A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Charleston vs. Chicago for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Music

Should you visit Charleston or Chicago?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Charleston or Chicago, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Charleston

Charleston is a quaint, historic, and classic coastal town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. Other popular activities here include food, beaches, and shopping.

Chicago

Chicago is a vibrant, multicultural, and edgey city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. Other popular activities here include theater, nightlife, and live music.

Charleston and Chicago: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Cons
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less active music scene
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less popular for students
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Cons
  • Less popular with couples


How is Charleston different from Chicago?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Chicago and Charleston. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Charleston
Chicago

Head to Chicago if you're looking for good museums or notable landmarks, as it has more to offer than Charleston.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Chicago on the map. Some of the most famous are the Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry. Notable landmarks include the famous Willis Tower - formerly the Sears Tower, Buckingham Fountain, and the iconic Cloud Gate (the bean).

Charleston is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. This city is famous for its many historic churches and plantations. You can also visit Fort Sumter National Monument by boat or take a tour of the USS Yorktown.


Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Food?

Charleston
Chicago

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Charleston and Chicago can be difficult as they are each unique in their own way.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Charleston is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. Food lovers will enjoy the city's low country classics. Local favorites include she crab soup, shrimp and grits, cornbread, and fried green tomatoes.

Many restaurants in Chicago have been singled out for their culinary prowess. While you're in town you have to try the famous deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Nightlife?

Charleston
Chicago

Chicago has the better options when it comes to nightlife.

Chicago has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. Popular bars and clubs include the Smart Bar, Beauty Bar, and Le Nocturne.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Charleston. As a college town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs around town. There's also a lively music scene.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Music?

Charleston
Chicago

For live music, you may want to head to Chicago over Charleston.

In Chicago you'll find nightly musicians performing at a variety of venues. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.

You'll find some good live music in Charleston. You can hear a number of local bands or enjoy a more widely known group at larger venues in the area.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Beaches?

Charleston
Chicago

Both Charleston and Chicago have beaches worth visiting.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Charleston. The area has a number of beautiful and fun nearby beaches including Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island.

Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Chicago. While you don't immediately think of beaches when you think of Chicago, there are some nice beaches by the lake.


Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Shopping?

Charleston
Chicago

Both Charleston and Chicago are good shopping destinations.

Charleston is a world class destination for shoppers. The city is famous for its historic market in the center of town. Local goods, foods, and crafts are sold daily here. There are also many clothing and local shops throughout town.

People travel from around the world to go shopping in Chicago. The most famous shopping area is Michigan Avenue and the famous Magnificent Mile.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Christmas?

Charleston
Chicago

Both Charleston and Chicago are fun destinations to visit around Christmas.

Charleston is an extremely popular place to visit during the Christmas season. During the Christmas season there are a number of festivals, light shows, and even a boat parade that everyone can enjoy.

Since it has plenty to do, Chicago is a very popular place to visit during Christmas. There's a number of seasonal celebrations, ice skating, and excellent shopping.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Christmas Markets?

Charleston
Chicago

Charleston and Chicago are both places where visitors can find Christmas markets.

Charleston has Christmas markets worth visiting. Marion Square hosts Christmas Markets on weekends throughout the holiday season.

Chicago is a nice place to see Christmas markets. Shopping is a highlight of a trip to the city, and the Christkindlmarkt is not to be missed.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Families?

Charleston
Chicago

Charleston and Chicago are both fun destinations for the whole family.

Charleston is a family-friendly place to visit. The area has a number of family friendly activities like carriage rides and boat rides. The nearby beaches also make it a wonderful place to visit with kids.

Chicago is a very family-friendly destination. The city has a large number of activities for kids, including zoos, Shedd Aquarium, impressive children's museums, and large and elaborate playgrounds in Millennium Park.


Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Couples?

Charleston
Chicago

While Chicago and Charleston are both popular destinations, overall Charleston is considered to be a more popular choice.

Charleston has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. This beautiful city is one of the most popular wedding destinations in America. It's a very romantic setting with beautiful hotels and bed and breakfasts that are perfect for couples on their honeymoon or looking for a romantic setting.

Chicago is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy exploring the city's vibrant theater scene and diverse neighborhoods.

Is Charleston or Chicago Better for Students?

Charleston
Chicago

Chicago is generally a better coastal town for students than Charleston.

Chicago is a great destination for students. The city has a large number of universities that bring in students from around the country and around the globe.

Plenty of students visit Charleston. The city is a college town with a young vibe that is perfect for students.

Is Charleston or Chicago a more walkable city?

Charleston
Chicago

Charleston and Chicago both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Charleston is a very walkable destination. The downtown area is very walkable, but once you leave the historic heart, it's best to have a car.

Chicago is very walkable. The city has many restaurants, sights, and hotels that are easily accessible on foot.

Should I spend more time in Chicago or Charleston?

How long in Charleston or Chicago?

In either Charleston or Chicago, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Charleston than Chicago because of the overall number of sights and activities.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Charleston is 2-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Chicago is 3-5 days.


