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Chicago - the Windy City

There are so many things to do in Chicago.  You can enjoy world class museums, hear concerts from the best musicians, shop in unique boutiques, and see Broadway shows and smaller theater productions. You can watch a game at one of the hundreds of bars, eat in a great restaurant, and work it off riding a bike, ice skating, or bowling. The tough part is deciding what you will see and do in Chicago and then once you do decide, not spending a lot of money doing it.  Read on for money-saving tips when visiting Chicago.

 

Choosechicago.com is the website of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.  The visitors tab includes information on tours, attractions and an events calendar.  Click on LAST MINUTE DEALS! to view hotel offers.  Choosechicago offers an e-newsletter which comes in a variety of languages including French.

 

This is not to be confused with explorechicago.org, which is the city’s official tourism website.  It includes pages in French (check the language droplist near the top of the home page).  Click on the Chicago Guide to Special Values – Visitor Discounts section (look on the lower left of the home page) for printable coupons.  At the bottom of that page (also found at http://www.chicagoofficeoftourism.org/chicagocoupons/) is a link to a page of Free Activities.

 

Chicago Greeter is a free service designed to help visitors become familiar with Chicago and its many neighborhoods. Their focus is to help visitors, by matching them with a greeter.  

 

Catch the enthusiasm of city-wise locals who volunteer to share their knowledge and love of the city through visits on foot and public transportation. Enjoy the local points of interest on these two to four hour visits as well as some of the Greeters' favorite spots.  Navigate the City with your Greeter on complimentary public transportation for the ultimate Chicago experience.

 

Complete the application available on their website to request a Chicago Greeter visit. Apply early as they request 7 business days to process a request. The maximum number per group is one to six individuals.  Only one member of a group need apply

 

For those of you who forget to apply, or end up in Chicago at the last minute, don’t fret, all is not lost because they also offer Instagreeter (don’t look that one up in your dictionary, instagreeter is a special word courtesy of Chicago Greeter).

InstaGreeter, an "on-the-spot" greeter service, offers visitors the opportunity to tour downtown Chicago in one hour with local volunteer greeters who lead free walking visits. Visitors interested in InstaGreeter register at the InstaGreeter booth in the Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center, located at 77 E. Randolph Street. InstaGreeters are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. InstaGreeter benefits those that have not registered in advance and who seek suggestions about attractions to visit, places to dine, and shop, as well as, directions and 'local tips'.

 

Instagreeter visits are also limited to groups of six or less and conducted on a first come, first served basis.

 

TheLocalTourist.com is another informational site for visitors to Chicago.  It emphasizes the different neighborhoods that make up Chicago. 

 

With the Go Chicago Card, you get free admission to a large number of Chicago museums, tours and attractions, with the added benefit of in some cases being able to skip standing in long ticket lines. Of course "free" is a bit of a misnomer since you have to pay for the card, but, the bottom line is that it's a chance to save some serious money.  Another option is the Chicago Citypass, where $69.00 gets you admission to 5 famous attractions saving you about $50 over the regular cost of admission.

 

Hot Tix is a not-for-profit service that offers a half-price discount on Chicago theater tickets to shows at participating theaters and venues. The tickets inventory updates constantly throughout the day (current listings available at Hot Tix locations).  Hot Tix is better suited for those that want to see a theater performance, not necessarily a particular one. There are lots of quality productions to choose from in Chicago, so that's not a bad way to go.

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