How to See Chicago on $50 a Day - Page 2

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Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois
Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois  (iStockphoto)

Walk, take public transportation, or catch a water taxi
Walking is an ideal way to see Chicago on the cheap—not to mention a wonderful way to get around—but the most efficient way to see the city is via the “El” subway train. A one-day unlimited-ride Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) pass costs $5.75 per passenger (a single ride is $2.25). Getting around by water taxi is also an affordable—and thoroughly enjoyable—option. The Chicago Water Taxi travels between Michigan Avenue and Chinatown along the city’s scenic Chicago River, a watery ribbon winding through a canyon of iconic skyscrapers. An all-day water-taxi pass, good for unlimited trips on the day of purchase, costs $7 (a single ride is $3). Cost: $2.25–$7.

Take advantage of the city’s free museums and low-cost attractions
The Lincoln Park Zoo, home to gorillas, rhinos, and black bears, is one of the few zoos in the country to offer free admission. An easy walk from downtown, Chicago’s 25-acre Millennium Park is a fine place to unwind, with cutting-edge public art interspersed among the shady trees. Millenium is a park within a park; Grant Park, Chicago’s “front door,” is a vast, elegant greensward separating the city and Lake Michigan. The park’s centerpiece is the Buckingham Fountain, a spectacularly splashy rococo fountain that’s one of the biggest in the world. Or head lakeside to the Navy Pier’s Landshark Beer Garden, where a free fireworks display lights up the summer skies every Wednesday and Saturday. The pier’s old-fashioned amusement park rides include a 150-foot-high Ferris wheel and a musical carousel; a two-ride combo ticket is yours for $10. Cost: free–$10.

Snag discounted theater tickets and a Chicago CityPASS for half-off museum admissions
Chicago has long been a big-time theater town, and, in general, ticket prices have yet to approach the stratospheric heights of New York’s Broadway shows. However, you can cut costs even further by buying half-price tickets on the day of the show at one of two Hot Tix ticket centers, located in the Loop at 72 East Randolph Street and at the Water Works Visitor Center. A few theaters even offer “day of” discounts on leftover seats. Steppenwolf Theatre Company offers 20 $20 tickets on the day of a performance as well as half-price tickets (if seats are still available) one hour before the performance. At the Goodman Theatre, any remaining seats in the first eight mezzanine rows are offered at half-price for that evening's performance; you can buy online or at the box office starting at noon. If touring the city’s biggest museums and attractions is on your must-do list, purchase a Chicago CityPASS ($84 adult, $81 for kids ages 3 to 11), and you’ll save 50 percent off admission fees (and skip the entrance lines to boot) at five of Chicago’s most celebrated attractions, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. You can purchase the pass at any Chicago CityPASS attraction or online. Cost: $5–$20 theater tickets, $84 CityPASS.

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