We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
95%
Found this guide helpful

There are a lot of things to do for the budget minded traveler. History, architecture, art, food and family activities all can be found for less than you might think in a city like Chicago.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Thrifty Traveller

19 Places

1 City Tip

Print
Map

19 Places

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Speciality Museums

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Gardens

Lincoln Park Zoo

Zoos

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

Restaurants

Chicago Cultural Center

Art Galleries, Architectural Buildings

Gold Coast Dogs N Wabash Ave

Restaurants

Millennium Park

Historic Walking Areas, Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Cloud Gate

Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Buckingham Fountain

Fountains, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Picasso Statue

Monuments & Statues

Union Station

Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Mass Transportation Systems

Shedd Aquarium

Aquariums

Navy Pier

Piers & Boardwalks, Theme Parks

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Bridges

The Magnificent Mile

Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Wrigley Field

Arenas & Stadiums

Old Jerusalem Restaurant

Restaurants

Ann Sather

Restaurants

Chicago Chinatown

Neighbourhoods

GitchSup's City Tips

  • Look into a city pass and see if you are planning on attending those venues, it may save you a lot of cash. Entertainment books and sites like halfoff.com can be a great resource as well.
  • Save
    The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    This is a wonderful place for families to visit, with a lot of children's activities and interactive exhibits. This is a great place to visit on both warm summer days and rainy or cold days. Outside is the Micole Birdwalk, a marsh area where you can look for birds with the binoculars, and the 1/3 mile nature trail around the grounds where you never know what will be going on. Inside, besides the interactive children's exhibits there is also the butterfly sanctuary with all it's brightly colored butterflies and birds. Be sure to bring a camera, there are so many photo opportunists here!

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Bring the camera.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #84 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great for kids 20/10/2017
    • Fun, creative, indoors and out. Great. 04/10/2017
    • The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
    Address:
    2430 N Cannon Dr
    Chicago, IL 60614-2874
    Phone:
    +1 773-755-5100
    Price range:
    US$6 - US$6
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    09:00 - 17:00
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Lincoln Park Conservatory
    Gardens
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Free and open to the public this is a gem to visit on a cold Chicago day. Warm temperatures and bright colors in the conservatory make this a fun stop anytime of year. This stop is a must for the plant enthusiast (especially orchid lovers) and a great spot for photos.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Kids may not enjoy this stop as much as adults.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Totally enclosed Conservatory 16/11/2017
    • Beautiful plants--super fresh air--only a brief visit needed 01/11/2017
    • Lincoln Park Conservatory
    Address:
    2391 N Stockton Dr
    At Stockton Dr.
    Chicago, IL 60614-3419
    Phone:
    +1 312-742-7736
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Lincoln Park Zoo
    Zoos
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Right next to the Lincoln Park Conservatory this is a fun stop that the whole family will enjoy. Like the Conservatory the price can't be beat, it's free and open 365 days a year. Be sure to check the website for special events and daily happenings, like feeding times and falcon flights.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • A great spot for photos.
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good for children 18/11/2017
    • Free visit to the zoo 17/11/2017
    • Lincoln Park Zoo
    Address:
    2001 North Clark Street
    Chicago, IL 60614-4757
    Phone:
    +1 312-742-2000
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
    Restaurants (Delicatessen)
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Sometimes getting lunch in Chicago can be a bit pricey, but if you are looking for a unique fun experience why not try a picnic in one of the parks? Just stop in at Pastoral and pick out a couple cheeses, some crackers and a bottle of wine and head over to Millennium Park or Cloud Gate and enjoy an afternoon in the sun. there is a LOT of great food items here, so this is one of those stores that can be as inexpensive as you like or a total luxury splurge.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Be sure to have a bottle opener and non breakable glasses if you plan on having some wine in the park. And don't forget your silverware.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #974 of 6,022 restaurants in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Bread toooo chewy 05/09/2017
    • Picnic Basket...done 09/08/2017
    • Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
    Address:
    53 E Lake St
    Chicago, IL 60601-5904
    Phone:
    +1 312-658-1250
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 - 18:00
    Mon - Fri
    10:30 - 20:00
    Sat
    11:00 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Chicago Cultural Center
    Art Galleries, Architectural Buildings
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    A free self guided tour through the building will keep you oohing and awing. The Tiffany glass alone is worth the visit but add to that the mosaics throughout the building and it is truly breathtaking. Not only can you walk through the building to see the architecture, but they also have rotating artists located through the building. Besides all the eye appeal the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) offers FREE music performances year-round. Be sure to look up their web page to see what is going on when you plan your visit. The building itself has a long historic history, some of it documented in the building, but for a history buff it's worth checking out the Wikipedia page.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Photography is allowed in most areas, but be mindful of certain private artists who may request to not have their items photographed.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Gorgeous and interesting...and free! 15/11/2017
    • Beautiful and inspirational 13/11/2017
    • Chicago Cultural Center
    Address:
    78 E Washington St
    Chicago, IL 60602-4801
    Phone:
    +1 312-744-3316
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 - 18:00
    Mon - Thu
    09:00 - 19:00
    Fri - Sat
    09:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Gold Coast Dogs N Wabash Ave
    Restaurants (American, Fast food)
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Although only average rated on Trip Advisor, I added this to the list because it is not only inexpensive to grab a bite on the go here, but if you stick to what they are known for you won't go wrong. Don't stray and order fish or a burger, you won't be happy.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Stick to the traditional Chicago dogs here.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #3,154 of 6,022 restaurants in Chicago
    • Cold and dirty 13/11/2017
    • Loved the Chicago Dogs! 02/10/2017
    • Gold Coast Dogs N Wabash Ave
    Address:
    159 N Wabash Ave
    Chicago, IL 60601-3605
    Phone:
    +1 312-917-1677
    Price range:
    US$0 - US$20
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    11:00 - 19:30
  • Save
    Millennium Park
    Historic Walking Areas, Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Everyone knows about "the Bean", and it is a fun stop, but the park is 25 acres, and includes the beautiful Lurie garden, a great oasis when the city gets too hectic. On a warm day you can sit and watch the kids play in Crown Fountain, or take your shoes off and be a kid at heart yourself. Check out the special exhibit artwork on the Pramanades or attend any number of the free events offered, like outdoor concerts, films screenings, yoga or dance lessons etc..

