Chicago CityPASS

Chicago is a wonderful city that I’ve been to several times myself – you’ll love it! You can expect a wonderful mix of a relaxed big city, an amazing amount of green spaces, rivers and canals and, of course, Lake Michigan. Chicago also has a number of world-famous attractions such as the Skydeck, Field Museum, the 360 Chicago Observation Deck and the Shedd Aquarium.

A simple and uncomplicated way to save on these attractions, among others, is the Chicago CityPASS (which is exactly what I had).

In this article, you can find out exactly how the Chicago CityPASS works, whether it is worthwhile for you and what your alternatives are.

Steffen

What are the advantages of buying a Chicago CityPASS®?

  • Includes admission to 5 attractions
  • 2 fixed attractions (Shedd Aquarium & Skydeck), 3 out of 6 freely selectable
  • Quick entry to some attractions

» BUY CityPASS here

What is the Chicago CityPASS?

The Chicago CityPASS is one of five sightseeing passes available for the city of Chicago. The Chicago CityPASS® gives you access to 5 major attractions for a fixed price. Compared to buying individual tickets, you save over 40%!

The Chicago CityPASS includes a total of 8 attractions, 5 of which you can visit. Two attractions are fixed, from the other 6 you can then choose 3 attractions yourself. You then have a relaxed 9 days, as the CityPASS® is valid for as long as you have used it the first time.

In addition, you also save time at some of the attractions because you have Priority Tickets / Fast Lane Tickets, which allow you to bypass the normal queue. Last but not least, you get VIP tickets at Skydeck Chicago, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium and can even visit attractions multiple times!

The pass is available as anelectronic version that you simply download to your mobile phone.

Which attractions are included in the Chicago CityPASS?

The CityPASS has the smallest portfolio of all the city’s sightseeing passes – it focusses on the most important attractions. You can visit these attractions with the Chicago CityPASS:

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Skydeck Chicago (fast track admission)

You can also choose from the following 3 attractions:

  • Field Museum
  • Art Institute of Chicago (fast track admission)
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  • Adler Planetarium
  • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

» BUY CityPASS here

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is really beautiful: here you can marvel at belugas and dolphins, get close to sharks, rays and manta rays through the shark tunnel and observe countless fish. Above all, it is very modern and spacious.

And the best thing is: not only do you save on admission, but the 4D Experience is also paid for with the CityPASS, usually this costs extra!

Skydeck Chicago

The Skydeck in Chicago is a MUST SEE for me. It is the viewing platform of the Willis Tower and the view of the city, the beautiful Lake Michigan is simply magnificent! And if you dare, you should venture onto the balconies (The Ledge), which have a glass floor. You can look over 400 metres down.

With your pass, you also get accelerated entry and can skip the queue. That really saves time!

Field Museum

Fancy a little trip back in time? Then the Field Museum is ideal! With the Full Access Pass, which you have with the Chicago CityPASS®, you can see all the exhibitions and also watch 3D films.

My highlight? Besides the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Titanosaurus, the largest dinosaur of all time!

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most renowned museums in the world. Here you can see a variety of works by famous painters and artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.

It’s just a block away from the famous Cloud Gate (also known as The Bean), so you’ll definitely be in the neighbourhood! The pass gives you quick access to the permanent exhibition.

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

Located directly on the Magnificent Mile, the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck is a popular destination: the view of Chicago and Lake Michigan from the 94th floor is always beautiful!

Museum of Science and Industry

Want to see real aeroplanes and submarines and teach your children about science through interactivity? That’s exactly what awaits you at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

It is generously sized, so you should plan at least 2 hours. Admission is not cheap at just under $38 and some shows cost an extra $10. You can save yourself all this with the Chicago CityPASS, because this already pays for admission + 1 show (normally an extra charge)!

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium in Chicago is one of the city’s most important sights. The view of the Chicago skyline from here is really beautiful! Inside you can expect many exhibitions and shows and you can even see real moon rocks.

The Adler Planetarium is a great option, especially if the weather isn’t playing ball. With the Chicago CityPASS you not only get the normal admission ticket, two Sky shows that are otherwise subject to a charge are also included!

Only Pink Floyd The Dark Side Of The Moon is not included, but you can buy it for $20 at the box office.

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

From the shoreline to the skyline, there’s simply nothing better to see Chicago than from a Shoreline Sightseeing boat. The tours offer breathtaking views of the city’s many landmarks with incredible stories told by the fun guides. Sit back and enjoy the time!
The tour will run on a reduced schedule from 1 November.

How does the Chicago CityPASS work?

It’s very simple: if you buy the pass online, you will then receive an email with the admission ticket. You can then show it on your smartphone at the attractions or print it out.

After purchase, you have one year to redeem the pass. From the first attraction, the pass is valid for 9 days.

Attention: For the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour, reservations are required! You can easily make these via the app.

By the way: You can cancel a non-activated pass up to one year after the date of purchase.

What does the Chicago CityPASS cost?

The Chicago CityPASS costs for:

  • Adults: $134
  • Children (ages 3-11): $104

Always check the current prices, as they can change from time to time.

» BUY CityPASS here

You can also buy the pass on the platforms GetYourGuide and Tiqets, where it costs just $134 for an adult.

Is the Chicago CityPASS worth it?

