A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Chicago vs. Yellowstone National Park for Food, Families, Backpackers, and Couples

Should you visit Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

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 Yellowstone National Park can help you decide which place is right for you.

Chicago

Chicago is a cosmopolitan, diverse, and vibrant 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 nightlife, live music, and food.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a immense, unique, and stunning national park. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. Other popular activities here include hiking.

Chicago and Yellowstone National Park: 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 students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Home to the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower)
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Old Faithful
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Chicago. Although Chicago and Yellowstone National Park are popular destinations, Chicago has more sights and attractions for tourists. Chicago is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, nightlife, music, beaches, shopping, christmas markets, and big city activities, while Yellowstone National Park attracts visitors for its resorts, hiking, and impressive beauty. Yellowstone National Park is more touristy than Chicago and is known for its iconic geysers, breathtaking waterfalls, world-class hikes, and diverse wildlife. 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).

How is Chicago different from Yellowstone National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its museums and landmarks. However, Yellowstone National Park does not have museums and landmarks.

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).

Yellowstone National Park does not have museums and landmarks.


Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Theater?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its shows and theatre. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a theatre destination.

The theater and performance venues in Chicago draw crowds from around the world. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its restaurant scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for its local flavors and cuisine.

For foodies, Chicago is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. 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.

Yellowstone National Park offers some easy restaurants to choose from. This is a large park and there are a number of dining options available both inside and just outside of the park. Many places are seasonal so your options will be highest during the summer months. Like most national park venues, prices can be high and the quality is variable. It's recommended that you pack your own food and plan to picnic.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Nightlife?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its evening party scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Chicago is a party destination, and you'll find plenty of activity all night long. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Music?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its music scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.

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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Resorts?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a great destination for its resorts. However, Chicago is not a resort destination.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Yellowstone National Park. It is a large national park, and there are several impressive lodges nearby. Reservations are recommended well in advance. Within the park, Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are all nice options.

Chicago is not a resort destination.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Beaches?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is a popular place for the beach. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a beach destination.

Chicago is a good option for a beach vacation. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a beach destination.


Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Hiking?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for its hiking experiences. However, Chicago is not a hiking destination.

Many people visit Yellowstone National Park specifically for its hiking. The park is huge, and there are countless hikes throughout. From short strolls to lengthy endeavors, there really is something for everyone. If you want to see the geysers, some of the best hikes are Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail, the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Observation Point Loop, and the Lone Star Geyser Trail. For waterfalls you can check out Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, the North Rim Trail, and Fairy Falls Trail.

Chicago is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its shopping areas. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Chicago is a world class destination for shoppers. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Christmas?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is well known for its Christmas activities. However, Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas activities.

Visitors come from all around to experience the Christmas activities in Chicago. There's a number of seasonal celebrations, ice skating, and excellent shopping.

Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Christmas Markets?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is a popular place for its Christmas markets. However, Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas markets.

Many visitors go to the Christmas markets in Chicago. Shopping is a highlight of a trip to the city, and the Christkindlmarkt is not to be missed.

Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas markets.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Families?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Yellowstone National Park is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for 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. It's easy to keep kids entertained in this very kid-focused city.

Yellowstone National Park is a very family-friendly destination. Kids who enjoy the outdoors and exploring new environments will appreciate a visit to this park. The geysers are fascinating for everyone and the waterfalls are breathtaking. There are ranger shows and other activities that are great for kids as well. Make sure you stop by the Visitor's Centers.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Couples?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a great destination for couples. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Yellowstone National Park frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. This park is a beautiful and romantic destination for couples who enjoy the outdoors. There are world-renowned hikes and breathtaking views. There are also lodges in the area that make for a romantic stay.

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 Yellowstone National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for backpackers. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Yellowstone National Park is a very popular national park to visit for backpackers. Backpackers will appreciate the campgrounds and affordable facilities that are found around the park. Reservations are recommended well in advance, particularly if you're hoping to stay inside the park.

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 Yellowstone National Park Better for Students?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for students. However, Yellowstone National Park is not popular with students.

Many students frequent 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not popular with students.

Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is very popular for its public transit. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

Chicago has an effecient and thorough public transportation system which can take you anywhere in the city. There's a subway (the "L"), a commuter well, as well as buses and countless taxis available.

Public transit is quite limited in Yellowstone National Park. There is no public transportation service available in the park. There are private tour options available.


Is Chicago or Yellowstone National Park a more walkable city?

Chicago
Yellowstone National Park

Chicago is well known for its ease of walking around. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for its walkability.

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

Yellowstone National Park is not a very walkable city. This is among the largest national parks and a car is an absolute must if you hope to experience the different landscapes.

