First off, Chicago can be expensive. After all, she is a bustling big city. But, there are certain things you can do to avoid paying the hefty costs. Here is what I did to save on my spending.
- Don't splurge on sports tickets- there are many other options! I found out it was smarter to go to the Friday game than the Saturday one. Prices for tickets were over 65% cheaper. And, instead of buying tickets directly at the ballpark, search for other secondary sellers. In Boston, we also scored great seats for $40/each on tickets that costs $130/each simply by buying from a secondary company. You can still enjoy the game without splurging your entire trip funds on one event.
- Find fun alternatives to the big 'tourist trap" spots. I am a huge fan of seeing a 360 view of any city I visit. In Chicago, you can go atop to Willis Tower at The Skydeck for $40/person to get a 360 view of the city- and get to literally walk on top of it. BUT, instead of paying for a ticket for Willis Tower, I grabbed cocktails with friends at The Signature Room is a Lounge in the John Hancock building. Considering our drinks were less than one ticket to Willis Tower, we felt this was more than fair!
- Be your own tour guide! A little research can go a long way, especially when it comes to going to a new city. Instead of going on the Architecture Boat Tours (that will set you back $42/person), opt for a Water Taxi ride instead! For $8, you may not get someone telling you the historical significance of each building, but you will still get the show down the riverwalk. If you have a pamphlet or read up on each building already, it can save you a ton in money and time.
- Go sightseeing at off-peak hours. While this may not work for everyone, especially those with small children, it is wiser to go to large city landmarks like Cloud Gate (at Millennium Park) or Navy Pier when most people are not around. In Chicago, it was better to visit Navy Pier at night and Cloud Gate in the early morning. These are times when a majority of the crowds will not be there - which can allow you to enjoy the scenery a lot more.
- Bike Shares and Transit are your BFF's! One thing I have appreciated visiting larger cities is mass transit. When you have walked mile after mile, sometimes the last thing you want to do is continue walking. Using the local mass transit is the way to go. Each city has their own week/day passes that allow you to get a great amount of trips in without spending so much. Same with the bike share program- these allow you to get you exercise and enjoy the city as if you are a local yourself! I have done the bike share in DC as well, and it make sightseeing a lot more fun. There are alternatives to taking a taxi, so look into what is available where you go!
Well, I hope this helps everyone on their next trip out to Chicago- or any big city you travel to. Remember, with a little pre-planning, you can save a ton and have a lot of fun!