Sightseeing Secret Weapons: Access Top Attractions with CityPASS vs Go City

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Sightseeing passes often provide discounted or bundled admission to multiple attractions, museums, tours etc. This can result in significant savings compared to paying for each activity individually.

This comparative guide explains how to see top Chicago attractions with CityPASS® vs Go City®, plus a few tips!

Chicago Sightseeing Passes

The city of Chicago has great attractions for visitors and residents alike.

Whether you are visiting in winter or summer, when it comes to sightseeing, we can all use a few tips and tricks that help us to save money.

There are two great programs that can help, the Chicago CityPASS® and Go City®.

This is a simple guide and program description to help you choose the right program.

The Benefits

  1. Having a single pass allows you to easily visit multiple sites without having to purchase tickets separately each time. This makes planning your sightseeing itinerary much simpler.
  2. Passes are often valid for a set number of days, allowing you to visit attractions at your own pace rather than feeling rushed.
  3. With everything prepaid, you don’t have to worry about budgeting for individual tickets and can just focus on enjoying your trip.

What is a CityPASS® for Chicago

Chicago Theater

With Chicago CityPASS®, you can visit five attractions over nine consecutive days starting with and including the first day you visit an attraction. You have one year from the date of purchase to start using your pass. 

This pass is good for travelers who want to visit more museums, see aerial views of the city, and tour the city from water instead of on land.

Things You Can See

Plus, choice of any 3 attractions below:

  1. Field Museum
  2. Art Institute of Chicago
  3. Museum of Science and Industry
  4. 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  5. Adler Planetarium
  6. Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

Things to Know

There is also a C3 pass in this program. It works the same way, except you are limited to seeing any 3 attractions, except the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, or Field Museum. Instead, you may opt to ride the Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

Do:

  • Decide how you want to spend your days in advance. Many Chicago CityPASS® attractions are spread throughout the city and you’ll need to give yourself time to get from one attraction to another.
  • Plan some downtime for lunch or snacks.
  • Group things to do each day by location. You will save a lot of time and reduce stress by planning activities that are within 5 to 15 minutes of one another.

Don’t:

  • Try to do more than 2 or 3 attractions a day because it is not realistic. You have to contend with city traffic, parking, long lines, hours of operation, and unexpected events (such as getting lost or being in the wrong location) with Chicago CityPASS®.

What is a Go City®

chicago tour bus

A second option is the Go City®. A great feature with the Go City® is that you can choose between two programs, the All-inclusive and the Explorer.

The All-inclusive program allows you to select a 1, 2, 3 or 5-day pass. You can visit as many attractions as you like within the selected number of days.

In the Explorer program, you select from 2 to 7 top attractions from a list, then you have 60 days to complete visits to those attractions. 

This pass is best for travelers who want more adventerous options (like a speedboat), aerial views of the city, and seeing a more of the city on land with a bus tour.

Go City

Things You Can See

  1. 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  2. Shedd Aquarium
  3. Skydeck Chicago
  4. Big Bus Hop-on Hop Off
  5. Adler Planetarium
  6. Architectural River Tour
  7. Lakefront Speedboat Tour
  8. Seadog High Speed Boat Ride
  9. Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Things to Know

With the all-inclusive pass you can revisit an attraction more than once (if it doesn’t require booking). With the explorer pass you can only visit each attraction once.

Do:

  • Consider the ages of people in your party because you can save even more by taking advantage of free entry fees for children and the military, and discounts for seniors at select museums.
  • Keep weather conditions in mind. Hot summer days are not the best time to exert a lot of energy. Rainy days are best saved for indoor activities.
  • Take advantage of public transportation options.

Don’t:

  • Buy the 1-day All-inclusive pass without checking Groupon. The price on the Go City® website is $99 and to break even, you’ll need to reserve two tours on the same day, which won’t leave time for much else. However, Groupon may have deals as low as $69 for a 1-day All-inclusive Go City® or Go City® Explorer.

FAQ about Chicago Attractions with Tourism Passes

architecture tour chicago

Is the Chicago Go City worth it?

Yes, if you select any attractions and add the cost individually you will see how much money will be saved.

Does a Chicago CityPASS last a day or a week?

The Chicago CityPASS® is good for nine days, including the first day of use.

Do Chicago attraction passes expire?

Yes, you must use the pass within the specified period.

Final Thoughts on Seeing Top Chicago Attractions with CityPASS vs Go City

Chicago bridge with tourism cruise boats

These are awesome savings no matter how many people are in your travel party!

Using the sightseeing pass in Chicago to explore the top attractions not only allows you to save money but also ensures that you don’t miss out on the city’s most iconic experiences.

With a pass, you can easily include the best architecture tours in your vacation activities, where you’ll have the opportunity to admire the famous buildings that define the city’s skyline. From the towering skyscrapers to the historic landmarks, these tours offer a fascinating glimpse into Chicago’s architecture.

Additionally, your pass may grant you access to other activities in your itinerary, such as visiting the renowned Art Institute of Chicago, immersing yourself in the cultural treasures it holds.

And, of course, no visit for Chicago sightseeing would be complete without strolling along the Magnificent Mile, where you can indulge in world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment.

With a one of these passes, you can make the most of your time, exploring great attractions while enjoying significant savings on admission fees.

So, grab your pass, delve into the rich history and captivating culture of the city, and have a wonderful visit in the Windy City!


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16 Comments

  1. I love Chicago! And the CityPASS is such a great value to see so many attractions.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      I agree, this helped me save a bundle while visiting New York.

  2. There’s so much to see and do in Chicago, it’s unreal. A pass like this would have made my first trip there much more productive, centered, and cheaper. Great advice! Flagging for my next trip 🙂

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Awesome! I have more content about visiting to Chicago or send me an email if you have questions 🙂

  3. simplyjolayne says:

    Good tips. I especially like the idea to check Groupon.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Right? There are so many ways to save.

  4. We’ve done city passes in a few places we’ve visited and we loved them! Not only do you save $, but there are often things on the pass that we wouldn’t have thought of!

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      That’s a great point. There are some attractions in some cities that I had never heard of.

  5. Oh my goodness thank you so much for breaking this down! I’m headed to Chicago in October with my daughter and this is going to come in very handy. Saving it for later!

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      You’re welcome, safe travels!

  6. I love City Pass! It’s such a great way to save money in big cities, like Chicago. Thank you for this breakdown!

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      You’re welcome! Thanks for visiting my page 🙂

  7. rosemary palmer says:

    I have used CityPASS several times but wasn’t aware of goCity and have visited several of the cities on the list before. Next time I’ll check there too. Would love to visit Chicago again.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Yes, there are several ways to save that are not as well known. goCity is available around the globe in select destinations. Safe travels!

  8. Bea Pinnegar says:

    I love city passes – they make sightseeing in a new, foreign city so much easier. Thanks for sharing this lovely guide – I know exactly what to do when I land in Chicago now 🙂

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      You are very welcome, happy travels!