How to See Chicago on $50 a Day

Are you a penny pincher with wanderlust? Don’t fret, here is our guide to seeing and enjoying Chi-Town without spending more than $50 a day.
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Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois
Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois  (iStockphoto)

Big and brassy, Chicago is the glittering Gotham of the Midwest. It offers plenty of high-end cultural treats, glitzy hotels, and upscale restaurants. But you don’t have to break the bank to experience the Windy City in full. Here are five money-saving strategies to enjoy Chicago on the cheap.

Join the hotel chain gang for big savings in prime locations
The challenge in visiting Chicago on a budget is finding reasonably priced accommodations. Chicago has its fair share of the country’s priciest hotel rooms, with base prices reaching New York City levels—and that’s before adding Chicago’s 16.4 percent hotel tax. But demand for economically priced lodging has opened the door for some of the country’s most reliable and family-friendly hotel chains—many located in prime downtown neighborhoods, including Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn and Suites, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn and Suites. Or search for rooms and apartments on AirBnB.com and snap up $50-a-night digs slightly outside of the Loop if you don’t mind working your CTA pass on the El (see below). You can also cut costs by visiting on weekends, when business travelers have left town, availability rises, and prices drop, or during the winter doldrums from January to March, when rates dip to their lowest levels of the year, along with the temperature. Cost: $50 a night and up.

Sample Chicago’s celebrated cheap eats
Chicago is the home of deep-dish pizza, where the cheese is the cheesiest and the crust the flakiest. Dining out on deep-dish is as economical as it is delicious—this pizza is so thick and gooey that most folks can only manage one slice. Lou Malnati’s has 33 locations in the Chicago area, and its deep-dish pizza has soul (and plenty of cheese). You can also dine in Chicago on the cheap by eating in the city’s ethnic enclaves. Fill your belly for a few bucks in Chicago’s Chinatown at venerable spots like Won Kow, which has been in operation since 1927 and serves classic dim sum at $3 to $4 an item. Or opt for a quintessential street-side Chicago-style hot dog, a hot mess that marries a Vienna Beef frankfurter with the works: relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes, mustard, and sometimes hot peppers for a firecracker finish. Cost: $3–$10.

Published: 8 Nov 2012 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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1 Comments:

Best Hotels in Chicago

$876-$1000
Average/night*
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#1
The Peninsula Chicago
$161-$345
Average/night*
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#2
The Talbott Hotel
$285
Average/night*
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#3
Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
$284
Average/night*
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#4
Thompson Chicago

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