Go City Chicago Review: How To Have One Epic Day

World-class city views. A thriving food scene. Colorful, cultured, and eclectic neighborhoods. There’s a lot to love about Chicago. This city is as unique as it is diverse and should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

If you get the chance to visit Chicago for yourself, you’ll discover an energy unlike any other city in the Western Hemisphere. It’s truly a city that you need to experience firsthand!

I recently had the pleasure of trying out the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass for one full day. What this meant was that I had free entry to 25+ attractions all over Chicago. The caveat? I only had one day to do it all before my pass expired!

If you’re looking for a 1-day activity-filled itinerary or are wondering if the Go City Chicago pass is worth it, we’re glad you’re here.

Maybe you want to stack all your touristy activities in one day. Maybe you’re limited on time and Chicago is only a pit stop for you.

No matter the reason, I’ve got you on your 1-day Chicago itinerary! You won’t see all that Chicago has to offer, but I’ll show you how to maximize your time in Chicago and save money with an optimized sightseeing route using the powerful Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass.

Get ready for 24 hours of deep-dish pizza, iconic sights, and uniquely Chicago experiences in this Go City Chicago Pass review!

Disclosure: Go City kindly provided me with a comped pass to discover the power of their city passes, but all opinions are my own. Since the time of writing, prices for the Go City passes have increased. You’ll want to run your own numbers with the latest costs to see if the pass still equates to a good deal.

This post may also contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content.


Here’s a quick overview of all the useful info you need to plan an awesome trip!

When To Go: During the late spring, early summer, and early fall months: April, May, June, September, and October. Summers can be very hot and humid, but you’ll find plenty of outdoor events and festivals during this time.

Where To Stay: Near the center of all the action is best! I recommend The Westin Chicago River North or Pendry Chicago for more luxe vibes; Virgin Hotels Chicago for hip boutique hotel vibes at an affordable price!

Nearest Airport: O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

How to Get Around: Chicago is well-known for its convenient public transit system. It’s also a very walkable city! For longer distances, opt for rideshare before choosing to rent a car. Parking in downtown Chicago can be difficult and expensive — many hotels charge a daily fee for parking, and street parking can be limited and expensive.

Must-Do’s: See The Bean (Cloud Gate) at Millennium Park, take an architecture boat tour, visit Navy Pier, try a Chicago-style hotdog, and get a deep-dish pizza at Pequod’s (I recommend the spinach and garlic). And if you have the time to wait, get the iconic burger at Au Cheval.

Before You Go: Pick up Go City’s Chicago All-Inclusive Pass if you plan on sightseeing and going into museums. It’ll save you so much money on attraction tickets!


There is a lot to love about Chicago. The city is completely brimming with history and culture and it’s totally worth visiting, even if you’re not a fan of urban cities!

If you know nothing about Chicago, let’s start with the basics. Chicago is the third most populated city in the United States. It is a Midwest city that sits adjacent to Lake Michigan and is famed for its architecture.

Chicago is best known for the following:

  • The Bean, which is officially known as Cloud Gate at Millenium Park
  • Impressive architecture and skyscrapers
  • Chicago deep-dish pizza
  • Chicago-style hot dogs
  • Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks and a popular tourist destination
  • Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs
  • The Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian area lining the Chicago River that features plenty of restaurants and resting spots to enjoy the river


For first-timers, I would recommend a total of 4-5 days in Chicago. Even more ideal is 5-7 days! Trust me, you won’t need to be worried about being bored. With all the different and unique neighborhoods, museums, and free attractions dotted throughout this world-class city, it’s very easy to fill your days with fun things to do.

If you plan to visit Chicago again at a future point in your life, then you can get away with a shorter trip this time around, keeping in mind that you’ll be back to explore the rest of the city later!

Having said that, since this is a 1-day Chicago itinerary post, I will say that it is possible to catch a few of the main highlights in just one day. I personally think the easiest and most cost-efficient way of doing this is with the help of an all-inclusive attraction pass.