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Near the Bean is the visitors center where you can get a map and information on what is going on in the park.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • remarkable architecture 18/11/2017
    • Great time visiting Millennium Park including Cloud Gate aka The Bean 15/11/2017
    • Millennium Park
    Address:
    201 East Randolph Street
    Between Michigan Avenue & Columbus Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60601-6530
    Phone:
    +1 312-742-1168
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    06:00 - 23:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Cloud Gate
    Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Also known as "The Bean". This is a stop for both the first time Chicago visitor and the seasoned traveler. It's always fun to see your reflection as well as the city in panorama. One of the most photographed landmarks, it was completed in 2005 and measures 33 by 66 by 42 feet.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Crowds are larger on weekends and afternoons, if you want less people plan on early morning or evening to see the city lights reflected on the surface.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Bean 18/11/2017
    • Must go there 18/11/2017
    • Cloud Gate
    Address:
    201 E. Randolph St.
    Millenium Park
    Chicago, IL 60601-6530
    Phone:
    +1 312-742-1168
    Other:
  • Save
    Buckingham Fountain
    Fountains, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Although beautiful during the day, the real thrill of Buckingham Fountain is the evening shows that happen after dark, when they are choreographed to lights and music. The last show is at 10:00 p.m..

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • The fountain is not open 24/7, it operates daily 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. from mid-April through mid-October.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #22 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • It's a fountain 18/11/2017
    • As you seen in TV shows and movies. 13/11/2017
    • Buckingham Fountain
    Address:
    Grant Park
    Chicago, IL
    Phone:
    +1 312-742-7529
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 23:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Picasso Statue
    Monuments & Statues
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Another highly photographed landmark, the Picasso sculpture sits in Daley Plaza. An added bonus, if you visit on a Thursday between 7AM and 3PM from May 15-October 30 you can grab something fresh from the beautiful farmers market. You can find everything from fresh flowers, cheese, Amish baked goods, veggies and fresh fruit for your hotel room.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Visiting the sculpture is free of course, but the farmers market is a great value for in room snacks.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #46 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting sculpture 05/11/2017
    • Picasso 04/11/2017
    • Picasso Statue
    Address:
    50 W Washington St
    Richard J. Daley Plaza Civic Center
    Chicago, IL 60602-1305
  • Save
    Union Station
    Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Mass Transportation Systems
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    This beautiful building has been featured in many movies, including The Untouchables and Man of Steel. Chicago Union Station is considered a “Great Public Space” by the American Planning Association, which acknowledges public spaces around America that exhibit “exemplary character, quality, and planning.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • You can walk the space for free but to get a real sense of the history and architcture you may want to take a $15 hour long tour of the site offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation or you can opt for the more in depth 90 minute tour offered by the Chicago History Museum for $25.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #54 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Thank goodness they are reverting the train station to the beautiful station it once was! 12/11/2017
    • Traveling and capturing history. 11/11/2017
    • Union Station
    Address:
    225 South Canal Street
    Chicago, IL 60606
    Phone:
    +1 312-655-2385
    Other:
  • Save
    Shedd Aquarium
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    The Shedd is a great activity for kids and adults and is a nice way to spend a cold or rainy day. A general admission of $8 for adults and $6 for kids, is a great way to keep the cost down an children entertained and learning for the afternoon. If you want to make this a once in a lifetime adventure you can add on a special event, like shark feeding for $89.95 for adults.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Expect long lines on weekends or during the summer when school is out.