  • How many days in Charleston or Chicago? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charleston 2-7 
    Chicago 3-5

One day in Charleston or Chicago?

In Charleston, you'll find shopping and museums. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This coastal town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

When visiting Chicago, people usually allow for lots of time. Anyone can find something fun to do here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.


A weekend in Charleston or Chicago?

In Charleston, you'll find museums and nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Charleston has to offer.

When visiting Chicago, people usually allow for lots of time. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Five days in Charleston or Chicago?

Charleston is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Charleston has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Chicago, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this city. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Charleston or Chicago?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Charleston. In Charleston, you'll find live music and food. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.

Chicago is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Which city is cheaper, Chicago or Charleston?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Charleston is $136, while the average daily cost in Chicago is $221. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Charleston and Chicago in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charleston $72
    Chicago $152
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charleston $144
    Chicago $304
Compare Hotels in Charleston and Chicago

Looking for a hotel in Charleston or Chicago? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Charleston


Hotels in Chicago


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Charleston Hotel Prices and Chicago Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charleston $26
    Chicago $29

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charleston

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Charleston:

  • Charleston city to Charleston Airport (CHS) - Departure Private Transfer: $124
  • Private Departure Transfer to Charleston Airport (CHS): $52
  • Private transfer: Charleston to Charleston Airport (CHS): $622

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chicago

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chicago:


  • Parking
    $19
  • Taxi Ride
    $10
  • Taxi from Airport
    $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chicago

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chicago:

  • Private Airport Transfer: O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Chicago: $43
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Chicago to O’Hare International Airport (ORD): $43
  • Private Airport Transfer: Midway International Airport (MDW) to Chicago: $55
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Chicago to Midway International Airport (MDW): $55
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Chicago Midway Airport to Chicago City: $66
  • Private Departure Transfer from Chicago City to Midway International Airport: $66
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Chicago O'Hare Airport to Chicago City: $78
  • Private Departure Transfer from Chicago City to O'Hare International Airport: $78
  • Arrival Private Transfer Chicago O'Hare Airport ORD to Chicago by Sedan Car: $79
  • Departure Private Transfer Chicago City to O'Hare Airport ORD by Sedan Car: $79
  • Private Departure Transfer to Chicago Airports (ORD)(MDW): $80
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Chicago Airports (ORD) (MDW): $80

Is it cheaper to fly into Charleston or Chicago?

Prices for flights to both Chicago and Charleston change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Charleston $46
    Chicago $37
Typical Food prices in Charleston

Some typical examples of dining costs in Charleston are as follows:


  • Lunch in downtown Charleston for two
    $21
  • Breakfast
    $26

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Charleston

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Charleston.

  • Downtown Charleston Culinary Walking Food Tour: $73
  • Savor the Flavors of Charleston Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston's Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston Chef's Kitchen Guided Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise: $77
  • Savor the Flavors Upper King Street Food Tour: $95
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours Charleston: $129
  • Undiscovered 1/2 Day Food, Wine & History Tour with Cooking Class: $154
  • 3-Hour Secret Food Tour in Charleston w/ Private Tour Option: $277

Typical Food prices in Chicago

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Chicago:


  • Dinner for 1
    $24
  • Dinner for 3
    $118

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chicago

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chicago.

  • Traveling Spoon Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Private Online Cooking Class: $27
  • Learn to Make Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza with a Local: $49
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour: $61
  • Private Fusion Cooking Class in Downtown Chicago: $64
  • Best in Chow: Chicago River North Food Tour: $64
  • Signature Food Tour at Chicago's Navy Pier: $64
  • Skip the Line: Tommy Gun's Garage Dinner and Show Ticket: $67
  • Small-Group Chicago Food Tour: Gold Coast and Old Town: $75
  • Best of Chicago Tour Including a Deep-Dish Pizza: $75
  • River North Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Chicago's Wicker Park Food Tour: $75
  • Private Indian-Mexican Fusion Cooking Class with a Modern Cook: $78

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charleston $17
    Chicago $34
Typical Entertainment prices in Charleston

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Charleston are as follows:


  • Patriots Point (for 2)
    $60

Tours and Activities in Charleston

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Charleston are as follows:

  • Charleston's Haunted Ghost Tour - Smart Phone Guided Tour: $5.00
  • Charleston Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $16
  • Charleston's Pleasing Terrors Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour: $21
  • Downtown Charleston Walking Tour with Certified Local Guide: $21
  • Historic Charleston Guided Sightseeing Walking Tour: $21
  • Highlights of Charleston Guided Walking Tour: $22
  • Charleston French Quarter Historic Guided Walking Tour: $22
  • Drayton Hall Plantation Admission Ticket in Charleston: $22
  • Small-Group Tour: Charleston Old Walled City Historical Walking Tour: $23
  • Charleston Terrors Walking Ghost Tour: $23
  • Charleston Ghosts of Liberty Guided Walking Tour: $25
  • 90-Minute Historic Walking Tour of Charleston: $25

