Planning an Affordable Chicago VacationTwo words that don't appear together very often are "Chicago" and "budget." For the affluent, Chicago is a dream destination full of luxurious hotels, high society restaurants and upscale amusements. For the budget-conscious vacationer, Chicago is often considered a dream destination, with the emphasis on "dream." But in reality, you can enjoy the ultimate Chicago travel plans and not feel a severe impact on your checkbook. All it takes is a little flexibility and some planning. If you need help planning an affordable Chicago vacation, here are a few things to consider.
Affordable Flights to Chicago
Planning as far in advance as possible is one of the best ways to secure a good deal on your airfare. Check online and compare flights heading into O'Hare International Airport against the other local airports like Midway, Gary/Chicago or Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport. While the others aren't as close to downtown as O'Hare, that fact could spell some relief on the price of your tickets. Finding cheap flights to Chicago can be just as simple as spending some time on the Internet.
You can also better your chances of securing cheap airfare by traveling mid-week rather than on the weekend. Airlines tend to offer discounts on travel days that are less busy. Another option is to research the Windy City's hotels and see if any are offering package deals for accommodations, airfare and perhaps a show, all for one discounted price.
Affordable Accommodations in Chicago
Hotels found in the city can be quite expensive. For affordable accommodations, try looking for hotels located just on the outskirts of the city. Plenty of the hotels in Bronzeville provide a comfortable bed for a fraction of the cost of inner-city Chicago hotels. For example, the Eagle Inn/Motel has rooms for $43 a night. All it takes is a short ride on the El and you're downtown, in the heart of Chi-Town.
Another affordable option is grabbing some shut-eye at one of Chicago's hostels. For only $31 a night, you can have a place to sleep and make new friends, right near the Loop. Finding an affordable hotel in Chicago is not easy -- but not impossible, either.
Affordable Chicago Dining
In the Windy City, deep-dish pizza is king. But did you know that they're just as fanatical about their hot dogs as well? Well, they are! You can get an incredible “dawg” at Portillo's for only $2.09, and the works are piled on nearly as high as the Sears Tower! You simply can't get more food for less money in Chicago (or any other city for that matter)!
You can still treat yourself to a trendy Chicago restaurant even if you don’t have a lot of money. You just need to order a little smarter to stay true to your budget. For example, at the Mambo Grill, instead of ordering the Filete de Palomilla for $22.95, try the Flautas de Puerco for only $6.95 and you can have money left over for a $2.95 cup of Sopa de Frijoles. With careful balance, you can experience the liveliness of the restaurant, the delight of their impeccable cuisine and the enjoyment of eating at one of Chicago's hottest eateries while still managing to keep it affordable.
Chicago's Affordable Attractions
The Windy City is world-renowned for its impressive museums, among the top things to do in Chicago. While regular admission can be costly, many of the city's museums offer free admission days. By paying attention to these fee-for-all days, you can experience some of the country's best museums without forking out a dime. A great example of this generosity is The Art Institute of Chicago, which is free to the public between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. every Thursday during the year. The world famous parks located within Chicago are also free, like Grant and Millennium Parks, and a lunchtime or evening concert on the lawn will cost you nothing more than your time. Of course, many of Chicago's attractions can be found online and you can even call ahead to see if there are any discounts which you may be eligible for.
Your Affordable Chicago Vacation
As you can see, Chicago can be enjoyed for very little money if you plan properly. From cheap eats and affordable accommodations to free exhibits and inexpensive treats, you can definitely experience the best of what the Windy City has to offer for much less than you would ever expect.