Whether the Chicago CityPASS® is worth it depends, of course, on how many attractions you visit. But it’s easy to see how it pays off, as you can see here:

Example 1 – you visit these attractions in Chicago with the CityPASS®

  • Shedd Aquarium: $44
  • Skydeck Chicago: $59
  • Art Institute of Chicago: $40
  • Museum of Science and Industry: $38
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck: $35
  • Cost of the individual tickets: $216
  • Cost of the Chicago CityPASS®: $134
  • You save: $82 → Savings of 38%

Example 2 – you visit these sights in Chicago with the CityPASS®

  • Shedd Aquarium: $44
  • Skydeck Chicago: $59
  • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour: $49
  • Adler Planetarium: $35
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck: $35
  • Cost of the individual tickets: $222
  • Cost of the Chicago CityPASS®: $134
  • You save: $88 → Savings of 40%

Example 3 – you only visit 4 attractions in Chicago with the CityPASS®

  • Shedd Aquarium: $43.90
  • Skydeck Chicago: $59
  • Museum of Science and Industry: $38
  • Art Institute of Chicago: $40
  • Cost of individual tickets: $181
  • Cost of the Chicago CityPASS®: $134
  • You save: $47 → Savings of 26%

Even if you only use 4 of the 5 attractions, you save well over 20% with the pass!

Example 4 – you only visit 3 attractions in Chicago with the CityPASS®

  • Shedd Aquarium: $44
  • Skydeck Chicago: $59
  • Adler Planetarium: $35
  • Cost of the individual tickets: $138
  • Cost of the Chicago CityPASS®: $134
  • You save: $4 → Savings of 3%

As you can see, the CityPASS® is worth it with just 3 attractions and even the cheapest optional attraction – the more you visit, the more you can save!

Attention: The prices of some individual tickets may vary depending on the date of visit, which will of course change the savings!

» BUY CityPASS here

Still not sure?

Pass Savings Calculator IconUse our savings calculator to work out exactly which Chicago Pass will save you the most!

Try it out here for free

When is the pass not worth it?

  • If you only visit 2 attractions: The example above has shown that the pass is worthwhile even if you only visit 3 instead of 5 attractions. However, if there are only 2, the pass is not worthwhile, but then it simply doesn’t make sense.</li

What I like

  • perfect for first-time visitors
  • Most important attractions included
  • affordable
  • high savings potential with the right attractions

What I don’t like

  • No hop-on hop-off bus tour included
  • often reservations required

Steffen

My rating

I give the Chicago CityPASS® overall ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ✨

  • How to use: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
  • Attractions: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
  • Price: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
  • Savings potential: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

You can save a lot with the pass! And if you want to visit exactly the attractions that are included (in my opinion, the Skydeck and the Aquarium are a must), the CityPASS is a real recommendation!

» BUY CityPASS here

Alternatives to the Chicago CityPASS

That’s not all! There are 4 other passes for the city of Chicago that might also be of interest to you:

  • Chicago C3 Pass: The Chicago C3 Pass is similar to the CityPASS® as it is from the same provider. With this pass, you can choose 3 attractions from 8 for free.
  • Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass is the most comprehensive pass in the city. You can visit as many attractions as you can manage in the number of days you choose. You can choose from over 25 attractions.
  • Chicago Explorer Pass: With the Chicago Explorer Pass, you choose how many attractions you would like to visit and can then choose from a pool of over 20 attractions. You have 60 days to do this.
  • Chicago Digital Pass: With the Chicago Digital Pass, you get discounted admission to the 3 attractions Field Museum, Art Institute and the 360 Chicago observation deck.

If you’re still not sure whether the Chicago CityPASS® is right for you, take a look at my Chicago Pass comparison.

FAQ

Is the Chicago CityPASS a discount card?

Once you have purchased the Chicago CityPASS, the ticket price is paid for. So it’s not just a small discount, it’s the ticket!

Are there discounts for children?

Yes – this makes the Chicago CityPASS particularly interesting for families! Anyone between the ages of 3 and 11 counts as a child. It then costs $108.

Are there discounts for pensioners?

Unfortunately not. The normal price for the Chicago CityPASS® applies here.

How does the CityPASS work if we are more than one person?

If you are in Chicago with several people and you have purchased the CityPASS® twice, for example, you will receive 2 different mobile tickets or coupons. They are not linked to each other – so you can visit the attractions independently of each other!

Is the Chicago CityPASS cheaper on site?

No, the CityPASS is not cheaper if you buy it on site in Chicago. In order to avoid any stress on site, I recommend you buy it online in advance. That way you can start your holiday in Chicago relaxed right away!

When should I buy the CityPASS?

As you have one year to use it from the date of purchase, you can buy it in advance.

Can I book attractions in advance with the CityPASS?

Yes and no, you have to book a few attractions in advance. These include the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour.

Where can I get the app for the Chicago CityPASS?

The app is called the My-CityPASS™ app, it’s free and you can download it from the App Store and the Android Store.

Does the CityPASS® for Chicago include public transport?

No – the CityPASS® is purely a sightseeing pass that is only valid for the city’s main attractions and tours.

How can I activate the CityPASS® in Chicago?

As soon as you show your CityPASS® at one of the 5 attractions and use it as an admission ticket, it will be activated. From this point on, it is valid for 9 days.

Can I visit attractions more than once with the pass?

No, you can only visit each attraction once.

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The author

I'm Steffen and over the years I've been able to help over 100,000 travelers easily save money on vacation. You can find the best tips for the most beautiful cities and regions worldwide here on this page. Whenever you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

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