Typical Entertainment prices in Chicago

Here are a few typical costs in Chicago for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Sears Tower (family of 4)
    $102
  • Aquarium for 4
    $118
  • Water Taxi (family of 4)
    $22
  • IMAX Movie for Two
    $35
  • Shakespeare Play (2)
    $116
  • Art Institute (2)
    $36
  • U-Boat Tour (2)
    $8.00

Tours and Activities in Chicago

Here are a few actual costs in Chicago for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • A Storied Neighborhood: Dance the dialectic with Bill Ayers on an audio tour: $5.00
  • Discovering Vintage The Loop Walking Audio Tour by VoiceMap: $5.34
  • Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour: $6.00
  • Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour: $6.00
  • Chicago Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour: $6.00
  • Skip the Line: American Writers Museum Admission Ticket: $14
  • Pilsen Walking Tour of Local Publicly Displayed Art: $15
  • Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Historic Chicago Theatre: $18
  • Chicago Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Windy City Ghost Tour: $24
  • Street Art & Mural Tours By Native 312- Wabash Arts Corridor: $25
  • In the Streets: Milwaukee Ave Guided Bike Tour: $25

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Free Things to Do in Chicago, Chicago Bucket List: The Best Places to See, and The Best Museums in Chicago.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charleston $28
    Chicago $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Charleston

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Charleston:

  • Charleston Bar Hunt: Charleston Chase Bar Crawl: $12
  • Ghost Walking Tour and Pub Crawl in Haunted Charleston: $27
  • Haunted Pub Crawl of the Market: $37

Sample the Local Flavors in Chicago

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Chicago:

  • Haunted Chicago Ghost and Pub Walking Tour: $25
  • Walking tour to Chicago dive bars: $41
  • Chicago Barrel Bus Craft Distillery Tour: $90
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour: $90
  • Ultimate Girl's Night Out in Sparkling Wine, Photo Shoot, Burlesque: $900


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Charleston and Chicago, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is Charleston much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Charleston would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Charleston and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Chicago would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Chicago than you might in Charleston.


When is the best time to visit Charleston or Chicago?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Charleston or Chicago in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Charleston and Chicago. Most visitors come to Charleston for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Chicago because of the beaches, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

Charleston is around the same temperature as Chicago in the summer. The temperature in Charleston is usually 82°F (28°C) in July, and Chicago stays around 77°F (25°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Chicago this time of the year. In Charleston, it's very sunny this time of the year. Charleston usually receives less sunshine than Chicago during summer. Charleston gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 326 hours of full sun in the summer.

Chicago receives a lot of rain in the summer. Charleston gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Charleston usually receives more rain than Chicago. Charleston gets 6.9 inches (176 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charleston 82°F (28°C) 
    Chicago 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Chicago in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Charleston as well as Chicago. The autumn months attract visitors to Charleston because of the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Chicago this time of year.

In the autumn, Charleston is a little warmer than Chicago. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Charleston in October are around 67°F (19°C), and Chicago is about 56°F (14°C).

In the autumn, Charleston often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Chicago. Charleston gets 197 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 195 hours of full sun.

Charleston usually gets more rain in October than Chicago. Charleston gets 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charleston 67°F (19°C) 
    Chicago 56°F (14°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Chicago in the Winter?

Both Chicago and Charleston are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Charleston this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Chicago for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Chicago. In January, Charleston is generally much warmer than Chicago. Temperatures in Charleston average around 47°F (9°C), and Chicago stays around 25°F (-4°C).

Charleston usually receives more sunshine than Chicago during winter. Charleston gets 188 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 134 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Charleston usually receives more rain than Chicago. Charleston gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 1.9 inches (47 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charleston 47°F (9°C) 
    Chicago 25°F (-4°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Chicago in the Spring?

Both Chicago and Charleston during the spring are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Charleston for the beaches and the natural beauty. Furthermore, many visitors come to Chicago in the spring for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

Charleston is much warmer than Chicago in the spring. The temperature in Charleston is usually 64°F (18°C) in April, and Chicago stays around 52°F (11°C).

In Chicago, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Charleston. In the spring, Charleston often gets more sunshine than Chicago. Charleston gets 275 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 218 hours of full sun.

Chicago gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Charleston usually gets less rain in April than Chicago. Charleston gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 4.3 inches (108 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charleston 64°F (18°C) 
    Chicago 52°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Chicago and Charleston

Charleston Chicago
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 47°F (9°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 25°F (-4°C) 1.9 inches (47 mm)
Feb 50°F (10°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 29°F (-2°C) 1.4 inches (35 mm)
Mar 58°F (14°C) 4.3 inches (110 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 52°F (11°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 6.9 inches (176 mm) 77°F (25°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 7.1 inches (181 mm) 76°F (24°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Sep 76°F (25°C) 4.8 inches (121 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Oct 67°F (19°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Nov 58°F (15°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm) 44°F (7°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 31°F (-1°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)


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Charleston vs. Chicago Travel Comparison

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