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CityPASS vs Go City®: Which Pass Is Best For You?

Traveling to Chicago offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city's unique culture and deep-rooted history. To save time and money, a Chicago Attractions Pass is the perfect way to visit world-renowned sights and plan activities. This guide provides insight into the following Chicago Pass options, covering what each includes, the prices, and more. Which Chicago Pass is right for you? Let's explore the possibilities!

Chicago CityPASS
Chicago C3 Pass
Go City® - All-Inclusive Pass
The Explorer Pass - By Go City

Chicago CityPass - Attractions pass to save time and money in Chicago

Chicago CityPASS Overview

How it works

The Chicago CityPASS includes admission to 5 top Chicago attractions. Visit the Shedd Aquarium and Skydeck, then choose 3 additional options from a list of 6 popular attractions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and  360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Save at least 48% off regular-price tickets when using this pass! To activate it, purchase it online, download it to your phone, and start using it immediately.  

What makes this pass different?

The Chicago CityPASS provides significant savings to explore Chicago's top destinations. Not only will you save money, but you can also take advantage of express lines at certain attractions by skipping the regular admission line and seeing the best regular exhibits. 

Why some people prefer this pass

The pass offers access to the most popular attractions and a reasonable quantity (5) of attractions to complete during a stay in the city. There is also some flexibility to select from the "choose" list after the ticket is purchased. This pass also earns a high rating of 4.7/5 stars with over 13,000 reviews because of its good value, expedited lines, and ease of use. 

It might be the best pass for you

If you want to see the list of attractions included in the CityPASS and you have enough time to visit 5 attractions. If you are looking for value, you'll save at least 48% if you use the entire pass. 

Included Attractions

Then choose 3 from this list

Shedd Aquarium
All access admission, seasonal exhibits, and 4-D touch

Skydeck Chicago
Expedited entry

Field Museum
All-access pass, regular priced exhibits, and one 3D film

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
Express entry admission

Art Institute of Chicago
Fast Pass Admission to the permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions

Museum of Science and Industry
Entry to the museum to permanent exhibits and 1 timed-entry experience

Adler Planetarium
All exhibitions and 2 Sky Shows

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour
Resumes on March 1st

Price for CityPASS: (As of Mar 2024)

Adults (12+): $139

Child (3-11): $109

Example savings

Perhaps you decide to buy an adult and child pass. You use the pass to see the included Shedd Aquarium and Skydeck, and then you choose the Adler Planetarium, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, and the Field Museum to complete your CityPASS. You will save 50% with the child pass and 48% with the adult pass versus buying these tickets individually.

Regular pricing for 5 attractions

Chicago CityPASS

Savings

Adult
$268.70
$139
-$129.70 48% OFF
Child
$220.97
$109
-$111.97 50% OFF

Where to buy this pass

You can find the link to purchase the pass here: Chicago City Pass tickets.

What you need to know before you buy

  • Once you use it, you have 9 consecutive days to see all 5 attractions, so you can take as much time as you want in each place over multiple days. 
  • You will get the full savings only if you visit all 5 attractions. 
  • You don't have to decide on the 3 choice attractions when you buy the pass; you can decide later. 

Helpful tips to make the most of the pass

  • Chicago can be busy during spring break, summer, and holidays. Some attractions require a reservation.  Reserve your spot at this link to secure your desired date and time.
  • Look up the times/locations to plan out your schedule so that you can use up your 5 attraction allotment.  
  • Don't overestimate how many attractions you can see in a day. A bonus to this pass is that it allows 9 consecutive days and lets you spread out your sightseeing.
  • An unused CityPASS is fully refundable up to 365 days from the date of  purchase. Say you plan a trip to Chicago, and it's canceled, get your money back if you don't use the pass.

CHICAGO C3 Pass

Chicago CityPASS also offers a smaller pass for shorter visits to the city. Call it the "light version" of CityPASS. 

How it works

The pass includes 3 attractions at 29% off the regular price for tickets bought individually. 

What makes this pass different?

Unlike the regular CityPASS—you can choose all 3 attractions and decide after your purchase which ones you want to do. 

The C3 Pass also offers 5 favorite attractions from the regular CityPASS, including 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Plus, it offers Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier, which the CityPASS doesn't include.

