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In this Go Chicago Pass review, we’ll explain how the pass works, explore how much it costs, and determine whether it’s a good fit for your Chicago travel plans. Enjoy!
Are you planning a trip to Chicago? You’re in for a treat!
Nestled against Lake Michigan, the Windy City is home to some of the best sightseeing in the country – including the skyline itself. And, with many of the city’s attractions beginning to reopen, now is a great time to visit! Whether you’re standing high above the city in the SkyDeck, enjoying a dolphin show at the Shedd Aquarium, or soaking up the views on a shoreline cruise, Chicago is sure to keep you busy and entertained.
If you aren’t careful, it’ll also keep you reaching for your wallet! While there’s lots to enjoy for free (check out the public art), there’s no denying that some of Chicago’s top attractions are pretty pricey. But, if you love sightseeing and saving money, you’re in the right place.
The Go Chicago Pass may be the answer you’re looking for!
Wanna know more? Let’s get to it.
Go Chicago Pass: How it Works
The Go Chicago Pass is an all-inclusive sightseeing pass offering access to more than 25 of Chicago’s top attractions for one low price. Used effectively, this can result in savings of about 40-50% off the regular price of admission!
Like some of our favorite sightseeing passes, the Go Chicago Pass works on a consecutive day basis. Passes are available for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days. You can visit as many of the attractions as you like during that time.
One of my favorite things about this pass is that it’s emailed to you as soon as you buy it. You can use it on your smartphone with the Go City app, or you can print it at home and take it with you. As long as you activate it within two years, you’re good. After that, it expires.
Activating the Go Chicago Pass is easy. Just visit your first attraction and show your pass. You won’t pay anything at the gate, and you’ll have full access to the attraction as though you had bought a regular ticket. Your pass then stays active for the number of calendar days you selected when you purchased it.
It’s important to note that these are “calendar days” – not 24-hour days. Therefore, it’s best to activate your pass early in the morning so you can take full advantage of that first day of sightseeing!
Attractions Included on the Go Chicago Pass
The Go Chicago Pass includes admission to more than 25 of Chicago’s top attractions, including:
- Shedd Aquarium – $39.95
- SkyDeck Chicago – $30.00
- Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago (1-Day Classic Tour) – $49.00
- Shoreline Architecture River Cruise – $44.69
- 360 Chicago – $30.00
- Museum of Science and Industry – $33.95
- Field Museum – $34.00
- Adler Planetarium – $35.00
- Navy Pier 4-Ride Pass – $45.00
- Escape Game Chicago – $41.41
- Bike and Roll Chicago (4-hour bike rental) – $43.60
- Chicago History Museum – $19.00
- Museum of Contemporary Art – $15.00
- Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour – $18.00
- Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour – $34.95
- Historic Chicago South Shore Tour – $34.95
- …and many more (find the full list here)
(*Current as of May 11, 2021)
Editor’s Note: Some attractions may require reservations to enter. Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some attractions may be closed, have limited hours, and/or may have reduced capacity. Please check with each attraction prior to arrival.
Go Chicago Pass Pricing
From the list above, it’s pretty clear that sightseeing in Chicago can get expensive quickly. But that’s why you buy a sightseeing pass – to help keep those costs down!
To help you decide if the Go Chicago Pass will save you money, here are the different pass options and their pricing.
|Passes||Adult Price||Child Price (ages 3-12)|
|1 Day Pass||$114||$79|
|2 Day Pass||$162||$119|
|3 Day Pass||$192||$139|
|5 Day Pass||$229||$165|
|*Current as of May 11, 2021|
When you break down the pricing for each option, you’ll see that the best value comes with the 5-day pass. At a cost that is just slightly more than double the cost of the 1-day pass, you can clearly squeeze a lot more sightseeing into 5 days than you can in one.
Here’s another way to look at it: The 1-day pass costs $114. So, to make that pass worth your money, you would have to visit a combination of attractions whose combined regular admission exceeds $118.
Let’s say you do the Shoreline Architecture River Cruise, the Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium. That would normally cost $118.64, so you’ve saved less than $5 per adult. I won’t turn that down, but it’s not worth shouting about, either.
But, if you buy the 2-day pass for $162 ($81/day value) and you visit $118 worth of attractions on both days, then you’ve saved $74! Now we’re getting somewhere.
