Another Vacation on the Cheap (relatively)

by Rocket Finance

This is a repost from my old blogspot blog. I was prompted after reading an article about a NY Times travel writer’s trip to Chicago that was analyzed on Less Than a Shoestring.

 My wife and I love Chicago and we have made it a tradition to spend a night or two in Chicago for our anniversary each year. As many of you may know, a trip to Chitown can pack a pretty good wallop on the wallet: parking usually costs $25 per night, the average hotel price on a weeknight is $175 for a three star hotel, and the Metra Train costs about $7 per person each way – and then there is food. . . It is pretty easy to spend $250 before even getting downtown. Parking, lodging and food for two nights can easily run $600 before going shopping. After many trips to the Windy City, we have worked out a way to afford the trip.

Here is our system:

1. Book two nights at the Day’s Inn in Lincoln Park for $75 a night at

2. Park in Linden for free and ride the “EL” (not Metra) to Lincoln Park for about $1.50 apiece.

3. Eat the free breakfast at the hotel.

4. Walk downtown or take the EL.

5. Spend the day at Millenium Park where you can listen to music (free) or rent a bike($25). Go to the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, the Planetarium or the Aquarium ($15 apiece). Take a boat trip on the Chicago River ($15 apiece, but worth it). Go to Navy Pier, Shop the Magnificent Mile ($priceless) or just people watch (my favorite and free).

6. Always stop at Giordano’s Pizza on Rush St. and splurge with a $24 meal.

We usually end up walking over 10 miles throughout Chicago and along the lakefront. Sometimes we do the whole trip including coffee and food for under $200 – as long as we don’t spend too much time on the Magnificent Mile or #5. We don’t go to clubs and we don’t drink so we save a bundle right there. If we can find someone gullible enough to watch all of our kids for a couple of days, you can bet that we will be on our way south.


  1. 2 Responses to “Another Vacation on the Cheap (relatively)”

  2. By alex on Nov 24, 2007 | Reply

    great post for visiting chicago! It’s probably even worse in Manhattan but we don’t notice since we live in NYC.

  3. By rocketc on Nov 24, 2007 | Reply

    NYC is the only major city in the US that I have not visited. If we every go out that way, I might check with you for a couple of tips.

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