Chicago is sometimes overlooked, but in spite of that it’s one of the world’s great cities and very worth a visit. It’s classic America combined with an amazing combination of recent foreign influences.
There are plenty of cheap and free attractions, so those on tight budget can be entertained, though some of the more famous sights and museums are not cheap at all. If you plan on hitting several of the major museums and tours, then have a look at our review of the Go Chicago Card for possible savings.
Chicago is also a classic restaurant city, with ethnic neighborhoods clustered just near the city center, plus plenty of great choices in the tourist district. Again, getting a bit out of the center can save some money, though budget choices are always available if you don’t mind sandwiches and fast food.
|Airports||O\'Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)|
Chicago is famous for its ethnic neighborhoods and great food, but most of that is not near the popular tourist attractions. In the tourist zone you’ll have to search for reasonable food and drink deals, while in the residential neighborhoods it’s easy to find better quality and lower prices.
|Budget breakfast||Depending on location you might have cheap coffee shops nearby or almost nothing.||$6.00 - $9.00|
|Budget lunch||Plenty of great ethnic meals and even good fast food options are available if you seek them out here.||$8.00 - $11.00|
|Budget dinner||Again, plenty of great budget options if you seek them out. Hotels in the main district can be pricey.||$11.00 - $16.00|
|Beer (pint)||Domestic beers are often on good specials in neighborhood bars. Trendy places will be more expensive.||$5.00 - $8.00|
|Cocktails (glass)||Prices for mixed drinks can vary widely, depending on the type of place.||$6.00 - $10.00|
|Deep dish Chicago pizza (large)||Pizzeria Uno is the most famous place serving these filling and unique pizzas.||$25.00 - $32.00|
|Month||High F||Low F||PRECIP (inches)|
Chicago has significant temperature swings throughout the year, with hot, humid summers, and freezing winters. For this reason most agree that spring and autumn are the ideal seasons to visit, with no chance of extremes. It rains consistently through the year, but not so much that you can expect several days straight unless you get unlucky.
This city can definitely be expensive on tourists, though it doesn’t have to be. Hotels in Chicago’s central downtown area can be priced almost as high as New York City or San Francisco, so staying a bit farther out can help cut costs. Your transportation costs are low or non-existent if you do stay central, so that can balance out.
Chicago hotels generally have their high season rates active from May through September, and cheaper places are hard to find during this time of year. This is also a major business city so it’s often possible to get good rates on weekends at business-oriented hotels. Bargains are easy to find from December through March, for those who can put up with the weather.
|65.00 - 78.00|
|130.00 - 160.00|
|156.00 - 285.00|
|163.00 - 332.00|
|307.00 - 614.00|
|Hostel Bed||25.00 - 42.00|