Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago

Top Cheap Things to Do in Chicago, IL

Best Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago

  • Traveller favourites
    Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.
  • Traveller ranking
    Highest rated attractions on Tripadvisor, based on traveller reviews.
Traveller rating
Neighbourhoods
Good for
269 places sorted by traveller favourites
Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.
Showing results 1-30 of 269

What travellers are saying

  • CultureVulture60657
    Chicago, IL8,404 contributions
    The Cezanne retrospective now at the Art Institute through early September is stupendous. The curators have gathered works from the AIC's own large holdings of Cezanne plus other museums across Europe and the U.S. for a comprehensive look at the life work this important late 19th Century painter. Cezanne revisited the same subjects time after time over the course of decades. To see several in one room is a rare opportunity. I also loved the video in which the curators dissected 3 paintings, even using infrared technology, to explain how, using color, Cezanne built up his images. It's a large show, about 130 works, plus notebooks and other items, so plan to spend a couple hours with it.
    Written 13 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • 307leven
    Stroudsburg, PA139 contributions
    We visited the last Friday in April. To get there by the 9:30 opening, we traveled by bus instead of driving from our hotel on Michigan Ave. because it was cheaper ($10 for both of us, round trip) than paying the $22 parking fee, plus we didn't have to drive. The #2 bus dropped us off at 57th and Stoney Island Ave, which is only a block west of the museum, to get back we took the #6 bus, but during the summer months, the #10 bus drops you off right at the museum.

    The exhibits were spectacular, I took the U-505 tour which was an extra $18 and took about 1/2 hour, but our tornado film inside the giant dome theater was included upon our request as part of our CityPass admission. The rocket and Apollo exhibits were outstanding, the transportation exhibits were great. I also enjoyed the farm tech exhibits, the extreme ice displays, the 727 plane exhibit, which you can walk through and various other displays including the various aircraft on display.

    I did not get to see the coal mine or the Art of the Brick Gallery because they were extra add ons and I didn't have enough time. But, my wife saw the Coal Mine exhibit and enjoyed it. We were there all day until closing at 4pm and only took a 15 minute break to eat a snack and grab a cup of coffee. If I had another day, I would have liked to come back and see more.

    If you go, wear comfortable shoes due to all the walking. Also, don't schedule too many add on exhibits such as the Brick Gallery, U-boat tour, tornado film, etc. or you won't get to see the whole museum.
    Written 7 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • TravelingMama
    New York, NY346 contributions
    Beautiful views of the shoreline and city. We opted for a daytime view and it didn’t disappoint. They have the tilt attraction- we didn’t do it - but it looked like the people who did enjoyed it.
    Written 14 April 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Reedmummy
    Georgetown, SC20 contributions
    The best time to go if you are walking is the middle of the day. There is a lot of crime In Chicago and a lot of shootings everyday while I was there the middle of the day was the safest time it seemed
    Written 14 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Reedmummy
    Georgetown, SC20 contributions
    It was great go during the middle of the day it is safer. There was a lot of shootings in Chicago while we were there and mugging. The park is safe and very nice
    Written 14 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Darryl G
    Richmond, VA96 contributions
    This museum, which takes a full day to explore, has the best and largest exhibit of dinosaurs and other fossils I have ever seen! All of the exhibits, and there are many other topics covered, with the exception of the gem exhibit, are all large, and well displayed. But back to the dinosaurs and fossils, not only is the display large, but it is divided by geologic periods, with summaries of how the earth changed from one period to the next, and how those climate and geological changes affected life on earth, both giving rise to and the demise of, various types of both plants and animals, until the modern age. For my taste, this is the best museum in Chicago, and several others are also good.
    Written 1 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Mitch S
    5 contributions
    Wrigley is baseball history....The cubs lost but being there was an experience. Right on the red line easy to get to. Just keep in mind as this is an old stadium there will be obstructed seats due to the big metal poles
    Written 11 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • siochain
    12 contributions
    Walked back to the hotel from the restaurant. Very active and very pretty. Lights on many of the buildings and one in particular plays a video which was very colorful.
    Written 13 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Matt F
    83 contributions
    Wow! We had visited Chicago before, but never Lincoln Park Zoo. Why? I couldn’t tell you because this place is INCREDIBLE! And…FREE!
    My wife and I couldn’t believe that we were walking around such a vast, well maintained place, seeing Gorillas and Giraffes and Zebras and Hyenas up close without having to pay a penny (or a dime!)
    It was a great experience! Seeing the Gorillas was a highlight for me!
    If you’re ever in Chicago, this place is a MUST SEE! Visit here before anywhere else!
    Written 12 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • kkmckendree
    Battle Creek, MI154 contributions
    A nice stop that's free and you can wonder around and look at the beautiful architecture of this building. The pictures don't do it justice!
    Written 10 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Morella
    Farmington Hills, MI1,010 contributions
    Absolutely loved this place!

