Taking the Kids — to the top of the city

Girl jumping on “The Ledge” at Skywalk Chicago
Girl jumping on “The Ledge” at Skywalk Chicago State Building

By Eileen Ogintz

Tribune Content Agency

Ready for a stroll?

Let’s hope you aren’t afraid of heights. We’re talking a hands-free walk 1,168 feet up on a 5-foot ledge — EdgeWalk at Toronto’s famous CN Tower holds the Guinness World Record for the World’s Highest External Walk on a Building.

Adrenaline junkies will love it (you have to be at least 13 years of age, at least 75 pounds and ready to spend $174 each, based on current conversion rates to U.S. dollars). On the bright side, here’s something your teens will beg you to do together — they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

I passed. Even though you are harnessed in for the 30-minute experience, I was terrified just looking at photos. No handrails. Instead, we opted for an excellent lunch at the 360Restaurant at the CN Tower — the restaurant revolves as you dine, thus providing a first-rate view of Canada’s largest city, as well as offering dishes created from fresh regional ingredients. We did have a chance to check out the LookOut and the Glass Floor (a view 1,122 feet straight down). There are other glass-floor attractions around the world, but in 1994, this was the first. Jump all you want the floor won’t crack. It’s five times stronger than the required standard; strong enough to hold 35 moose or 3-1/2 Orcas! (Download the free CN Tower Viewfinder APP and identify more than 90 landmarks.)

360Restaurant is a special-occasion restaurant — the two-course lunch menu was about $50; the kids’ lunch was over $30. But besides the first-rate food (kids can have a child cut prime rib, salmon or roasted chicken with mashed potatoes followed by an ice cream sundae) and the can’t-beat-it views, you are paying to avoid the lines at one of this city’s top attractions and to get whisked up 1,136 feet in just 58 seconds, plus access to the all-new Glass Floor, one level below. (Tickets just to go to the top are nearly $30 for adults and nearly $22 for kids.) The children’s prix fixe menu is $40 — there is pasta, but why not a child cut prime rib or Atlantic salmon filet?

With a six-hour flight layover and the 25-minute UP Express air-rail link from Toronto Pearson International Airport, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our time. We weren’t disappointed.

Make sure to check out Toronto’s kids’ trip planning website Yo-Toronto,! A tip: If you plan to visit many attractions in Toronto and other cities, including “going to the top,” in New York, Chicago, Boston and Seattle, consider CityPass, which will not only save you significantly on admission but will also enable you to bypass the lines.

In case you are wondering, the tallest building in the world is in Dubai — the Burj Khalifa at 2,722 feet. Here’s what I wrote about my visit there. And, of course, there’s the top of the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye.

Closer to home, here are other “top” experiences in the United States you won’t want to miss:

In NEW YORK, the top of the Empire State Building, with 86th floor and 102nd floor observatories, offers 360-degree views of New York City. Don’t miss the Dare to Dream exhibit and the art deco ceiling murals in the lobby. Download the free app via iTunes or Google Play. One World Observatory is 1,776 feet tall, currently the 6th tallest building in the world. Take a virtual helicopter tour with the supplied iPads. Even the Sky Pod elevator ride is fun, complete with an LED-screened elevator that offers a history of NYC. The observatory is three stories tall on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors.

In CHICAGO, walk the famous Ledge at the Skydeck at Willis Tower, the highest observatory in the western hemisphere. Glass balconies extend more than four feet outside the building above Wacker Drive. It is 103 floors up and 1,354 feet straight down! On a clear day — or night — you may be able to see 50 miles. The inspiration for The Ledge, incidentally, came from hundreds of forehead prints visitors left behind on Skydeck windows every week.

Seattle Space Needle, new glass floor and benches at the top of the needle
Seattle Space Needle, new glass floor and benches at the top of the needle

In SEATTLE, the Space Needle in Seattle Center is a landmark and icon of the northwest, which has been transformed for the first time in 50 years. Download the Space Needle App to best explore everything at the newly renovated attraction. Take a selfie on The Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor that offers never-before-seen views of the Space Needle’s architecture. There are three viewing areas, including an open-air viewing area located at 520 feet. In the $100 million renovation, entire walls, barriers and even floors have been replaced by clear structural glass.

In ST. LOUIS, The Gateway Arch — created by more than 43,000 tons of concrete and steel and looming 63 stories high — celebrates the country’s westward expansion and the pioneers who made the treacherous journey. It is America’s tallest man-made monument, and you get to the top via a tram tour, including a walk up at least 96 steps. There is also a new interactive museum that tells the story of Native Americans, explorers and pioneers. As Gateway Arch is part of Gateway Arch National Park, there are free talks and tours by National Park Service rangers.

In DALLAS, Reunion Tower, adjacent to the historic district and other attractions, offers not only views from 470 feet up but also high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touchscreens, telescopes, an indoor/outdoor observation deck and even a free digital photo. There is also a new interactive Reunion Tower Constellation experience that offers a series of touchscreen monitors that prompt visitors to add their name and place of origin to a star, create an avatar and then describe their experience.

Have fun up there!

© 2018 EILEEN OGINTZ
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. The feeling of power cannot be denied when you view the whole city from an aerial view. For kids it is an opportuity to take amazing pictures and no better way to keep those memories than to store them in the cloud, there are a number of options and I have found DBGallery very useful.

    For those who haven’t visited. Toronto’s famous CN Tower is an amazing place to visit at least once in once life time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
Close Panel

Family Travel
Guides for Every Season