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

Should you visit Chicago or Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City can help you decide which place is right for you.

Chicago

Chicago is a diverse, vibrant, and multicultural 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. It's also popular because of the live music, food, and beaches.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a notable, religious, and architectural city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and food.

Chicago and Salt Lake 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 scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Home to Temple Square
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Chicago than Salt Lake City. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Chicago is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, nightlife, music, beaches, shopping, christmas markets, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Salt Lake City attracts visitors for its scuba diving & snorkeling and hiking. Chicago is famous for its thriving sports scene, its iconic local cuisine, and its world class shopping at the Magnificent Mile. It is also well known for The Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower). Salt Lake City is famous for its religious landmarks and its large Mormon population.

How is Chicago different from Salt Lake City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its museums and history. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, Chicago has many famous sights for visitors. 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).

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Salt Lake City can be an interesting and educational experience. Many of the fascinating sights around town are influenced by the city's Mormon culture. Temple Square is a highlight for most visitors. It spans 35 acres and is beautifully landscaped with several fountains. There are also four main churches - The Temple, the Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and Assembly Hall. The city also has several museums such as the Natural History Museum and the historic Liberty Park.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Theater?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its shows and theatre. However, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City is not a theatre destination.

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

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its restaurants. Also, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. In recent years the food scene has really improved and you'll find a variety of restaurants that serve everything from upscale dishes to more casual fare.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Nightlife?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its evening party scene. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for nightlife.

People head to Chicago just to party. 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.

Salt Lake City is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. Known for its large Mormon population, nightlife isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Salt Lake City. While it will likely never be a party city, there are a growing number of entertainment options around town.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Music?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its music scene. However, Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.

Chicago has become a mecca for musicians from around the world. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.

Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is very good for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Chicago is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's worth going snorkeling or scuba diving in Salt Lake City. There are a number of good ski resorts nearby, making this a good base or starting point for a ski vacation.

Chicago is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Beaches?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is very good for the beach. However, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City is not a beach destination.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Hiking?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is very good for its hiking experiences. However, Chicago is not a hiking destination.

Many people include a hike when visiting Salt Lake City. The city offers easy access to many diverse trails, so if you're a nature enthusiasts, you'll appreciate this destination.

Chicago is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its shopping areas. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many people travel to Chicago specifically to go shopping. 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.

Salt Lake City is a great destination for shopping. The city has sprawling outlet malls as well as local stores and craft shops. City Creek Center is a favorite shopping destination, but there are also several large shopping malls that are worth visiting.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Christmas?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a very popular place for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Christmas Markets?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is very good for visiting Christmas markets. However, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City does not offer Christmas markets.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Families?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

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.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Salt Lake City. There are museums that kids will enjoy like the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Leonardo Museum. There are also fun-filled activities like a visit to Lagoon Amusement Park. You can learn about history at This Is the Place Heritage Park or learn about the undersea world at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Couples?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Both Chicago and Salt Lake City are nice destinations to visit as a couple.

Chicago is a good city for couples to visit. 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.

Salt Lake City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with beautiful gardens like Red Butte Garden. There are also nice restaurants and romantic hotels that will make this a nice place for a couple's getaway.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is very good for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for backpackers.

Chicago is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. The city doesn't have a huge backpacker vibe, but it does have a number of hostels that help keep costs in check.

Salt Lake City is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are a couple of hostels in town, but most backpackers overlook this destination or breeze through town quickly.

Is Chicago or Salt Lake City Better for Students?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Salt Lake 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.

Salt Lake City is not popular with students.

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

Chicago
Salt Lake City

Chicago is a world-class destination for times when you don't have a car. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its public transit.

With a huge network, the transit system in Chicago can get you around easily. There's a subway (the "L"), a commuter well, as well as buses and countless taxis available.

You'll find some public transit in Salt Lake City, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a surprisingly good public transit system that includes light rail, buses, and commuter trains, but if you want to get out of town you'll need to have a car.


Is Chicago or Salt Lake City a more walkable city?

Chicago
Salt Lake City

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

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

Salt Lake City is generally not very walkable. While some neighborhoods are walkable, like Temple Square, most visitors prefer to have a car.

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

Should I spend more time in Salt Lake City or Chicago?

How long in Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Chicago and Salt Lake City. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Chicago than in Salt Lake City. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Chicago, and 2-3 days is enough time in Salt Lake City.