The 3-day pass has a per day value of $64, which means you basically have to visit 2+ attractions per day to save. Finally, the 5-day pass offers the best bang for your buck at just $45.80 per day.
Save Money on Chicago’s Top Attractions – With entry to more than 25 of Chicago’s top attractions, the Go Chicago Pass is a great way to save time and money on sightseeing in Chicago! Get yours here.
Top Reasons to Buy the Go Chicago Pass
Save Money on Sightseeing
Obviously, the main reason to purchase the Go Chicago Pass is to save money on sightseeing in Chicago.
As we mentioned in the above example, the 1-day pass can save you a little, but you’ll save more with the multi-day passes.
If you know you want to do a lot of sightseeing and you’re in town for a bit, consider a multi-day pass to get more value.
Great Museum Selection
If museums are your thing, you’ll appreciate having access to several of Chicago’s top museums with the Go Chicago Pass. The Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium stand out as my personal favorites of the bunch, but there’s plenty on the list for history and science buffs, too. They’ve even got kids covered!
Unlike some alternative passes (see below), the Go Chicago Pass offers unlimited sightseeing for the number of days you purchase the pass. If you know you plan to hit a lot of the included attractions, the pass should be a great fit for you. The key is to figure out how many attractions you’d like to visit and do some quick math to make sure you’re saving money.
Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Tour
If you’ve never been on the Big Bus Tour in Chicago, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to explore the city, learn some Chicago history, and catch a lift between an attraction or two.
The tour lasts approximately 2 hours from start to finish, but you can hop-on or hop-off at any of the stops along the way. You can do this as many times as you like during the day your ticket is active. The tour runs from 9-5, so if you plan to be on and off the bus all day, it’s best to start early.
You can only use your pass for the Big Bus Tour once during the life of your pass. However, if you decide you’d like access for a second day, you can purchase a ticket for just $10.
The Big Bus Tour’s regular price is $41.40, which is kinda steep. That’s why it’s a great idea to use your pass and maximize your savings.
Other Benefits of the Go Chicago Pass
Fast-track entry to select attractions – Waiting in long ticket lines is a drag I’m sure you want to avoid. It can also cost you valuable time during your trip!
Flexibility in how you use your pass – You can carry your Go Chicago Pass either on your phone using the Go City app or by printing it at home.
Attractions guide – The Go Chicago Pass comes with a handy attractions guide to help you get around the Windy City. Use it on the app to access attraction hours, locations, and any relevant instructions.
25+ Chicago Attractions at One Low Price – Looking for ways to save money in Chicago? The Go Chicago Pass helps you enjoy Chicago’s best attractions and save money while you’re doing it. Learn more here.
Where the Go Chicago Pass Falls Short
Art Institute of Chicago Not Included
One of my favorite spots in all of the city is the famed Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it was included on this pass. Unfortunately, it is no longer included at this time.
Compared to other sightseeing passes in other cities, the Go Chicago Pass offers a relatively small selection of attractions. Although 25+ attractions is nothing to sneeze at, if you’re used to the large selection of sites on the New York Pass or the London Pass, you might be a little underwhelmed. Of course, those are bigger cities, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
The smaller selection especially applies to tours. The Go Chicago Pass includes 8 tours, 3 of which are boat tours. Inside the fine print, you’ll also note that you can only take one boat tour per day. But don’t worry, you can take all three if you get the 3 or 5-day pass.
Four of the tours are bus tours. The Grand Tour is a two-hour bus tour that takes passengers to the famous sites on Chicago’s North Side and South Shore. That tour is normally $52.95, so it’s a good savings opportunity.
If you’ve been counting, that’s 3 boat tours and 4 bus tours out of 8. So there isn’t a big selection of site tours or walking tours available.
Most people won’t see the restrictions on tours as a big deal, but it’s something worth noting so you don’t end up disappointed.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Grand Tour is only available from December to April. I found that a bit strange. I don’t think most travelers would expect it since winter tends to be a little less busy for Chicago tourism. At $52.95, the Grand Tour is one of the better value options included on the pass, so it might be a bit of a letdown to discover it isn’t available during your summer visit. You can still tour the South Shore and North Side individually, though.
Who Is the Go Chicago Pass Good For?
