Chicago is one of the top destinations in the country and rightfully so. The city is beautiful, full of culture and things to do and at it’s prime in the summertime. But a much needed visit to this town can get expensive, especially when you have a family to bring along. This shouldn’t deter you from making your trip to Chicagoland the best it can possibly be! Check off everything on your list of things to do in Chicago and stay within your budget. It all depends on choosing what you want to splurge on and what you can save on without missing out on any important experiences. It will take some planning and a little searching for the best deals but here’s how to save on a summer vacation with your family in Chicago!
Save on where you stay
If a convenient location is important for your trip then be prepared to pay more, the better located a hotel is in Chicago, the more expensive it will be. Find one off the main avenues and your budget will thank you. The good thing about a family vacation is you can share rooms easily, especially when you have little ones. Find Chicago hotel deals in any and every neighborhood before booking to make a trip to Chicago affordable and fun!
Save on where you go
- Museums make the city of Chicago the cultural mecca it is today. There are tons to visit and many that are cheap and will keep the kids’ attentions. The Art Institute of Chicago is an award-winning attraction with inspiring exhibitions ($23/adults, $17/students and free/under 14.) Check out free days for Chicago museums occurring several times a month for big names such as the Adler Planetarium, Children’s Museum, Field Museum, History Museum and many more.
- Navy Pier is a hot spot for kids (and adults) who want to have fun, but having all of your fun here can drain your wallet. It’s free to get into the pier but once you’re there pick out a couple of things you’re family really wants to do but don’t plan to eat here. One ride on the Ferris wheel is cheap and affords amazing views of the whole city.
- Beaches along Lake Michigan give this Midwest city a coastal feel and afford the Windy City with a variety of things to do and a place to escape from the city. Take the kids to the beach for a quick getaway and a little fun in the sun. A trip is completely free but bring water and snacks to keep hydrated and keep down costs on food from vendors along the shore. North Beach is close by downtown and very family-friendly.
- Another free feature that makes Chicago so great is its many parks. Millennium Park and Grant Park are full of architecturally famous structures, beautifully landscaped fields and tons of fun and free events. Go to play or go to see a show but bring the whole family with blankets and a picnic and you’ll be set.
Save on how you go
Parking is expensive in the city and bringing/renting a car is not worth the downtown traffic. The L train system is a cheap way to get around the city and makes it easy to get from the airport to your hotel. A 1-day pass is $5 and for 2 days it’s $9. The best way to explore the city worry-free is by bike! Chicago is a cycle-friendly city and rentals start at $10/adult and $8/kids to take on the city with the family. A free trolley runs during the summer from Navy Pier to State Street, just hop on and hop off as you wish.
- Purchase the Go Chicago Card. It’s a pass that lets you skip the ticket lines and save money on popular attractions all over Chicago. Pay one price and then the more you visit, the more you save!
- Take advantage of free events. Chicago parks are frequent venues for family fun on the cheap and attractions have specials deals if you look for them, such as free museum days.
- Walk around and explore. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to see the beautiful Chicago sights.
- Stay in less popular areas. Hotels are cheaper when they’re out of the main action. Book smart and take public transportation in for your day on the town.