A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Chicago vs. Rapid City for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Chicago or Rapid City?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Chicago and Rapid City can help you decide which place is right for you.

Chicago

Chicago is a diverse, vibrant, and multicultural city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the food, beaches, and shopping.

Rapid City

Rapid City is a friendly, fascinating, and activity-filled city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and food.

Chicago and Rapid City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Home to the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower)
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to Mount Rushmore
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Chicago or Rapid City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Chicago than Rapid City, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Chicago is more popular for its theatre productions, food, nightlife, music, beaches, shopping, christmas markets, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Rapid City is known for its hiking. Chicago is popular for its thriving sports scene, its iconic local cuisine, and its world class shopping at the Magnificent Mile. It is also home to The Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower). Rapid City is popular for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and many other iconic parks.

How is Chicago different from Rapid City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Chicago or Rapid City?

Chicago
Rapid City

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Chicago or Rapid City.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Chicago on the map. There are countless landmarks, museums, and iconic sights in the area. 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).

Travelers visit Rapid City from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. You'll find a wide variety of museums and landmarks nearby. Popular places to visit that aren't far from town include the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, and the Journey Museum & Learning Center. There's also the Museum of Geology and the National Presidential Wax Museum. And of course, there's the iconic Mount Rushmore.


Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Theater?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for its theatre productions. However, Rapid City is not a theatre destination.

The theater scene in Chicago is world-class. Theater is big here with many of the major Broadway productions visiting the city. There is also an endless list of smaller, local theaters to choose from.

Rapid City is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in Chicago or Rapid City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for its restaurants. Also, Rapid City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Chicago has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. With everything from award-winning luxury restaurants to local dives, this city has something for everyone. It also has very distinct local flavors and dishes that create an identity and bring great pride to the locals. While you're in town you have to try the famous deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Rapid City area. You'll find local restaurants in town that serve local specialties such as chislic (grilled meat), fry bread, and walleye (a local fish.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Nightlife?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for nightlife and partying. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its evening party scene.

The nightlife in Chicago is well established with world renowned clubs and venues. It has a wide range of activities at night, with everything from theater and comedy clubs to dance venues, sporting events, and local bars. It's easy to fill many evenings with whatever activity appeals to you. Popular bars and clubs include the Smart Bar, Beauty Bar, and Le Nocturne.

Rapid City is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. You'll find some places with live music and good drinks, but the city isn't really known for its nightlife scene.


Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Music?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for its live music scene. However, Rapid City is not a live music destination.

With so many music venues, you're guaranteed a show any night of the week in Chicago. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.

Rapid City is not a live music destination.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Beaches?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is very good for the beache. However, Rapid City is not a beach destination.

Many people head to Chicago to enjoy the beach. While you don't immediately think of beaches when you think of Chicago, there are some nice beaches by the lake. If the weather is nice, it's a great area to spend some time.

Rapid City is not a beach destination.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Hiking?

Chicago
Rapid City

Rapid City is a great destination for its hiking experiences. However, Chicago is not a hiking destination.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Rapid City. The region is filled with national parks, state parks, and natural areas with wonderful hiking trails. You don't have to travel far to get into nature and experience some of South Dakota's best natural beauty.

Chicago is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Chicago or Rapid City?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Rapid City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Known for shopping, Chicago draws large crowds to its stores. There are countless neighborhoods that are filled with boutiques, local vendors, and art galleries. The city has some of the country's best shopping opportunities, and the most notable area is the famous Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile.

Many visitors go to Rapid City to go shopping. Rapid City has some interesting local shops as well as larger malls and shopping centers.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Christmas?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is a very popular place for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Rapid City does not offer Christmas activities.

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.

Rapid City does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Christmas Markets?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is very good for visiting Christmas markets. However, Rapid City does not offer Christmas markets.

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

Rapid City does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Families?

Chicago
Rapid City

You'll find fantastic kid-friendly activities in either Chicago or Rapid City.

Chicago is one of the most popular family destinations. 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. It's easy to keep kids entertained in this very kid-focused city.

Rapid City is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. Nearby national parks and outdoor activities, this is the perfect base for exploring the area with kids. Nearby you'll find the Big Thunder Gold Mine, which has tours and lets you pan for gold, and Custer State Park, which is filled with wildlife. Wall Drug is worth a stopoff, as is Dinosaur Park.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Couples?

Chicago
Rapid City

Rapid City is a great destination for couples. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Rapid City frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples will enjoy the amazing national parks in the area and the easy access to iconic landmarks like Mount Rushmore. There are many opportunities for wildlife spotting as well as great hiking trails and unique landscapes.

Chicago is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy exploring the city's vibrant theater scene and diverse neighborhoods. There are many varied restaurants and entertainment options that make for a great date night. There are also sporting events, parks, and gardens where couples can explore.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Chicago
Rapid City

Rapid City is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Rapid City is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. Backpackers will appreciate the surrounding natural beauty and the nearby national parks.

It's common for backpackers to visit Chicago. The city doesn't have a huge backpacker vibe, but it does have a number of hostels that help keep costs in check.


Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Students?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for its student-friendly activities. However, Rapid City is not popular with students.

Students come from all over the world to visit Chicago. The city has a large number of universities that bring in students from around the country and around the globe. It's a huge international city with economic ties and many opportunities connected to the universities.