For even more information, also check out Is Chicago Worth Visiting? and Is Yellowstone National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Yellowstone National Park or Chicago?

How long in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Both Chicago and Yellowstone National Park have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Yellowstone National Park than in Chicago. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Chicago, and 5-7 days is enough time in Yellowstone National Park.

Families should spend more time in Chicago than Yellowstone National Park. 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 Yellowstone National Park. 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 Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chicago 3-5 
    Yellowstone National Park 5-7

One day in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago is a vibrant city where you can fill many days. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

In Yellowstone National Park, you'll find . Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This national park 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 Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago is a big city destination where you can fill many days. Anyone can find something fun to do here. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

In Yellowstone National Park, you'll find . The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here. It offers something for everyone.

Yellowstone National Park is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Yellowstone National Park has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Chicago is a popular choice for travelers. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Yellowstone National Park. In Yellowstone National Park, you'll find . One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


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, Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park is $147. 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 Yellowstone National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chicago $198
    Yellowstone National Park $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chicago $396
    Yellowstone National Park $148
Compare Hotels in Chicago and Yellowstone National Park

Looking for a hotel in Chicago or Yellowstone National Park? 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 Yellowstone National Park


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 Yellowstone National Park Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chicago $37
    Yellowstone National Park $37
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:

  • Chicago to Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD): Departure Transfer: $57
  • Arrival Private Transfer: O'Hare Airport ORD to Chicago in Business Car: $153
  • Arrival Private Transfer: O'Hare Airport ORD to Chicago in Luxury SUV: $202
  • Chicago Airport (MDW) to Chicago - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $117
  • Chicago Airport Transfer: Chicago to O'Hare Airport ORD in Business Car: $153
  • Chicago Airport Transfer: Chicago to O'Hare Airport ORD in Luxury SUV: $204
  • Chicago Airport Transfer: Chicago to O'Hare Airport in Luxury SUV: $150
  • Chicago Airport Transfer: O'Hare Airport ORD to Chicago in Luxury SUV: $202
  • Chicago City to Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) - Departure Private Transfer: $52
  • Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) to Chicago -Arrival Private Transfer: $58
  • Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) to Chicago City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $106
  • Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) to Chicago hotel/address - Arrival Private Transfer: $53

Is it cheaper to fly into Chicago or Yellowstone National Park?

Prices for flights to both Yellowstone National Park 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
    Yellowstone National Park $46
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
  • Fulton Market Delicious Donut Adventure and Walking Food Tour: $63
  • Chicago West Loop Pizza Crawl: $79
  • Friday Pizza Walk of Downtown Chicago: $79
  • Chicago Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $89
  • Chicago Buffet Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan: $96
  • Saturday Chicago Pizza History and Tastings Bus Tour: $99
  • Chicago Half-Day Walking Food Tour with Free Bike or Kayak Rental: $99
  • Chicago Food Tour in Devon Ave: $125
  • Chicago Fireworks Dinner Cruise with Buffet: $129
  • Mother's Day Signature Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan: $130
  • Chicago Gourmet Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan: $132

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chicago $47
    Yellowstone National Park $34
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: A Self-Guided Audio Tour with Bill Ayers: $5.40
  • Gangster Story Quest Experience in Chicago: $5.66
  • Chicago Lincoln Square Quest Experience: $5.72
  • Chicago’s Ragtime & Jazz Eras: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $6.99
  • Vice, Crime and Gangsters in A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $6.99
  • Chicago Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.00
  • Chicago White Sox Baseball Game Ticket at Guaranteed Rate Field: $9.43
  • The Loop, River North and Chicago’s Theater District: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $12
  • Chicago Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour: $15
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Chicago with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • Chicago's Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Ticket: $21
  • The Chicago Theatre Tour Experience: $24

Tours and Activities in Yellowstone National Park

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

  • Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Self-Guided Grand Teton National Park Driving Tour: $8.99
  • Yellowstone's West Thumb Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Yellowstone's Old Faithful Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Yellowstone National Park Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $25
  • Early Morning Guided Kayak Tour: $125
  • Lake Yellowstone Half Day Kayak Tours Past Geothermal Features : $135
  • Small-Group Sunset Kayaking Tour on Lake Yellowstone : $150
  • Yellowstone Lake & Hot Springs / 3 Hour Morning or Twilight Tour : $150
  • 6-Mile Geyser Hiking Tour in Yellowstone with Lunch: $182
  • Lamar Valley Safari Hiking Tour with Lunch: $182

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
    Yellowstone National Park $19

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: $30
  • Walking tour to Chicago dive bars: $41
  • Milwaukee,Miller Brewery Tour&Tasting 1-Day Tour from Chicago: $93
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour: $100


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

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