Last week in Chicago we teamed up with Go City to try out their one day all inclusive city attractions pass . If you've seen our previous blogs about Dubrovnik, Geneva and Lausanne then you'll know how much we enjoy using this kind of tourist card. They're a brilliant way to visit all the main attractions while saving a ton of money!
Go City cover 29 fabulous cities around the world, including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Sydney and Bangkok! Destinations are currently offering free cancellation from 90 days to up to 1 year after purchase, which is handy for the changeable travel times we currently live in, and entry to attractions is through a QR code on the Go City app, so no paper tickets to use (or lose). Simples!
Some places might require booking a timed entry slot in advance, others you can just show up on the day and just show your QR code - it's all made obvious as you browse on the app.
Which Go City Chicago pass to choose?
Go City sells 2 kinds of passes:
The Explorer Pass: a great way to target a few top tourist attractions at your own pace -choose 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 10 attractions to visit from the app, and you have 60 days after scanning in at your first attraction to see them!
The All Inclusive Pass: Fit in as much as you can with the time that you have! You can buy a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7-day pass and tick off as many attractions as you would like. Some places are exclusive to the All Inclusive Pass, for example the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and some cities include "premium attractions" exclusively for the the All Inclusive pass, such as Universal Studios in Singapore.
NB: Not every city offers both types of pass, you'll see when you view the page for that destination.
One Day in Chicago with Go City: What we got up to!
Last week, Go City gifted us 2 all inclusive Chicago passes with the challenge to see how much we could fit into one action packed day. I was really chuffed to try the all inclusive pass (as opposed to the explorer pass) as I really wanted to visit the aquarium.
1. The Skydeck at the Willis Tower
We started the day at 9 am on top of the world. The Skydeck is an amazing observation floor on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the third highest building in the Western Hemisphere. On a clear day you can see four different states! Even if it's cloudy, the views straight down to the cars below is jaw dropping, especially if you venture out onto the Ledge, a glass box jutting out 4 feet into nothingness, 1,353 feet above the ground.
Your ticket also includes the Chicago Experience, a fun interactive multimedia exhibition that you walk through before reaching the lift to the Skydeck, celebrating Chicago's history, architecture and famous faces including the Obamas, Oprah and Michael Jordan.
The Skydeck is available on the pass from Monday to Thursday and you need to prebook a timed slot on the Go City app.
2. The Field Museum
11am: Chicago's Field Museum reminded us of a combination of London's British Museum and Natural History Museum. You could easily spend a day here, but we decided to take advantage of our All Inclusive pass and pop in for an hour to see the dinosaurs!
The Field Museum's most famous residents are Maximo, a Titanosaur - the largest creature ever to walk the earth, and Sue, the most complete T Rex skeleton in the world! They also have a fantastic fossils gallery with some really impressive (and huge) skeletons on display.
Your Go City Chicago pass also included one ticketed exhibition, which was a nice surprise. We chose Wild Color, which explores how colour is used in nature. Each room focuses on a different colour in the spectrum, and even ultraviolet.
The Field Museum doesn't require pre booking, you can just show up with your QR code.
3. Shedd Aquarium
12pm: This was one of the attractions we were most excited about using our passes for. We were so impressed by the Monterey Aquarium in California and had heard excellent things about the Shedd Aquarium. They have great commitments to animal rescue, conservation and reducing plastic, and have a huge range of habitats and creatures to see, including beluga whales, white sided dolphins and sea otters.
We really enjoyed the Wild Reef and Caribbean Reef exhibits, full of beautiful corals, a rescued green sea turtle and several species of shark, but the real star attraction is the Abbott Oceanarium, home to some colossal tanks looking out over Lake Michigan where you can watch Pacific white-sided dolphins and beluga whales, both from above and below water. In the same part of the building are sea otters, California sea lions, as well as Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins. Every hour at half past, a 10 minute Animal Spotlight show takes place in the Oceanarium where an animal care expert presents one of the species in this part of the building, and talks about how the public can better care for and protect their wild cousins. We saw the Pacific white sided dolphins in an impressive demonstration of their leaping, and really enjoyed a cute encounter with a penguin.
NB: The Shedd Aquarium is only available as part of the All Inclusive Go City Chicago pass, not the Explorer pass, and you need to pre book a free arrival time slot on the app.
4. 360 Chicago
5pm: After viewing the city during the day time, we also wanted to visit an observation deck after dark to see Chicago all lit up.
Located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, 360 Chicago is about 100m lower than the Willis Tower's Skydeck, but the views are no less spectacular, plus you can see the Willis Tower. A bit like in Paris -you can go up the Eiffel Tower for amazing views, but you can't see the Eiffel Tower. If you go up the Montparnasse Tower, you get both!
At the time of visiting, 360 Chicago was no longer taking timed bookings using the Go City Chicago pass, you just showed up and were let up depending on capacity. We arrived at about 5pm and it was very quiet, I would imagine around sunset itself it would be busier, and I'd assume that customers with pre-booked tickets would take priority going up.
5. 10pin Chicago bowling and pizza!
7pm: This was a really fun thing to add on for the day that we didn't even realise was an option until we were browsing evening activities on the Go City app. We booked via email which entitled us to 2 hours of bowling (with only 2 of us playing we racked up 5 games!), shoe hire, 2 slices of pizza each and a free soda! Fantastic!
The bowling alley was really atmospheric with big screens playing music videos and live sports (ice hockey and American football), and there were lots of locals hanging out and playing.
Check the Go City app listing for contact details as you need to pre book your bowling via email. We emailed 2 days in advance and received a confirmation reply that same day.
It's worth noting that we visited Chicago in early January, so it was dark enough to visit 360 Chicago by 5pm. If you're there in the summer, switch the order of your itinerary and go bowling first while it's still light, as 360 Chicago is open until 10pm!
Are Go City tourist passes worth it? How much can you save with a Go City attractions pass?
You will save so much money by using a Go City tourist pass! It covers most of the top attractions in Chicago, so you'll easily be able to tick off everything you were planning on visiting (and paying full price for).
For example, here is how much our day should have cost us each:
Skydeck at the Willis Tower: $30
Field Museum: $34
Shedd Aquarium: $39.95
360 Chicago: $30
10pin Chicago bowling and Pizza: $45
Cost of a 1 day All Inclusive Go City Chicago pass: $95
This would save you $83.95, or a whopping 47% off all your activities! In the summer time there are even more seasonal things that we'd have definitely included that weren't open in January, like a river cruise, sailing on the lake on the Tall Ship Windy, or the rides on Navy Pier.
If you'd like more information or if you're interested in booking a pass for your own trip (Go City Chicago is currently offering 365 days free cancellation after purchase), you can visit the Go City Chicago page here.
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Disclosure: We were gifted two free All Inclusive passes by Go City in exchange for Instagram content and this blog, however as always all opinions are our own, and this is an honest account of our day. This blog also contains affiliate links which means that if you buy a pass after clicking it, you take on no extra cost, but we make a small commission.