Chicago Traveler

Chicago Tourist Pass Comparison

If you’re thinking of a trip to Chicago, on your own or with your family, you may be considering the purchase of a discount pass in order to make the most out of your visit to the windy city. Travel passes not only allow visitors to save money by combining attractions together, but they also offer other valuable perks like the ability to skip-the-line and save time.

The three most valuable passes are the Chicago CityPASS, the Go Chicago Card and the Chicago Explorer Pass. All three offer different benefits that allow guests to take advantage of some of the best that Chicago has to offer, at deeply discounted rates.

Chicago CityPASS

If you’re looking to get to the top attractions in the city, without having to make a lot of choices on your own, then the Chicago CityPASS may just work for you! It’s on the higher end of the price range, but that’s because it provides priority access to some of the most expensive attractions in the city. If you added up all of the tickets individually, you’d find yourself paying close to double!

The city pass allows for 9 consecutive days of use to visit 5 of Chicago’s top attractions, including Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, the Field Museum, as well as options for the Art Institute/Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry/360 Chicago. If you visit all 5 of the attractions within the 9 days, you can save more than $100.

A big part of the pass is that you get to skip the lines at almost all of the included attractions. In the high season, this will literally save you hours.

This pass has less flexibility than the other passes as there are no options for bus tours, bicycle rental, boat tours and other activities. A slight drawback for CityPASS is also that it is currently only available as a paper ticket book and cannot be accessed with a mobile app.

Chicago All-Inclusive Pass by GoCity  

Offering options to choose between 25+ different attractions in the city, the Go Chicago Card is great for those who want to see a lot of things in a relatively short amount of time. This card allows you to spend just one day in the city, or pile on the savings by combining up to five consecutive days together. Of course, the more days you add in, the more money you can save and the lower the cost per day.

The flexibility involved in these passes means that family members can customize their trip to enjoy whatever they like on their own schedule. It’s feasible to squeeze two, or sometimes even three, attractions into a day, depending on your preference. Families can even split up if a couple people want to do a Architectural cruise and the others want to ride the Centennial Wheel..

When planning your trip, be sure to allow time in between to eat, rest and travel from one place to the next. One great thing about the Go Chicago Card is that you can alternate busier activities (such as the Museum of Science and Industry) with more passive activities (like a bus tour). Whatever way you like to take in a city, the Chicago Go Card allows you to do it!

Tip: You can use the Big Bus Hop On Hop Off Tour to get to the Skydeck, Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and more. You can also add on a second day on the Big Bus for $10.

Chicago Explorer Pass by GoCity

Folks who like to explore attractions at a leisurely pace may find that this pass works well for them. The type of attractions to choose from and the number of different options is great, with more than 25 different tours, cruises, museums and activities. Passes can be purchased to include 3, 4, or 5 attractions within the span of 30 days from the first use.

This pass is fairly affordably priced, but doesn’t provide quite the deep discounts as the other passes. Families and individuals who like the flexibility of not having to choose their attractions in advance will love this pass. Plus, it allows for line-skipping at certain places, such as the Art Institute or the Field Museum, providing a time-saving factor as well as the convenience of a mobile app.

Consider these different scenarios that may help you decide which pass might be right for you:

  • A high-energy group or individual who wants to do as many things as possible in a short amount of time would likely find that the Go Chicago Card works best.
  • A group who wants to see just the very best highlights of the city without having to do much research or make a lot of choices may find that the Chicago CityPASS is ideal.
  • For those who only want to visit a few attractions but want a lot of options and plenty of freedom in the schedule, then the Explorer Pass probably makes the most sense. This works well for families with small children who want to visit at a slower pace and choose attractions based on each child’s preference.

Chicago CityPASS

Tours & Attractions , Attractions , Museums , Museums, Galleries & Exhibitions

Chicago citypass.

Located in Loop

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Purchase online or from participating attractions, Chicago IL 60601

Get directions

  • www.citypass.com
  • (208) 787-4300

Experience must-see attractions with two great options — Chicago CityPASS and Chicago C3 by CityPASS. Visit the attractions at your own pace, in any order, over a 9-day period. Instant delivery. 365-day risk-free returns. 

Chicago CityPASS® – For Maximum Savings   Save 48% at 5 of Chicago’s top attractions in one simple purchase.   Chicago CityPASS® tickets include premium admission:  • Shedd Aquarium – All-access admission  • Skydeck Chicago – Expedited Entry to Willis Tower’s 103rd Floor. Also includes admission to The Ledge.  

