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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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  • Georgina D'Angelo

Chicago Trip Cost: Find Your Budget

Updated: Jan 22

Chicago is a must-visit city in the US. From museums to outdoor activities to restaurants galore, there is so much to do here. While being a large US city makes it a more expensive travel destination, you can still explore Chicago on a budget!


Chicago Trip Cost

When it comes to budgeting for any trip, you should start with an average total cost you’re willing to spend. Maybe it’s a cost per day, or maybe a total sum for a 4-day trip. But having a cost you want to try and stay below will make planning easier.


So how much does a trip to Chicago cost? You can visit this awesome city on a budget or plan a luxury trip here. Let’s dive in and see. I’ll cover average accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment costs in the Windy City.


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How Much Does a Trip to Chicago Cost?


Accommodation



The highest cost of your Chicago trip will most likely be your hotel or Airbnb. There are many options for accommodations in Chicago, but you won’t get very cheap hostels as you can in other countries.


However, there are ways you can save money on accommodation. If you stay further from downtown, you will save money and get a more local experience during your stay. Hotels and Airbnbs tend to be more expensive in popular touristy areas.


If you’re willing to stay somewhere further up north or away from very popular areas like the Loop downtown, you can save a lot of money on accommodation.


But if you’re looking to have a luxury stay in Chicago, you can also book a higher-end hotel. On average, you will be spending $50 to $150 per night for your accommodation.


But there are cheaper options if you’re willing to 1) stay in a hostel-style dorm room or 2) stay in a private room Airbnb and have shared amenities.



Budget Accommodation

$70 per night

Mid-Tier Accommodation

$130 per night

Luxury Accommodation

$250 per night


Food and Drink



Second on the list of costs are food and drinks. If you’re visiting Chicago for just a few days, you will probably be dining out for most meals. Which is so fun because the culinary scene in Chicago is hard to beat!


There are food options for everyone and any type of cuisine you could be looking for. Vegan, Indian, Vietnamese, Colombian, Gluten Free, Italian, the list goes on.



There are numerous high-end restaurants, bars, and more in Chicago. It is a fun city to treat yourself to a fancy meal, but you can also eat amazingly well for much cheaper.


Find mom-and-pop restaurants to save money; the food is homemade and the prices are generally much lower. Also, book a hotel with breakfast included and then only dine out for one or two meals a day!


You can also save money on food and drinks by cooking at "home" and skipping out on alcohol. If we’re trying to not spend a fortune on dining out but still want to enjoy local food, we will try to only dine out for one, maybe two smaller meals.


We often go to a coffee shop for breakfast so we’re not paying for a full meal. Then we’ll go out for a larger late lunch or early dinner. Check out the best coffee shops in Chicago here!

Budget Dining

$20 - $40 daily

Mid-Tier Dining

$30 - $70 daily

Luxury Dining

$100 - $300 daily


Transportation



This will vary a lot depending on how much you want to see in the city. If you’re okay with staying in one general area, you can walk around and spend zero dollars on transportation.


Chicago is a very walkable city, which is fantastic if you want to save money and you’re up for the exercise!


Another option for transportation is to utilize public transportation in Chicago. You can get a train or bus nearly anywhere for about $2.25 to $5. This is a great option if you want to visit various parts of the city; for example Wrigleyville and then the Loop (downtown).


There are also Ubers and Lyfts available all throughout the city. If you’re splitting the cost with friends, this can be a good option, otherwise, it will be the most expensive form of transportation.


Budget Transportation

$0 - $10 daily

Mid-Tier Transportation

$5 - $20 daily

Luxury Transportation

$20 - $100 daily


Entertainment + Activities



There are so many fun activities to do in Chicago, some you do not want to miss if its your first visit. The cost of entertainment will vary depending on what you want to see and do.


If you want to visit multiple museums, join a few tours, catch a Cubs baseball game, and watch a Chicago Broadway musical, your cost of entertainment will obviously be higher.


However, there are options to see more of Chicago while saving money. Check out the Chicago Go City Pass if you want to visit museums! You can visit 5 different attractions for a flat rate. It ends up being way cheaper than buying a single ticket for each place.


Chicago is also known for the famous Second City comedy theater. Stop by for a show and save money by watching the up-and-coming students perform rather than the big-name shows.


There are also several free popular attractions you can visit for free! Head to Cloud Gate, more commonly called “The Bean,” and wander around the pretty Millenium Park where it is located. Stop by Lincoln Park Zoo and admire all the animals for free!


  • Cloud Gate or “The Bean”

  • Lincoln Park Zoo

  • Fullerton Beach

  • National Museum of Mexican Art

  • Harold Washington Library

Budget Entertainment

$0

Mid-Tier Entertainment

$50 - $200

Luxury Entertainment

$200 - $1,000

Overall, Chicago is not the cheapest travel destination, but you can still explore and see so much of the city on a budget. Maybe it’s by skipping out on high-end restaurants or purchasing the Chicago Go City Pass to visit multiple attractions.


There are always ways to save money on a trip, it just depends on what you’re willing to forfeit. The good news is Chicago is so fun and exciting, you can go without spending a single penny on entertainment and opt for exploring by foot.


chicago trip cost

On average the daily cost of a Chicago trip will be...

Budget Daily Cost

​$100 per person

Mid-Tier Daily Cost

$185 per person

Luxury Daily Cost

$400 per person

What are you most looking forward to in Chicago? What’s your favorite way to save money on a trip? If you have any questions about Chicago, ask us below! We love this city and want others to enjoy all it has to offer!


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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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