Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chicago on a Budget

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Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chicago

Posted: 3 July 2018

The Windy City is known for taking people’s breaths away. Which explains why it shattered previous tourism records last year, bringing in over 55 million guests to experience the sights and sounds of Chicago.

Thankfully, visitors can see all Chicago has to offer without having to spend a fortune (and maybe even for free).

Here’s a complete guide to Chicago on a budget!

Plan Early

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to come home from a vacation broke and stressed out. The average person spends $1,145 while on vacation or around $4,580 for a family of four.

Needless to say, most of us don’t have that kind of money lying around. The sooner you start saving for your Chicago getaway, the better.

Visiting Chicago in the winter is typically more cost-effective, as the colder weather keeps visitors away.

Planning your vacation anywhere from November to early March should help you snag the best travel and lodging deals so you’ll have more cash left over for that Cubs jersey you’ll cherish forever.

Skip The Hotel

Chicago is home to a number of gorgeous hotels like The Omni and The Peninsula.

Staying in these awe-inspiring buildings can be a lot of fun, but it can also be the biggest budget-killer of your whole vacation.

Consider staying just outside of the city and booking your lodging through Airbnb. You’ll get the comforts and privacy of home while not even scratching the surface of what you’d pay at a hotel.

Know When And Where To Eat Out

Chicago is known for its delicious delicacies, from deep-dish pizza to gourmet meals. With a few street smarts, you can experience the very best of Chicago eats without emptying your wallet.

Buy or bring your own groceries and snacks. If you eat in for two meals a day, you’ll have a bigger budget for your one meal out and can splurge.

Not sure where to begin your tour of Chicago foods? Here are some of the top spots that you should be sure to see:

  • The Purple Pig – a high-class restaurant specializing in pork dishes
  • Portillo’s Hot Dogs – world-famous hot dogs that bring in customers for miles
  • Billy Goat Tavern – great pub fare, famous for inspiring The Olympia Cafe on Saturday Night Live
  • Gino’s East – fantastic deep-dish pizza

To save some extra cash, you can check out local deals on Groupon.

How To Get Around

Parking around Chicago (especially downtown) can get pricey, with many lots charging as much as $20.

Put that money toward a few bus and train passes to save yourself money and avoid traffic. You can even plan each trip online so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.

What To Do

Here are a few fun and free activities that you can check out around the city:

  • The Lincoln Zoo
  • Millennium Park
  • Navy Pier (admission is free, attractions may have a fee)
  • Art Institute Of Chicago
  • Museum Of Contemporary Photography

If you decide to head to Chicago during the summer months, be sure to look into the free summer music festivals to take in the local culture at its best.

Chicago On A Budget: See More For Less

Visiting Chicago on a budget may sound downright impossible at first glance. However, if you’re interested in checking out The Second City, follow this guide to help you save some cash.

And don’t forget to follow our giveaway section to see how you could win a free one night stay at Chicago City Suites!

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chicago

One thought on “Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chicago on a Budget

  1. Nikki F

    Yay! Portillo’s and Gino’s East made the list. I live in Indiana and have a Portillo’s about 10 miles away. For a month I didn’t understand why everyone was so excited. I now know it is well worth the wait. Gino’s East used to be sold Frozen near me, but not longer is due to the grocery chain closing. So when I was in Chicago yesterday I was fortunate enough to eat the The Original Gino’s East and oh it is so worth the wait for that perfect crust deep dish pizza. Chicago is a great city indeed. It truly can be fun for cheap or for luxury prices, I’ll enjoy it on the cheap any day. Thank you for some new ideas for my next visit North to Chicago.


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