Plus your choice of 3 of the following:  • Field Museum – All-Access Pass, including admission to all permanent and regularly-priced ticketed exhibitions, plus your choice of one digital 3D film (movie selection subject to availability; specially ticketed exhibitions outside of All-Access Pass may be subject to additional charges)  • Art Institute of Chicago – Fast Pass Admission to the permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions  • Museum of Science and Industry– Museum entry (Science Storms, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, YOU! The Experience, and much more), plus one timed-entry experience (Giant Dome Theater film or Motion Ride)  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck – Express Entry Admission  • Adler Planetarium – All Exhibitions + Two Sky Shows  • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour – Architecture River Tour 

Adult: $134 (value $258) Child, ages 3-11: $104 (value $209)    

Chicago C3® by CityPASS® – Great for a Shorter Stay

Save up to 33% on one-time general admission to your choice of 3 top attractions.

Shedd Aquarium Field Museum Skydeck Chicago Art Institute of Chicago Museum of Science and Industry 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck Adler Planetarium Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Adult: $96 Child, ages 3-11: $72

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Go Chicago

Chicago Explorer Pass by Go City

The Chicago Explorer Pass is a flexible attraction pass that allows you to visit 3, 4, or 5 attractions from nearly 30 different options. You can save up to 40% on combined admission prices, and pay nothing at the gate. You’ll be able to see the best the city has to offer, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, 360 CHICAGO, Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour, an Architecture River Cruise, and much more. 

SAVE AN ADDITIONAL 10% WHEN BUYING A CHICAGO EXPLORER PASS! Save 10% on the by using the buying links on this page. The discount stacks on top the current sale prices! Use Coupon code CMGOCITY10 . Promo expires on January 31st.

How the Explorer Pass Works

The Chicago Explorer Pass is an all-digital pass that grants you admission to your choice of about 29 top Chicago attractions . You don’t need to choose in advance. Just present your pass at your chosen attraction, and you’re set for entry. You can even skip the ticket line at select attractions.

The pass is digital, which means it can be used on your smartphone (with the free Go City Card app). It can also be printed out if that works better for your travel style. You have 30 days from the first use to visit the other attractions, so it’s excellent for locals or those in town for a long vacation.

The Top Chicago Attractions

There are dozens of attractions included in this program, but here’s a selection of the most popular to give you an idea of what’s available.

  • Cultural Institutions (Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago)
  • Kid-Friendly Attractions (Chicago Children’s Museum, Navy Pier, LEGOLAND Discovery Center)
  • Science Museums (Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry)
  • Architecture-themed Attractions (Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio Tour, Robie House)
  • Cruises (Tall Ship Windy, Classic Lake Tour)
  • Bus Tours (Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off, Grand Tour, Night Tour)

Other attractions include things like additional tours, zoos, bike rentals, and adult-friendly activities like an Escape Room. 

How You Save with an Explorer Pass

The Chicago Explorer Pass is pretty straightforward. You pay for the number of attractions you want to see and that amount is lower than the amount you would have paid to those attractions. They advertise a savings of 40% with their product, which seems about right.

You need to choose the more expensive attractions to visit with the product to make sure that what you pay doesn’t end up becoming more or equal to what you’d pay at the attractions. So, for example, you won’t want to pick the Lincoln Park Zoo Rides as one of your attraction options (it’s only $3) or the American Writer’s Museum ($12). Pick the big-ticket items like the Grand Tour (about $50) and the Art Institute of Chicago ($35). 

It almost goes without saying, but you also need to visit the number of attractions you paid for. If you choose the 5-attraction pass but only see 4 things, you don’t get your money’s worth with the product.

The Chicago Explorer Pass, like the Go Chicago Card , also includes valuable extra discounts on dining and shopping which can make a big difference when budgeting. Save on Blue Man Group tickets, shopping at Macy’s, and more. Take advantage of these discounts when traveling to maximize the value of the pass,

How Do I Know the Pass is Right for Me?

The Chicago Explorer Pass is a good choice for those who want a more leisurely vacation style. With an even longer time frame to use the pass than the 9 days offered by Chicago CityPASS, the Chicago Explorer Pass gives you a whole month to explore. While you may not need it if you’re just a visitor, it’s very helpful for those who may live in Chicagoland, or the Midwest more broadly.

It’s also a good choice if you only want to see a few things. You don’t need to rush around to cram everything in, and can see just the top 3, 4, or 5 attractions you’re interested in. They offer almost all the same things at the Go Chicago Card, too. This can be especially helpful if your other Chicago plans involve theater tickets, shopping, and extensive culinary explorations. 

If you want to know how much money you can save, try our Explorer Pass Value Calculator . Just check off the attractions and tours you want to visit to see how much you will save and see if its worth buying.

Any Reason Not to Buy a Chicago Explorer Pass

The Chicago Explorer Pass is great if you don’t want to see a lot, but not helpful if you do. If you are interested in bustling around the city to enjoy 2 to 3 attractions per day, then the Go Chicago Card might be a better choice. 

