So you’re planning a trip to Chicago. Excellent choice. Now you have to decide what to see and do while you’re in town.
Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to cover everything that Chicago has to offer, even if you stayed forever. However, there are a few attractions that you simply can’t miss on your first trip to the windy city, such as the Skydeck.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to maximize your time while staying on budget.
That’s where the Chicago CityPASS comes in handy. It’s designed to help you spend less money and do more sightseeing. But does it really live up to its claim?
Let’s find out.
What is the Chicago CityPASS?
The Chicago CityPASS bundles prepaid admission to the city’s top 5 attractions:
- Shedd Aquarium – VIP ENTRY
- Skydeck Chicago – FAST PASS
- The Field Museum – VIP ENTRY
- Museum of Science and Industry – VIP ENTRY OR 360 CHICAGO – EXPRESS ENTRY
- Adler Planetarium – VIP ENTRY OR Art Institute of Chicago – FAST PASS
How it works
You can purchase your CityPASS booklet online or in person at the first attraction you visit. I highly recommend buying the Chicago CityPASS online so you don’t have to waste valuable time waiting in line.
I made this mistake when I first went to Chicago. I figured we would just pick it up at the first attraction we went to, but I didn’t realize how busy it would be over Labor Day weekend.
If I bought the CityPASS in advance, I would have been able to enter through the VIP Entry which would have saved us a lot of time!
When you buy online, you’ll receive either a printable voucher, a mobile voucher, or you can get the CityPASS booklet shipped to you. Once you redeem your first voucher, you have 9 days to use your tickets. So instead of rushing through each attraction, you can take your time and enjoy the sights at your own pace.
It also works great if you’re traveling on a tight schedule since you can skip the ticket lines when you present your CityPASS. I used the Chicago CityPASS over Labor Day weekend and it was so easy to visit all the attractions. By skipping the ticket lines, I was able to do everything on my sightseeing itinerary.
Is the Chicago CityPASS a good deal?
The CityPASS has two price points for 2017:
- Adults (ages 12+) $99.75
- Child (ages 3-11) $84.75
In order to determine if the CityPASS is a good deal, we need to breakdown the regular box office price of each attraction. Then we can see if the CityPASS is really a money-saving tool.
- Shedd Aquarium – $41.95
- Skydeck Chicago – $49
- The Field Museum – $36
- Museum of Science and Industry – $36 OR 360 CHICAGO – $44
- Adler Planetarium – $34.95 OR Art Institute of Chicago – $42
Regular box office price:
CityPASS price: $99.75
Savings (per person): $113.20
By using the CityPASS, you’ll save 53% off the regular box office price. The money you saved can go towards upgrading your hotel room, enjoying a nice dinner or a having a shopping excursion on the Magnificent Mile.
The CityPASS is also a great time saver since you’ll be able to skip the ticket lines with your VIP admission. Depending on the time of year, this can save you a significant amount of time.
When I went to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, there was a 90-minute wait to get inside the Shedd Aquarium. By using the CityPASS, I was able to go straight to the front. Seriously, I cannot stress how much time I saved by using the Chicago CityPASS.
It also came in handy when I went to the Skydeck since we had fast pass entry. This allowed us to skip the 30-minute wait. Instead of waiting in long lines, we were able to enjoy more time sightseeing and feeling like a VIP.
Are all of the CityPASS attractions worth visiting?
View from the Skydeck
The attractions included in the CityPASS are chosen based on their popularity and annual attendance. It’s safe to say that all of the attractions included in the Chicago CityPASS are worth a visit. However, the pass only offers admission to 5 out of 7 attractions.
You will get to visit The Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago and the Field Museum. Then you get to choose either the Museum of Science and Industry or 360 CHICAGO, and between the Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago.
You can choose the final two attractions based on price (some attractions cost less than others) or your interests. For example, I chose to visit 360 Chicago instead of the Museum of Science and Industry based on my interests.
How to make the most of your Chicago CityPASS
When used as intended, the Chicago CityPASS can be a great way to save money and time, and also make you feel like a VIP.
I’m not going to lie – it felt great skipping the 90-minute wait at the Shedd Aquarium and heading straight to the VIP Entry. My fiancé and I were laughing to ourselves about how amazing it was to bypass the regular line.
Even though we went to all of the attractions over a long weekend (we wouldn’t have been able to do this if it weren’t for the “fast pass” feature), the CityPASS is valid for 9 days, starting with the first day of use.
This allows you to take your time when visiting Chicago and to fully experience what each attraction has to offer.
When using the CityPASS, it’s important to visit all 5 attractions to get your money’s worth. There is no point in buying it if you only plan on visiting 2 or 3 attractions. You might break even, but you miss out on experiencing what the other attractions have to offer.
If you choose to receive the CityPASS booklet through postal mail, make sure not to tear out any of the ticket vouchers. Instead, let the attendant at each attraction tear out the ticket, before handing the booklet back to you.
If you tear it out yourself, it will be considered void and you’ll lose that ticket.
This Chicago CityPASS is a great way to see the city’s top 5 attractions on a budget. It also saves you time, especially if you plan on visiting Chicago during the summer.
By using the pass, you’ll be able to skip the lines and save $113.20 per person, which is an amazing deal.
I used the Chicago CityPASS over Labor Day weekend and it made my trip stress-free since I could see everything on my itinerary for a great price. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to experience the city’s best attractions.
For more tips on visiting Chicago, check out my 3-day itinerary using the CityPASS here.
For more tips on how to save money in Chicago, check out my quick budget guide here.Is the Chicago CityPASS worth it?Click To Tweet
Over to you — have you used the Chicago CityPASS before? What are your thoughts on it?
1. Quick guide to visiting Chicago on a budget
2. 3-day Chicago itinerary
3. 10 reasons to visit Chicago in the winter
4. Top 10 things to do in Chicago
5. Travel planning secrets to use for your next trip
Travel Budget Printable
Enjoy your next holiday while staying on budget with my FREE Travel Budget printable!