This pass does not include the Field Museum like the Chicago CityPASS.

Why some people prefer this pass

The C3 Pass is more flexible and easy for brief visits to Chicago, and calculating the savings is simple. Some visitors love the flexibility of choosing all of the attractions too. 

It might be the best pass for you

If you plan to spend a weekend in Chicago and see some of the top attractions but want some flexibility in your schedule, or you like the additional options with the C3 Pass.

Price for the C3 Pass: (As of March 2024)

Adults (12+): $102

Child (3-11): $76

Save 29% OFF 3 attractions vs. purchasing the tickets separately.

Where to buy this pass

Buy the C3 Pass here from the CityPASS website.

What you need to know before you buy

  • Most attractions include general admission, not expedited entry like the CityPASS, so plan to arrive early, especially during peak season.  
  • Advance reservations are required for some of the 7 attractions available on the pass. You can book your reservation easily here on the 

C3 Pass Reservation Link.

Go City the All inclusive pass in Chicago

Go City Pass Overview

Go City is the other major Chicago Pass to see the sights. There are 2 passes to choose from—the All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass. We break down the two options below.

The Go City Chicago Pass - All-Inclusive

How it works

You choose the number of days you're visiting Chicago with a 1, 2, 3, or 5 day pass. Then, you can pick as many things to do as you wish from 22 activities and attractions in Chicago. (You don't need to select your activities in advance, just the number of days you plan to use the pass). Once you buy it, you'll get a confirmation email to show at each attraction from your phone or a printed copy. In addition, you can download the Apple or Android device app for free and then follow the instructions in your confirmation email to sync your pass to the app and get some added Chicago tips and information. 

What makes this pass different?

This pass focuses on the number of days you plan to sightsee, unlike the CityPASS, which focuses on a set list of 5 attractions. There are more attractions and activities to see with this pass. 

Why some people prefer this pass

The Go City All-Inclusive Pass has a larger selection with more variety of activities and attractions. The pass includes big attractions like the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, and a more diverse range of things to do, such as bike rentals, LEGOLAND, boat tours, and more. 

It might be the best pass for you

If you want to mix it up when you visit Chicago. If you are someone who loves to fill the day with activities and see and do as much as possible, this could be the right pass for your Chicago adventure. 

Price for the Go City Chicago Pass - All-Inclusive (As of March 2024)

1 Day

2 Day

3 Day

5 Day

Adult (12 and up)
$139
$189
$224
$259
Child (3-12 years)
$89
$129
$149
$189

Example savings

Perhaps you plan to see 3 attractions each day for 3 days. In the example, on the first day you choose —the Shedd Aquarium, the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Ride, and the Museum of Science and Industry, and select other options for days 2 and 3. With the 3 day itinerary pass, you save $118.38 or 35% off the regular ticket prices. Your discount will vary depending on the attractions you choose.

3 Day Itinerary

Regular ticket price

Day 1
Shedd Aquarium
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Ride Museum of Science and Industry
$45.97
$51.23
$37.95
Day 2
Field Museum
360 CHICAGO
Skyline Lake Tour
$35.57
$35
$34.93
Day 3
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise
Chicago Children's Museum
$26.24
$54.49
$21

Total price without the pass: $342.38

3-Day Adult All Inclusive Pass (As of Mar 2024): $224

Savings: $118.38 (Save 35%)

The better savings the longer the itinerary

For example, you decide to buy a 2 day pass and visit the same day 1 and day 2 itinerary as the above chart. The total cost without the pass is $229.07. You will save $45.07 if you bought the pass, which is a 20% discount. So there are fewer savings on the fewer-day itineraries, but you are still saving money by buying the pass. 

What’s included?

Visit as many attractions and activities as you like, for the number of days you plan to explore the city. Choose from any of the 22 choices, such as:

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Navy Pier - 4 Ride Pass
  • Chicago Children's Museum
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  • And much more

Where to buy this pass

Buy the pass directly from Go City here.