    • Keep your visit inexpensive by only getting the General Admission.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #26 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Make sure you take the time to read the fine print 17/11/2017
    • Must see 17/11/2017
    • Shedd Aquarium
    Address:
    1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
    Chicago, IL 60605-2490
    Phone:
    +1 312-939-2438
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    09:00 - 17:00
    Sat - Sun
    09:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Navy Pier
    Piers & Boardwalks, Theme Parks
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Just strolling Navy Pier can be fun, but you can also enjoy a hidden gem within this gem. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass is free and open to the public year round. Just walk in and take a look around at the 150 beautiful and historic pieces of work. If you come in on a Thursday afternoon, the museum's curator gives guided tours that highlight the gems of the museum's collection, and gives a little insider information about each of the pieces. Also in Navy Pier you will find the iconic Ferris Wheel. The ride is kind of pricey, but if you are a photographer this is a great opportunity for some shots above the pier, over the city and out over the lake.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Be mindful of the cost of items here, small things can add up very fast.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #36 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Try the Big Wheel! 18/11/2017
    • Eh. 17/11/2017
    • Navy Pier
    Address:
    600 E Grand Ave
    Chicago, IL 60611-3419
    Phone:
    +1 312-595-7437
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 - 20:00
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 - 22:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Michigan Avenue Bridge
    Bridges
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    The DuSable Bridge comes out from downtown Chicago right onto Michigan Avenue and the start of the "Magnificent or Mag Mile". As a historic landmark it offers some great photo opportunities of both the cityscape and the river. What most people don't know is that the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is located in the southwest bridgetender house. Although it's a small museum, it is well worth the $4 admission for the history and the really unique view of the inner workings of the bridge.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #40 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting to walk across 10/11/2017
    • Great spot for pics 08/11/2017
    • Michigan Avenue Bridge
    Address:
    Michigan Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60611
  • Save
    The Magnificent Mile
    Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Also known as the Magnificent Mile you can find anything you need along this stretch of road. If you have children you can find something they will love at almost all price points, the American Doll at the top of the spectrum, Disney mid priced and the Hershey's store where you don't need to spend an ton to have a lot of fun. Towards the end of the Mile is the Watertower building, one of a few buildings that didn't burn in the 1871 fire. It is now a small museum and visitors center and worth ambling into for a look around if you are at that end of town.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • The Mile hosts a parade around the holiday's and in the spring it is filled with tulips. It is a wonderful place to people watch. Make sure you have on comfortable shoes so you can walk up one side and down the other.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • north end 18/11/2017
    • Good shopping area 18/11/2017
    • The Magnificent Mile
    Address:
    North Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611
    Phone:
    +1 312-642-3570
    Other:
  • Save
    Wrigley Field
    Arenas & Stadiums
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Although the home of the Chicago Cubs the stadium is actually older than the team. It was built in 1914. During the baseball season you can take stadium tours on both game days and non game days. The difference being what you will be able to see if they players are practicing. Currently the 75-90 minute guided tour is $25, not exactly cheep, but an experience you will remember for a long time if you are a history and/or sports buff.

