The 13 Most Vertigo-Inducing Observation Decks on the Planet
When One World Observatory opens this Friday in New York City, it will sit atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. And the view, though a bit pricey at $32, will be spectacular. It will also join an illustrious group of bucket-list observation decks the world over, the coolest 13 of which are right here:
Aiguille du Midi, South of France
Reopening this June after undergoing renovations, the Aiguille du Midi (or Needle of the South) in the French Alps is home to the Le Pas dans le Vide (the Step Into the Void) skywalk. Not just any skywalk, though, a glass skywalk on a mountain peak that's 12,604ft high. And it's the tallest skywalk in the world, with a view that stares 3,395ft straight down.
Inspired by the figure of a woman turning to look back, the Canton Tower was -- until last December -- the highest observation deck in the world at 1,601ft. Breathtaking panoramic views of Guangzhou City and the Pearl River await visitors at the top, as does a glass walk where they can tentatively peer down to the street below.
London forever changed its iconic skyline with the addition of The Shard a few years back. The View offers visitors 360-degree panoramas from either inside (776ft) or out (800ft) -- just remember to bring an umbrella if you're going to the top. Other highlights: the high-speed elevator zips you up 70 floors in a minute, and smart-telescopes tell you about what you're looking at on a digital screen.
Grand Canyon West, Arizona
Located in Grand Canyon West at Eagle Point, the horseshoe-shaped steel bridge with a glass floor juts out 70ft from the canyon rim. When you look down, you see nothing but the canyon 2,000ft below.
China has plenty of observation decks worth checking out, but if you're narrowing down the list, SWFC Observatory should make the cut. It offers four different levels at which to view Shanghai, the best of which is the Sky Walk 100, a 180ft glass corridor that sits 1,555ft up and allows amazed visitors to be wowed looking up, down, left, or right.
Toronto, ON, Canada
While the CN Tower's tallest indoor viewing spot is at the SkyPod (1,467ft), the EdgeWalk is the one for your bucket list. It's a 492ft-long ledge where -- after being secured in a harness -- you can stroll around hands-free 1,168ft above Toronto.
The current record holder for the highest observation deck in the world, At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY, stands 1,812ft tall and is located in, no surprise here, Dubai. It also has a lower-level deck that boasts 360-views and a five-star premium lounge.
Auckland, New Zealand
Sitting atop the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, Sky Tower’s 720ft-high Sky Deck allows travelers to look 50mi out over Auckland City. It also rocks a 360-degree rotating restaurant that you will not want to eat at before strapping into the SkyJump ride, a 630ft drop from the deck that can reach speeds of over 50mph.
If want to stay in the US to get high (but don't want to go to Colorado), the Willis Tower in Chicago is your move; at 1,353ft tall, you can spy four states from the top. The biggest draw, however, is The Ledge -- glass boxes that extend 4ft off the tower and only sometimes crack.
Las Vegas, NV
As if soaking in Sin City from 1,149ft wasn't enough, the observation deck at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower offers four adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides, including the SkyJump, Insanity, and Big Shot.
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Situated 900ft above the Sunwapta Valley floor, Glacier Skywalk just opened last year and provides views of Jasper National Park in Western Alberta. Made of steel, glass, and wood, the Skywalk sticks out 100ft from the side of the cliff.
Palm Springs, CA
Okay, so technically not an observation deck in and of itself, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, takes visitors up 8,516ft through the cliffs of Chino Canyon to a large mountain station where there ARE multi-level viewing decks (plus a restaurant) from which to enjoy the view of Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Another unofficial observation deck, but the Tiger Cave Temple in Southern Thailand technically has a tiered deck-like space that offers 360-degree views of the forest and countryside, and on a non-cloudy day, the Andaman Sea. The only catch, you have to climb 1,237 really steep steps to reach it.
Andrew Villagomez is a freelance writer and blogger who covers travel, men's fashion, and other lifestyle topics. Along with Thrillist, he has also contributed to Travel + Leisure, Details, Passport, and Essential Homme. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @VeeTravels