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Posted in Student Budget
July 10, 2018

Visiting Chicago On A Budget

Many people think that vacationing in Chicago is prohibitively expensive. While it is true that there are many expensive hotels, restaurants, and attractions in downtown Chicago, there are also some that deliver high quality, without the high prices. With a little help, you can see the best of what Chicago has to offer without breaking the bank.

Let’s start from the start : Accommodations. The vast majority of Chicago’s cultural and tourist destinations are located in or near downtown Chicago. Not coincidentally, most hotels are also located in or near downtown. This leaves you without about 80 downtown hotel options to choose from.

Being a very densely populated area, parking spaces downtown are at a premium. The average nightly cost to park a car in downtown Chicago is around $35; and that is in addition to your room rate. The only downtown Chicago hotel that offers free parking is the Best Western River North. Located in Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood, this Chicago hotel is a quick walk to the shopping of Michigan Avenue, as well as the architecture of the Loop. The accommodations are clean and modern, and the staff is friendly. In particular, Wallace, the bell captain, can give you directions anywhere in the city you may want to go. In addition to free parking, this 7 story hotel also offers an indoor rooftop pool, fitness center, and free wireless Internet access. This hotel is truly a hidden gem in the big city.

Next, we will move on to dining. Once you are parked at the Best Western River North, you are surrounded by the best and most varied dining that Chicago has to offer. The River North neighborhood has offerings from virtually all over the globe, and at every price level. For our purposes, there are few options that stand out.

Pizzeria Ora is located in the lobby level of the Best Western River North. Here, they specialize in Chicago-style deep dish pizza. There are many Chicago-style pizza offerings downtown, but this one delivers delicious pizza at a better price and without the long waits of the tourist-oriented pizza restaurants in the neighborhood.

Just 1 block north of the Best Western River North is another Chicago favorite, Portillo’s. The prices are reasonable, and the menu includes everything from hot dogs to Italian beef to pasta and salads. Also in close proximity is Al’s Italian Beef, a restaurant that is heavy on locals, as well as flavor.

And finally, let’s talk about attractions. There are numerous activities for visitors to Chicago that can be enjoyed for little or no cost. To get a taste of culture, try the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, or the Adler Planetarium. There are many days throughout the year, in particular during the winter season, that admission is free to all of the world class institutions. During the busier summer season, you can save money by purchasing tickets from the Best Western River North.

Millennium Park is Chicago’s newest world class facility, and is completely free to the public. Completed in 2006, the $475 million required to build it was provided nearly entirely by donations from Chicagoans. Millennium Park covers 24.5 acres in the heart of downtown Chicago, and is the home to architecture and art work by Frank Gehry and Anish Kapoor, as well as the largest rooftop garden in the world.

While it is possible to spend a lot of money on a Chicago vacation, there are many ways to experience the city without breaking the bank.

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