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When Matt and I found cheap airfare from Houston to Chicago earlier this year, we decided to do a long weekend trip to the Windy City. We wanted to get the most out of the trip, but we didn’t want to have to do an insane amount planning. I came across the Chicago CityPASS and decided to give it a try, just for this one trip. I had no idea if it would be worth it, but hey, on paper (or I guess computer screen?) it all looked good. We took the leap and purchased our passes online. Here’s how our experience with the Chicago CityPASS went.
First of all, you can either purchase online (like we did) or purchase at one of the included attractions. At the time we were planning, there was a small discount for purchasing online, so we did. When we went to the first attraction, we stood in a special line to redeem our passes from our confirmation number. They gave us little flipbooks with tear-out coupons/tickets to be used for entrance to the other attractions.
So what’s included with Chicago CityPASS?
- Priority entry to the Shedd Aquarium
- Fast Pass at Skydeck Chicago
- VIP Entry at the Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry OR Express Entry to 360 Chicago
- VIP Entry to Adler Planetarium OR Fast Pass at Art Insitute of Chicago
And value wise, how much are you really saving? Let’s take a look at how much each of these attractions would cost on their own.
- Shedd Aquarium: $39.95 for one adult online pre-sale (same day ticket sales incur a $15 per ticket express entry fee on all tickets)
- Skydeck Chicago Fast Pass: $49
- Field Museum: $36 for an All-Access Pass (same perks as VIP Entry from CityPass)
- Museum of Science and Industry: $16 online or $18 in person
Express Entry to 360 Chicago: $44
- Adler Planetarium All-Access Pass: $34.95
Art Institute of Chicago Fast Pass: $35
There’s a little bit of mix and match involved here since different people will choose different attractions. But speaking from experience (we chose 360 Chicago and the Art Institute), we saved over $100 in admission fees per person by purchasing the Chicago CityPASS for our trip!
YES. WORTH IT.
But for some of you, the jury may still be out… You may be wondering, what are these attractions? Are they even any good? A little more detail on that here.
There wasn’t really a line when we went, but it was pretty crowded! We could tell they get long lines a regular basis since they had the set up to deal with that outside, but it was a random weekend in March, so not exactly peak season. The aquarium itself was pretty cool. (I’ll be honest, I grew up going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so I’m very spoiled and have my bar set extremely high for aquariums) There was lots to see, I really enjoyed seeing the beluga whales! My favorite part of the Shedd was the architecture of the building. It was so unique, and I spent a good part of my visit gawking at the details of the rooms I was in. Overall, the exhibits are well done and very educational!
Along with entry, you get a ticket to their 4-D Experience Theater. This was the most memorable experiences of the whole trip. Not exactly in a good way. Maybe I’ll share that story on here one day, but now’s not the time.
Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor of 110-story Willis Tower. The location provides amazing views of the Chicago skyline from the heart of the country.
With the Chicago CityPASS we were able to pass the line, which saved us quite a bit of time. BUT it doesn’t allow you to skip the line for the Ledge. So we saved time to go up, only to wait in line for about 45 minutes to take a few photos. The Ledge is probably one of the famous attractions/photo opps in the city. I didn’t want to skip it for sure, but I’m still torn on whether it was reeeeeeeeeeeally worth the wait. But hey, the views were all around amazing!
Honestly, the coolest part of Skydeck is the fact that we felt like Ferris and Sloane looking down at the city. We definitely threw around a lot of FBDO quotes during our visit.
This has become one of my favorite museums in the world. We spent nearly eight hours here, and it was not enough! They had some amazing special exhibits during our visit, and admission to all of them was included in the CityPASS! Along with admission, you also receive a ticket to one of their 3-D movies. Some of my favorite collections/attractions in the museum included: the totem poles, the hall of birds, the Maori Meeting House, and the hall of gems.
I absolutely love this museum and will 100% visit again on subsequent Chicago adventures.
360 Chicago (chosen over the Museum of Science and Industry)
360 Chicago is housed on the 94th floor of the 100-story John Hancock building. This location has a better view of Lake Michigan, which is gorgeous!
The Chicago CityPASS enabled us to skip the line, which made me feel a little guilty as I walked by what seemed like 200 hundred waiting in the GA line. The Tilt isn’t included with the CityPASS, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re a thrillseeker you might be willing to spend a few extra bucks on that experience.
Art Institute of Chicago (chosen over the Adler Planetarium)
This is one of the best art museums I have ever been to, it’s the home to so many iconic pieces. Their collection is enormous. Their Impressionist wing was where we spent most of our time because that’s my favorite art movement. It’s a little sad the pass is only good for one day here because there is just so much to see that you really can’t do it all in one day.
Hopefully this helps you decide! I only have positive things to say about our Chicago CityPASS experience, how was yours? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy wanderlusting, friends!