The city of Chicago has a whole host of iconic adventures and fun tourist attractions to enjoy on your own or with a family. Whether you are visiting on vacation, you’re new to the city and want to check out the sights, or you’re a local who is planning a stay-cation, there’s so much for you to see and do in one of America’s greatest cities! One of the best ways to enjoy Chicago is by taking advantage of the deals provided when you combine attractions together through a tourist pass.
Although the initial cost of a tourist pass might seem high compared to buying one ticket individually, they typically come with deep savings for your wallet if you go to multiple attrations—often saving between 40-55%, depending on the details. Plus, these passes also provide some attractions that allow you to save time by skipping often long lines at the bigger places, as well as offering the convenience of arranging your tickets all in one place.
This pass provides entry and special benefits for 5 of the city’s top attractions, with a couple of choices based on preferences. You’ll have 9 days to use the pass (from the first day you visit an attraction) and some of the special perks include priority entry and all-access passes at several of the locations. Bus tours and water activities are not included in the CityPASS, but since the pass is valid for 9 days, most people find there is plenty of time to schedule other amazing Chicago activities in between.
The included attractions are:
- Shedd Aquarium with Priority Entry
- Skydeck Chicago – Day/Night Admission
- Field Museum – All Access Pass
- Adler Planetarium—Premium Pass OR Art Institute of Chicago – Fast Pass
- Museum of Science and Industry – Entry +1 Ticketed Experience OR 360 Chicago Observation Deck –Express Entry
If you plan to go to at least three of the five possible attractions, then the cost for the CityPASS is certainly worth it for the savings and convenience.
Go Chicago Card All Inclusive Pass
This card certainly provides more flexibility for attractions. It’s a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure style pass. Although it tends to cost more than the other cards, it also has the potential to save money if you’re hoping to pack a lot into a Chicago vacation!
Get your choice of an adventure of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 calendar days in a row and certain attractions allow guests to skip the ticket line. Tickets are delivered digitally and can either be printed or use on your phone with an easy-to-use, free mobile app.
Go Chicago Card attractions include:
- Shedd Aquarium
- Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago: 1-day Classic Tour
- 360 Chicago
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Adler Planetarium
- Field Museum with VIP Entry
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Shoreline Architecture River Cruise
- Navy Pier 4-Ride pass
- Shoreline Classic Lake Tour
- And More…
Chicago Explorer Pass
This set-price pass provides entry into a specific number of attractions, tours or activities so that you can choose your own adventure! Enjoy 3, 4, or 5 attractions and tours from a list of 29 different options. You don’t have to choose which attractions you’ll use ahead of time, so you can change your mind at the last minute based on weather conditions or other factors.
Offered by the same company as the Go Chicago Card, the list of available attractions is almost exactly the same as above. Shedd Aquarium isn’t included at this time, but the Explorer Pass does include a Panoramic Night Tour by Big Bus instead. (Of course, these details may be subject to change each season so it’s best to check the company website to be sure.)
Select attractions, such as the Art Institute and Field Museum, allow priority entry that lets you skip the line and possibly save hours of time!
The Chicago Explorer Pass is valid for 30 days from the first use, so you can take your time and explore the city at your own pace. That makes this one convenient for vacationers or for families who live in the city! Use the Go City Card app to get your pass delivered right to your phone and have everything you need available at your fingertips.
Is a Travel Pass Worth It?
The three passes offer various ways that you can save money while enjoying the best of the city of Chicago. They all work well in different scenarios, depending on what you and your family are looking for. The best way to find out if a travel past will help you save money is to take a look at the attractions you want to visit, add up the cost individually, and then compare it to the cost of the pass.
In most cases, a travel pass makes visiting Chicago more affordable, more convenient and much more fun! Use the chart below to compare passes so that you can understand which one will work best for you. Then, get ready to have a great time visiting America’s second city!