Chicago CityPass vs. Go Chicago Passes

This post covers Chicago city passes to help you determine which tourist attraction discount pass may be best for you, including CityPass and GoCity passes.




With so many options, we have broken down the tourist passes by type and then go into detail about each pass.  

The Go Chicago Pass is an all-inclusive pass (think all-you-can-eat buffet) that includes entrance/access to 26 top attractions, tours, and activities.


Chicago Go Card Discount Pass


This pass is the most expensive but has the potential to save you the most money and it gives you the most flexibility, but in order to get those savings, you will need to stay busy.

Next is the pick’em passes, such as the Explorer Pass, where for a set price you purchase a pass with a specific number of attractions, tours or activities (typically between 3 and 5 ) and you pick from their list of attractions.


Go Explorer Chicago Card


In general, the range of attractions are fewer than what is available with the all-inclusive pass above, but the selection is still large.

You won’t likely save as much as the above-mentioned pass, but you will have more flexibility. 

Build Your Own passes are like ordering food from a menu à la carte. Add as many attractions as you want.

There is no set price since it varies by the number of attractions you purchase, but the more you add the more you save. 


Chicago Build Your Own Pass


This type of pass has the most flexibility of all passes and packages mentioned on this page, but the savings (up to 25%) are the most limited. 

This pass may be a good fit for those who don’t want to overload their daily itineraries but are certain to visit at least 2 listed attractions.

Lastly, there are prepackaged passes that bundle several specific popular attractions, thereby saving you money. These passes are like a Prix-Fixe/set-menu dinner. 


CityPass Chicago


These have the least amount of flexibility, but you will be certain about what you are getting.  

Things to Consider

If at first glance some tourist passes seem too pricey, take the time to do some math.

When you calculate the regular cost of the attractions you want to see and compare to the price of a pass, you’ll find that you will save money.

We recommend that you decide in advance what you want to see, then find a pass that includes most, if not all, those activities. 

The biggest mistake travelers do is overestimate the time and stamina that they will have, so be realistic.

Of course, we encourage you to consider our pay-what-you-like tours and our Chicago bus tour comparison post when deliberating about these passes.


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GO CHICAGO PASS – (All-Inclusive)

To see the most on a visit to Chicago lasting between 1 to 5 days, the Go Chicago Pass can be hard to beat! 

Purchasing this all­-inclusive pass gives you admission to as many attractions as you can fit into the number of consecutive days you purchase.



You’ll save up to 45% when you purchase a Go Chicago Pass.

There are 29 attractions to choose from.

For less intense sightseeing pass options, check out Smart Destination’s Explorer (3 or 5 Attractions) and Build Your Own passes below.  

All Go Chicago Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from date of purchase to activate your pass. 


Chicago GoCity Explorer


Before you buy:

As recommended with any of these packages, you want to plan ahead in order to get the most out of Go Chicago Pass.

While you have unlimited access, you do have limited time. Make sure you look at days and hours of operations for each attraction, and factor in travel time.

Grouping activities in nearby locations can be a great way to get in more than just a few things in a single day! However, there are some places you’ll want to spend more time than others.

Do your research and this could be a very good buy.

Prices (as of May 2019):

NOTE: Prices listed below are full retail prices. Often discounts are available.

  • 1­ Day: Adults $114 | Children (ages 3-­12) $77
  • 2­ Day: Adults $161 | Children $113
  • 3­ Day: Adults $192 | Children $134
  • 5­ Day: Adults $229 | Children $156
  • More information or to purchase.

Pro tip: In the city for 3 days? Consider getting a 2­ day pass instead of a 3 ­day. You don’t want to lock down all your time in the city; you never know what you might discover while exploring place to place.

Purchase the Go Chicago Pass online and show your phone or printed copy at the gate.


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This pass lets you pay one price, and grants admission to 3, 4, 5 or 7 attractions from a list of 25+ at a discounted rate. You can save up to 40% off normal ticket prices.



This pass is flexible in that you do not need to pre-select your choices and it is valid for 30 days from your first visit, so you can take your time making your choices.  

All Go Chicago Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from date of purchase to activate your pass. 


Chicago Explorer Pass Details


Prices (as of May 2019):

NOTE: Prices listed below are full retail prices. Often discounts are available.

  • 3 Attraction Pass: Adults  $81  |  Children (ages 3-­12)  $52
  • 4 Attraction Pass: Adults  $107  |  Children (ages 3-12)  $70
  • 5 Attraction Pass: Adults: $121 | Children (ages 3­-12): $81
  • More information or to purchase.

Before you buy:

The Explorer Pass doesn’t have the time pressure of the Go Pass and gives the most options for visitors looking for discounts on a wide range of attractions.

But it takes more planning and research than the City Pass. This means you’ll need to use your calculator to see your potential savings, but if you visit the more expensive attractions with your pass, you can save a bundle.

