Chicago – aptly named “The Windy City” – is a great place to hit up if you’re backpacking in the USA. And like many amazing cities around the world it can be pretty hard on the budget traveller – luckily though there’s heaps of awesome ideas to save your wallet and I’ve put together some of the top one, all of which are free or will cost you less than $20 – now that’s a backpacker bargain!
And on top of that you can score a cheap bed for the via the guys over at Hostelbookers!
So here my Top Attractions To Visit In Chicago;
Snag some trippy pictures at the multidimensional Cloud Gate, a sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor that seems to defy gravity while wildly reflecting images of everything surrounding it, including you! Check out the Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry where Chicago’s free concerts are presented year-round.
Chicago Cultural Center
Across Michigan Avenue from the northwest corner of Millennium Park, this stunning landmark building offers free events featuring music, dance, films, lectures and art exhibitions. The lush interior includes two stained-glass domes and re-creations of Doge’s Palace in Venice and the Acropolis in Athens.
Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows
Located at the Navy Pier, this free museum lets you browse among beautiful stained glass windows, some designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany himself. The exhibits present an interesting view of Chicago’s history with subjects ranging from the Industrial Revolution to religious icons to Michael Jordan.
Also at the Navy Pier, admission to this no-time-limit mind-bending attraction is only $10.95 for adults. Navigate the Spinning Tunnel, experience the sensation of the floor dropping out beneath you and play the Time Freak game for an additional $2.
Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
Only $6 per person take you on a seven-minute ride around this recreation of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition Ferris wheel that slowly revolves up to 150 feet above the Navy Pier. Though not particularly thrilling, it’s a relaxing way to appreciate the view of Chicago’s shoreline urban jungle by day or night.
Take a ride up to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower for only $17.50 to behold a dizzying view of the Chicago skyline. Admission includes access to the interactive exhibits in the Skydeck lobby, a 9-minute video presentation and a trip out on the Sky Ledge, a glass-sided box that extends 4.3 feet out into thin air.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Open 365 days a year and free to all, this urban zoo recreates wild ecosystems that range from deserts to jungle canopies. Get face-to-face with gorillas and chimps in the safari habitat or watch pygmy hippos at eye-level as they swim in the rainforest pools.
On Thursdays from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. you can indulge your inner nerd for only $12 at the Adler After Dark event for the 21 and over crowd. Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and bar before attending the Night Sky Live shows in the Planetarium where professional astronomers reveal the mysteries of outer space.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Part of the North Pond Nature Sanctuary, this enchanting urban wildlife conservatory is only $9.00 for adults and features exhibits that highlight biodiversity like the enchanting Butterfly Garden. The Natural History Museum features zoological and botanical collections with over 100,000 photographic images, 22,000 fossils and 15,000 plants.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park
Just 40 minutes from downtown on the North Channel of the Chicago River, this free park in Skokie, Illinois, is open 365 days a year and has five different sculpture gardens connected by walking and bicycle paths. To appreciate the sculpture’s diversity that ranges from classic designs like Mark Chatterley’s Fairy Circle to futuristic mind-blowers like Rob Lorenson’s Apple Rocket, the nonprofit foundation provides a complimentary PDF guide to the dozens of touchable artworks.
Find out about free current shows, festivals and holiday celebrations at Chicago Metro Mix or consider purchasing a Chicago City Pass for discounts to major attractions.