Which place is cheaper, Chicago or Washington?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
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 Washington and Chicago can help you decide which place is right for you.
Washington is a active, monument-filled, and international city. As it's a big city, visitors will find plenty to do, too. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. Other popular activities here include food, shopping, and museums.
Chicago is a diverse, vibrant, and multicultural city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. It's a gorgeous place to visit. Other reasons to visit include live music, food, and beaches.
You'll generally find more things to do in Chicago than Washington. Chicago is bigger than Washington, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Chicago is better known for its theatre productions, nightlife, music, beaches, shopping, christmas markets, and big city activities, while Washington is more popular for its hiking, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere. Washington is well known for its reputation as the capital of the United States, but it's also known for its many monuments, memorials, and museums. Chicago is well known for its thriving sports scene, its iconic local cuisine, and its world class shopping at the Magnificent Mile. Also, Chicago is famous for The Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower).
Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Chicago and Washington. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.
Spend time exploring the fantastic sights and museums in either Washington or Chicago.
Travelers visit Washington from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The city has world class museums that are often free. The Smithsonian Museums are arguably some of the most impressive museums in the United States. The city also has a large collection of monuments that are dedicated to past presidents or historical events. Many are best experienced at night when the sun sets and the lights come on.
The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Chicago are among the most recognizable in the world. 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).
Chicago is a world-class destination for theatre. Also, Washington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its theatre productions.
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.
Many visitors plan to see a show while visiting Washington. Theater is popular in the city. From major theaters like the Kennedy Center and Ford's Theater, to lesser known smaller venues, there are options for everyone.
Foodies will find both Washington and Chicago both to be fantastic destinations.
Washington has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. This city is among the most diverse in the country, so you can find restaurants from almost any cuisine here. It's worth exploring and stepping out of your comfort zone. There are popular neighborhoods for Ethiopian, Korean, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese food, among many others.
Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Chicago is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. 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.
Chicago is a world-class destination for nightlife. Also, Washington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for nightlife and partying.
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.
Washington has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Many visitors head straight to the museums and the National Mall, and don't realize what a livable and fun city this is. Some of the best nightlife is found in Dupont Circle, U Street, and even Arlington, VA. The city's young population ensures that there's never a dull moment.
Chicago is a world-class destination for live music. Also, Washington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its live music scene.
Chicago is known as a music capital around the world. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.
The music scene helps keep Washington active and fun. Notable live music venues include the 9:30 Club, the Anthem, and Union Stage.
Chicago is very good for its beaches. However, Washington 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.
Washington is not a beach destination.
Washington is a city with a few options for its hiking experiences. However, Chicago is not a hiking destination.
Hiking is a fun activity while in Washington. Just outside of Washington DC you'll find plenty of places to go hiking. There's also an elaborate bike and walking trail system in the city. To enjoy a bit of nature, head to Teddy Roosevelt Island.
Chicago is not a hiking destination.
Chicago is a world-class destination for shopping. Also, Washington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its shopping opportunities.
People travel from around the world to go shopping in Chicago. 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.
Washington is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Head to Georgetown and Dupont Circle for some of the city's best local shopping. There are name brand chains mixed in with local boutiques. You'll also find plenty of souvenir shops in the more touristy areas if you're looking to pick up some trinkets.
Washington is renowned for its Christmas activities. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for its Christmas holiday experiences.
Washington is a world class destination for shoppers. With it's beautiful lights and holiday shows, Christmas is beautiful in the capital of the United States.
Chicago is a very popular destination during Christmas. There's a number of seasonal celebrations, ice skating, and excellent shopping.
Chicago is very good for visiting Christmas markets. However, Washington 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.
Washington does not offer Christmas markets.
Chicago is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Washington is not as popular, but is still a nice city 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.
Washington is a very kid-friendly city. It is a fun and educational destination where kids can explore world class museums and try unique foods from all around the world. The city has nationally recognized landmarks, monuments, and memorials and it's also home to some of the best (free) museums in the United States including the world class Smithsonian Institutions. Many schools visit Washington DC as a field trip, particularly during the Spring months, so you'll kids groups in colorful t-shirts running around the National Mall.
Washington is a great destination for couples. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.
Couples visit Washington frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. The city lights up at night, so couples will enjoy wandering by the monuments in the evening or taking in a dinner and show. During the Spring months you'll find couples wandering through the Cherry Blossoms or along the waterfront.
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.
Chicago is very good for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Washington is not a good destination 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.
Washington is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While it is an international travel destination, the city often isn't at the top of most backpacker's lists. There are some affordable accommodation options available though if you know where to look.
For students, both Washington and Chicago are fantastic places to visit.
Students come from all over the world to visit Washington. International students come from around the world to study, learn, intern, and work in the capital of the United States. There are many internships available through the federal government as well as NGOs and nonprofits.
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. It's a huge international city with economic ties and many opportunities connected to the universities.
Washington and Chicago both offer fantastic public transit to get you around.
With a huge network, the transit system in Washington can get you around easily. The metro system and the bus system are reliable and efficient ways to explore the city.
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.
Washington is renowned for its ease of walking around. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for its walkability.
