It’s freezing and wintertime in Michigan and who doesn’t want to go to the Windy city for a long weekend? It sounds crazy, I know. Most people plan beach vacations but not us or at least not this year. We opted for Chicago for several reasons.
- Most of the sites we want to see are inside where we’ll be warm, regardless of the weather.
- It will be cheaper and not as busy. Hotel rates are very affordable this time of year.
- It’s within driving distance, saving us money.
If you’re planning a trip to Chicago with kids, I have some pointers to help you save money but to also help you optimize your time while you’re there. You want to see as much as possible and not go broke.
- Consider a hotel with breakfast. If your family can get one hot meal and it’s included in your hotel cost, you’ll save in the long run. You can grab a granola bar or apple for a mid-morning snack too. Embassy Suites in Chicago offers breakfast that is made as you order it. If your kids can eat a later breakfast plus a snack, you might be able to skip lunch all together and have an early dinner. Saving even more money!
- Visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It’s free and open M-F from 8:30am-5pm. Free is good! Plus, it is a very educational tour.
- Check for Tickmaster deals. We scored almost half off our Blue Man Group tickets by checking their deals and being flexible with the time of day that we’d attend the show. We wanted to go to the 7pm show but the 4pm show was discounted and cost me half the money. DEAL!
- Use the subway. It’s there and it’s affordable. If you take a taxi everywhere, you’ll break the bank. For example, you can take the subway from downtown Chicago to the Rosemont Station and then transfer to a bus and get to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Chicago. The distance for a taxi is very expensive but the public transportation is affordable.
- Get a GO Chicago Card®. You simply add attractions to your pass, buy one pass for each family member and use your passes from your phone. There are many pass options but if you buy an All-inclusive pass, you’ll lave 55% off the top attractions in Chicago. Plus, if you buy and All-inclusive pass, you’ll get the Hop-On-Hop-Off-Bus-Tour and this will give you transportation to Shedd aquarium, Field Museum, Millennium Park and many more attractions. No worrying about paying a taxi, you can hop on and off the bus, included in your pass! If you just want to see the top 5 Chicago attractions, check out the CityPASS. It’s like the Go Chicago Card but only covers a few attractions and it’s a huge savings!
- Hit up Groupon. I love Groupon and if you’re looking for last minute deals on hotels, you have to check out Groupon first. There were SEVERAL deals listed for Chicago but we used credit card points instead. For example, when I searched, the Double Tree in Chicago was available for $64 a night. WOW! I checked coupons and the Marriott chain of hotels were offering 20% off booking a hotel. When in doubt, check Groupon.
- Pack snacks and a reusable water bottle. This goes without saying but if you can pack your own snacks and fresh fruit plus a water bottle that you can fill, you won’t be wasting money on sugary soda or unhealthy snacks.
- Start Saving for the American Girl Doll store. We knew we were going to Chicago so for my daughter’s birthday and Christmas, she asked for gift cards. Think smart, plan in advance, and everyone will be happier!