Chicago is an amazing city to visit, but costs can add up quickly, making it an expensive trip. Whether you are planning an extended stay, short-term move or long-term relocation, we’re here to help you enjoy Chicago on a budget. Find affordable transportation, cheap eats and free attractions that are sure to fill your days with fun while also keeping your wallet full. Book a budget-friendly hotel like InTown Suites, and you’ll save even more!
Affordable Chicago Hotels
Finding affordable accommodations in Chicago can be extremely challenging. An average hotel in Downtown Chicago can cost $200 a night, and monthly apartment prices are over $2,000. Consider booking a stay just outside the city with InTown Suites. We have three budget-friendly hotels in the Chicago metro area offering affordable weekly and monthly rates.
With no credit check and no long-term agreements required – you are free to explore and enjoy the Windy City with a cost-effective apartment alternative at InTown. Each suite boasts an in-room kitchen, a smart HDTV with premium channels, superfast high-speed wi-fi, free parking and more!
Chicago Public Transportation
Don’t pay more for a taxi to get around Chicago! Many Chicago attractions and eateries are within walking distance of one another, so walking is normally possible. When you need to travel a longer distance, Chicago has a fantastic public transit system, which makes getting around easy and affordable.
Transit tickets are $2.25 each and are transferable between Chicago Transit Authority’s trains and buses. Chicago even has a water taxi for easy travel up and down the Chicago River. If you plan on exploring the Windy City during your stay, check out more details about using Chicago’s public transportation.
Chicago is an ideal city for finding great food on a budget. The city is filled with diverse neighborhoods where you’ll find delicious bites from all over the globe. Simply choose the ethnic cuisine you’d like to try and you’re sure to find an affordable eatery near you. Check out our 5 favorite cheap eats in Chicago!
1. Johnnie’s Beef | 7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park
Named the best Italian beef by visitors and locals alike, Johnnie’s Beef is a no-frills restaurant serving quality meats and big flavor. The beef is roasted in-house, the sausage is grilled over live charcoal and the gravy is a slam-dunk. Italian beef sandwiches start at just $4.50. Be sure to ask for extra giardiniera for a truly Chicago-style dish.
2. Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken | 181 N Morgan St, Chicago
Who knew sweet treats and savory sandwiches could be created under the same roof? At Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, it’s just another day. Do-Rite serves creative donut combinations, made-to-order breakfast sandwiches and mouth-watering fried chicken sandwiches. Single donuts start at $2.95 and sandwiches start at $5.99. Find seven locations across the Chicago metro area.
3. Hamburger Heaven | 281 N. York St, Elmhurst
Serving the original double-decker burger since 1948, Hamburger Heaven is a classic diner-style restaurant located just 5 miles from our Villa Park hotel. Order a double-decker with cheese and a root beer float for just $12. Other menu items include sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream sundaes and more!
4. Immm Rice & Beyond | 4949 North Broadway, Chicago
In Thai, Immm means “I’m full” or “I’m stuffed,” and that’s just what you’ll be when you finish an affordable meal at Immm Rice & Beyond. Lunch specials are completely customizable and start at just $9. The dinner menu is just as affordable with larger portions perfect for sharing. Delivery and take-out are available or dine in for a cozy, comfortable atmosphere.
5. Chiu Quon Bakery | 1127 W Argyle St, Chicago
Chiu Quon is a traditional Chinese bakery serving Chicago for nearly 40 years. Discover buns stuffed with savories, sweets and everything in-between. Marvel at dumplings, crepes and steamed buns. Sample authentic pastries including cakes, tarts, doughnuts and cookies. Most items are less than $2 so mix and match to your heart’s content, all while staying on budget.
Chicago, also known as the Second City, is filled with family-friendly activities, a lively nightlife scene and fun attractions for all ages. To help you enjoy Chicago on a budget, we’ve found the top 5 free things to do in Chicago.
1. Take in incredible city views.
Pack up the family and head to a lesser-known city gem: Promontory Point (known locally as The Point). Take a walk through the park to marvel at beautiful cityscapes, including one of the most incredible views of downtown you’ll find in the city! Don’t forget the camera, and maybe even a picnic for a fun-filled adventure.
2. Meander through Lincoln Park Zoo.
One of the oldest zoos in the US, Lincoln Park Zoo offers nearly 40 acres of wildlife, exhibits, events and more – all for FREE! Discover plenty of fascinating animals and learn how they’re cared for during your visit. Discover mammals like monkeys, lions and zebras as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
3. Ride a bike along the Lakefront.
A popular place to walk, jog, rollerblade or bike ride, Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is a fantastic way to see the city and its many incredible views. Boasting a beautiful 18-mile stretch, explore the Lakefront Trail with the blue waters of Lake Michigan on one side and gorgeous, green parks on the other. Along the way, enjoy beaches, gardens, volleyball nets, soccer fields, tennis courts and so much more.
4. Admire the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Boasting 26 spectacular gardens, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a 385-acre living plant museum. There is so much to see, from greenhouses and meadows to sensory gardens, lakeside gardens and butterfly gardens. Chicago Botanic Garden offers at least two FREE days per month for locals and visitors. Review the upcoming calendar and reserve your tickets online.
5. Enjoy some quiet time at the Library.
A visit to the Harold Washington Library Center is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with the kids or learn more about the history of the city for FREE. Kids will discover books and reading nooks while you marvel at the grand lobby, marble floors and elaborate architectural details. Don’t miss the Winter Garden, with a 53-foot glass-paneled dome, as well as the center’s public art collection.