We recommend the instant delivery via online purchase, as the lines at the ticket booth locations can get long.

You can also have the tickets sent to your mobile device.


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With this pass from Smart Destinations, you choose at least 2 attractions from their list of 32 attractions and you’ll save 20-25% off the retail price of all items.

Learn more and purchase here



All Go Chicago Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from date of purchase to activate your pass. 


There is no set pricing. You can add as many attractions as you like to the pass and receive 20-25% off the retail prices of the attractions that you choose.

Before you buy:

You must choose the attractions at the time of purchase, so you will lose the flexibility of choosing your attractions in Chicago, but many people will likely find this pass to be the least pressure.  

If you are planning on purchasing 3 attractions or more, it is very possible that the Explorer Pass will save you more. The savings are dependent on the cost of the attractions you choose.  

More information and to purchase this pass.  


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Chicago CityPASS

The CityPASS is a booklet of 5 admission tickets that saves 53% off the most popular attractions in Chicago, and you skip the long lines for entrance.

CityPASS is a must if you plan to visit all of these popular educational attractions because the savings are huge.




You have 9 consecutive days from the first use to visit all of the attractions, so you can take your time. Each of these stops has a ton to see and do, especially if you bring kids along.  

Attractions Included in the CityPASS

Prices (as of 2019):

  • Adults: $108 (full admission price $213.90)
  • Children (ages 3-­11): $89 (full admission price $174.90)

Here is our suggested three-day itinerary which leaves you enough time to spend at each location to get your money’s worth.

  • Suggested Day One: Shedd Aquarium/Field Museum
  • Suggested Day Two: Art Institute/Skydeck Chicago*
  • Suggested Day Three: 360 Chicago OR Museum of Science and Industry

Pro Tip: This package fills up your itinerary, but if you only want to visit only one or two of the attractions listed, see the Explorer Pass above for a more flexible/cheaper option.

For the CityPASS, we suggest that you purchase tickets online. Once you buy, you can show your tickets from your mobile device at the gate and get fast VIP entrance. Easy!


Best of the City

Huge Chicago Savings PassA fitting name for a great package deal! For just $50 you get admission to 2 great sightseeing spots, plus a 2­-Day ticket to the amazing hop-­on-hop-­off Big Bus Tour.

You save 40% off the regular price, and you have 30 days to use it after your first visit. WOW!

What you get:

Prices (as of 2019):

Pro tip: This makes an amazing gift for friends or family visiting Chicago for the first (or second!) time.

The Big Bus Tour alone is worth $40 and allows you to navigate the city for 24 hours as much as you like. Click here to purchase.

Viator VIP Package

Fill your Saturday and see all the top spots with this package!

Begin with early access to the Willis Tower Skydeck, before you hop on a trolley for a narrated tour of top Chicago attractions, grab a snack (own expense) at Navy Pier, and finish on a cruise with a free drink!­ on the Chicago River with an architecture savvy guide.

The tour lasts about 6 hours (8 am­ – 1 pm) and ends at the Navy Pier, a tourist hot-spot.


Option A

  • 8 am: Access to the Skydeck
  • 9:15 am: Board the trolley for a 2 ­hour city tour
  • 11:15 am: Arrive at Navy Pier
  • 1 pm: Architecture cruise

Option B

  • 8:30 am: Access to the Skydeck
  • 9:45 am: Board the trolley for a 2­ hour city tour
  • 11:45 am: Arrive at Navy Pier
  • 1 pm: Architecture cruise

Price: $124 

To purchase the VIP Package, click here.

Before you buy:

Because this is a VIP package, you’ll experience perks such as first dibs on Willis Tower views, which after opening hours can be obstructed by crowds, but what you’re paying for here is a full day’s itinerary planned out for you.

The Willis Tower general admission costs $22, which means you’re paying about $50 apiece for the trolley and boat tour.

But for six hours of guided Chicago sightseeing, and its great customer reviews, this package is worth including.

Pro tip: It looks like from the ratings that this tour is NO fun when the weather is wet. We recommend this package on clear, sunny days only.

Trusted Tours Grand Tour of Chicago and John Hancock Tower Combination

For a reputable bus tour of the city that ends with a view from up high, Trusted Tours offers a great combo.

You’ll travel around the city, stopping at Lincoln Park Conservatory and Adler Planetarium, and of course the John Hancock Observatory that comes at the end.


Prices (as of 2019):

  • Adult: $62
  • Child (ages 5-­14): $34
  • Children under 5 are free when seated on a parent’s lap.
  • Purchase this combo here

Before you buy:

The savings aren’t as big here, so you’re paying for the convenience of hotel pick-up/drop-off and a full day’s itinerary planned for you. 


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We hope you found this article useful.  If so, please share this with friends and family.  

Also, do let us know if you think we missed something.


About the author

Manager | Chicago & Los Angeles

Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!