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Enjoy Chicago on a Budget — With Our Chicago Insider Secrets

Don’t put off exploring Chicago any longer. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite tips that will hopefully enlighten as well as save you some time, trouble and money.

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate; Better Known as The Bean

1.Half Price Theater Tickets

Hot Tixs offers theaters goers 1/2 price tickets. Tickets can be purchased online or at 1 of 2 ticket locations. Tickets sales are final and there is a service fee. Online ticket will be available for pickup at the venue.


72 E. Randolph
Chicago, IL        ( Between Michigan and Wabash in the Loop, and just across the street from the Randolf exit of the Cultural Center)

163 E Pearson
Chicago, IL       ( East of Michigan Ave. across from the Water Tower)


Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 4pm

2.  Discounted Popular Chicago Attractions

The Chicago Go Card allow visitors access to 26 popular Chicago attractions. Savings can be up to 55% , visitors will be able to skip lines and will also receive a free guidebook. The card is priced according to the number of consecutive days it will be used.  Discounted fares for children ages 3 – 12.

In addition to the Go Card, Smart Destinations also offers a Customized Pass that allows visitors to select specific destinations. The more destinations you select, the larger the discount. Expect to save approximately 15 to 20 %.

Wendella Water Taxi

3. Chicago Water Taxi

Seasonal, April through October 

Wendella has been operating water taxis in Chicago since 1935. The boats run in a closed loop from Chinatown to Madison on the South branch and La Salle St. to Michigan Ave. on the main branch. The boats are in operation April through late fall. Most rides are only $2.00 and provide a view of the city from an entirely new perspective. Passengers arriving by train from either the Ogilvie or Union Stations can catch the taxis on the northwest corner of Madison St bridge at 2 N. Riverside Plaza. There are steep stairs leading down to the water taxi. The boats operate 7 days a week. For hours and and schedule go to

4. Chicago’s Pedway

If you are up to a little underground exploration check out Chicago’s indoor walkway system. The Pedway consists of 6 miles of underground tunnels and overhead bridges with 49 points of entry. This walkway connects public and private building as well as portions of the Chicago transit system . The Pedway is safe and convenient, especially during inclement weather. For more information and maps

5. Chicago Visitor Centers

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center
77 East Randolph Street

This is one of my favorite places in the city, take time to view the world’s largest Tiffany Dome in Preston Bradley Hall and the Healy and Millet stained glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda. The Cultural Center has free rotating exhibits and was once the Central Library. The Center is located across the street from Millennium Park.

Chicago Water Works 163 E. Pearson St

Chicago Water Works is located in the Magnificent Mile and is also home to one of the Hot Tix locations.

Both centers are open seven days a week. For hours and additional information

6. Great View of the City

Chicago At Sunset

For a Great View of the city go to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor at the Hancock building. Enjoy brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks or dessert while taking in one of the greatest views. Great way to spend your money on food and get the view for free.

7. CTA (Chicago Transit Authority)

Visitor Pass for Unlimited Rides.

The CTA offers this great pass where visitors can get around the city. They have a 1,3,7 and 30 day pass available starting at $10. The pass is for use on all CTA trains and buses. Note Metra Trains and Pace Buses are not part of this program. This can be a great value for those wishing to explore the city using mass transit. for more information

For riders wishing to pay for a single ride go to  for current rates.

8. Bicycling in the City

Chicago has some outstanding bike trails. Visitors or those of you who don’t own bikes, can rent them at a number of convenient locations such as Millennium Park and Navy Pier. In addition to bikes, inline skates, hand-cycles, tandems, electric bikes, tagalongs, quadcycles, segways and carriers for children are all available. Bikes come with helmets, maps and a lock. For a complete list of rental locations go to

9. Free Chicago Tours

Do to the generosity of some knowledgeable people who donate their time and love of the city, free tours are available through the Chicago Greeter Program. Tours are offered in a dozen languages, in 25 different neighborhoods and cover over 40 special interests. The program are available seasonably and often use mass transit.  Groups are usually limited to 6. The Greeter Program is housed in the Chicago Cultural Center at 77 E. Randolph St. across from Millennium Park.

In addition to the Chicago Greeter Program this organization also operates theInstaGreeter Program.This program is perfect for last minute hour long tours of the Loop, Millennium Park, Hyde Park or Old Town Tour to name a few. The InstaGreeter Program does not need to be booked in advance. The Greeter Program is booked 7 -10 business days in advance with tours lasting 2 – 4 hours. What a outstanding program run by some terrific people.

10. There is more to explore than just Downtown.

Get out of the downtown area and explore Chicago’s 77 distinct communities. Chicagoan’s know that some of the best restaurants, boutiques, historical and cultural events are found in their neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were formed and named by the people who live there. For a great resource for exploring these communities complete with maps, highlights, dining options and attractions go to

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