Saturday, February 3, 2018

How to Do Chicago on the Cheap

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Chicago is a wonderful city, which sometimes has a bad reputation simply because it's cold and windy (as its nickname clearly states). But it's full of history and culture, and is an amazing place to explore. We had a BLAST there on our first babymoon last December- the perfect long weekend getaway. However, like any city, it can be expensive if you're not careful about how you spend your money. Fortunately, there are always ways you can avoid overspending, especially if you plan your trip in advance. Here are some tips for making your Chicago trip more affordable.

How to Do Chicago on the Cheap

Stay Farther Out

There's no denying that staying in a city means paying top dollar to be close to all the main attractions. If you want to stay in the middle of all the action and save money, you could try something like Airbnb (which we've enjoyed hosting through). Another option is simply to find a hotel a little further from the city, which is what we did when we stayed in Evanston. We just used our CTA transit passes and rode the metro right down into the city to see what we wanted for the day. A great Western option is the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg, where you can drive downtown or take the bus. A less central location is often worth it, and will save you hundreds of dollars.

Image: Pixabay

Seek Out Affordable Food

Eating is often another big expense, especially if you eat out for your whole vacation. Some accommodation options will make self-catering easier, but you'll still want to go out to eat sometimes. In Chicago, you'll find plenty of markets, food trucks, and offers on food and drink that will help you save. Go to Maxwell Street Market on a Sunday, and you can find authentic Mexican food at great prices. Food trucks are a good option for lunches, while you should check out the restaurants downtown if you want to find some Happy Hour deals.

Look for Freebies

Free stuff can save you if you're running low on cash. You'll save a lot by looking for anything you can do for free. One thing Chicago offers is free trolleys, which run from the Art Institute of Chicago to Navy Pier. It's a great way to get around if you don't want to spend too much. The trolleys run all week in the summer, and on weekends the rest of the year. You can also find some great free attractions, such as the Lincoln Park Zoo (which we loved visiting for their awesome ZooLights) and Conservatory.

Take Walking Tours

It can be tempting to go on an expensive tour, especially with the Chicago River. But there's no need to pay for a cruise when you can walk along the same path for free and see the same things. Chicago's architecture is particularly attractive, including what you'll find along the Chicago Riverwalk. The Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District in Oak Park is interesting to walk through too, and you can get a tour of the famous architect's house if you're willing to pay for it.

Chicago doesn't have to be expensive if you approach it correctly. Look for the bargains, and you can save a lot of money. Being thrifty while traveling has made all our adventures possible, and we've loved every second! Have any Chicago travel questions (or travel questions in general)? Let me know, or check out my travel tips series on the blog!



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