The Go Chicago Card is an all-inclusive multi-attraction pass that allows you to sightsee for a number of days. See all the city’s top attractions for less, including Skydeck Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, an architecture cruise, Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off city tour, and much more. It’s a digital pass that provides easy access to all of your included attractions and lets you skip the line at certain attractions.
How the Go Chicago Card Works
The Go Chicago Card, as mentioned, is a digital pass. You’ll get free instant delivery of the pass via e-mail once the purchase has been completed. You purchase the card based on the number of days you want to sightsee; your choices are 1, 2, 3, or 5-Day passes.
You can then visit as many attractions as you can fit into each card day, keeping in mind that the days must be used consecutively.
The attraction will simply scan your pass and grant you admission – you pay nothing at the gate unless you upgrade to something not included with the pass. You can use the pass on your smartphone (via the free Go City Card app) or print it out if you prefer to go low-tech.
Your can buy the pass online or over the phone directly from Go City Card.
The Top Chicago Attractions
There are currently about 29 different attractions to choose from that participate in the Go Chicago Card program, including nearly all of the city’s best museums, cruises, tours, and kid-friendly activities.
The most popular ones to visit are usually museums and tours. Here’s a list of some of the best attractions that everyone sees when they visit Chicago.
- Museum Campus (including Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium)
- Art Museums (including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art)
- City Tours (including a hop-on hop-off option and the Grand Tour)
- Cruises (like the Architecture River Cruise, and the Tall Ship Windy)
- Observation Decks (Skydeck Chicago and/or 360 CHICAGO)
- Navy Pier (rides and Centennial Wheel + Chicago Children’s Museum)
- Architecture-related Attractions (including the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio Tour)
There are plenty of other attractions to choose from, such as additional museums, historic homes, and free tours. These are just the most frequently-visited.
How You Save with a Go Card
The Go Chicago Card is pretty simple. They advertise a savings of up to 55% when you visit attractions with their pass. It’s hard to actually get to that amount without a bit of effort, but it is possible to maximize the value of the pass with a few guiding principles.
First, be sure to start exploring early on the first day of using the card. The card is valid for consecutive calendar days, not 24-hour periods, so you’ll want to make the most of each day.
Second, you’ll also want to try to see about three things in one day. Less than that, and your costs are probably going to be about even, rather than yielding a discount.
Third, be sure to see the most expensive things you’re interested in with the card, and save cheaper or smaller things for after your card expires. The more you can get the card to cover, the better.
Fourth and last, take advantage of the extra benefits included with the card, like the many shopping and entertainment discounts included with the pass. These currently include discounts at places like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, the Fashion Outlets, and more.
Is the Go Chicago Card Right for Me?
The Go Chicago Card isn’t cheap, so it’s important to decide whether it’s worth the investment. You will only want to purchase the product if you’re sure you want to see around three things per day (which takes no small amount of time and energy in a city like Chicago). You also need to make sure that the things you want to see are going to cost more than the pass itself.
This may seem obvious, but you also want to make sure that you want to see the attractions that are included with the pass program. The Go Chicago Card does include the top tourist attractions in the city, but doesn’t include much in the way of dining and theater tickets, for example, which are two major things that might be on your Chicago itinerary.
Any Reason Not to Buy a Chicago Card?
There are a few small downsides to the Go Chicago Card. The pass itself can be seen as pretty expensive (although it’s comparable in price to their major competitor, the Chicago CityPASS).
It’s a significant investment and you have to be willing to be very active to make the most of it, which could be difficult for people with different styles of travel, mobility concerns, different levels of energy, traveling with small children, etc. The Chicago CityPASS, by comparison, gives you nine whole days to visit all of their five included attractions and the Chicago Explorer Pass gives you 30 days.
It also requires that you use your card days consecutively, which might be a bit of an inconvenience if you want to take a day off just to go shopping, or to relax around the hotel.
Sample Go Chicago Card Itineraries
A Weekend Vacation with Kids
Day 1: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off City Tour; 360 CHICAGO; Navy Pier
Day 2: Field Museum; Shedd Aquarium; Adler Planetarium (all at Museum Campus)
A Three-Day Getaway
Day 1: Skydeck Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago; American Writer’s Museum
Day 2: Chicago Theatre Tour; Architecture River Cruise; Bike n’ Roll Bike Rental
Day 3: Chicago History Museum; Lincoln Park Zoo
Go Chicago Card Pricing
The pass starts at about $105 per adult traveler for one day, but the per day costs decreases significantly if you purchase a five-day pass (it comes to less than $45 per day at that point). However, while it may be tempting to purchase the five-day pass for the value, make sure you actually want to see enough things to make it worth the purchase.
Children’s passes are less expensive, usually because child admission is much less at all of the participating attractions. The child passes start at around $68 per one day and cost as little as about $29 per day on the five-day pass.