Free Things To Do In Chicago

Even though Chicago can be an expensive city, there are still several free things to do in Chicago. Some of the lesser known museums are free year-round, and the biggies - Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, the Art Institute, etc. - offer free days. If you've got a Chicago Public Library Card, you can check out the Kraft Kid's Museum Passport, which gets you into several attractions.

An easy way to find free things to do is to visit Chicago Events and select Free from the drop down menu. We also have an annual list of the free days at Chicago museums.

Attractions & Museums

    1. Navy Pier 600 E Grand Ave
    2. Chicago Cultural Center Everything from art exhibits to movie screenings to concerts, visitor center - 78 E Washington St
    3. ArchiCenter Highlights Chicago's architecture - 224 S Michigan Ave, Mon - Sat 9:30 to 5pm
    4. Museum of Contemporary Photography 600 S Michigan Ave - Mon - Wed & Fri 10am to 5pm, Thurs 10am to 8pm, Sat Noon to 5pm
    5. Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows Navy Pier
    6. Water Tower Only building downtown to survive Chicago Fire of 1871 - Visitor Center, City Museum - 800 N Michigan Ave
    7. Art Institute of Chicago Free on Thursday from 5 to 8pm for Illinois residents; 111 S Michigan Ave
    8. Chicago Children's Museum Free 1st Sunday of every month for kids 15 and under; Free on Thursdays for everyone 5 to 8pm
    9. Museum of Contemporary Art  Free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents - 220 E Chicago Ave
    10. Adler Planetarium Free admission several days during the year - 1300 S Lake Shore Drive - Fee for shows.
    11. International Museum of Surgical Science 1st floor is free on Tuesdays - 10am to 4pm

Festivals

Many of Chicago's festivals are free, and you can find them on the events calendar. From the drop down menu click Festivals.

Parks & Zoos

  1. Lincoln Park Zoo - 2200 N. Cannon Dr. - Zoo Grounds: 8am to 6pm Zoo Buildings: 10am to 5pm
  2. Millennium Park - Includes Jay Pritzker Pavilion, "Cloud Gate", Crown Fountains, free ice skating in the winter - 55 N Michigan Ave
  3. Grant Park - Chicago's "front yard" - free festivals during the summer - 331 E Randolph St
  4. Connors Park - 871 N Wabash
  5. Daley Center Plaza - Home to several festivals throughout the year, and the city's Christmas tree - Randolph & Dearborn Streets
  6. Jane Addams Memorial Park - at foot of Navy Pier - 550 E Grand Ave
  7. Lake Shore Park - bordered by Museum of Contemporary Art - 808 N Lake Shore Dr
  8. Mariano Park - great people watching - 1031 N State St
  9. River Esplanade Park - stroll along the river - 401 E River Dr
  10. Roosevelt Park - play tennis in the south Loop - 62 W Roosevelt Rd
  11. Seward Park - many sports activities, gym - 375 W Elm St
  12. Washington Square Park - in front of the Newberry Library - 901 N Clark St