On our last trip to Chicago, we used Go City’s Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. This easy-to-use mobile attraction pass helped us see a lot of Chicago in a really short amount of time, and it helped us save a ton of money!


The Go City Chicago Pass is a digital attraction pass that provides easy access and admission to some of Chicago’s most popular museums and excursions. With certain excursions, you’re even able to skip the line, saving you both money and time.

There are two types of passes–the All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass.

The Go City All-Inclusive Pass is really great for travelers who want to see as much as possible while they’re in Chicago. With the All-Inclusive Pass, you can choose between a 1, 2, 3, or 5-day pass that will give you free admission to 25+ museums and attractions throughout Chicago.

The pass includes admission to the following heavy-hitter/iconic attractions:

  • Architecture River Cruise
  • Skydeck Chicago
  • 360 Chicago
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Field Museum
  • Museum Of Science And Industry
  • Alder Planetarium
  • Skyline Lake Tour

If you don’t plan on visiting a ton of different attractions, Go City also has an Explorer Pass which will still save you a lot of money. With the Explorer Pass, you’ll pay one flat fee for a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7-choice pass.

You’ll then have 60 days to use the Explorer Pass on whichever attractions you’d like. There is also no need to pick attractions ahead of time, so you’ll have the flexibility to choose attractions as you go.

You can buy the pass online here.

DEAL ALERT: For a limited time, use the above link + the promo code AFFGOALL for an additional 5% off your Go City pass. This code is valid for any Go City pass in any destination!


Once you buy the pass of your choice, you’ll download the Go City app on your phone. This is how you’ll get into museums and attractions.

First off, I want to mention how cool the Go City app is. Not only does it house your attraction pass, but it will give you all the information you will ever need to know about the attraction (what to expect, opening/closing times, how to make reservations if they’re required, entry rules, etc).

Go Chicago Pass Review - Chicago 1 Day Itinerary

Don’t know what an attraction is all about? No problem. The app also provides you with a detailed description of what you’ll see or encounter at an attraction. Literally, everything you need to know!

They have a few suggested itineraries you could follow, or you could even make custom itineraries on there so you can better plot out your days.

All in all, we found the app to be super useful and informational in guiding us through Chicago.

Go Chicago Pass Review - Chicago 1 Day Itinerary

Alright, so how do you actually use the pass? Once you get to the attraction, simply show your pass (in the form of a QR code) to the staff, they will scan your pass and ultimately grant you admission.

You’ll pay nothing at the gate unless you upgrade your ticket to something that’s not included with the pass. The other benefit is that everything is contact-free and hassle-free! No exchange of money, no printing out passes ahead of time or anything inconvenient like that.

I was actually blown away by how high-tech the whole attraction pass usage was. Highly recommend the entire experience!



  • A wide range of cities offered around the world
  • Really good discounts on attractions that would have otherwise cost a lot more money
  • Easy-to-use mobile app that provides you with extra useful info about your destination
  • They often have promo codes that you can use to bring the price of the pass down even further (see below)
  • Lots of flexibility with the Explorer Pass (have 60 days to use which is plenty of time)


  • All-Inclusive Pass must be used on consecutive days, which can be tiring if you have a pass of 3+ days
  • Explorer Pass doesn’t have all the attractions that the All-Inclusive Pass offers
  • Would have liked to see more food/cultural tours offered

DEAL ALERT: For a limited time, use the above link + the promo code AFFGOALL for an additional 5% off your Go City pass. This code is valid for any Go City pass in any destination!


Without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff! Here is my exact 1-day Chicago highlights itinerary. With this itinerary, you’ll be hitting up some free-to-visit spots throughout the city as well as making use of the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass!


Navy Pier - 1 Day Chicago Itinerary For First Timers - TravelsWithElle

Navy Pier, also known as the People’s Pier, is Chicago’s lakefront treasure and a must-see while you’re in Chicago.

No matter how old you are, there’s something for you here. It’s where people go in Chicago for fun attractions, dining, shopping, local events, free public programs, and more.

Navy Pier stretches more than six city blocks and offers incredible views of the Chicago skyline, parks and Lake Michigan. One of the best things to do at Navy Pier is just to take a stroll through the whole thing!