- First-time visitors – If it’s your first time in the Windy City, you’re probably going to want to do a lot of sightseeing. The city’s biggest attractions are all on the Go Chicago Pass, so there’s a good chance that the pass will offer you some pretty nice value.
- Travelers on a sightseeing mission – The Go Chicago Pass is most attractive for those who want to do a lot of sightseeing in a short amount of time. If you’re likely to visit 2 or 3 attractions per day, this pass will be right up your alley. Again, with the Go Chicago Pass, you can visit as many attractions as you like each day the pass is active. You’re only limited by the number of hours in the day and the length of time you want to spend at each attraction.
- Families – The Go Chicago Pass includes a nice selection of kid-friendly activities (Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Legoland Discovery Center, etc.), so take the whole family and save even more.
Who is the Go Chicago Pass Not So Good For?
- Sightseers who enjoy a relaxed pace – If the idea of visiting several attractions per day doesn’t sound appealing, then an unlimited sightseeing pass probably isn’t for you. Maybe you prefer to spend a day sightseeing and then take a day off. Maybe you’re the type who likes to take your time at each attraction. Either way, you probably won’t get great value from the Go Chicago Pass. Rather than an all-inclusive pass, you may want to check out the Chicago Explorer Pass or the Chicago CityPASS instead.
- Travelers not that into sightseeing – If sightseeing isn’t big on your agenda, skip the Go Chicago Pass and spend your money on something else.
- Travelers on a super-tight budget – The Go Chicago Pass can save you a lot of money on sightseeing, but it’s not free. If your budget for this trip is extremely limited, skip the pass and look for some free things to do instead.
Getting the Most Out of the Go Chicago Pass
Buy it on sale – This pass regularly goes on sale, which helps you save even more. Check for the latest sale here.
Activate your pass early in the morning – Your pass is activated once you visit your first attraction. Whether you start at 8 AM or 4 PM, that counts as your first day. To make the most of that first day, I recommend activating your pass early in the morning.
Visit 3+ attractions per day – The more attractions you visit, the more money you save. If you visit 3 attractions per day, you’ll be banking good savings. The exception is the 1-day pass. If you only plan to visit 3 attractions, you’re likely better off buying the 3-attraction Chicago Explorer Pass instead.
Skip the 1-day pass – Like I hinted at above, the 1-day pass doesn’t offer much value. In order to make the 1-day Go Chicago Pass a better value than the 3 or 4-attraction Chicago Explorer Pass, you would have to visit 5 attractions. That’s likely too much for one day.
Pay attention to the regular prices – The Go Chicago Pass is an unlimited pass, but you still want to get the best value for your money. When considering if this pass is right for you, look at the available attractions and their regular admission prices. Crunch some quick numbers to make sure you’re saving money by purchasing the pass. If you visit a few of the pricier attractions, you should be golden.
How to Buy the Go Chicago Pass
If the Go Chicago Pass sounds like your cup of tea, you can buy it online anytime. It’ll be emailed to you right away. You can then upload it to the Go City app for easy access on your phone, or print it and go.
Bottom Line: Is the Go Chicago Pass Worth It?
The Go Chicago Pass is a good buy for travelers who want to spend a few days sightseeing in Chicago. If that sounds like your jam, this pass will help you check out Chicago’s hottest sites at a serious discount.
If you think you’ll only visit a few sites, be sure to check out the Chicago Explorer Pass before making your decision.
Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world! There is so much to see and do, and I think you’ll love it too.
Enjoy your time in the Windy City, and thanks so much for reading. Until next time, happy traveling!
Save Money on Chicago’s Best Sites – Want to save money on sightseeing in Chicago? The Go Chicago Pass is a great way to do it! With entry to 25+ of Chicago’s top sites, this pass is a great way to save time and money. Find your pass here.
Go Chicago Pass Review
Pass Options & Lengths
Fast Track Entry
Go Chicago Pass Review
The Go Chicago Pass includes entry to over 25 attractions at a big discount. It is a good buy for travelers who want to spend a few days doing a lot of sightseeing in Chicago.
With this pass, you’ll enjoy a great selection of museums, fast-track entry, and discounts on the best sightseeing in Chicago. While there are a few drawbacks, the Go Chicago Pass provides great overall value.