    Good for
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Best bet to see a game is to find tickets at Stub Hub, usually they are substantially less.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Go Cubs! 18/11/2017
    • Fantastic ball park 18/11/2017
    • Wrigley Field
    Address:
    1060 W Addison
    Chicago, IL 60613-4397
    Phone:
    +1 773-404-2827
    Other:
  • Save
    Old Jerusalem Restaurant
    Restaurants (Middle Eastern, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Israeli)
    GitchSup Says:

    The Old Jerusalem offers authentic Middle Eastern food at a great price. The dinner falafel plate came with enough to share and the honey cake (Harisa) is a perfect way to end the day, super moist sweet cake that pairs great with a cup of coffee or tea. It is very possible to get filled up for under $15.00

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Located in Old Town, this is a great stop after a visit to Zanies or Second City.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #943 of 6,022 restaurants in Chicago
    • Old Town Vibe 11/11/2017
    • great homemade style food 16/10/2017
    • Old Jerusalem Restaurant
    Address:
    1411 N Wells St
    Chicago, IL 60610-1305
    Phone:
    +1 312-944-0459
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:00 - 22:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Ann Sather
    Restaurants (American, Cafe, Swedish)
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    World famous for their cinnamon rolls this place can get you ready for the day, but you better get their early, especially on the weekends. Known for all things Swedish you can get Swedish pancakes, waffles or meatballs, as well as more standard fare of eggs Benedict. The cinnamon rolls come as 2 large rolls per serving so plan to bring some home or sharing. This great start to the day can be had for under $15 per person.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Can't get to Chicago for your cinnamon roll or Swedish pancake fix? They have published a few of their recipes online! http://www.annsather.com/Images/Recipes/Breakfast-t2.pdf
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #99 of 6,022 restaurants in Chicago
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Breakfast 12/11/2017
    • memorably good breakfast 10/11/2017
    • Ann Sather
    Address:
    909 W Belmont Ave
    Chicago, IL 60657-4408
    Phone:
    +1 773-348-2378
    Price range:
    US$0 - US$20
    Hours:
    Mon - Tue
    07:00 - 15:00
    Wed
    19:00 - 15:00
    Thu - Fri
    07:00 - 15:00
    Sat - Sun
    07:00 - 16:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Chicago Chinatown
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    GitchSup Says:

    Great neighborhood to spend some time in and easy to get to on public transit. The Nine Dragon Wall located across the street from the Wentworth entrance is a reproduction of the original wall in Beijing that was built in 1402. Take your time strolling the street and looking in the shop windows. Chinatown is where you can find many things that may be difficult to find elsewhere, like candies and assorted food items. You can find great prices on some fun souvenir items as well. Take some time to stroll through Chinatown Square, and take your picture with the sculptures of your animal from the Chinese Zodiac. If you are a foodie this is the opportunity to have great authentic dim sum as well.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Be sure to bring your camera, there are a lot of great things to see here, and beauty in the details of many of the buildings.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #90 of 667 things to do in Chicago
    • First chinatown experience 18/11/2017
    • We loved it 15/11/2017
    • Chicago Chinatown
    Address:
    318 W Cermak Rd
    Chicago, IL 60616-1916
    Phone:
    +1 712-480-0060
    Other:
top
×
Was this guide helpful?
YesNo