While there is no admission fee to enter Navy Pier, some of the rides and attractions within Navy Pier do cost extra. For example, the Ferris wheel costs $15 for adults.

Fun Fact: The first Ferris wheel (ever) was showcased in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The second best thing to do here is to catch the fireworks show in the summertime. The fireworks show takes place on Wednesday and Saturday nights from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. There were no fireworks when we visited in October, but Navy Pier was worth the stroll around nonetheless.

Lastly, if you’re visiting Chicago during the holiday season, don’t miss Navy Pier’s holiday event, Light Up the Lake. This holiday event runs from late November to early January.

At the event, you can expect massive light sculptures, an ice rink, an authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, a gift market, and other family-friendly and date-night activities!

Not visiting during either of these seasons? Check their event calendar for the latest happenings.

Navy Pier hours: Varies depending on the season, but generally 10am to 10pm
Cost: FREE


The Bean Chicago- 1 Day Chicago Itinerary For First Timers - TravelsWithElle

When in Chicago, you have to see Cloud Gate, better known to most as “The Bean”. I mean, did you really go to Chicago if you didn’t see The Bean in person?

This is one of the city’s most iconic attractions, and rightfully so because it’s one of the largest sculptures of its kind in the world! This sculpture dates back to 2005 and was created by British artist Anish Kapoor.

Pro Tip: For optimal photos without hoards of other people in them, visit early! Before 9 am would be ideal.

Once you’re done taking pictures of it and with it, it’s time to move on to the rest of Millennium Park!

Cost: FREE


Alright now that you’ve gotten your main selfie photo op out of the way, let’s explore the rest of Millennium Park!

While the park is best known as home to the iconic bean you just took a picture with, it also features ample green spaces, interactive fountains, tranquil gardens, public art, rock climbing, and a whole bunch of free events.

Millennium Park offers a jam-packed calendar of public events all year round. The summertime is popping with fun outdoor events such as Summer Music Series and Summer Film Series. Check for the latest events on their event calendar before visiting!

Your next stop will be Crown Fountain, also known as the fountain where faces are spitting water at you. This massive video sculpture is made of a black granite reflecting pool positioned between a pair of glass brick towers that display digital videos.

Crown Fountain - 1 Day Chicago Itinerary For First Timers - TravelsWithElle

Fancy a stroll in an award-winning garden? Head to Lurie Garden. Traveling with kids? Definitely don’t miss Maggie Daley Park (it’s a kid’s fantasyland).

If you’re looking to catch a film, music festival, or concert, check out Jay Pritzker Pavilion & The Great Lawn. Now there won’t be much here if there is no show going on, but when there is, the space transforms into something amazing! The Grant Park Music Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the World Music Festival all take place here.

Cost: FREE


Shedd Aquarium - Things To Do In Chicago, IL

Having heard nothing but wonderfully positive things about Shedd Aquarium (and being a sucker for adorable marine animals), I needed to pay a visit to this aquarium. A huge plus? Admission was included with my Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass!

In a nutshell, Shedd Aquarium is a state-of-the-art indoor aquarium, famous for its massive variety of habitats. It’s also one of the oldest aquariums in the United States and is often considered one of the best aquariums in the US.

Inside, you can expect a whole range of marine life including belugas whales (my personal favorite), penguins, dolphins, alligators, stingrays, sturgeons, sea turtles, sea otters, and even arapaimas!

I was absolutely blown away by all the different habitats showcased within the aquarium–there are around 80 of them within the aquarium. If you’re remotely interested in marine life or are looking for a kid-friendly activity to do in Chicago, Shedd Aquarium is definitely worth a visit. Plus, it’s included with the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass!

I, for one, could not pass up the opportunity to visit such a world-class attraction and it completely exceeded my expectations. You can expect to spend about 3 hours at the aquarium.

