Phenomenal museums, stunning architecture, beautiful waterways, sumptuous cuisine, and so much more – Chicago is a fabulous vacation destination. With so much to see and do, however, it can get a little pricy to explore Chicago. If you want to save money on your next trip to the Windy City, the Go Chicago Card by Smart Destinations should be your top choice. You’ll get admission to the best attractions like the institutions of the Museum Campus, art museums across the city, architecture cruises and tours, plus some great zoos and kid-specific attractions.
Top Included Chicago Attractions
Adler Planetarium (includes Skip-the-Line admission)
Shedd Aquarium (includes Skip-the-Line admission)
Museum of Science and Industry (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
LEGOLAND Discovery Center (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
Chicago Children’s Museum (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
Museum of Science and Industry (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
The Field Museum (skip-the-line entry included)
Art Institute of Chicago
Two-day Hop-On Hop-off Trolley Pass
Chicago Architecture Cruise
Architectural walking tours
360 Chicago (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
SkyDeck Chicago, Willis Tower (includes Skip-the-Line admission!)
See the complete list of attractions and tours in the sidebar.
How the Go Chicago Card Works
The Go Chicago Card is an all-inclusive attraction pass, featuring over 20 area attractions to choose from. It’s a digital pass (or physical card, depending on where you buy it) that provides admission to any of the participating attractions you want to visit during the active life of your card. Purchase the card for a number of consecutive days (1, 2, 3, or 5 days are the available options) and activate it when you visit your first attraction. No need to choose attractions in advance, although in the case of certain attractions like cruises and tours, you may want to or be required to make reservations.
What’s Good about the Go Chicago Card?
The greatest strength of the Go Chicago Card is the wide variety of available attractions. No need to restrict yourself to only museums or just cruises – see what you want!
The card also offers substantial savings to visitors. Travelers who visit around 3 attractions per day with the 3-Day Go Chicago Card can save over 50%!
Because each person has his or her own card, families can split up and visit different attractions based on their interests. This provides important flexibility in the event of bad weather or other changes in plans.
As an extra benefit to cardholders, the Go Chicago Card offers additional discounts on dining, shopping, and entertainment options. This can help save a bunch of extra money on additional activities, helping keep the whole trip on budget.
The passes are also convenient and easy to use because of Smart Destinations’ exclusive digital delivery. Purchase the pass online and download it instantly. Display it on your smartphone, or print it out!
Lastly, the comprehensive guidebook included with the cards is an invaluable resource and can help visitors make the most out of their Go Chicago Card and their vacations. It includes maps, directions, contact information, and even some basic information about local transportation options.
What Could get better?
The starting price point for the 1-Day Go Chicago Card is a little high, especially given the fact that most attractions in Chicago don’t have a particularly high gate price. However, if you are in town for multiple days, the longer duration cards offer greater value.
While the card does cover admission to all included attractions, plus some special exhibits, it doesn’t include additional costs like parking (which is a big consideration in downtown Chicago). Keep this in mind while budgeting, or, opt to use Chicago’s convenient mass transit system, the CTA.
Get Your Money’s Worth
Of course, you’ll get more value out of your Go Chicago Card if you visit more attractions. A good rule of thumb for the 2-day card is to visit between 2-3 attractions per day to see a good your savings with the product.
However, for longer duration cards, you can actually get the same value by visiting fewer attractions per day. For example, you’ll only need to visit two attractions per day with a 5-Day Go Chicago Card to get your money’s worth.
If you really want to maximize the value of your card, be sure to visit all three institutions – Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum – on the same day. Start with the Shedd first thing in the morning, as it will be the busiest. If you don’t get a chance to see everything, come back the next day!
You also maximize your savings by choosing some more expensive attractions in conjunction with some smaller ones. For example, big name museums like Art Institute tend to have a higher gate price than smaller institutions like the Chicago History Museum, so a visit to both will increase the value of your card.
The Go Chicago Card is good for a number of days after activation, and is activated by the first attraction you visit. To make the most of the life of your card, be sure to visit your first attraction early in the morning, as soon as it opens. You can then visit attractions the rest of the day, until everything is closed!
If you plan well and are aware of the included extras – at restaurants, for example – you can save a lot of money on dining. However, you should be aware that some places will scan your card in order to process the discount, which will activate the card, so be sure to use the card for discounts on days you will be visiting attractions.
Another great thing about the Chicago area is that the attractions are often clustered close together or within a short drive/bus trip of one another, making it easy to see multiple attractions per day. Pick up a CTA map and some unlimited multi-day passes for the most affordable way to get around town.
Get $10 off your Go Card/Explorer Pass order over $20! via coupon code: JanuarySavings .
The fine print: Limit 1 Coupon/Order; Must Be Redeemed Online. Book now to use the coupon. It should have expired by now but i just tested it and it still works. Does not work on build-your-own passes.
Where to Buy a Go Chicago Card
The Go Chicago Card is available at many outlets. You can buy it at travel or retail sites like Expedia, Costco, Orbitz or Travelocity. You can also opt to buy it at certain physical retailers once you get to Chicago, but those locations can occasionally be tricky to find and are occasionally out of the way.
The best place to buy the card is on the Smart Destinations website. They offer the most reasonable pricing and frequently have promotions that give you discounts on purchases over a certain amount. They also have a great return policy, allowing you to return unused cards for up to a year after purchase.
All Included Attractions
- Adler Planetarium***
- Brookfield Zoo
- Frederick C. Robie House
- 360 Chicago (John Hancock Observatory)
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center*
- Lincoln Park Zoo+ Rides
- Navy Pier Rides
- Shedd Aquarium***
- SkyDeck Chicago, Willis Tower
- 2-day Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Pass*, choice of one Gray Line Tour per day
- Trolley, North Side, South Shore or Grand Tour
- Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tours
- Chicago Theatre Marqee Tour
- Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour
- Architecture River Cruise
- Navy Pier Half-Day Bike Rental
- Skyline Lake Tour*
- Tall Ship Windy Skyline Cruise
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Chicago Children’s Museum ***
- Chicago History Museum & Audio Tour
- Field Museum ***
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Museum of Science and Industry, plus Omnimax ***
*** Skip the line!
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