Getting around Washington on foot is easy. Many neighborhoods around the city are easy to explore on foot. Most tourists spend a lot of time in the Mall area, which is very pedestrian friendly.
Chicago is very walkable. The city has many restaurants, sights, and hotels that are easily accessible on foot.
In either Washington or Chicago, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Washington than Chicago because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Washington, and 3-5 days is enough time in Chicago.
Families should spend more time in Chicago than Washington. 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 Washington than Chicago. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Washington that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.
Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Chicago than Washington 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.
Because Washington is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.
With theater and nightlife around the cosmopolitan city of Chicago, there's plenty to do. 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.
Because Washington is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.
With nightlife and live music around the big city destination of Chicago, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.
Washington is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Washington 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.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in Washington. Because Washington is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. 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.
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Washington is $198, while the average daily cost in Chicago is $279. 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 Washington and Chicago in more detail.
Looking for a hotel in Washington 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.
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.
Some typical examples of transportation costs in Washington are as follows:
Also for Washington, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chicago:
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chicago:
Prices for flights to both Chicago and Washington 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.
Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Washington:
For Washington, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Chicago:
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chicago.
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Washington.
Here are a few typical costs in Chicago for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:
Here are a few actual costs in Chicago for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Washington:
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Chicago:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Washington and Chicago, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is Washington much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Washington would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Washington 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 Washington.
Chicago is bigger, and its population is about 5.1 times larger than the population of Washington. When comparing the population of Washington vs. Chicago, 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 and the activities that interest you.
Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.
The summer brings many poeple to Washington as well as Chicago. The summer months attract visitors to Washington because of the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Chicago this time of year.
In July, Washington is generally around the same temperature as Chicago. Daily temperatures in Washington average around 79°F (26°C), and Chicago fluctuates around 77°F (25°C).
The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Chicago. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Washington this time of the year. In the summer, Washington often gets less sunshine than Chicago. Washington gets 278 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 326 hours of full sun.
It's quite rainy in Chicago. Washington usually gets less rain in July than Chicago. Washington gets 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain this time of the year.
Both Chicago and Washington are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Washington this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Chicago for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.
Washington is a little warmer than Chicago in the autumn. The daily temperature in Washington averages around 60°F (15°C) in October, and Chicago fluctuates around 56°F (14°C).
Washington usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Chicago during autumn. Washington gets 197 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 195 hours of full sun in the autumn.
In October, Washington usually receives more rain than Chicago. Washington gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.
Both Chicago and Washington during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Washington for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine. Furthermore, many visitors come to Chicago in the winter for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.
Chicago can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Washington. In the winter, Washington is much warmer than Chicago. Typically, the winter temperatures in Washington in January average around 35°F (1°C), and Chicago averages at about 25°F (-4°C).
In the winter, Washington often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Chicago. Washington gets 139 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 134 hours of full sun.
Washington usually gets more rain in January than Chicago. Washington gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 1.9 inches (47 mm) of rain this time of the year.
The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Washington and Chicago. Many visitors come to Washington in the spring for the activities around the city and the natural beauty. Furthermore, most visitors come to Chicago for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months.
In April, Washington is generally a little warmer than Chicago. Daily temperatures in Washington average around 56°F (14°C), and Chicago fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).
People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Chicago this time of the year. In Washington, it's very sunny this time of the year. Washington usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Chicago during spring. Washington gets 228 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 218 hours of full sun in the spring.
Chicago receives a lot of rain in the spring. In April, Washington usually receives less rain than Chicago. Washington gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 4.3 inches (108 mm) of rain each month for the spring.
|Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)||Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)|
|Jan||35°F (1°C)||2.7 inches (68 mm)||25°F (-4°C)||1.9 inches (47 mm)|
|Feb||37°F (3°C)||2.7 inches (69 mm)||29°F (-2°C)||1.4 inches (35 mm)|
|Mar||47°F (8°C)||3.2 inches (82 mm)||41°F (5°C)||3.7 inches (93 mm)|
|Apr||56°F (14°C)||2.8 inches (72 mm)||52°F (11°C)||4.3 inches (108 mm)|
|May||66°F (19°C)||3.5 inches (89 mm)||63°F (17°C)||3 inches (75 mm)|
|Jun||75°F (24°C)||3.3 inches (83 mm)||73°F (23°C)||3.9 inches (100 mm)|
|Jul||79°F (26°C)||3.5 inches (88 mm)||77°F (25°C)||3.9 inches (100 mm)|
|Aug||78°F (26°C)||3.9 inches (98 mm)||76°F (24°C)||3.5 inches (90 mm)|
|Sep||71°F (22°C)||3.3 inches (85 mm)||68°F (20°C)||3.8 inches (96 mm)|
|Oct||60°F (15°C)||2.9 inches (73 mm)||56°F (14°C)||2.2 inches (56 mm)|
|Nov||50°F (10°C)||3.2 inches (82 mm)||44°F (7°C)||2.2 inches (56 mm)|
|Dec||39°F (4°C)||3.2 inches (82 mm)||31°F (-1°C)||2.8 inches (71 mm)|
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