Otherwise, it’s pretty comparable to the Chicago CityPASS in price and in the travel style it encourages (with the exception that the Chicago Explorer Pass also offers products in increments of 3 and 4 attractions). If you like that product, this one might be a good option, too. 

Chicago Explorer Pass Sample Itineraries

There are plenty of different itineraries you could craft with a Chicago Explorer Pass, but here are a couple of examples to get you thinking.

A Weekend Getaway (4-Attraction Pass)

Day 1:  Art Institute; Field Museum Day 2:  Chicago Architecture Cruise; Bike n’ Roll Bike Rental

A Trip with Kids (5-Attraction Pass)

Day 1:  Chicago Children’s Museum; Navy Pier Rides Day 2:  Shedd Aquarium Day 3:  Field Museum Day 4:  Museum of Science and Industry 

Chicago Explorer Pass Pricing

The passes start at about $80 for three attractions for an adult traveler and $50 for a child visiting the same number of attractions. The highest value is going to be the five-attraction pass, at around $120 per adult and $80 per child. 

This puts the five-attraction pass at a very comparable price point with the Chicago CityPASS (although the Explorer Pass is a teeny bit more expensive). Since they are similar products, it’s probably up to personal preference which one you want to buy if you know you want to see five things.  

Go City Card often puts their passes on sale; usually around the holidays. Keep an eye on their site, and sign up for their e-mails for a discount coupon. With instant digital delivery, you can even wait until the last minute to purchase the product when it goes on sale.

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Chicago CityPass vs. Go City

chicago tourism pass

This post covers Chicago tourist passes to help you determine which tourist attraction discount pass may be best for you, including CityPass, Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass, and the Explorer Pass.

Our tour guides in the windy city are always being asked about how to save money at popular attractions, and in many cases we find that these passes are a great discount option for travelers.

In addition to comparing each pass directly, we'll also provide details about all of them and special advice from members of our Facebook Group .

Let's get started!

  • Before You Buy
  • Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass
  • Go City Chicago Explorer Pass (Pick 3, 4, 5 Attractions)
  • Prepackaged Passes
  • Which is the Best Pass?
  • Things to Do in Chicago
  • Things to Do in Downtown Chicago

BEFORE YOU BUY

With so many options, we have broken down the tourist passes by type and then go into detail about each pass.  

The Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass is an all-inclusive pass (think all-you-can-eat buffet) that includes entrance/access to 26 top attractions, tours, and activities.

chicago tourism pass

This pass is the most expensive but has the potential to save you the most money and it gives you the most flexibility, but in order to get those savings, you will need to stay busy.

Next is the pick'em passes, such as the  Go City Chicago Explorer Pass .

It's one set price with a specific number of attractions, tours, or activities (typically between 3 and 5 ) and you pick from their list of attractions.

In general, the range of attractions is fewer than what is available with the all-inclusive pass above, but the selection is still large.

You won't likely save as much as the above-mentioned pass, but you will have more flexibility. 

Lastly, there are prepackaged passes  that bundle several specific popular attractions, thereby saving you money. These passes are like a Prix-Fixe/set-menu dinner. 

CityPass Chicago

These have the least amount of flexibility, but you will be certain about what you are getting.  

Things to Consider

If at first glance some tourist passes seem too pricey, take the time to do some math.

When you calculate the regular cost of the attractions you want to see and compare to the price of a pass, you'll find that you will save money.

We recommend that you decide in advance what you want to see, then find a pass that includes most, if not all, of those activities. 

The biggest mistake travelers do is overestimate the time and stamina that they will have, so be realistic.

Of course, we encourage you to consider our pay-what-you-like tours  and our Chicago bus tour comparison post when deliberating about these passes.

GO CITY CHICAGO ALL-INCLUSIVE PASS

To see the most on a visit to Chicago lasting between 1 to 5 days, the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass can be hard to beat! 

Purchasing this all­-inclusive pass gives you admission to as many attractions as you can fit into the number of consecutive days you purchase.

chicago tourism pass

You'll save up to 45% when you purchase a Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass.

There are 29 attractions to choose from.

For less intense sightseeing pass options, check out Go City's Explorer Pass (3 or 5 Attractions) below.  

chicago tourism pass

All Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from the date of purchase to activate your pass. 

Before you buy:

As recommended with any of these packages, you want to plan ahead in order to get the most out of Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass.

While you have unlimited access, you do have limited time. Make sure you look at days and hours of operations for each attraction, and factor in travel time.

Grouping activities in nearby locations can be a great way to get in more than just a few things in a single day! However, there are some places you’ll want to spend more time in than others.

Do your research and this could be a very good buy.

Prices (as of November 2023):

NOTE: Prices listed below are full retail prices. Often discounts are available.

  • 1­ Day: Adults $129 | Children (ages 3-­12) $94
  • Price per day: Adults $94.50 | Children $69.50
  • Price per day: Adults $79.66 | Children $51.33
  • Price per day: Adults $54.80 | Children $38.80
  • More information or to purchase .

