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Can you use the Chicago CityPASS to save money on your trip? We help you by providing a full, in-depth Chicago CityPASS review.
Have you always wondered how Chicago CityPASS works, where to buy it, and it is worth the price? If so, keep reading because this Chicago CityPASS review will give you all the answers to your questions with some bonus tips and tricks.
With an abundance of museums, art galleries, excellent shopping options, fancy restaurants, and gorgeous architecture, Windy City is one of the most popular destinations for many travelers.
Home to the world’s largest dinosaur and the birthplace of the skyscraper, this cultural hub offers numerous inspiring attractions and some of the best Airbnbs.
Check out these other top Airbnbs in Chicago to book the best experience possible. But how do you save money, not break the bank, and still experience the best of the city?
If properly used, Chicago CityPASS might be your solution. Let’s find out if the pass is a good option for you and what you should know before buying it.
- How Chicago CityPASS Works
- What Attractions Are Included With Chicago CityPASS?
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Museum of Science and Industry
- 360 Chicago
- Tips for Using Chicago CityPASS
- How To Buy Chicago CityPASS
- Who Should Buy Chicago CityPASS?
- How Much Does The Chicago CityPASS Cost?
- Is Chicago CityPASS Worth The Price?
- Does Chicago CityPASS expire?
- What is a CityPASS ticket?
- Chicago CityPASS
- Ease of Use
- Value for Money
- Customer Service
How Chicago CityPASS Works
Chicago CityPASS is another great tool for making your own sightseeing plans while saving up money. Like any other tourist attraction pass, the Chicago CityPASS offers you a chance to save up to 50% off the cost of the city’s most popular attractions.
When you think about it, it saves you a lot of money, especially if you are traveling with family or friends.
We’ve already reviewed the Denver CityPASS, but Chicago is much bigger and has much more to offer (sorry, Denver). Therefore, this pass provides an entrance to 5 of Chicago’s top 7 attractions, so it’s up to you to choose which ones you want to see.
Remember that three Chicago attractions are included in every pass, while the remaining four are an option.
In this case, you can plan your sightseeing according to your wishes and preferences. After an easy online purchase, you will get an instant e-mail delivery with convenient printable or mobile ticket options. Choose the option you like more and start exploring Chicago’s best attractions.
The best part about this PASS is not only saving money but also the fact that you will skip many ticket lines and get some extra time to discover the city.
CityPASS is valid for nine consecutive days, including the first day of use, so plan your trip carefully and experience the best of Chicago.
What Attractions Are Included With Chicago CityPASS?
With the Chicago CityPASS, you will have a chance to visit five of the seven most popular attractions in Chicago. Each pass includes three main Chicago attractions, and you get to choose the remaining two of the four available options.
The three main attractions are:
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the US and is an unavoidable place for all sea and nature lovers.
With the Chicago CityPASS, you will get a chance to admire more than 32,000 sea creatures from all over the world. At the Shedd Aquarium, you’ll have the chance to experience unforgettable encounters with a fascinating Pacific coastal ecosystem.
Get up close and personal with the Magellanic penguins or the 14-foot sawfish with a razor-sharp bill. Learn more about the Amazon and its habitat and why jellies aren’t fish at all. The options are endless.
But that’s not all.
Animal presentations, 360-degree tours of the underwater reef community, dolphin shows, and priority entry are just some of the Shedd Aquarium’s specially ticketed exhibitions available by using your CityPASS tickets.
Not bad at all, right?
(Regular adult admission: $44.90)
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Chicago?
Who doesn’t want to enjoy spectacular panorama vistas while taking Insta-worthy photos? The tallest building in Chicago, the world-renowned Willis Tower, will treat you with an incredible 360-degree view of up to four states, making this attraction one of the most unique.
In addition to the unique experience, prepare for the real breathtaking one. Located 103 floors above the city is a cool glass floor named The Ledge.
Take a deep breath and step out onto the clouds. These never-before-seen views of the city will blow your mind while providing you with completely different experiences of Windy City.
In addition to the daring platform, Skydeck Chicago offers several interactive exhibits, photo opportunities, and a short video about the tower’s history.
(Regular adult admission: $45)
See Related: Top Things to do in Old Town Chicago
The Field Museum
The Field Museum of Natural History is another must-visit place during your stay in the Windy City. This fascinating museum will open to you an incredible world of T.Rex skeleton, as well as Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur that has ever lived.
Explore the history and culture of China, take a glimpse inside an ancient Egyptian tomb, or admire a beautiful collection of gems and stones around the world. You can even see fossils being prepped in their scientists’ labs.
