Expert Tips for Saving Money While Visiting Chicago, IL

As an expert in tourism in Chicago, I have some insider tips on how to save money while still having an amazing experience in this amazing city. Chicago, IL is a vibrant and bustling city that attracts millions of tourists each year. From its iconic skyline to its rich history and culture, there is no shortage of things to see and do in the Windy City. However, with so many attractions and activities, it's easy to overspend and blow your budget while visiting Chicago.

Plan Ahead and Book in Advance

One of the best ways to save money while visiting Chicago is to plan ahead and book your accommodations and activities in advance.

This not only gives you more options to choose from but also allows you to take advantage of early bird discounts and deals. Many hotels and attractions offer discounted rates for booking in advance, so be sure to do your research and book as early as possible. Another benefit of booking in advance is that you can avoid peak season prices. Chicago is a popular tourist destination during the summer months, which means prices for accommodations and activities are at their highest. By planning your trip during the off-season or shoulder season, you can save a significant amount of money.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Believe it or not, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy in Chicago.

From exploring the city's beautiful parks and beaches to visiting world-class museums on free admission days, there is something for everyone without spending a dime. One must-visit attraction is Millennium Park, which offers stunning views of the city's skyline and hosts free concerts and events throughout the year. The Lincoln Park Zoo is also a great option for families on a budget, as it offers free admission every day. Additionally, many museums in Chicago offer free admission days, such as the Art Institute of Chicago on Thursdays from 5-8pm and the Museum of Science and Industry on select days throughout the year. Be sure to check the websites of your desired attractions to see if they offer any free admission days.

Use Public Transportation

Chicago has an extensive public transportation system that is not only convenient but also budget-friendly. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) offers buses and trains that can take you to all the major attractions in the city.

A single ride on the CTA costs $2.50, but you can save even more money by purchasing a multi-day pass. A 3-day pass costs $20 and a 7-day pass costs $28, which is a great deal if you plan on using public transportation frequently during your trip. Another option is to use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, which can be cheaper than taking a taxi. However, keep in mind that these services may have surge pricing during peak hours, so it's best to use them during off-peak times to save money.

Eat Like a Local

One of the biggest expenses while traveling is food. But in Chicago, you can eat like a local and save money at the same time.

Instead of dining at expensive restaurants in touristy areas, venture out to neighborhoods like Pilsen or Logan Square where you can find delicious and affordable eats. Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, but you don't have to break the bank to try it. Head to Pequod's Pizza or Lou Malnati's for some of the best deep-dish pizza in the city at a fraction of the cost of other popular pizza joints. Another tip is to take advantage of happy hour specials. Many restaurants and bars in Chicago offer discounted food and drinks during certain hours, so be sure to do your research and plan your meals accordingly.

Consider a CityPASS

If you plan on visiting multiple attractions in Chicago, consider purchasing a CityPASS. This pass allows you to visit five popular attractions at a discounted price, saving you up to 50% off regular admission prices.

The CityPASS includes admission to the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, the Field Museum, and your choice of either the Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago. Not only does the CityPASS save you money, but it also allows you to skip the long lines at popular attractions. This is especially beneficial during peak season when lines can be hours long.

Stay Outside of Downtown

While staying in downtown Chicago may seem like the most convenient option, it can also be the most expensive. Consider staying in a neighborhood outside of downtown, such as Wicker Park or Lakeview, where accommodations tend to be more affordable. Plus, you'll get a more authentic experience by staying in a local neighborhood rather than a touristy area. Another benefit of staying outside of downtown is that you can find cheaper dining options and avoid the inflated prices of restaurants in touristy areas.

Final Thoughts

Chicago is an amazing city with so much to offer, but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank to enjoy it.

By planning ahead, taking advantage of free activities, using public transportation, eating like a local, and considering a CityPASS, you can save money while still having an unforgettable experience in the Windy City. So pack your bags and get ready to explore all that Chicago has to offer without breaking the bank!.

Ramona Commins
Ramona Commins

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