Pro tip: In the city for 3 days? Consider getting a 2­ day pass instead of a 3 ­day. You don’t want to lock down all your time in the city; you never know what you might discover while exploring place to place.

Purchase the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass  online and show your phone or printed copy at the gate.

Sample Itinerary

If you're curious about how one could get the most out of this pass, this 3-day itinerary will give you an idea of how much you can expect to save.

  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour | $54
  • Skydeck Chicago | $50
  • Field Museum | $35.57
  • Chicago Pizza & Drink | $13.50
  • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise | $54.49
  • Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and Rides | $51.23
  • Shedd Aquarium | $49.29
  • Adler Planetarium | $35
  • Museum of Science and Industry | $37.95
  • Robie House Guided Tour | $20
  • Bike and Roll Bike Rental | $38.15

Total Value: $439.18

Total Cost: $239

Total Savings: $200.18 ( 46% off )

Tips From Tourists:

While members of our Facebook Group do recommend this pass, they also note that some activities cannot be booked ahead of time.

Thankfully, most of the attractions that don't allow you to book tickets before arriving won't have long queues, so there's not much to worry about.

Even so, it is important to note that some activities will require you to book tickets before arrival, and the GoCity app will make note when this is necessary.

chicago tourism pass

GO CITY CHICAGO EXPLORER PASS ( 3, 4, or 5 ATTRACTIONS)

This pass lets you pay one price, and grants admission to 3, 4, 5, or 7 attractions from a list of 25+  at a discounted rate.

You can save up to 40% off normal ticket prices.

This pass is flexible in that you do not need to pre-select your choices and it is valid for 30 days from your first visit, so you can take your time making your choices.  

chicago tourism pass

All Go City Chicago Explorer Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from the date of purchase to activate your pass. 

chicago tourism pass

  • Price per choice: Adults $43.50 | Children $26
  • Price per choice: Adults $35.33 | Children $27
  • Price per choice: Adults $32.25 | Children $24.75
  • Price per choice: Adults $29.60 | Children $22.60
  • Price per choice: Adults $29.33 | Children $21
  • Price per choice: Adults $27 | Children $19.86

The Go City Chicago Explorer Pass doesn’t have the time pressure of the Go City All-Inclusive Pass and gives the most options for visitors looking for discounts on a wide range of attractions.

But it takes more planning and research than the All-Inclusive Pass.

This means you’ll need to use your calculator to see your potential savings, but if you visit the more expensive attractions with your pass, you can save a bundle.

Also keep in mind that the 4 attraction pass actually costs more per activity than either the 3 or 5 choice pass. This version of the pass is arguably the worst deal, although you can still save money with it.

Depending on how many attractions you wish to visit, you could pay as little as $24.14 for each activity.

With that in mind, we recommend choosing tickets for activities and locations that are more than $25.

We recommend instant delivery via online purchase , as the lines at the ticket booth locations can get long.

You can also have the tickets sent to your mobile device.

If you're wondering just how much you can save using this service, we'll provide a sample itinerary with the 5 attraction Explorer Pass.

Total Value: $259.01

Total Price: $148

Total Savings: $111.01 (43% off)

Although this isn't the most popular tourist pass discussed in our Chicago Travel Tips group on Facebook, there are visitors who swear by the service.

In the case of Emily here, you can see that she found it very useful since she only had an interest in a few specific attractions, all of which were included with the Explorer Pass.

If you know what you want to to and you do some planning ahead of time, this pass could actually be the best option.

chicago tourism pass

PREPACKAGED PASSES

Chicago citypass.

The CityPASS is a booklet of 5 admission tickets that saves 53% off the most popular attractions in Chicago, and you skip the long lines for entrance.

CityPASS is a must if you plan to visit all of these popular educational attractions because the savings are huge.

You have a consecutive 9-day period from the first use to visit all of the attractions, so you can take your time. Each of these stops has a ton to see and do, especially if you bring kids along.  

An unused CityPASS can be returned within 365 days of purchase date for a full refund.

Sites included on CityPass :

  • Shedd Aquarium – All-access admission including permanent exhibits, animal presentations, special exhibit and Stingray Touch (seasonal), plus a 4-D Experience.
  • Skydeck Chicago – Expedited Entry to Willis Tower’s 103rd Floor. Also includes admission to The Ledge. 

