Chicago CityPass Review: Pros & Cons from Local Guides

adler planetarium on bike tour of Chicago

If you’re planning on visiting the city you may be trying to decide which sights you want to see because let’s be honest, Chicago is really cool and has tons of things to do and see. Deciding between soaring above the clouds on the Skydeck or visiting the Shedd Aquarium and seeing the fish up close can be hard because of costs, but what if there was a way you could do both and not break the bank!

Chicago has an amazing, all-inclusive pass called the CityPass which allows you to unlock the best attractions the Windy City has to offer to its visitors. With the purchase of this pass, you can easily access the main attractions without having to buy a full price ticket for each one, leaving you with adventure without spending a fortune.

Now, of course as with everything, this pass does include some cons with its pros. Understanding all of the benefits as well as the downsides to this pass can help you decide whether this pass is right for you or not.

Overview of the Chicago CityPass

Shedd Aquarium bike tour in Chicago

When purchasing the CityPass, you open up a world to unlimited adventure that allows you to hop from one attraction to the next so you can see everything Chicago has to offer! With the purchase of the pass, two attractions are immediately included and you can then choose three more from a list of options. These attractions are available to you for up to 9 days so there’s no reason to rush on seeing the sights.

The already included attractions are tickets to the Shedd Aquarium and the Willis (or as everyone still calls it, the Sears) Tower Skydeck. After seeing jaw-dropping views from the Skydeck, which stands at a whopping 1,353 feet above the city, you can head to the Shedd Aquarium where you can pet stingrays and watch an amazing performance by the dolphins.

If you’re still looking for more adventure, no need to worry. With the CityPass, you can get up to three more tickets to a list of attractions in the city. Whether it’s taking a leap into the past and exploring with the dinosaurs at the Field Museum, visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, or laying under the stars at the Adler Planetarium, this pass has got you covered.

Below is a full list of all the attractions included to choose from:

  • Field Museum- Unearth the secrets of natural history with exhibits that range from dinosaurs to ancient civilizations.
  • Art Institute of Chicago– Immerse yourself in art and culture at this renowned museum featuring an extensive collection of masterpieces.
  • Museum of Science and Industry– Ignite your curiosity with interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences in the realm of science and technology.
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck- Experience breathtaking views of the city while tilting over at 1,030 feet above the ground at the John Hancock Tower.
  • Adler Planetarium- Explore space at the
  • Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour – Reduced operations starting Nov. 1

Pros of the Chicago CityPass

pros of the citypass in chicago

With the purchase of this pass, the savings that come with it might be just what you need to be convinced. The CityPass can save you up to $123.55, which is almost a 50% discount compared to if you were to purchase a ticket at each individual attraction. What’s better than that?

With the CityPass, you pay an average of $26 per attraction, leaving you with a steal. Not only are you getting quite the deal on individual tickets, but you also avoid having to pay taxes and fees for every single purchase.

This totally beats the original prices for the regular entry fees of each attraction. Individual attraction costs for the average experience ranges from $35-55 and doesn’t include any of the bonuses that come with the CityPass.

Attractions and Activities Included

Now let’s talk about the perks and bonuses that the pass gets you for each attraction:

  • When venturing into the Shedd Aquarium using the CityPass, you are provided with an all-access admission that includes entry to all habitats and includes a 4-D experience.
  • Waits are over with the expedited entry into the Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower and an express entry at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Soar past the lines and float above the clouds faster!
  • If dinosaurs and natural history fit in your interests, then you have the opportunity to choose an all-access pass to the Field Museum with an additional ticket to your choice of a 3D film.
  • If studying historical art is more your taste, with the CityPass you can have a fast pass access to the permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Let your inner curiosity run at the Museum of Science and Industry with an entry to more than 4 different experiences, plus a one timed-entry experience that could include the Giant Dome Theater film or a Motion Ride.
  • Gaze at the stars at the Adler Planetarium with access to two sky shows and all exhibitions featuring the Adler’s world-class collections.

Access to Popular Attractions in a Short Time Period

Planning trips, keeping tabs on all of your activities, and keeping track of where you need to be at all times can cause quite the hassle, leaving you feeling a bit stressed. No one wants to be stressed while on vacation, which is why the CityPass brings another benefit to the table.

By having all of your tickets in one place, the pass eliminates the added stress of having to sort through emails trying to find the right ticket for the right time at the right location.


That’s the sound you’ll make when you open your CityPass and see all of your tickets in one place neatly organized.

Cons of the Chicago CityPass

As with everything, the Chicago CityPass may include some cons depending on what is right for you and your trip to the city. While the pros may be enough compared to the cons, it’s always nice to lay them out and compare.

  • Limited Attractions: While the Chicago CityPass covers some of the city’s top attractions, it might not include everything on your Chicago bucket list. Make sure the included attractions align with your interests as you may find yourself interested in something else.
  • Time Constraints: The pass is valid for nine consecutive days, but if you’re planning an extended stay, you might find yourself wanting to explore even more of what Chicago has to offer.
  • No Refunds: CityPasses are often non-refundable, so if your plans change, you may not be able to get your money back. However, the CityPass website will review your refund request if it is unused and within one year of the purchase date.

Before purchasing a Chicago CityPass or any city pass, it’s crucial to evaluate your itinerary, preferences, and budget to determine if the pass aligns with your travel needs. Additionally, check the official CityPass website or contact their customer service for the most current information.

Bobby’s Bike Hike Adventure Pass


If you’re visiting Chicago and looking for alternatives to the CityPass that still offers fantastic experiences without the commitment of a pre-packaged deal, there are plenty of options to consider. Instead of opting for a CityPass, you can customize your itinerary and potentially save money by booking activities individually. One such option is Bobby’s Bike Hike Adventure Pass, which provides a flexible way to explore the city’s sights while enjoying significant savings.

With Bobby’s Bike Hike Adventure Pass, visitors can choose from a variety of activities such as guided bike tours, kayak rentals, and bike rentals. By bundling multiple activities together, travelers can unlock discounts on each excursion, allowing them to enjoy the best of Chicago without breaking the bank. Whether you’re cruising along the lakefront or delving into the city’s rich history, Bobby’s Bike Hike Adventure Pass offers a convenient and cost-effective way to experience the Windy City’s highlights.

A Review of the CityPass Pros & Cons

The Chicago CityPass presents an excellent opportunity for enhancing your trip, simplifying the process of visiting key attractions hassle-free. It’s ideal for those seeking to maximize sightseeing while minimizing both expenses and wait times. On the other hand, it might be worth contemplating whether the pass covers all desired activities or if it might restrict spontaneity. Regardless of whether you choose the pass or pursue a different approach, the goal is to relish your time in the magnificent Windy City. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages, make your decision, and prepare for an unforgettable Chicago adventure.

Whether you’re visiting Chicago in a Day, touring the best eateries in Westside, or hosting a special event like a corporate team-building exercise, Bobby’s Bike Hike provides a tailored experience beyond the ordinary.