Families should spend more time in Chicago than Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chicago 3-5 
    Salt Lake City 2-3

One day in Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Because Chicago is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Salt Lake City, you'll find food and scuba diving and snorkeling. 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 Salt Lake City?

Chicago is a great place to explore. Anyone can find something fun to do here. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

In Salt Lake City, you'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Salt Lake City has to offer.


Five days in Chicago or Salt Lake City?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Chicago. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. It offers something for everyone. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

Salt Lake City is a great place to explore. 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 Salt Lake City?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the city of Chicago. Your budget might influence how long you stay. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Salt Lake City. Many people enjoy the museums and food when visiting Salt Lake City. 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 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City is $246. 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 Salt Lake City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chicago $198
    Salt Lake City $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chicago $396
    Salt Lake City $238
Compare Hotels in Chicago and Salt Lake City

Looking for a hotel in Chicago or Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chicago $37
    Salt Lake City $45
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:

  • Transfer in private vehicle from Chicago City - Chicago Airport (ORD): $138
  • RoundTrip transfer in private car from-to Chicago Airport (ORD)- Chicago City: $276
  • Private one-way airport transfer O'Hare Airport to/from Chicago : $86
  • Private Transfer from Chicago City to Chicago (MDW) Airport: $144
  • Private Transfer Chicago to Chicago Airport by Luxury Car or SUV: $87
  • 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
  • Private Round trip Transfer - Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD): $189
  • Private Luxury 6-Pax SUV Limo Transfer from or to Chicagoland Airport and Suburb: $180
  • ORD Airport Private Transfer to/from Chicago: $81
  • Midway Airport and O'Hare from/to Hotels Private Transfer: $110

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Salt Lake City

Also for Salt Lake City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Salt Lake City Airport SLC: $36
  • Private Transfer from SLC to Salt Lake City : $120
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City hotel or address: $264
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $121
  • Private Transfer: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $108
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Round-Trip Transfer: $229
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City - Arrival Private Transfer : $91
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City UT - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $181
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City - Arrival Private Transfer: $46
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC): Transfer to Salt Lake City: $204
  • Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) - Departure Private Transfer: $46

Is it cheaper to fly into Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Prices for flights to both Salt Lake 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
    Salt Lake City $50
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
  • Downtown Pizza Guided Walking Tour with Tastings: $58
  • Chicago's Delicious Donut Adventure & Walking Food Tour: $63
  • Fulton Market Delicious Donut Adventure & Walking Food Tour: $65
  • Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise: $72
  • Chicago Pizza 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: $85
  • Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise: $86

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chicago $47
    Salt Lake City $28
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:

  • 2 Hour Pier Fireworks and Evening Segway Tour in Chicago: $78
  • 2-Hour Chicago Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour: $70
  • 2-Hour Guided Segway Tour of Chicago: $65
  • Adults Party Art Experience: $66
  • Amazing Lakefront Segway Tour of Chicago: $79
  • App Chicago self-guided tours with multilingual audioguides: $9.76
  • Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Guided Museum Tour : $126
  • Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour: $50
  • Big Bus Chicago Sunset Tour: $50
  • Bike Tour of Chicago's Lakefront Neighborhoods : $55
  • Black Heritage Tour: $125
  • Bobby's Fright Hike: Halloween Edition Chicago Bike Tour: $55

Tours and Activities in Salt Lake City

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

  • Mormon History - Salt Lake Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Mormon History Salt Lake Self-Guided Audio app Walking Tour: $7.75
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Salt Lake City by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Salt Lake City Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Utah Jazz Basketball Game Ticket at Delta Center: $17
  • Salt Lake City Haunted Old Town Tour: $23
  • Salt Lake City Ghost Tour: Outer Reaches Tour: $23
  • Utah Jazz Basketball Game Ticket: $23
  • Salt Lake City & La Sal: Self-Guided Walking & Driving Tour: $25
  • Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Salt Lake Ghosts and Hauntings Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $30

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
    Salt Lake City $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Chicago

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

  • Malt Row Walking Brewery Tour: $30
  • 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 Salt Lake City, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is Salt Lake City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Salt Lake City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake 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 Salt Lake City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Chicago or Salt Lake City?

Chicago has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Salt Lake City. When comparing the sizes of Chicago and Salt Lake 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.