    There are different environments connected by doors. Each one has a different theme. Plants and flowers are in great shape, evidently cared well.

    The diversity of environments and colors is enjoyable.

    There is also an area where you can drink coffee and teas, and have good quality croissants and muffins. This was a great find.

    Some of the areas have pathways through the plants. Nicely done.

    Reservations highly recommended at this time.
    Written 7 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Irina
    United States9,939 contributions
    Lakefront Trail is an invaluable part of Chicago. It's great -- and free -- for anybody: pedestrians, joggers, walkers, cyclists. From the trail one can admire some fantastic scenic views of the gorgeous Lake Michigan and the unique Chicago Skyline, the exciting Chicago Lakefront, the grand and welcoming Navy Pier, and many other beautiful sites of this vibrant city.

    There are some new improvements to Lakefront Trail: it has a new addition -- the Navy Pier Flyover (constructed in 2014 -- 2021), which provides the separation of bicyclists from pedestrians in a very busy part of the city, that very often has traffic congestion in the area close to Navy Pier. For all visitors, and especially skaters and bicyclists I would recommend to study the current trail map and its regulations, safety instructions, etc. The trail is well-marked, has some very detailed info boards , and of course, there's much online info available, as well.

    Lakefront Trail stretches for 18,5 miles along the western shore of Lake Michigan, and goes quite a way parallel to Lake Shore Drive. The lawns, and some large city parks along the trail length, are nicely landscaped and well maintained.

    My friends and I have enjoyed our last visit to Lakefront Trail, as we always do!
    Written 6 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Deidre P
    37 contributions
    If your looking for something to do when you arrive in Chicago the loop is a good way to get your blood circulating after your flight and drive in from the airport. Great views, stop for bite to eat and drink along the way, I think of it as guiltless pleasure…
    Written 1 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • kmz88
    Chicago, IL362 contributions
    A beautiful fountain. Must see in Chicago. Plan to be there at the hour to see the central, high portion of the fountain go up!
    Written 25 February 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Taylor B
    Chicago, IL7,535 contributions
    My wife and I live in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, a half-block south of North Avenue. Cross the street and you're in Lincoln Park, one of Chicago's most affluent communities and home to Lincoln Park, one of the city's most popular public parks, Lincoln Park Zoo and Old Town, one of the city's leading entertainment and restaurant meccas. Its boundaries are strictly defined--Diversey Avenue on the north, the Chicago River on the west, North Avenue on the south and Lake Michigan on the east. It also is home to DePaul University, Lincoln Park High School and one of the country's most distinguished private schools, Francis Parker School. And it is home to five architecturally significant churches--St. Michael's, St. Josaphat's, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Clement and St. James Lutheran Church. Other prominent tourist attractions include Chicago History Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and North Pond Nature Sanctuary. Not to mention North Avenue Beach and the famous statues of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. Chicago's only three-star Michelin restaurant, Alinea, is in Lincoln Park. So is the Lettuce Entertain You empire's first restaurant, R.J. Grunt's, which features one of the first salad bars. Also the first Potbelly Sandwich Works, which debuted in 1977. BBQ baby back ribs? Ella's is the place. Pizza? Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company. Hot dogs? Fatso's Last Stand.
    Written 20 December 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.