Plus your choice of admission to 3 of the following attractions:

  • Field Museum – All-Access Pass (admission to all permanent and regularly-priced ticketed exhibitions, and your choice of one digital 3D film). Film selection subject to availability. Additional charges may apply for specially ticketed exhibitions outside of the All Access Pass.
  • Art Institute of Chicago – Fast Pass Admission to permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago – Museum entry ( Science Storms ,  Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze ,  YOU! The Experience , and much more), plus one timed-entry experience (Giant Dome Theater film,  Coal Mine  tour,  Fab Lab , or our current temporary exhibit, Wired to Wear) 
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck – Express Entry Admission
  • Adler Planetarium - will fully reopen in March 2022 and will be one of the option attractions included in CityPASS.
  • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour – Admission to a cruise that will take you right through the heart of Downtown Chicago to see its most historic buildings.

chicago tourism pass

  • Adults: $134 (full admission price $257.55)
  • Children (ages 3-­11): $104 (full admission price $209.04)

Purchase the Chicago CityPASS or learn more .

Here is our suggested three-day itinerary which leaves you enough time to spend at each location to get your money’s worth.

  • Suggested Day One: Shedd Aquarium/Field Museum
  • Suggested Day Two: Art Institute/Skydeck Chicago*
  • Suggested Day Three: 360 Chicago OR Museum of Science and Industry

Pro Tip: This package fills up your itinerary, but if you only want to visit only one or two of the attractions listed, see the Explorer Pass above for a more flexible/cheaper option.

It's also worth noting that the Chicago CityPASS does not currently include public transportation, so you will need to purchase those tickets or travel passes separately.

For the CityPASS, we suggest that you purchase tickets online . Once you buy, you can show your tickets from your mobile device at the gate and get a fast VIP entrance. Easy!

If you're trying to figure out exactly how much you can save with this service, the following itinerary will give you an idea of how the Chicago CityPASS can be used to save the most money.

  • 360 Chicago | $35

Total Value: $226.73

Total Cost: $134

Total Savings: $92.73 (41% off)

Some members of our Chicago Travel Tips group recommend this pass for anyone who is planning to spend more than a week in the city, because you don't need to use the service on consecutive days.

While you can save a lot with all-inclusive passes, the 9-day duration of validity for the Chicago CityPASS is certainly a selling point for many travelers.

chicago tourism pass

Chicago Top 3 Attractions Pass

This pass is actually offered by Tiqets, and it includes admission to 3 of the most popular locations in Chicago.

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  • 10% Discount on Additional Activities

Each of these attractions is also included with the Chicago CityPASS, but this pass is somewhat less expensive. If you're not interested in the other 2 activities included with that pass, this is an excellent alternative.

  • $81/Youth (14-17)
  • $77/Youth (12-13)
  • $69/Children (4-11)
  • $64/Seniors (65+)
  • $19/Toddlers (3)

Purchase the Chicago Top 3 Attraction Pass or learn more .

In addition to the 3 tickets covered with this pass, it also includes a 10% discount on dozens of other popular locations, tours, and activities in Chicago.

This discount is only available for services provided by Tiqets.

Here are a few examples of attractions that are 10% off with this discount:

  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Chicago Architecture Center
  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Chicago Crime & Mob Tour
  • Architecture River Cruise

If you're interested in any of these activities and you want to visit the top 3 attractions included, this pass might be worth considering!

Chicago Skyline Pass

This is another discount pass offered by Tiqets, and it includes admission to 3 of the most popular activities in the Windy City.

If you're interested in learning about the architectural history of Chi-town, this might be one of the best options on our list.

Here are the included attractions with the Skyline Pass:

  • Skydeck Chicago (Sears Tower)
  • 360 Chicago Observation Deck
  • Architectural River Cruise

As with the other Tiqets pass, this one includes 3 activities that are already included with the Chicago CityPASS, so we recommend comparing these two services before deciding which one to purchase.

  • $71/Youth (12)
  • $56/Children (3-11)

Purchase the Chicago Skyline Pass or learn more .

Much like the other pass offered by this company, the 10% discount included with this service can be used on a variety of fun activities and attractions, including the following.

  • Chicago History Museum
  • Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
  • American Writers Museum
  • iFLY Indoor Skydiving
  • Chicago Food Tours

If any of these attractions sound like fun, make sure to use your discount to save a bit of money!

Viator VIP Package

This package isn't currently available, but they may bring it back in the future.

Fill your Saturday and see all the top spots with this package!

Begin with early access to the  Willis Tower Skydeck , before you hop on a trolley for a narrated tour of top Chicago attractions, grab a snack (own expense) at Navy Pier , and finish on a cruise with a free drink on the Chicago River with an architecture savvy guide.

The tour lasts about 6 hours (8 am­ - 1 pm) and ends at the  Navy Pier , a tourist hot-spot.

Itineraries

  • 8 am: Access to the Skydeck
  • 9:15 am: Board the trolley for a 2 ­hour city tour
  • 11:15 am: Arrive at Navy Pier
  • 1 pm: Architecture cruise
  • 8:30 am: Access to the Skydeck
  • 9:45 am: Board the trolley for a 2­ hour city tour
  • 11:45 am: Arrive at Navy Pier

Price: $124 

To purchase the VIP Package, click here.

