For a cheap summer vacation that really packs a punch, look no further than the Windy City. Cheap Chicago hotels, affordable restaurants and free fun can add up to a great low-cost getaway. Here are just a few tips for places that won't break your budget.
Cheap Chicago hotels:
These Chicago hotels offer the best of both worlds — great location and great price:
- Travelodge Hotel Downtown Chicago: Two blocks from Lake Michigan and walking distance to The Art Institute and Sears Tower. Rates from $80 a night.
- Howard Johnson Inn Downtown Chicago: In the heart of River North, a neighborhood filled with art galleries and restaurants — and an easy walk to Michigan Avenue shopping. Room start from about $85 a night.
- Tremont Hotel: Just off Michigan Avenue and an easy walk to the Hancock Building and the lake. This three-star hotel has rooms starting from $90.
Cheap Chicago restaurants:
Sure you can go gourmet, but why — when it's so easy to find good food that doesn't cost a lot.
- Cafe Iberico: Fine Spanish tapas dining lets you spend as much — or as little — as you like. Fantastic food and a friendly atmosphere, if sometimes a little crowded on weekend nights.
- Joy Yee's Noodles: Cheap pan-Asian dishes and styles, located in Chinatown. Head over and experience all the charm and excitement of the neighborhood, without losing a fortune (cookie).
- Hot Doug's: Yes, Weiner Circle is still a great stop for fantastic Chicago-style hot dogs served with plenty of attitude. But for something different, head up to Hot Doug's, where the owner-chef uses special mixes of meats, cheeses and spices to take cased meats to whole new level.
- The Billy Goat Tavern: The original SNL "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger!" joint, although many folks are too young to remember the Belushi skit. The downtown Billy Goat is also a renowned greasy-spoon hangout for old-school reporters from the Sun-Times and Tribune. Stop by for a very laid-back beer and a cheeseburger.
Cheap Chicago activities:
- Millennium Park: Chicago's newest public showcase, the Park features the famous Cloud Gate "Bean" sculpture, the delightful "Faces" fountain, and much more. During the summer, free classical concerts are performed in the outdoor Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
- The John Hancock Building: You can buy a ticket to the Hancock Observatory on Michigan Avenue, or enjoy equally spectacular views for free at the Signature Room at the 95th.
- Navy Pier: Free fireworks shows light up the sky here Wednesday and Saturday nights from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A $6 ferris wheel ride offers great city views.
- Lincoln Park Zoo: Open 365 days a year and always free.