Planning a one day trip to Chicago is very easy with Go Chicago card. At first, one day trip to Chicago sounds challenging but it is easy and possible to get around Chicago and explore few of top attractions. I have tried to build a budget-friendly one day itinerary using Go Chicago attraction card for visitors’ convenience. There are plenty of things to do in Chicago that requires few days to cover everything. But with better planning you can visit few of the world famous Chicago attractions in such a limited time.
Following list of attractions and landmarks will give you better idea about planning a one day in Chicago.
One day Chicago itinerary includes following activities and things to do:
- Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
- 360 Chicago
- Millennium Park (free)
- Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
Select one two option(s) from the following three attractions:
- The Field Museum
- Chicago Architecture river cruise
- Shedd Aquarium
I prefer Go Chicago Card as it helps you save on attraction admission. All these attractions have discounted admission included in Go Chicago Card. As we all know there are plenty of things to do in Chicago and it is very easy to get overwhelmed with available options to see and do. But Go Chicago Card makes it possible to build your one day Chicago itinerary to experience Chicago in limited time on budget. Overall, you can save up to 55% on admission to top attractions with a Go Chicago Card, compared to purchasing individual admission ticket at the gate.
The Go Chicago Card is the easy way to create vacation in Chicago that fits your interests.
Stop #1: Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
The hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour is the best way to start your one-day Chicago itinerary using Go Chicago card. This tour features flexible hop-on hop-off options near top attractions in Chicago. Not only you get detailed information about famous building, attractions and landmarks in Chicago but also get flexibility to hop on and off at top attractions on your itinerary.
Following top attractions and landmarks are including on hop-on hop-off big bus sightseeing tour route:
Millennium Park & Palmer House
Art Institute of Chicago
The John Hancock Center & 360 Chicago and more
How to Get Admission:
Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago tour can be added on your custom vacation itinerary using Go Chicago Card’s “Build Your Own Chicago attraction pass”. Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago tour tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.
Stop #2: 360 Chicago
Enjoy excellent views of Lake Michigan and Chicago city’s skyline from the observatory deck on 94th floor of John Hancock building. 360 Chicago has new attraction called TILT. Name says it, now you can TILT outward over 1000 feet above the magnificent mile. This attraction can hold up to 8 visitors at a time. TILT is unique thrill ride attraction in Chicago.
During weekend 360 Chicago tends to get busy so adjust your timing to get there to avoid long wait. At 360 Chicago, you can enjoy cocktail or drink at the cafe while enjoying amazing views.
Stop #3: Millennium Park
Visit to Chicago is not complete without spending some good time at the world famous Millennium Park. You cannot leave Chicago without visiting the world renowned metal sculpture – “The Bean” at Millennium Park. The metal bean is also known as Cloud Gate.
The Bean is one of the most famous landmarks in United States of America. Make sure to bring your camera as nobody can resist taking a photo with “The Bean”. Don’t forget to check out The Pritzker Pavilion, there is always some events or concerts are going on throughout the year.
During winter season, you can have some good time at The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink located in Millennium Park on Michigan Ave. Skating is FREE and open to the public so either you can bring your own skate or you can rent them on premises for $12.
How to Get Admission:
Millennium Park is FREE to the public.
We all know that Chicago is famous for deep dish pizza. It’s very common to get different answers about individual’s favorite place for the best deep dish pizza in Chicago. In my opinion, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s has the best deep dish pizza in Chicago. Other deep dish pizza places include Pizzeria Uno, Pizano’s and Pizzeria Due.
While you are in Chicago, I recommend you to enjoy deep dish pizza at Giordano’s as well as Lou Malnati’s. The Giordano’s pizzeria is located close to the Millennium Park so you can take advantage of the location by ordering deep dish pizza at Giordano’s for lunch.
Stop #4: Navy Pier
Navy Pier is one of the historic attractions in Chicago. You will need at least couple of hours to explore Navy Pier. Considering the favorable winter weather conditions there is always something going on at the pier.
There are many things to do at the Navy Pier including performances, museums, IMAX Theater and the famous Navy Pier Centennial Wheel. Family with kids can take advantage of the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel.
Keep your camera ready to take pictures by Lake Michigan and the USS Chicago anchor at the end of the pier. This 8 ton anchor is from the third warship named after the City of Chicago.
By now you have visited Chicago’s most famous attractions from your 1-Day Chicago itinerary. As we have time limitation to explore the Chicago as much as we can, considering the available time on hand, you can pick one or two of the following attractions on your itinerary.
