What is harder to get than tickets to the Grateful Dead's final shows—as in forever—over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago? An affordable hotel room.
Sure they are available, if you are willing to pay. In the tradition and spirit of Grateful Dead shows, fans had requested permits to camp overnight in parking lots—but the city denied them, pushing the demand and cost for lodging even higher.
Travel website Orbitz.com reports the Grateful Dead is having a strong impact on the Fourth for Chicago. The city is the number one destination for the holiday weekend, which has not happened in years, according to Orbitz hotel data. Hotel bookings for July 3, 4 and 5 are up 122 percent year over year and rates are up 77 percent.
One of the closest hotels to Soldiers Field, where the shows are taking place, is the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, where rooms are still available. They're listed on Orbitz for $419 per night. The Hilton Chicago, also near Soldiers Field, is running around $459 per night before tax. Prices that may not sound too high—but add on tickets to the shows, which range from $56.50 all the way to $196.50, flights to Chicago, those grilled cheese sandwiches and burritos you will surely be buying from vendors in the parking lot and you have an expensive weekend on your hands. The may leave some fans feeling truly shaken down on "Shakedown Street."
It's no surprise that the travel industry in Chicago will be seeing a touch of green in early July, according to Don Welsh, president and CEO of visitor guide Choose Chicago. "Summer months are a peak performance period for Chicago hotels, and the Fourth of July holiday weekend is no exception. When you add a three day sold-out, legendary performance by the Grateful Dead you potentially have a weekend for the books," he said in a statement.
Airbnb, which allows people to rent out lodging to others, has seen a spike in listings and rentals for Chicago. Of all the area listings, only 8 percent are available for the weekend. In May, Airbnb launched a contest in association with the series of shows and original band member Bill Kreutzmann. The grand prize—a VIP experience for all three nights, including tickets, and lodging where else, but at an Airbnb property.
It's not just land lodging that has been made available for the popular weekend. For those Deadheads looking to hit the water, Cruzin.Com connects boat owners with boat seekers. Daniel Vevers has his 40-foot Carver named "Sweet Emotion," which can sleep five to six adults, listed on the online market place for $1,500 per night for the weekend. His "boatel" is docked just blocks from Soldiers Field. "It's really expensive to own a boat down in the city, so this is a way to try and make it a little more palatable for our budget" he told CNBC.
No matter where Deadheads decide to bunk up, one thing is for sure, this Fourth of July weekend in Chicago will no doubt be a long, strange and expensive trip.