What you need to know before you buy

  • To get the value out of this pass, you'll need to plan your schedule and factor in travel times, breaks, and waiting times. 
  • Keep in mind the pass is consecutive, so if you decide to take a break from sightseeing in between, you won't get the full value of the pass. 
  • Make sure you reserve your space because some attractions like 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck require a reservation.  Reserve your spot here. 
  • Some of the activities are seasonal, so check the list before visiting.

Helpful tips to make the most of the pass

  • All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 365 days from your purchase date.
  • The best value for your money is the 3 or 5 day pass.
  • If you sign up for their mailing list when you purchase, you'll get an extra 5% off. 

Check what's included in each attraction with the Go City Pass. You may not have access to some exhibits or get special bonuses like a discount on TILT—the highest thrill ride at 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck.

Go City Explorer Pass

Explorer Pass Overview

How it works

This Go City Pass differs from the All-Inclusive Pass because it is based on the number of activities or attractions you want to see instead of the number of days you’ll be sightseeing. You have a choice of a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 attraction pass, and there are 22 options on the Explorer Pass list. Similar to the Go City All-Inclusive Pass, you can download the Apple or Android device app to sync the pass to your phone (or just show the pass on your phone or from a printed copy).

Why some people prefer this pass

This pass is super flexible and simple. Just determine how many things you want to see in Chicago, buy the pass, and get a discount. You don't need to decide what you want to do when you buy it. In addition, you have 60 days to use it, so you can come back to Chicago and continue to use the pass within this timeframe. 

What makes this pass different?

In comparison, the Explorer Pass allows you to travel at your own pace and see a few select bucket list attractions in Chicago. The Go City All-Inclusive Pass lets you see as much as possible in Chicago.

The Explorer Pass vs. the CityPASS

The differences are in the choices available (21 vs. 6), the level of savings (CityPASS has overall more savings), and whether you want expedited entry and full access to the major attractions. CityPASS offers expedited entry to some attractions and more access to exhibits or features within the larger attractions. 

It might be the best pass for you

If you want to mix up your activities while you are in Chicago or if you want more flexibility with the amount of time you have to see the sights.

Price for the Explorer Pass (As of Mar 2024)

You pay one price based on the number of choices you decide to make.

2 Choice Pass

3 Choice Pass

4 Choice Pass

5 Choice Pass

6 Choice Pass

7 Choice Pass

Adult (12+)
$94
$116
$154
$171
$204
$209
Child (3-11)
$59
$82
$99
$121
$144
$149

What’s included?

The 21 activities or attractions include:

  • The Adler Planetarium
  • Field Museum
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  • Lincoln Park Zoo Rides
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  • A 1 Day Classic Tour on the Hop on Hop Off Big Bus Chicago
  • And so much more.

Where to buy this pass

You can buy a pass from the Explorer site here.

What you need to know before you buy

  • It's important to note that you are locked into the number of attractions you want to see. For example, if you bought a 2 Choice Pass and you decide later you want to do 4 choices, you can't upgrade your pass. 
  • The Explorer Pass does not include the Shedd Aquarium (The Go City All-Inclusive Pass does). 

Helpful tips to make the most of the pass

  • You must have reservations for some of the busiest activities before arrival, including 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and Skydeck. The website has a link to reserve your spot for each of these attractions on Go City's reservation portal. 
  • Don't assume that the Go City All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass have the same attraction choices—they have some of the same popular choices, but not all the same options. 
  • If you sign up for their mailing list when you buy, you'll get an extra 5% off.

The Chicago Skyline from Lake Michigan

Which is the Best Chicago Attraction Pass?

So, what's the best Chicago Pass? Well, every pass is created for a specific type of traveler. If you are someone who wants more variety in attractions, the Go City All-Inclusive Pass or Go City Explorer Pass may be the best choice for you. If you know what activities you want to do, and you want to see the top sights, the CityPASS may be the best choice for you .

For quick trips to Chicago, the C3 Pass or the Explorer Pass could be your best bet—as long as the pass includes the attractions or activities you want to see.

Regardless of the choice you make, all these passes are going to help you plan your time in Chicago, learn about the fantastic things to do, and save money (as long as you buy the pass and plan to use it fully). So, get to Chicago and start sightseeing!  

For more tips and suggestions for your time in Chicago, check out the 14 fun and exciting things to do for couples in Chicago.

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