Cost: $39.95 for adults, $29.95 for children ages 3-11
Cost with Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: FREE


Museum of Science And Industry - 1 Day Chicago Itinerary

Calling literally anyone who is a fan of science, curiosities, and learning! You absolutely need to work the Museum of Science and Industry into your 1-day Chicago itinerary. I know you won’t have much time in just one day, but this museum is so worth your time!

The MSI is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, boasting more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits designed to spark creativity and thinking. No matter if you’re traveling solo, with a group of only adults, or with children, each and every one of you will have a blast in this hands-on interactive museum.

From chasing tornados to milking farm cows, playing with funhouse mirrors at the circus exhibit to exploring futuristic ideas, the variety of topics covered at MSI was mindblowing.

On our last visit, we were lucky enough to catch the tail end of the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit where we ogled at over 300 artifacts celebrating the past 80+ years of Marvel history. Where else could you find such a cool and detailed exhibit about such a fun topic?

Wondering how much there is to see at the MSI? Well depending on how hands-on you get with the exhibits, you can expect to spend about 3-5 hours at the museum.

Cost: $21.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 3-11
Cost with Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: FREE


For lunch, head back towards downtown and the Chicago River. You’ll want to be close to your next activity, which is hopping aboard the architecture river cruise, arguably the one truly must-do activity in Chicago!

For lunch downtown, we recommend XOCO, The Dearborn, or Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. If you’ve never been inside an Eataly before, Eataly Chicago is a great place to visit and dine for lunch.


Architecture River Cruise - Chicago Itinerary - Travels With Elle - 12

After lunch, walk over to the Shoreline Sightseeing ticket booth and get your tickets for the Architecture River Cruise! This iconic Chicago cruise will take you on a tranquil boat ride along the Chicago River, through the history of the city, revealing hidden architectural gems and the city’s renowned landmarks.

You’ll sail down all three branches of the Chicago River–the Main Branch, North Branch, and South Branch–giving you an insight into how architecture and landmarks have changed over the years.

Along the way, you’ll learn all about the history of Chicago, from the Great Fire of 1871 to the thriving metropolis it is today. Don’t forget to bring a camera–you can’t miss the photo op at Wolf Point!

After our river cruise, we had learned so much about why Chicago was so unique (especially in the city’s architectural design). Additionally, we all became “pros” at identifying the architectural styles of buildings!

Architecture River Cruise - Chicago Itinerary - Travels With Elle

All in all, I would 100% recommend this activity to anyone who visits Chicago for the first time!

Cost: $47 for adults
Cost with Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: FREE

8. 360 CHICAGO

360 Chicago - 1 Day Chicago Itinerary For First Timers - Travels With Elle

Time to enjoy some quintessential cityscape views! Off to 360 Chicago we go. The easiest and quickest way to get here from the river cruise is by the CTA bus.

When you arrive at 360 CHICAGO, you’ll get to enjoy views of Chicago’s skyline through the all-glass panoramic windows in the 17,000 square-foot 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. From the top, you’ll be able to see Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, Soldier Field, and the Magnificent Mile.

For an even more breathtaking view, visit at twilight when the lights of the city begin to turn on for the night! Make the moment last a bit longer by grabbing a drink or two at the bar.

You can also pay a little extra to do the TILT thrill ride up there, where you lean against a set of windows that actually tilts you outwards and downwards towards the edge.

Pro Tip: Personally, I think the price for this excursion is too steep for what you get. If you are not getting any version of the Go City Chicago pass, I would skip 360 Chicago and opt for similar views at The Signature Room at the 95th. This restaurant/lounge offers guests a dining experience with free, sweeping 360-degree views. All you have to do is pay for your meal or drinks!

Having said that, we actually didn’t have to pay out of pocket since we had the Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. Nonetheless, the views up top are pretty cool.

360 Chicago Hours: Monday – Thursday: 9 AM – 9 PM / Friday and Saturday: 9 AM – 11 PM

Cost: Adult (12 and over): $30.00 / Youth (3 to 11): $20.00 / Children Under 3: Free
Cost with Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: FREE


Pequods Pizza - Things To Do In Chicago, IL

The true deep-dish pizza MVP is not Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s, but rather Pequod’s. Yes, it is a bit further out, but trust me when I tell you that Pequod’s is the deep-dish champion. They even ship their pizza nationwide!

