination began in the late 1800s when ideas and fads were perpetuated via World’s Fairs.
Paris debuted its iconic Eiffel Tower in the 1889 World’s Fair, and the world has continued to produce more and more towers and decks ever since.
Over the course of history such towers and decks have transformed alongside new technological advancements, and today there are more observation decks to enjoy than ever before!
All observations decks are exciting but in different ways. Some are crazy high, others are quirky, and others offer extra features.
We’ve got a list of some of our favorite observations decks, from shortest to tallest, this list has got the inside scoop on the raddest observation decks in America.
Looking for the most unique and unusual observation deck in America?
The award for that goes to The Infinity Room at The House on The Rock in Wisconsin. Embark through an enclosed, pointed deck that features 3,200 windows.
As you walk along the deck, you’ll be able to see a view of the beautiful forest.
What’s truly bizarre is the optical illusion – the very end of the tunnel tapers down to one inch wide.
Few natural landscapes are more deserving of an epic observation deck than the Grand Canyon.
Especially considering it’s difficult to take in its magnificence without being up high! At this deck, you get to walk out above the canyon floor to take in the National Park.
The deck itself forms a horseshoe shape and features glass floors so you can take in the sights from every angle.
A classic and historic American city, Philadelphia is well worth a visit, especially since it’s home to the One Liberty Observation Deck.
See Philly from new “heights” and enjoy panoramic views.
California’s tallest open-air observation deck is as epic as it sounds.
Nearly 1,000 feet above the streets of L.A., this deck offers 360-degree views and a skyslide. A what? Yes, a skyslide!
You can literally slide in the air, overlooking L.A.
By far one of the best views in Chicago, get up high in Chicago’s John Hancock building for the best views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline.
This is also the home of TILT, the ultimate thrill ride. TILT is an enclosed moving platform that tilts you out over Michigan Avenue from the 94th floor!
Perhaps the most classic of them all! Experience the beauty of New York City from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building on a deck that wraps around the entire building.
You can see Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and much more!
Take your Empire State Building experience to the next level with the AM/PM Experience.
Purchase the special AM/PM Experience ticket and you’ll be able to see the amazing city during the day, and then again at night!
Ascend to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere in less than 60 seconds.
At this observation deck in New York City, you’ll be able to see iconic sights, water, the skyline and more. You will also have the chance to learn more about what took place on 9/11 and pay respects to the victims and fearless first responders.
Elevation – 6,644 Feet
Technically the actual observation deck, by itself, is not the tallest, but because the observation deck is on a tall mountain you will be the highest!
By far one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in America is the Smoky Mountains!
You can have an epic view from 6,643 feet at the Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies.
There’s a steep, half-mile path to the 54-foot observation tower, which offers panoramic views of the National Park.
Visit one or visit them all! These six are just the tip of the proverbial observation deck iceberg.
There are many, many more. We challenge you to find an observation deck in every place you visit!
If there isn’t one, you can see which building is tallest and try to go there instead. Seeing a city from above is a great way to get to know it, understand it, and ultimately – explore it! Happy observing!
For discount tickets to a few of the above-mentioned decks, or for unique attractions across the U.S., browse 365 Tickets