The United States has some fabulous observation decks for those of you who like to rise above it all to get a bird’s eye view of the world. Just check out some of the views from these dizzying heights...
Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona
Looking out over the Grand Canyon is a sight like no other. Such an impressive sight demands an observation deck of equal greatness, which is what the Grand Canyon Skywalk is. This observation deck is a sturdy U-shaped platform with a glass floor that is only slightly terrifying to those who are afraid of heights. The glass floor allows for visitors to gaze 1,200 metres into the abyss below and outward into the surrounding canyon. This beautiful observation deck was created in 2007 by the local Hualapai Indian Tribe. It quickly became a tourist attraction in its own right, drawing visitors away from the donkey rides into the canyon and giving them unique views that were once only possible via helicopters.
Willis Tower, Chicago
The Willis Tower, which was previously known as the Sears Tower, has been keeping a silent vigil over the city of Chicago since 1973. Back in the day, it was the tallest building in the world, but it is now just the tallest building in Chicago. The Willis Tower is not only famous for its height and the number of Spiderman copycats that have tried to scale it, but also for its observation deck. The observation deck, known as the "sky deck", is set on the 103rd floor of this 110-floor behemoth. On this observation deck, a series of glass boxes jutting out from the building's edge enable visitors to feel as if they are suspended over the city. Being suspended 103 floors above the city only by a pane of glass is somewhat terrifying, but it is an equally mind blowing experience.
Top Of The Rock, New York City
The Top of the Rock is the cleverly named and world famous observation deck on the top of the Rockefeller Center. Since it opened in 1933, this six level observation deck has been offering stunning views of the Big Apple from every angle as it stands 260 metres above street level. The beautiful panorama from the Top of the Rock showcases iconic New York City sights like Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. The views presented by the Top of the Rock are only rivaled by the views from the Empire State Building's observation deck. However, as the Top of the Rock hosts timed tickets it is definitely a good competitor to the Empire State Building, because visitors will never have to wait in queue too long.
House On The Rock Infinity Room, Wisconsin
This observation deck isn't in the middle of a giant city or overlooking a grand national landmark, but is easily the most unique observation deck in the United States. The House on the Rock is a complex full of architecturally unique rooms, streets, gardens and shops all designed by Alex Jordan Jr and located south of Spring Green, Wisconsin. In order to get to the observation deck named the Infinity Room, visitors must navigate through a variety of unique collections and bizarre roadside attractions. This includes the world's largest indoor carousel, a recreation of an early 20th century American town, and a nautical exhibit that features a 61-metre fanciful whale-like sea creature. Once visitors reach the pinnacle of the House of the Rock, they have reached the Infinity Room that juts off of Deer Rock, which is over 60 metre off the ground. Visitors walk in an ever shrinking room made of 3,000 windows until they get to the final window overlooking the lush surrounding forests of Wisconsin.
Theme Building Observation Deck, Los Angeles
The Theme Building observation deck is located in the spherical top of the Los Angeles International Airport. While this observation deck may not be the highest in the United States, as it only stands 19 metres above the ground, it is certainly one of the more interesting observation decks. It was built in 1961 as a tribute to the flying saucer. Previously the structure suffered from falling stucco and after 9/11 it was closed for renovations and security concerns. However, it has recently reopened with new security apparatus and structural upgrades. Now the glass UFO-shaped tower gives 360 degree views of flights arriving and departing, as well as Los Angeles in the distance.
Empire State Building, New York City
There are two observation decks open to the public on the Empire State Building, one on the 86th floor and one on the 102nd floor. Both are enclosed and give beautiful panoramic views of the city. However, on high traffic days the 102nd level observation deck may be closed as it is much smaller than the first observation deck. As New York City locals say, the lines to enter the Empire State Building are as legendary as the building itself. The building has been visited by 110 million people. Go early in the day before all the crowds show up.
Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck, Las Vegas
Standing at a massive 350 metres high, the Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It juts out of the foundation of the Stratosphere Hotel, which is located below. Visitors are whisked from ground level to the observation decks in the Stratosphere in less than 30 seconds by a state of the art elevator that travels three floors per second. Since the tower is located north of almost all casinos, hotels and attractions on the Las Vegas Strip, it showcases all of the beautiful buildings of Las Vegas and is especially breathtaking at night. Atop the tower there is a casino, a fine dining restaurant, and an area for musical performances. However, the biggest attraction of the Stratosphere Tower is the various roller coasters and thrill rides such as the Big Shot (the highest thrill ride in the world) and the Sky Jump, which is a controlled descent bungee jump type ride.
The Space Needle, Seattle
Creativecommons.org/Miranda Celeste Hale
The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair and since its construction it has become a symbol of Seattle and a beloved landmark of the Pacific Northwest. The Space Needle held the title of the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River until the construction of the Stratosphere Tower. The observation deck is located 160 metres above the city and features a rotating SkyCity restaurant and gift shop at 150 metres. On top of the tower, visitors can get panoramic views of the city of Seattle and the beautiful Pacific coast. The trip to the top only takes visitors approximately 41 seconds by elevator, but as the Space Needle is such a famous landmark, some tourists should expect a legendary wait in line.
Niagara Falls Observation Deck, New York
There are a few great ways to see the majestic Niagara Falls, but for the panoramic views of all three falls, the only choice is the Niagara Falls Observation Tower. The observation tower dramatically juts out over Niagara Gorge, giving visitors unobstructed views of the wild cascades and the white water below. The observation tower is a popular spot for bird watchers year-round. It is here that bird watching visitors can spot peregrine falcons, bald eagles and a variety of gull species. The elevators at the observation tower do not go up – but instead go down – to the crow's nest where visitors can get up close and personal with the falls or board the famous Maid of the Mist boat tour.