We ordered the pan pizza with sausage, spinach, and fresh garlic and boy was this thing delicious! I’m from New York, so I would consider myself a pizza connoisseur and even with my NY pizza loyalty, I still really enjoyed this meal.

Pro Tip: You’re going to need to make reservations ahead of time. Do NOT just show up because the wait can be 4 hours long, especially on weekends. Yes, it is that good.


Buckingham Fountain - Things To Do In Chicago, IL

Calling all Europe lovers, public art enthusiasts, and architecture fanatics! You’ve gotta see Buckingham Fountain. Located right along the lake in the heart of Grant Park, the massive and enchanting Buckingham Fountain is one sight you really shouldn’t miss.

The design of the fountain was inspired by one of the opulent fountains located at the Palace of Versailles in France. Chicago’s version is double the size, making it one of the largest fountains in the entire world!

There is even a free water display, accompanied by lights and music, that happens every hour on the hour from May to mid-October. The best time to see this magical fountain is any time after sunset!

Cost: FREE


Nightlife in Chicago - 1 Day Chicago Itinerary For First Timers - Travels With Elle

There are so many cool spots in Chicago to grab drinks after dark. We recommend checking out the following:

  • The Violet Hour (Wicker Park)
  • Three Dots and a Dash (Downtown Chicago)
  • Sparrow (Near North Side)

And that’s a wrap! Your 1-day Chicago itinerary has come to a close! Check out the next section for alternative things to do if you want to swap attractions in/out of this itinerary.


To determine if the Go City Chicago Pass was worth it, I added up the would-have-been admission costs for all the attractions we did on our 1-day Chicago itinerary.

Total cost of attractions without the Go City All-Inclusive Pass: $139 per person
Total cost with the Go City All-Inclusive Pass: $95 (at the time of writing)
TOTAL SAVINGS: $44 per person

Had we paid for each attraction separately, our total cost would have been a whopping $139 per person. But with the Go City All-Inclusive Pass, we actually paid just $95 total.

That is a savings of $44 per person! And with our group of 4, we saved a total of $176.

Man, I love saving money while traveling, don’t you?

We didn’t get a chance to use the Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour ($50 retail) to get around since we had CTA bus passes, but adding that into our itinerary would have made the value of the Go City Chicago pass even sweeter!


As you can see, we were able to do a lot with the All-Inclusive Pass. More importantly, we were able to save a ton of money!

The All-Inclusive Pass gets even cheaper the more days you opt for. You can choose between a 1, 2, 3, or 5-day pass. The 5-day pass is the cheapest when you break it down to per-day costs.

Do note that the multi-day All-Inclusive pass will need to be used on consecutive days. The All-Inclusive pass also allows you admission to the Shedd Aquarium, whereas the Explorer Pass does not.

Alternatively, the Explorer Pass is best for people who are more choosy about which attractions they want to see. You can choose between a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7-choice pass for your Explorer Pass.

The Explorer Pass is cool because it does NOT need to be used on the same day or on consecutive days. You actually will have 60 days to use it up.

No matter which pass type you pick, you’ll ultimately save far more with these passes compared to buying separate attraction tickets!

Note: If you’re still debating whether this pass is right for you, you should know that Go City offers a 365-day cancellation policy! As long as you don’t use your pass at any of the attractions, you’re good to get your money back with their risk-free guarantee.

We had one friend bail on the trip, so we had to request a refund for her pass. After sending out a quick email, we received the refund in a matter of days! Quick and easy.


While the Go City Chicago Pass was completely worth it for our group during this trip (where many of us were first-time visitors), it may not be right for everyone. They may also not be the right fit for every destination you visit.

Here’s our rationale. Chicago was an expensive city with lots of cool museums and must-see attractions packed in a compact area. Plus, it was our first time visiting so it totally made sense to get the Go City Pass.

However, on a trip to someplace like Ohau, Hawaii where we’d want to prioritize nature and hiking (or where it wasn’t our first time at the destination), it wouldn’t make sense for us to get an attraction pass.