Because this is a VIP package , you’ll experience perks such as first dibs on Willis Tower views, which after opening hours can be obstructed by crowds, but what you’re paying for here is a full day’s itinerary planned out for you.

The Willis Tower general admission costs $22, which means you're paying about $50 apiece for the trolley and boat tour.

But for six hours of guided Chicago sightseeing, and its great customer reviews, this package is worth including.

Pro tip: It looks like from the ratings that this tour is NO fun when the weather is wet. We recommend this package on clear, sunny days only.

Trusted Tours Grand Tour of Chicago and 360 Chicago Combination

For a reputable bus tour of the city that ends with a view from up high, Trusted Tours offers a great combo.

You’ll travel around the city, stopping at Lincoln Park Conservatory and Adler Planetarium, and of course the 360 Chicago attraction.

  • Free downtown hotel pickup/drop-off
  • 5.5 hours in length
  • Lincoln, Washington, and Grant Park
  • Museum Campus ( Shedd Aquarium / Field Museum / Adler Planetarium )
  • Northside and South Shore districts
  • 360 Chicago
  • Adult: $70.25
  • Child (ages 5-­14): $44.60
  • Children under 5 are free when seated on a parent’s lap.
  • Purchase this combo here . 

NOTE: This tour isn't currently available as of November 2023, but it will likely return in the near future.

The savings aren’t as big here, so you’re paying for the convenience of hotel pick-up/drop-off and a full day's itinerary planned for you. 

Which Chicago Discount Pass is Best?

This is a question we see frequently in our Chicago Travel Tips Facebook Group, as travelers are always asking for advice about how to save money while visiting the windy city.

chicago tourism pass

Of course, this isn't really an easy question to answer, because the reality is that it depends on a variety of factors.

For instance, if you aren't interested in more than half of the activities a Chicago pass covers, it probably wouldn't make sense to pay for it.

With that in mind, this section provides a helpful chart to make it easier to compare each of the tourist passes in Chi-town and pick the right one for your needs.

It's worth noting that while the Skyline Pass and the Top 3 Attractions Pass won't save you a lot of money, the addition of a 10% discount on other activities in Chicago makes it an excellent way to get at least a small deal on some of the attractions that you won't find on any pass.

The period of validity for these passes is dependent on which dates you select, because you can actually book each ticket individually for the specific day and time you want to visit.

Technically, you should be able to purchase tickets months in advance, or perhaps even one ticket early in the month and another later in the month.

This amount of control over the pass makes it invaluable, but you certainly trade off a lot in potential savings for access to that control.

Chicago Travel Tips and Hacks

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chicago tourism pass

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Unlimited Ride Passes

You can enjoy unlimited rides on all CTA buses and trains with our 1-Day, 3-day, 7-day or 30-day unlimited-ride passes. Your pass activates the first time you use it and is good for the full length of time from that moment.

Passes are loaded onto your Ventra Card or personal, contactless bankcard at Ventra Vending Machines or over the counter at hundreds of Ventra retailers around town.

Your Best Travel Value: Unlimited-ride passes offer you the most economical travel value. With unlimited rides, the more you ride, the more you save!

Pass prices  

Buying passes

You can load passes multiple ways:

  • You can load any pass onto a Ventra Card  at  every  Ventra Vending Machine, online, by phone, or right over the counter at hundreds of retail locations around town.
  • You can load any pass onto a personal, contactless bankcard  at every Ventra Vending Machine and load passes.
  • If you don't have either,  you can buy a new Ventra Card from vending machines and start off with a pass , online or any of hundreds of Ventra Retailers. New Ventra Cards cost $5, but this value is immediately refunded to your Transit Account if you register within 90 days (you can even do it on the spot at a station using the mobile-friendly ventrachicago.com). The refunded $5 in value can be applied toward the purchase of a pass at vending machines, online, or by phone.
  • You can also buy disposable, 1-Day Ventra Tickets  for 24-hours of unlimited riding (like the regular 1-Day Pass), from any Ventra Vending Machine. Vending machines at O'Hare and Midway also vend a  3-Day  (72-hour) version.

Get your Ventra Card today and load passes at any Ventra Vending Machine, Ventra Retailer or at  http://ventrachicago.com .

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NBC Chicago

Here's where you can order your new I-PASS sticker tags

Published february 5, 2024 • updated on february 6, 2024 at 5:07 pm.

As the Illinois Tollway moves to sticker tags for vehicles, there are numerous options that motorists have to obtain the new stickers.

The new tags, which use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to send signals to I-PASS sensors, are now available in a variety of ways, and here’s how you can get yours now.

In-Person Ordering

You can obtain I-PASS sticker tags in person at all Illinois Tollway Customer Service Centers in the Chicago area. These sticker tags are free of charge and should be activated as soon as possible.

