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Chicago CityPASS Review: Is It Worth The Price?

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Can you use the Chicago CityPASS to save money on your trip? We’ll help you decide by providing a full, in-depth review of the Chicago CityPASS.

Have you always wondered how Chicago CityPASS works, where to buy it, and if 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

Chicago CityPASS is another great tool for making your 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.

It can save you a lot of money, especially when 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 entrance to five of Chicago’s top seven 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 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 that it saves money, allows you to skip many ticket lines, and gives you 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?

You can visit five of Chicago’s seven most popular attractions with the Chicago CityPASS. 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:

Shedd Aquarium

Chicago CityPASS gives you an opportunity to discover beautiful sea creatures of Shedd Aquarium

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 can admire more than 32,000 sea creatures from all over the world and experience unforgettable encounters with a fascinating Pacific coastal ecosystem at the Shedd Aquarium.

Get up close and personal with the Magellanic penguins or the 14-foot sawfish with a razor-sharp bill. Learn more about the Amazon, its habitat, and why jellies aren’t fish. 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 using your CityPASS tickets.

Not bad at all, right?

(Regular adult admission: $44.90)

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Chicago?

Skydeck Chicago

Sears Tower Looking Down

Who doesn’t want to enjoy spectacular panorama vistas while taking Insta-worthy photos? The tallest building in Chicago, the world-renowned Willis Tower, offers 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

Chicago CityPASS alows you to get up close and personal with the world's largest dinosaur

The Field Museum of Natural History is another must-visit place during your stay in the Windy City. This fascinating museum will open an incredible world of T. Rex skeletons and Titanosaurs, the largest dinosaurs ever.

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

Adler Planetarium

Planetarium

Use your Chicago CityPASS to explore America’s first planetarium. Situated on 60,000 square feet and featuring numerous exhibits and interactive, hands-on activities, this planetarium is a real treat for the eyes and ears.

It also has two domed theaters and an amazing Doane Observatory research telescope. Therefore, it is a perfect place to spend a day and learn 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 

American Gothic by Grant Wood at the Art Institute of Chicago
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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. Self-guided audio tours with behind-the-scenes stories and music are also 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

Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

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 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: Day Trips from Chicago

360 Chicago

360 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. Take one of the fastest elevators in North America to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck and experience the magnificent panorama from above.

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 nine consecutive days to visit all of the included attractions. The 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 six 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 purchase a printable ticket alone. If you choose 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?

Chicago skyline enveloped in morning fog at dawn.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 alone 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 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.

If you like the Chicago CityPASS concept but want more options, consider buying the Go City All-Inclusive Card or the Go City Explorer Card (Only 3-7 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, you will find all the necessary information in the table below. Prices are divided into adults (ages 12+) and children (ages 3-11).

Passes Chicago CityPASS price Regular price Savings with Pass
Adult (12+) $108 $213.90 $105.90
Children (3-11) $89 $174.90 $85.90

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?

Chicago CityPASS Review: Is It Worth The Price? (2024)

Have you always wondered how Chicago CityPASS works, where to buy it and is it worth it? If so, keep reading this Chicago CityPASS review.

Product Brand: Chicago CityPASS

Editor's Rating:
4.2

Pros

  • Save Money
  • Valid for 9 Consecutive Days Access to Chicago's Popular Attractions Skip in Lines
  • Available Online

Cons

  • Limited Only to Five Attractions Not Useful For Guided Tours Can Only Visit Each Attraction Once

Is Chicago CityPASS worth the price?
photo credit @moneysavvingliving

Like any other pass, the Chicago CityPASS has positive and negative sides. It is worth considering if you want to explore more than three attractions in Windy City or find yourself in any of the 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.

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 nine days once you activate it, so you will have enough time to plan your sightseeing schedule.

Finally, the pass provides fast-track entry to all attractions, which saves you a lot of time. Every traveler appreciates no lines and no waiting in the crowd.

Yes, you have to be careful not to rip tickets out of the booklet or lose them, but that is a small sacrifice for what the pass offers. Overall, Chicago CityPASS is definitely worth the price.

FAQs

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 travel as a family. It saves you money and time!

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