Happy Friday: Spending the Day in Chicago for $30

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Sent from reader, Vicky:

My name is Vicky and I am a fan from The Windy City, Chicago, Illinois and I wanted to share a day out that I had recently. It has been dubbed “Coupon Saturday” , and it was organized with all that I have learned from reading Hip2Save over the years, a watchful eye, and a dose of good timing.

Here is my story, it’s long but here goes…..

My birthday is coming up and I was looking for something to do. While reading the site, I learned about free museum day, so I registered for a ticket for two people to visit the Musuem of Contemporary Art. With tickets in hand, a friend and I started our day with Starbucks lattes. I used a $5 reward I earned from Kellogg’s Family Rewards, making the total of two grande lattes $3.

Parking in a big city would make this deal almost worthless, but I managed to find a website that lets you prepay for a spot in advance at a huge discount. I also used a code because it was my first time using the service and paid $13 for all day parking, right across the street from the museum.

When we arrived at the museum, we were given COUPONS for two free postcards from the gift store, which we selected upon leaving. When we were done we took a long walk (no cabs for us) to get to Millenium Park where we snacked on inexpensive fruit & cheese. While there a girl collecting for charity offered to take our picture by The Bean (Cloudgate) so we donated $5. We then took an even longer walk back to the car, being more about the journey than the destination.

By the time we got back and headed toward home, it was almost dinner time. After following the advice in recent post about watching your mail, I received a postcard from a local mall which directed me to bring it to the service counter to receive a $20 gift cart to one of five places in the mall. I chose a BBQ restaurant, which happened to have a frequent diner program. A few days after I registered, they emailed me a BOGO entree coupon that could be used in conjunction with the gift card. Two rib dinners with cornbread, coleslaw, and a loaded baked potato cost us (with tip) $10.21.

Now you can’t have dinner without dessert! Once, while at Bundt Cake store by my house, I signed up for their frequent program as well. My email contained a coupon for a free bundtlet for my birthday. So total cost for an awesome day in Downtown Chicago with dinner in the burbs cost us a whopping $30.21!


Do you have a funny, “Hip”, or unique photo to share?! Email us at happyfriday@hip2save.com. Every Friday, we post one photo, submitted by a Hip2Save reader, that gives us a glimpse into their frugal lifestyle or simply makes us smile. If your photo is published on Hip2Save, we’ll email you a $10 Amazon e-card!

Join The Discussion

Comments 29

  1. savingstacy

    That is amazing!

  2. Tammy

    Happy birthday, what an awesome day of deals. πŸ˜€

  3. harlow

    That’s awesome! Hope you had a fun & very happy birthday!!! πŸ™‚

  4. Christine

    That is awesome! Happy Birthday! I was in Chicago last week visiting friends and we spent wayyyy more.

  5. Heather

    We are headed up to Chi-town next weekend…where did you locate the code for the parking discount? Thanks so much!

    • Vicky

      I used spothero.com

    • notinks

      Try TWITTER20 for 20% off on spothero.com

  6. Marie

    I would love to know what you used to book the parking spot in advance and if it is just for Chicago or if you can choose different cities

    • Niki

      Spothero is a website & an app that lets you pay for spots in advance at a big discount. I travel a lot for work and with this app I help my company save on parking fees. Lol

      • Marie

        Awesome! Thank you!

    • ssf

      ParkWhiz is another great parking app for downtown Chicago…I always compare the two before purchasing!

      • notinks

        I am heading to Chicago next weekend. Was planning to park at the Hampton Inn Majestic Theater District on Monroe where we are staying. It is $60/night. Wondering if it is save to overnight in one of the lots you mentioned and if you happen to know of one close to that hotel. Thanks so much!

  7. Maite

    Woohoo!!! Happy Birthday indeed! 😊

  8. Judy

    Thank you so much for sharing and thank you hip to save for posting this story. I love putting together deals for great experiences. It would be so great if we could read more of these stories even if we can’t visit that particular city it’s inspirational and gives good ideas for whatever city we go to.

  9. Niki

    Very cool ! Happy birthday.

  10. KetaCar

    That’s awesome!!! Rocking it….thanks H2S!

    • Jessica (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re very welcome! πŸ˜€

  11. ParkWhiz

    ParkWhiz is also awesome in Chicago. Codes available and you get extra credit if friends join! Windy City Live tapes shows and if you plan ahead you can free tickets to attend! It is a wonderfully fun time!

  12. Momof2

    I do the free BOA museum program and the other free day events in Miami. Also if u watch for your desired city, they will run groupons and specials on stuff. I got an annual membership at Miami seaquarium for free with purchasing a one day ticket during a special they had. I love saving money while having fun.

  13. Erika

    Love this post!

  14. Angie

    Does anyone know where to get discounted tickets to the shedd aquarium? I’d like to take my kids there but it’s expensive and I live in Wisconsin so I don’t get the special deal for people living in Illinois πŸ™

    • NolaGirl

      If you’re an educator from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, or Wisconsin, you can receive a complimentary Shedd ticket by registering online. The offer isn’t valid during special events or for admission to the 4-D Experience.

      Chicago CityPass will save you 53% on VIP admission to Shedd Aquariumβ€”and four more top Chicago attractions. A Shedd Aquarium family membership ($195-$249) might be worth it if you’ll visit more than once. It includes access for two adults and all household children 18 and under.

  15. John K. Wilson

    There is some free parking on the fringes of downtown Chicago, if you’re willing to walk a long distance (but there are no guarantees of a spot). State Street south of Roosevelt (12th St) is free except for weekday rush hour. West of the loop, you can find some free parking, mostly west of Halsted. North of North Ave. it’s not impossible to find free parking in areas near the Lincoln Park Zoo. Sundays, parking meters are free south of Roosevelt, west of Halsted, and north of North. There are even some free spots in the Loop: there’s one block of LaSalle north of Adams with free parking daily starting at 6pm (all the spots fill quickly). To find parking rates, you can also try http://chicago.bestparking.com/ (you can pay in advance for parking, or find the general rates for some parking garages–the cheapest in the loop tend to be around Balbo & Wabash). There are lots of free museum days (for Illinois residents), some free museums (Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Money Museum), see https://www.timeout.com/chicago/kids/activities/free-museum-days. There are also lots of free activities, at Millennium Park and the Cultural Center. You can sign up at SpringRewards to get free rebates at certain restaurants when you use your registered credit card.

    • Jessica (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thank you for sharing all of these helpful tips, John! πŸ˜€

  16. san

    some shutterfly codes: all expire today
    free photo book from Burlington- BF2P-DYZ7-DTHC-DCFFKY
    $20 off from motherhood- DE8E-ENYB-KWFM-G1C5YY
    free mug from similac-ST4G-39XK-AAVC-RPNB7B
    free mug from pampers- GTLC-0HK8-237E-YDMUYX
    free photobook from kelloggs-KEB7-071F-629D-BPAE5K

    • Lisa

      FYI: my free photobook from Kellogg’s said it expired June 30 in the email but gave till July 8th when applied. If anyone is thinking of using this one might still be good.

  17. Courtney

    I’m not sure if they still do it, but if you have a Chicago library card you can check out museum passes at any of the libraries. Obviously limited quantities, but when you’re able to score a free trip to any of the museum’s, (except shedd I think) it’s well worth it.

    I’ve moved on to Minneapolis and unfortunately they don’t have that wonderful option here :/ but maybe worth a shot for those who do live in Chicago.

  18. Aim

    Chicago is terrible we have high tax high crime heavy traffic and the state of Illinois has not had a budget for 2 years.

  19. Emily Adams

    Wow! What an awesome birthday!

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