For all those who want to know more, the Field Museum’s DNA Discovery Center will allow you to interact with scientists who extract DNA or to watch the actual research.
With the Field Museum VIP Entry and an All-Access Pass, you’ll get admission to all permanent and regularly-priced ticketed exhibitions, plus your choice of admission to one of the interactive multimedia exhibits: a digital 3D film or digital dome.
How cool is that?
(Regular adult admission: $38)
Optional attractions are the Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Science and Industry or 360 Chicago Observation Deck.
See Related: Best Travel Totes for Exploring Museums
Use your Chicago CityPASS to explore America’s first planetarium. Situated on 60,000 square feet with numerous exhibits and interactive and minds-on activities, this planetarium is a real treat for the eyes and ears.
It also has two domed theaters, and it houses an amazing Doane Observatory research telescope. Therefore, it is a perfect place to spend a day and learn all mind-blowing facts about the Universe.
However, that is not all. With the Chicago CityPASS, you will get an entrance to two sky shows and a cool opportunity to touch a piece of Moon or Mars or to feel a piece of an actual meteorite that crashed into the Earth.
Can anyone surpass that?
(Regular adult admission: $35)
See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the Entire World
Art Institute of Chicago
If space is not your thing, maybe art is. The Art Institute of Chicago is a great place to admire the greatest Impressionist collection outside Paris and is one of the best attractions in Chicago. Take your time and wander the globe through galleries of ancient Greece, Africa, Japan, and the Americas.
Get up close and personal with the greatest work of the greatest artists. Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and many more are some of the names of this incredible art institute.
For all those coming with their families, the Art Institute has a cool place named The Family Room where your children can enjoy free art-making activities.
There are also self-guided audio tours with behind-the-scenes stories and music available through the Art Institute’s mobile app.
(Regular adult admission: $42)
See Related: Best Museums in the United States
Museum of Science and Industry
Who wants to visit the largest science museum in the country? Located in the beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood, it’s unlike any other museum you have ever seen. Numerous astonishing exhibits will leave you amazed and breathless.
To get real-time feedback on the body’s response to physical activity, head to the human-sized Hamster Wheel. Investigate the tsunami’s impact on different environments in a tsunami wave tank.
Gaze in awe of the historic aircraft flying above or go to the epicenter of Science Storms. Learn to examine the tornado, a real 40-foot vortex of swirling air and vapor you can manipulate.
Chicago CityPASS will not only allow you to enter this heaven of science and industry but also a one-time entry experience. Choose between a Coal Mine tour, Giant Dome Theater film, Fab Lab, or Wired to Wear and enjoy your stay.
(Regular adult admission: $33.95)
See Related: Best Day Trips from Chicago
An incredible observation deck with breathtaking 360-degree views of Chicago’s skyline is a must-visit for all those wanting to experience the city from a different angle. Soaring 1030 feet above Lake Michigan, the 360 Chicago Observation Deck is more than an architectural wonder.
So, enhance your visit with multimedia activities and learn more about the city’s history, culture, and architecture. Get in one of the fastest elevators in North America and experience the magnificent panorama from above at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck.
They also have a Sky School that provides a great way to bring a program study alive. This place gets very busy, so check for reservations or ensure that your Chicago CityPASS tickets include observation deck express entry to help you skip the line and make it to the top faster.
(Regular adult admission: $42)
See Related: Is Chicago Safe for Travelers?
Tips for Using Chicago CityPASS
Chicago CityPASS provides great value for all travelers looking to enjoy the city’s cultural attractions and visit popular entertainment places. However, there are some tips and tricks you should have in mind to make your journey even better.
- Buy your CityPASS online before you start exploring any of the attractions
- Visit all five attractions. Even though the pass allows you to visit only three main attractions, it would be a shame not to take the opportunity to visit all five of them.
- Pay attention to expiration dates. After buying the Chicago CityPASS, you have 9 consecutive days to visit all of the attractions included. Booklets you’ll get also have expiration dates, so keep that in mind. Finally, it is really important to use your pass before it expires. Remember, there is a deadline of 6 months to exchange your voucher for a booklet!
- Don’t rip your tickets out of the booklet. They may be considered invalid.
- Skip the line access. With the Chicago CityPASS, you will get a fast-track entry, saving you a lot of time, especially during peak times.
To get a blast from your visit to Chicago’s attractions, here are some extra tips:
- The best time to visit Shedd Aquarium is on weekdays before 11 a.m.