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Tags can be obtained for multiple cars, with no deposit required.

Residents can also visit Jewel-Osco locations in the Chicago area to pick up tags, or RoadRanger gas stations, according to the Tollway.

Those obtaining the sticker tags at those locations will be required to pay a retail service fee, officials said.

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Here's where you can order your new I-PASS sticker tags

chicago tourism pass

Metra ‘confident' Ventra app will function correctly this week

Online ordering.

The Tollway is also offering motorists the chance to obtain their sticker tags via online ordering.

Motorists can access their I-PASS accounts via the Illinois Tollway’s website . Under the “transponders” tab, motorists can then request to “order a transponder,” and then be sure to choose a “windshield-mounted” transponder.

Unlike the existing transponders, which required a deposit, the new sticker tags do not, and motorists can choose how many they need for their existing vehicles.

Once obtained, motorists can activate their sticker tags for each vehicle on their accounts. This process should be completed within 15 days of receipt of the new tags, according to Tollway officials.

Each vehicle will need its own sticker, unlike transponders which could be moved between vehicles.

Residents can also use the Illinois Tollway mobile app to go through the ordering process, according to officials.

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chicago tourism pass

Watch CBS News

Toby Keith, country music star, dies at 62. He was suffering from cancer.

Updated on: February 6, 2024 / 12:50 PM EST / CBS/AP

Country music star Toby Keith has died, his social media sites and website announced early Tuesday. He was 62.

The statement said he "passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time."

Toby Keith at the People's Choice Country Awards at The Grand Ole Opry House on Sept. 28, 2023, in Nashville.

Keith announced in June 2022 that he'd been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer since the previous fall.

The multiplatinum-selling singer-songwriter tweeted at the time that he'd had surgery and chemotherapy and radiation in the prior six months.

"So far, so good," the Oklahoma native said. "I need time to breathe, recover and relax.

"I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can't wait."

Toby Keith performs during the iHeartCountry Festival at Frank Irwin Center on Oct. 30, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

Tributes poured in Tuesday following news of Keith's death. Country singer Zach Bryan remembered him in a social media  post : "Too many rides in my old man's car listening to Toby Keith. Really hard thing to hear rest in peace friend we love you."

John Rich, of the country duo Big & Rich, called Keith a "friend and legend." "He was a true Patriot, a first class singer/songwriter, and a bigger than life kind of guy. He will be greatly missed," he wrote .

Unabashed patriot

Sometimes a polarizing figure in country music, the 6-foot-4 Keith broke out in the country boom years of the 1990s, crafting an identity around his macho, pro-American swagger and writing songs that fans loved to hear. During the course of his career, he publicly clashed with other celebrities and journalists and often pushed back against record executives who wanted to smooth his rough edges.

He was known for his overt patriotism on post 9/11 songs like "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," and boisterous barroom tunes like "I Love This Bar" and "Red Solo Cup." He had a powerful booming voice, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and a range that carried love songs as well as drinking songs.

Among his 20 No. 1 Billboard hits were "How Do You Like Me Now?!," "Should've Been a Cowboy," "As Good As I Once Was," "My List" and "Beer for My Horses," a duet with Willie Nelson.

Long road to stardom   

Keith worked as a roughneck in the oil fields of Oklahoma as a young man, then played semi-pro football before launching his career as a singer.

"I write about life, and I sing about life, and I don't overanalyze things," Keith told The Associated Press in 2001, following the success of his song "I'm Just Talking About Tonight."

Keith learned good lessons in the booming oil fields, which toughened him up, but also showed him the value of money.

"The money to be made was unbelievable," Keith told The Associated Press in 1996. "I came out of high school in 1980 and they gave me this job December of 1979, $50,000 a year. I was 18-years-old."

But the domestic oil field industry collapsed and Keith had not saved. "It about broke us," he said. "So I just learned. I've taken care of my money this time."

He spent a couple of seasons as a defensive end for the Oklahoma City Drillers, a farm team for the now-defunct United States Football League. But he found consistent money playing music with his band throughout the red dirt roadhouse circuit in Oklahoma and Texas.

"All through this whole thing, the only constant thing we had was music," he said. "But it's hard to sit back and say, 'I'm going to go make my fortune singing music, or writing music. I had no contacts."'

Finally arrives  

Eventually his path took him to Nashville, where he attracted the interest of Mercury Records head Harold Shedd, who was best known as a producer for the hit group Alabama. Shedd brought him to Mercury, where he released his platinum debut record "Toby Keith," in 1993.

"Should've Been a Cowboy," his breakout hit, was played 3 million times on radio stations, making it the most played country song of the 1990s.

But the label's focus on global star Shania Twain overshadowed the rest of the roster and Keith felt the executives were trying to push him in a pop direction.