Rapid City is not popular with students.

Is Chicago or Rapid City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is an unbeatable place for times when you don't have a car. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Visitors in Chicago can get around quickly with the extensive public transit system. There's a subway (the "L"), a commuter well, as well as buses and countless taxis available.

Public transit is generally limited in Rapid City. While there are a few buses, this isn't a realistic option for traveling through the region.

Is Chicago or Rapid City a more walkable city?

Chicago
Rapid City

Chicago is a very popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its ease of walking around.

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

Rapid City is generally not very walkable. While the downtown is walkable, most visitors use the city as a base for exploring the surrounding areas, and this requires a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Chicago Worth Visiting? and Is Rapid City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rapid City or Chicago?

How long in Chicago or Rapid City?

It's fun to spend time in either Chicago or Rapid City. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Chicago due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Chicago, and 2-4 days is enough time in Rapid City.

Families should spend more time in Chicago than Rapid City. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Chicago, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Chicago than Rapid City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Chicago that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Chicago than Rapid City if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Chicago.


  • How many days in Chicago or Rapid City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chicago 3-5 
    Rapid City 2-4

One day in Chicago or Rapid City?

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.

In Rapid City, you'll find museums and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Chicago or Rapid City?

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.

In Rapid City, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Rapid City has to offer.

Five days in Chicago or Rapid City?

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.

Rapid City is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Chicago or Rapid City?

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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Rapid City. Many people enjoy the museums and food when visiting Rapid City. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or Chicago?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Chicago is $288, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $116. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Chicago and Rapid City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chicago $198
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chicago $396
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Chicago and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Chicago or Rapid City? 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 Chicago


Hotels in Rapid City


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: Chicago Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chicago $37
    Rapid City $53
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:

  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in Chicago APT-HTL (ORD) , (MDW): $128
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Chicago City - Chicago Airport (ORD): $138
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Chicago Airport (ORD) -Chicago City: $138
  • RoundTrip transfer in private car from-to Chicago Airport (ORD)- Chicago City: $276
  • Private Transfer: Midway Airport MDW to Chicago by Luxury SUV: $176
  • Private Transfer from Chicago City to Chicago (MDW) Airport: $146
  • Private Transfer from Chicago (MDW) Airport to Chicago City: $146
  • Private Transfer Chicago to Chicago Airport by Luxury Car or SUV: $87
  • Private Transfer Chicago Airport to Chicago by Luxury Car or SUV: $115
  • Private Sedan Transfer from Chicago Downtown to O'Hare airport: $220
  • Private Sedan Transfer from Chicago Downtown to Midway airport: $220
  • Private SUV Transfer from Chicago Downtown to O'Hare airport: $240

Is it cheaper to fly into Chicago or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and Chicago 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
    Chicago $49
    Rapid City $23
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 : $40
  • Chicago : Hands-on Cooking Classes With Local Chef: $55
  • Chicago Small Group Food Tour: $69
  • Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise: $72
  • Downtown Pizza Guided Walking Tour with Tastings: $73
  • Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Self-Guided Tour: $75
  • Chicago West Loop Pizza Crawl: $79
  • Chicago Bucktown-Wicker Park Pizza Crawl: $79
  • Downtown Family Food Tour by Bike with Sightseeing: $80
  • Nitti's Supper Club Dinner and Show: $80
  • Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise: $86
  • Secret Food Tour: $88

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Roller Coaster Tickets with Dinner and Show in Rapid City: $70

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chicago $47
    Rapid City $26
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:

  • Chicagoland Sightseeing in Style Luxury Private Sedan: $190
  • Field Museum of Natural History Early Access Ticket : $73
  • Windy City Ghosts: Hauntings of Chicago Walking Tour: $28
  • 2 Hour Chicago Pier Fireworks & Evening Segway Tour: $78
  • 2 Hour Private Chicago Soul House Tour: $65
  • 2-Hour Chicago Fireworks Segway Tour: $68
  • 2-Hour Chicago Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour: $75
  • 2-Hour Guided Segway Tour of Chicago: $65
  • 2-Hour Haunted Segway Tour of Chicago: $78
  • 3 Hours Chicago Architecture Tour - Skyscrapers and Photo Ops: $135
  • Adults Party Art Experience: $66
  • Amazing Lakefront Segway Tour of Chicago: $79

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours: $20
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • Badlands Winter Wonderland Adventure: $239
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • NEW! Half Day Tour of the Black Hills: $289
  • Badlands Sunset and Wildlife Adventure : $289
  • From Private Spearfish Canyon Tour: $650
  • From Private Devils Tower Tour and Hike: $650
  • Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour: $650
  • Badlands National Park Private Tour: $650

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
    Chicago $25
    Rapid City $6.93

Sample the Local Flavors in Chicago

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

  • Chicago Walking Brewery Tour in Malt Row: $15
  • Malt Row Walking Brewery Tour: $30
  • Walking tour to Chicago dive bars: $41
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour: $100
  • Craft Brewery Tour by Barrel Bus: $100


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Chicago and Rapid City, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is Rapid City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Rapid City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Rapid City 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 Rapid City.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Chicago Expensive? and Is Rapid City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Chicago or Rapid City?

Chicago has a larger population, and is about 50 times larger than the population of Rapid City. When comparing the sizes of Chicago and Rapid City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.