- During your visit to Adler Planetarium, stop by the Space Visualization laboratory and talk with an expert on space.
- Sitting or lying down on The Ledge is recommended for an ultra experience during your visit to Skydeck Chicago.
- Field Museum’s shows fill up fast, so go directly to 3D Theater to secure your place on time.
- At the Art Institute of Chicago, free guided tours are available daily at noon.
- As each pass includes a visit to Skydeck Chicago, go to the Museum of Science and Industry instead of the 360 Chicago Observation Deck
How To Buy Chicago CityPASS
Buying this great sightseeing tool couldn’t be easier. Simply visit this link to buy your Chicago CityPASS online. After you purchase the pass, you have three options to retrieve the pass.
First, choose where your booklet will be mailed directly to your front door. It’s not a bad option, but remember that the booklets have an expiration date. That’s why you must be sure you’ll have time to use it before purchasing this option.
You can also receive a voucher on your mobile phone or go for a printable ticket alone. If you go for these options, you will have six months to exchange the voucher for a booklet and still have time to plan your visit.
Mobile tickets are perhaps the simplest way to carry around without worrying about losing the booklets or tearing out tickets.
Who Should Buy Chicago CityPASS?
Even though the Chicago CityPASS provides great value and saves you a lot of time, it’s probably not for every type of traveler. So, who should definitely consider taking Chicago CityPASS?
First-time visitors and those who like discovering culture on their terms will enjoy this pass. It includes the most popular attractions and saves a lot of money, so it’s a win-win situation.
It is also a great option for families and small groups who are traveling on a budget. In this case, your family trip isn’t expensive but you will still have a chance to enjoy the best of Chicago’s attractions.
Anyone who wants to visit three attractions or more should go for the Chicago CityPASS. As mentioned above, three main attractions are always included, and the entrance to the extra two is just a bonus.
On the other hand, travelers not interested in cultural attractions or sightseeing should avoid buying the Chicago CityPASS.
The same goes for travelers who enjoy guided tours more than wandering alone or want to visit fewer than three attractions.
There are plenty of things to do in Chicago, so if you need more options or don’t like museums, you might not need the CityPASS.
See Related: Hidden Gems in Old Town, Chicago
How Much Does The Chicago CityPASS Cost?
Since every traveler is interested in the cost of tickets, in the table below you will find all the necessary information. Prices are divided into adults (ages 12+) and children (ages 3-11).
|Passes||Chicago CityPASS price||Regular price||Savings with Pass|
As you can see, using Chicago CityPASS is an excellent way to save 50 % off the price while visiting the city’s best attractions.
It provides great value whether you are traveling with your friends, family, or children. That is not something to dismiss.
Check out these best walking tours of Chicago if you want to see the city on foot.
Is Chicago CityPASS Worth The Price?
photo credit @moneysavvingliving
Like any other pass, the Chicago CityPASS has positive and negative sides. It is definitely worth considering if you want to explore more than 3 attractions in Windy City or if you found yourself in any lines of the paragraph ‘Who should buy Chicago CityPASS’.
It’s also an excellent option because you can save 50% off the regular admission prices, which is not a small amount of money.
The other great thing about Chicago CityPASS is that it allows you to visit the city’s three most popular attractions and gives you the bonus of an extra two of your choice. Moreover, the CityPASS is valid for 9 days once you activate it, so you will have enough time to plan your sightseeing schedule.
Finally, the pass provides a fast-track entry to all attractions, which saves you a lot of time. No lines and no spending time waiting in the crowd is something every traveler appreciates.
Yes, you have to pay attention not to rip tickets out from the booklet or lose them, but that is a small sacrifice for what the pass has to offer. Overall, Chicago CityPASS is definitely worth the price.
Does Chicago CityPASS expire?
Chicago CityPASS does not expire.
What is a CityPASS ticket?
The pass can save you up to 40% off the cost of multiple attractions, providing the best value for your money. A CityPASS might seem expensive initially, but it saves you a lot of money, especially if you are traveling as a family. It saves you money and time!
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Ease of Use9.0/10
Value for Money8.3/10
- Save Money
- Valid for 9 Consecutive Days
- Access to Chicago's Popular Attractions
- Skip in Lines
- Available Online
- Limited Only to Five Attractions
- Not Useful For Guided Tours
- Can Only Visit Each Attraction Once
- About the Author
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A passionate traveler and content creator always looking for new adventures. Soul wanderer and visual storyteller inspired by different cultures and nature.