CityPASS: Traveling in Chicago Fast and Cheap

December 6, 2016 9:00 pm by Karla Ramos

Chicago is a beautiful city, but it is also a vast one. There are several beautiful places to visit, but there is often not enough time. If you are looking for an easy way to see all the sights in The Windy City, you’re in luck — the CityPASS helps you do that for a wallet-friendly price.

The CityPASS is a ticket booklet that lets you visit the following top Chicago attractions:

1. Shedd Aquariumcitypass2016nov1

This is the world’s largest indoor aquarium, and has more than thirty thousand individual animals. It has amazing exhibits, too. From one exploring the varied marine life of the Great Lakes, the Amazon, the Caribbean and other places, they also have special exhibits and even a “play zone” for polar animals. It really feels like swimming in the deepest parts of the ocean once you’re inside, and the experience can be overwhelming (in a fun way).

2. Skydeck Chicago

Located on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the viewing platforms here lets you see the view of up to four states! You step out into observation boxes made of durable transparent material. That’s right — even the floor is transparent, so you really feel like you’re walking on air. At 1,600 feet, it’s pure adrenaline rush. Not for the faint of heart, definitely.

3. The Field Museum

Photo Courtesy of the Field Museum (https://www.fieldmuseum.org)

Photo Courtesy of the Field Museum

If you ever fancied yourself an Indiana Jones, you will enjoy this experience. The museum has been here for more than 100 years, and it offers a vast array of collections (over 24 million items!) regarding natural history. From ceremonial masks to fossils, you’re in for a fascinating time. Of course, you can’t miss Sue — the most complete T. Rex fossil known to man.

4. Museum of Science and Industry / 360 Chicago 

The museum is located in Jackson Park, and is the perfect haven for geeks of all ages. From a life-sized coal mine (yes, you read that right) to a real German U-Boat, to the real Apollo 8 spacecraft, the Museum of Science and Industry is the technological counterpart of The Field Museum. And with more than 2,000 exhibits, you won’t step out any time soon.

360 Chicago, on the other hand, is the former John Hancock Observatory and the spiritual twin of the Skydeck. It’s pretty much the same, except that it’s lower (at 1000 feet) and it has tilting lookouts instead of fully-transparent boxes. But the experience is no less satisfying!

5. Adler Planetarium / Art Institute of Chicago

The Adler Planetarium was the first ever planetarium in the US, opening its doors in 1930. From the Earth’s history to its remarkable technological achievements, those so inclined can now explore the ten permanent exhibits, three theaters, and collection of antique astronomical tools housed in the building.

Photo courtesy of Art Institute Chicago (http://www.artic.edu/)

Photo courtesy of Art Institute Chicago 

Those more inclined to art can marvel at the Art Institutes population of more than 300,000 (yes, 5 zeroes!) works. From Picasso to Hopper, from Asian to African and everything in between, there’s something in the Museum’s collections to satisfy your curiosity.

The Fun Part

The CityPASS isn’t any ordinary visit, either — you get the VIP (or Fast/Express Pass, whichever is applicable) treatment in each of these

destinations. Notice also that the 4th and 5th stops allow you to choose between two options. Science and Tech inclined folks will opt for the Museum and Planetarium, while those more on visual treats will go for the 360 and the Art Institute.

The CityPASS is easy to get hold of. Simply go to the Chicago CityPASS website and purchase a mobile voucher or a printable voucher. If you wish, you can also order the physical booklet to be shipped to your address — check their website to see if you are in a country they ship to. If you have a voucher, simple present this to any of the attractions, and they will give you your booklet. Just be patient when doing this, though, especially when you are visiting during the peak season (like summer). CityPASS lines can be very long at these times. If you are already in the city, you can purchase a Chicago CityPASS on any of the aforementioned attractions. Just always bring an ID along.

Purchasing the CityPASS is a great idea for those on a budget, especially backpackers and families. The booklet only costs $98. In contrast, the full price of tickets in all attractions go up to $207.95. That saves you $109.95 — greater than the price of the whole booklet. For children’s passes (up to 11 years old), the price is at $82. The savings amount to $92.90.

The CityPASS is good for 9 days after your first day of use. That means you can actually spend a whole day in each of the attractions and not have to worry about the booklet expiring. You can also visit the attractions in any order, giving you complete flexibility.

The booklet will also give you “option tickets” — those that allow you to choose one attraction or another. In case you want to do both, some of the attractions also offer discounts on your second ticket.

Aside from bringing your ID, one thing to keep in mind is to never tear out the tickets from the booklet. This can render them invalid. Leave the admission staff of each attraction to do this to avoid issues.

If you are a first time Chicago visitor, or if you need to save on your pennies while in town, the CityPASS is a godsend. This will not only help you figure out which attractions to go to, it will also help you skip several ticket lines. That leaves you with a lot more time to relish the dynamic and legendary city that is Chicago.

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