"They were trying to get me to compromise, and I was living a miserable existence," Keith told the AP. "Everybody was trying to mold me into something I was not."

After a series of albums that produced hits like "Who's That Man," and the cover of Sting's "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying," Keith moved to DreamWorks Records in 1999.

That's when his multi-week "How Do You Like Me Now?!" took off and became his first song to crossover to Top 40 charts. In 2001, he won male vocalist of the year and album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, exclaiming from the stage: "I've waited a long time for this. Nine years!"

Songs like "I Wanna Talk About Me," a spoken-word song written by Bobby Braddock about a man frustrated by a talkative partner, got him attention for its similarity to the cadence of rap, which Keith dismissed. "They're going to call it a rap song, (although) there ain't nobody doing rap who would call it rap," he told "Billboard" magazine in 2001.

No stranger to controversy

Keith often wore his politics on his sleeve, especially after the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in 2001, and early on said he was a conservative Democrat, but later claimed he was an independent. He's played at events for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump , the latter giving him a National Medal of the Arts in 2021. His songs and his blunt opinions sometimes caused him controversy, which he seemed to court.

His 2002 song, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" included a threat —"We'll put a boot in your ass - It's the American way" — to anyone who dared to mess with America. 

The song got pulled from a patriotic ABC Fourth of July special after producers deemed it too angry for the show. Singer-songwriter Steve Earle called Keith's song "pandering to people's worst instincts at a time they are hurt and scared."

Then there was the feud between Keith and The Chicks (formerly called the Dixie Chicks), who became a target of Keith's ire when singer Natalie Maines told a crowd that they were ashamed of then President George W. Bush. Maines had also previously called Keith's song "ignorant."

Keith, who had previously claimed that he supported any artist's freedom to voice their opinion about politics, used a doctored photo of Maines with an image of Saddam Hussein at his concerts, further ramping up angry fans.

Maines responded by wearing a shirt with the letters "FUTK" onstage at the 2003 ACM Awards, which many people believed was a vulgar message to Keith.

He also publicly called out actor Ethan Hawke, who had written a story in "Rolling Stone" that described an argument between Kris Kristofferson and an unnamed country star that sounded a lot like Keith. During a backstage press conference during an awards show, Keith was furious at Hawke (and reporters for repeating the story) for what he called a "fictitious (expletive) lie."

Keith, who acknowledged that he holds onto grudges, walked out of the ACM Awards in 2003 early because he had gotten snubbed in earlier categories, causing him to miss out when he was announced as entertainer of the year. Vince Gill accepted on his behalf. He came back the next year and won the top prize for a second year in a row, along with top male vocalist and album of the year for "Shock 'n Y'all."

His pro-military stance wasn't just fodder for songs, however. He went on 11 USO tours to visit and play for troops serving overseas. He also helped to raised millions for charity over his career , including building a home in Oklahoma City for kids and their families who are battling cancer.

After Universal Music Group acquired DreamWorks, Keith started anew again, starting his own record label, Show Dog, in 2005 with record executive Scott Borchetta, who launched his own label Big Machine at the same time.

"Probably 75 percent of the people in this town think I'll fail, and the other 25 percent hope I fail," he said that year.

The label later became Show Dog-Universal Music and had Keith, Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, Josh Thompson, Clay Walker and Phil Vassar on its roster.

His later hits included "Love Me If You Can," "She Never Cried In Front of Me," and "Red Solo Cup." He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

He was honored by the performance rights organization BMI in November 2022 with the BMI Icon award, a few months after announcing his stomach cancer diagnosis.

"I always felt like that the songwriting was the most important part of this whole industry," Keith told the crowd of fellow singers and writers.

  • Entertainment

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IMAGES

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  23. Unlimited Ride Passes

    Skip to Main Content Fares Share on TwitterShare on Facebook Unlimited Ride Passes You can enjoy unlimited rides on all CTA buses and trains with our 1-Day, 3-day, 7-day or 30-day unlimited-ride passes. Your pass activates the first time you use it and is good for the full length of time from that moment.

  24. Want to get a new I-PASS sticker? 5 common questions and ...

    Once registered to your I-PASS account, the sticker will be immediately ready to use on the Illinois Tollway, the Chicago Skyway and other E-ZPass roadways. The E-ZPass Group comprises toll ...

  25. Here's where you can order your new I-PASS sticker tags

    In-Person Ordering. You can obtain I-PASS sticker tags in person at all Illinois Tollway Customer Service Centers in the Chicago area. These sticker tags are free of charge and should be activated ...

  26. Toby Keith, country music star, dies at 62. He was suffering from

    Entertainment. Toby Keith, country music star, dies at 62. He was suffering from cancer. Updated on: February 6, 2024 / 12:50 PM EST / CBS/AP. Country music star Toby Keith has died, his social ...