Stop #5: Pick one or two of the following three attractions in Chicago
Option# 1: The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History, home of Sue the T. Rex! Yup, the Field Museum of Natural History features the world’s largest and most complete skeleton of T. Rex. I recommend you to watch T. Rex show at the museum to learn in detail about Sue.
This world renowned attraction also features large collection of fossils, specimen and other historic objects. According to the survey, The Field Museum of Natural History is visited by over two million visitors every year. Keep in mind that you will easily need 3 hours to visit the Field Museum of Natural History.
Option# 2: The Architecture Chicago River Cruise
Architecture River Cruise departs from the Navy Pier. The cruise schedule depends on the weather condition. The tour has been one of the best activities for visitors in Chicago.
The architecture river cruise features 75 minutes long fun time, learning about history and facts about world famous Chicago skyline and stories behind the architecture. During summer season, it’s recommended to get there little earlier to avoid the line.
Tips for visitors travelling between March through November:
If you are not a big fan of architecture and want to experience the marvelous views of high-rise in downtown Chicago without compromising indoor attractions such as The Field Museum of Natural History or The Shedd Aquarium, then I suggest you to skip the Architecture River Cruise and take advantage of the water taxi to get to the Navy Pier.
After lunch at Giordano’s, you can walk few blocks to get to the water taxi stop located at the Adams and Wacker Drive near The Willis Tower, to catch a water taxi to Navy Pier. Believe me it’s worth walking little more as it’s a longest water route in Chicago River from the Willis Tower to Navy Pier compared to the Michigan Ave stop, which is shorter walk from the Giordano’s.
Water taxi stop operation during winter, so make sure to check with Shoreline Sightseeing about the schedule.
Remember? You had deep dish pizza for lunch that definitely needs some walk too! 🙂
Option# 3: The Shedd Aquarium
Family with young kids can consider to head down to the Shedd Aquarium for fun. This attraction features over 32,000 different kinds of marine animals. The Shedd Aquarium features permanent exhibits called – Waters of the World, Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Abbott Oceanarim, Wild Reef and Polar Play Zone.
Kids will have fun getting close to sharks, piranhas, beluga whale, dolphins, turtles and many similar marine animals. Family with kids will easily need over 3 hours to explore the Shedd Aquarium.
How to Get Admission:
The Shedd Aquarium admission tickets are included on Go Chicago card. You must go to the will-call window to show your Go Chicago Card to collect the admission tickets.
Note: The Shedd Aquarium is only available on all-inclusive Go Chicago Card!
After a day long trip in Chicago, you will be tired and starving. Chicago is one of the best cities in USA for dining. There are plenty of options for dining in downtown Chicago from street foods to fine dining restaurants. You can pick any nearby restaurants that fits your taste for the day. I recommend following few restaurants for reference.
Eleven City Diner
Burger Bar Chicago
Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
All-inclusive 1-Day Go Chicago Card OR custom built attraction pass for one day in Chicago?
I would suggest you to purchase 1-Day all-inclusive Go Chicago Card instead of building your own custom attraction pass.
All-Inclusive Go Chicago Card 1-Day cost your $95/adult, and $63/Child
Following is the cost detail of the “Build Your Own Attraction Pass”, considering the Shedd Aquarium is available for all-inclusive Go Chicago card.
Option# 1 – with the Field Museum of Natural History for adult
Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago……. $40.00
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel…………$35.00
The Field Museum………………….$30.00
Total Cost per adult:……………. $94.12
Option# 2 – with the Architecture River Cruise for adult
Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago…….. $40.00
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel………….$35.00
The Architecture River Cruise……….$41.44
Total Cost per adult…………….. $102.70
For above listed attractions, custom built attraction pass cost you more, plus you do not get option to add the Shedd Aquarium.
Simple, it’s worth paying $95/adult for all-inclusive one day Go Chicago card compared to building your own itinerary using “Build your own attraction pass”.
Overall, All-Inclusive Go Chicago card includes over 25 attractions. Personally, I recommend you to purchase 1-Day all-inclusive Go Chicago Card that gives you flexibility to change your itinerary by replacing any attraction on your itinerary at any time! This sample itinerary will give you an idea about spending a one day in Chicago!
Why Go Chicago Card?
- Save up to 55% compared to paying at the gate.
- You can choose from dozens of top Chicago attractions, museums, tours and activities
- Easy to pick attractions on the go
- You can visit as many attractions as you want everyday with all-inclusive Go Chicago card