To determine whether an attraction pass is worth it for your situation, you’ll need to take a look at what attractions are included with the pass and decide whether or not those interest you.

If there’s a bunch of museums, cruises, and attractions you plan on doing, then great, get the All-Inclusive Pass! This will almost 100% always be worth it. Plus the more days your all-inclusive pass is, the more savings you’ll get. (The cost per day ends up being cheaper for each additional day you tack on.)

However, if you’d rather travel slower and do 1-2 attractions per day, then the Explorer Pass could be a better fit for you. It’s a similar situation here in terms of money savings–the more attractions you opt for, the cheaper the cost per attraction.

Lastly, if you plan to just relax, walk around town, go on self-guided tours, and explore the cool neighborhoods, no need to get any version of the pass at all.

Still undecided? Remember, they have a 365-day cancellation! Keep your plans flexible and take advantage of that risk-free guarantee.

Ultimately after trying out this attraction pass for the first time, we ended up really liking the Go City Chicago Pass!

Not only was the process of setting everything up in the app super straightforward, but the app itself was super detailed. It contained absolutely anything and everything you would need to know about the attraction as well as how to redeem your pass there.

Not to mention, it was also an absolute breeze to use our passes at the attractions. We simply showed our QR codes to the attendants and in we went! No questions asked.

Going forward, we definitely plan on using Go City Passes on our future travels. We’re planning on visiting Paris, Barcelona, various parts of Mexico, as well as Taiwan and Thailand in the next few years.

Go City currently operates in 4 out of 5 of those destinations listed, plus a lot of other cities. Check them all out here! I’m already so excited thinking about all the money I can save on attractions in the future!

DEAL ALERT: For a limited time, use the above link + the promo code AFFGOALL for an additional 5% off your Go City pass. This code is valid for any Go City pass in any destination!

The Go City Chicago Pass offers some really great savings already, but with an extra 5% off, it’s an even better value for the money!


  • Skydeck Chicago – a good alternative to 360 Chicago, no lake views though
  • Field Museum – state-of-the-art natural history museum
  • Alder Planetarium – learn everything there is to know about the solar system
  • Skyline Lake Tour – a good alternative to the architecture river cruise
  • American Writers Museum – discover five centuries of literary history
  • Catch a show at Downtown Chicago’s Theater District – a hub for world-class productions and premieres
  • Lincoln Park Zoo – this zoo is absolutely free to enjoy
  • Walk the Chicago Riverwalk – enjoy the river views, grab food; a great place to just relax
  • Art Institute of Chicago – a world-class art museum
  • See Wrigley Field with your own eyes – explore Wrigleyville afterward
  • Explore Wicker Park – one of Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods filled with restaurants, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and shops

Many of the attractions listed above are covered with the Go City Chicago Pass. The others are free to enjoy!


CityPASS Chicago

CityPASS is another brand of attraction pass that operates in Chicago.

With CityPASS, you can visit 5 of Chicago’s top attractions for a fixed price. The Chicago CityPASS comes with 3 fixed attractions (you cannot change these) and 2 additional attractions that you can hand-select.

Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like at the time of writing this post:

3 FIXED ATTRACTIONS: You get to visit each attraction below.

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Skydeck Chicago
  • Field Museum

Plus get admission to 2 more attractions of your choice. No need to choose at the time of purchase—you can decide later.

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  • Adler Planetarium

Purchase attractions individually

Your other alternative would be to handpick tours/attractions and purchase them individually on sites like Viator and GetYourGuide.

Below are just a few popular options for inspiration.


