Is the Go Chicago Card worth it? Go Chicago Card review 2018
Welcome to the Windy City. Chicago is a melting pot of people from around the US and a great place to find culture, great food and a bit of science. Home to great attractions including the Shedd Aquarium and the SkyDeck, Chicago provides many different attractions that are suitable for all ages.
But as with any type of city travel, high costs are everywhere. One solution is the Go Chicago Card. This card is available for several different day amounts and helps to keep costs down by providing a flat rate to 26 Chicago attractions. But is it right for you? We'll answer that question and more below.
Go Chicago Card prices for 2018
The Go Chicago Card prices vary depending on how many days you are purchasing and what age group you fall into. Adult prices cover ages 13 and up while child prices cover ages 3 through 12. Children under 3 are free.
- 1 Day Adult $95.00, 1 Day Child $69.00
- 2 Day Adult $135.00, 2 Day Child $95.00
- 3 Day Adult $165.00, 3 Day Child $110.00
- 5 Day Adult $195.00, 5 Day Child $135.00
Where to buy the Go Chicago Card
Top sights and attractions
Shedd Aquarium – $39.95
A great option for those who love the ocean and its inhabitants, the Shedd Aquarium, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a award winning aquarium that's home to over 32,000 individual creatures. There are several different exhibits here with each one offering something a little different. Whether you like whales, dolphins, sharks or tropical fish, you'll find it all here. Not only is this attraction kid friendly but it's also a great way to spend half a day.
The Field Museum – $30.00
A museum that puts the entire world in one place, The Field Museum was made for those who love to learn about anything and everything. Some of the exhibits include a T. rex, an ancient Egyptian tomb, rare jewels and gold. One of the reasons this museum is a good choice is its close proximity to both the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.
SkyDeck Chicago – $23.00
Set on the very top deck of the Willis Tower, the SkyDeck is perched at 1,353 feet, making for quite the experience. From here you'll have views of the entire city and if the weather is good, parts of the surrounding states. If heights make you nervous, you'll want to take this one slowly as the deck itself is see through all around, even below you. Generally speaking, this attraction will take about an hour to enjoy. It's also kid friendly, making it a great option for families as well.
Art Institute of Chicago – $35.00
Voted as one of the best museums in the world by TripAdvisor, the Art Institute of Chicago is best for those who are interested in learning more about modern and contemporary art, design, photography, paintings and architecture. In fact, on-site you'll find thousands of art pieces and artifacts to enjoy. Also on-site is a restaurant and the Pritzker Garden. This attraction is great for all ages and generally takes a few hours to go through the entire thing.
Tall Ship WINDY – $33.60
150 Feet in length, the Tall Ship Windy is a beautiful schooner that sails the waters of Lake Michigan. Leaving from the Navy Pier, this 1 and 1/2 hour tour is both kid and adult friendly with different themes each sail, one being a pirate cruise. Because this cruise takes off from the Navy Pier, you'll have plenty of things to do outside of the cruise, like taking in the sites and other attractions of the pier.
Classic Lake Tour – $23.52
Seasonally available from May to October, the Classic Lake Tour lasts about 45 minutes and takes you around the Lake border while allowing for some pretty amazing views and picture opportunities. During the tour you'll also find yourself privy to a narration illustrating Chicago's history. This is a great activity for all ages.
Grand Tour – $48.00
Another seasonal attraction, the Grand Tour is available from December to March and is about 4 hours long. Some of the tour highlights include Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, State Street and the Chicago River. All of the sites included are in the North Side and the South Shore. Sometimes however, visitors will also get a chance to see the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Museum Campus.
Is The Go Chicago Card a good deal
With the card you'll receive free admission to 26 different Chicago attractions. You'll also receive a detailed guidebook full of information regarding each attraction, hours of operation and a map. As an added bonus you'll also find some dining, entertainment and shopping discounts.
But is the card a good deal in the end? This all depends on how you use the card. If you plan on visiting as many attractions as you can within the amount of days you purchased the card for, then you'll see some nice savings. If you plan on visiting only a few places and purchase the 5 day card, then it might not be the best deal for you. Below you'll find a sample itinerary showcasing the difference in price between a 2 day card and the general admission costs.
- Shedd Aquarium $39.95
- Field Museum $30.00
- Adler Planetarium $34.95
- Art Institute $35.00
- Museum of Contemporary Art $12.00
- Chicago Architecture River Cruise $41.44
- Grayline Hop on/Hop off Trolley $40.00 (valid for 2 days)
In the end, the final cost for this 2 day itinerary is $233.34. If you were to visit these same attractions using your 2 day Go Chicago Card, you would only be paying $135.00 (not counting the discounts that are usually available). That's a savings of $98.34. That extra money could be used for a nice dinner, some shopping or toward hotel costs.
It's important to keep in mind that the attractions are only open between the hours of 9am to 5:30pm. It's best not to pack your day in too tight. If you do, you might only get a small amount of time at each attraction.
Are all of the attractions covered with the Go Chicago Card worth a visit
In short, yes. In long, it depends what you're looking to get out of your day. If you're more of a cultural enthusiast, you'll be delighted with the many different cultural attractions available. If you're more into science, you'll find options such as the famous Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium to be right up your alley.
Even if you are traveling in a group or with a family, you'll have the option to include different types of attractions each day, making it so that everyone gets to visit at least one that interests them.
How not to use the Go Chicago Card
In order to get the most value for your buck, it's important to realize the dos and don'ts of the Go Chicago Card. Firstly, it's wise to plan your day out before you take off on your adventure. You want to look at where each attraction is located and go from there.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a hop-on, hop-off trolley service available that you can utilize to help get you from one attraction to the next. This helps to take out the hassle of trying to find your way around the city and find parking.
Secondly, you'll want to plan your attractions for the day keeping in mind the gate cost of each. Some attractions have a low entrance fee. If you just visit those, you won't get as much savings as you would if you visited ones with a higher cost.
The bottom line
If you are intending to visit at least 3 of the more expensive Chicago attractions in 1 day, or at least 4 or 5 of them in two or three days, then a Go Chicago Card is probably a good deal, especially if you catch one of the many discount periods.
But if you are more interested in the secondary attractions (those costing under US$20 each for adults) then a Go Chicago Card is unlikely to save you money.
Where do you purchase your Go Chicago Card
Because of today's technology, there are three different ways to receive your card. The most common way is to have it delivered straight to your smartphone. You can also have it sent to you via email or if you like, you can have it sent the old fashion way – snail mail.