  • Chicago Pizza Tour: Chicago’s only bus guided neighborhood pizza tour, includes 4 stops in different neighborhoods.
  • Bikes, Bites, and Brews – Chicago’s Signature Dishes Bike Tour: Half-day bike tour featuring classic eats like Chicago dogs, deep-dish pizza, cupcakes and craft beer!
  • Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour: Explore Chicago while hearing stories about Chicago’s most notorious criminals and mobsters including Al Capone and John Dillinger.
  • Chicago Architecture River Cruise: A must-do for first timers! We did this tour and loved every minute of the cityscape views and the storytelling our guide used to teach us the history of Chicago.
  • Prince: The Immersive Experience: Lose yourself on an interactive trip through the music and life of Prince. Journey through 10 multidimensional spaces
  • Harry Potter: Magic at Play: A unique, hands-on experience that will bring out the young witch or wizard in all of us. Explore, climb, and play your way through three floors of fun packed with playful celebrations of your favorite places and moments!


For such a short trip, you’re going to want to be as close to all the action as possible. I’d recommend staying in Downtown Chicago for this 1-day Chicago itinerary.

On our last trip, we stayed at The Westin Chicago River North. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this hotel. The location was perfect and the amenities were unbeatable. I mean, have you ever laid in Westin linens/bedding and not melted? Life-changing.

The gym was also one of the most impressive fitness centers I’ve ever experienced while traveling. The huge gym came equipped with lots of fitness equipment including multiple Peloton bikes, 2 Hypervolt percussion massage guns, as well as locker rooms, showers, and even a sauna!

Waking up with a solid morning workout at the hotel was an absolute dream! And upon stepping outside and realizing you’re in the middle of it all, right along the riverfront–magical.

Other great hotels you can consider staying at in Downtown Chicago:

Budget-friendly hotels in Downtown Chicago ($)

  • Freehand Chicago – stylish boutique hostel located in River North in the city center (they have both private rooms and shared rooms)

Moderately-priced hotels in Downtown Chicago ($$)

  • Sonder at Grant Park – bright and spacious hotel located in The Loop, super close to everything
  • Virgin Hotels Chicago – modern hotel featuring 2 restaurants, a nightclub, rooftop terrace, gym, and 2 bars/lounges

Luxury/higher-end hotels in Downtown Chicago ($$$)


  • SoxFest (Jan) – celebrating all things baseball
  • Winter Brew (Jan) – beer festival
  • Chicago Ale Fest (Feb) – beer festival
  • Chicago Auto Show (Feb)
  • Chicago Theatre Week (Feb)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March) – includes an annual dyeing of the Chicago River and huge parade
  • Windy City BREWHAHA (March) – beer festival
  • Chicago Restaurant Week (March)
  • Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (April) – largest pop culture convention in the Midwest
  • Chicago Memorial Day Parade (May)
  • Maifest Chicago (May) – honors German heritage and the start of spring
  • Gay Pride Chicago (June)
  • Chicago Blues Festival (June)
  • Taste of Chicago (July) – the world’s largest free-admission food festival
  • Pitchfork Music Festival (July)
  • Air and Water Show (August)
  • Lollapalooza (August)
  • Chicago Jazz Festival (September)
  • Hyde Park Jazz Festival (September)
  • Oktoberfest Chicago (September) – beer festival
  • Chicago International Film Festival (October)
  • Chicago Marathon (October)
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (November)
  • McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade (November) – free parade featuring large marching bands, inflatable floats, and performance acts
  • Christkindlmarket (December) – inspired by the epic German market in Nuremberg
  • Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest (December)

And that concludes our Go City Chicago All-Inclusive Pass review post! We hope that this post has inspired you to try something new! If you have any questions about the destinations or have your own travel tips to share, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.

Looking for more Chicago travel tips? You may also like:

CityPASS vs Go City Chicago: Which Is Better?

25 Best Things To Do In Chicago At Night

4 Days In Chicago: Itinerary For An Epic Long Weekend

The Ultimate Lollapalooza Packing List: 21 Festival Essentials To Bring

10 Best Walking Shoes For Travel (That Are Actually Cute)

Hate The Cold? 15 Warm Places To Visit This Winter

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

2 thoughts on “Go City Chicago Review: How To Have One Epic Day”

  1. I’m in the middle of planning at trip to Chicago for my family, and this review was super helpful! Thank you so much!

    • So glad to hear it was helpful! It’s definitely a good pass for first timers who want to sightsee 🙂


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