51 FREE Things To Do In Chicago

Planning a trip to Chicago soon? There's a ton of FREE things to do in Chicago. Whether you're looking for a staycation idea in Chicago, traveling with kids to Chicago, check out over 51 FREE Things To Do in Chicago!

Chicago is top on my list of places to visit here in the Midwest. There are so many things going on in Chicago all the time. I get asked all the time by many of you of cheap or free things to do in the Chicago area. So I put together a list of FREE things to do in Chicago. This list has activities for couples, free things for kids, families and just anyone. YOU. Also, think about investing in a CityPass. It’s the best way to save money while checking out the things to do in Chicago. We are planning another road trip from Michigan to Chicago this summer, and can’t wait to have some deep dish pizza, and explore the Windy City! 

So dig in. And be sure to pin it to your board for future reference!

Planning a trip to Chicago soon? There's a ton of FREE things to do in Chicago. Whether you're looking for a staycation idea in Chicago, traveling with kids to Chicago, check out over 51 FREE Things To Do in Chicago!

**Top popular post on the blog about Chicago: A Weekend in Chicago on a budget!

Free things to do in Chicago!

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51 FREE Things To Do In Chicago

    1. A nice mix of art, architecture, and music, Millenium Park is a must visit for locals and tourists alike. If you live in Chicago, chances are you’ve visited “the Bean” many times, but it’s always a great time to people watch!
    2. Millenium Park is nearly 25 acres, right in downtown Chicago, and has something for everyone. Whether you’re into art, having a picnic on the lawn, or checking out a free 45-minute tour of the architecture and art in the Park, Millenium Park has you covered! From 11:30 AM til 1 PM daily, free tours start at the Welcome Center.
    3. The Taste of Chicago has free admission! You can buy seating tickets for the concerts, and obviously, you’ll probably want to purchase some food, but just visiting is free.
    4. Even if you’re a local, you can take a free two-hour tour with a Chicago Greeter, to learn the ins and outs of our amazing city.
    5. Find tons of free festivals in Grant Park.
    6. Museum of Contemporary Art is free on Tuesdays for state residents. On your visit, you’ll see visual art from local artists dating back to 1945, all the way through the present. Check out the current exhibitions before you go.
    7. Museum of Contemporary Photography has free admission year round. You’ll see exhibitions here that you won’t see anywhere else! See a current line-up before making your trip!
    8. The Lincoln Park Zoo is FREE! We took the boys to this zoo a few years ago and had a BLAST!
    9. Hang out at the Navy Pier. We had quite a bit of fun strolling the boardwalk checking out all the sights. You will also find free shows going. And doing the famous Ferris wheel is a must!!
    10. Score Buy One, Get One FREE ticket to Legoland Discovery Center
    11. Head to Montrose Beach: Great family beach. You will find food trucks, playgrounds, and clean bathrooms.
    12. Free Movies in the Park!
    13. Visit Garfield Park Conservatory: indoor garden offering programming and activities for families with children at every age.
    14. Check out the Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class museum that has made sure it includes its youngest guests in all of its exhibits and programming.
    15. Shedd Aquarium offers discount days and even free ways to get tickets. Be sure to get on their mailing list. We LOVE this aquarium.
    16. Chicago Children’s Museum has free admission every Thursday evening.
    17. Don’t forget about checking out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum!
    18. Free Family Festivals happening all the time in Millennium Park
    19. Ride the Navy Pier Trolley this summer for FREE!
    20. Chicago Cultural Center has quite a few free exhibits and performances happening all year long.
    21. Into Shakespeare? Be sure to check out the free performances happening in the park.
    22. Go on a Free Walking Tour of Downtown Chicago. This is a 2.5 easy walk-in-the-park tour. And think of all the great things you will learn about Chicago. No reservation is required.
    23. Head to Buckingham Foundation for a free water display that happens every hour (April to October). The best time to go is around 10 p.m.
    24. Take a stroll through Jane Addams Hull House. One of the original settlement houses in the US, this is one for the history books!
    25. Love sculptures? Add the Skoki Northside Sculpture Park to your list. Over 60 designs to check out.
    26. If you live in Illinois and have kids, you can get a free Kids Museum Passport. This gives a family of our free admission to over 15 museums. Get more information here.
    27. Head to Lincoln Park to check out the conservatory.
    28. Family Fun Day in the Parks is happening. Check their site for more information. {Visit Chicago’s “Museum of Science and Industry” & 4 other attractions at a savings of up to 53% with CityPASS. Shop Now!}
    29. This beautiful place is yours to check out for free: Chicago Botanic Garden!
    30. Love museums? Add the National Museum of Mexican Art to your list.
    31. Find free movies for the kids to enjoy during the summer.
    32. Check out the free days at the Adler Planetarium.
    33. A MUST do in Chicago: See the Bean at Millennium Park!
    34. Head over to Naperville to check out the free concerts happening six weeks during the summer.
    35. Your kids will love playing on the tanks and other military vehicles at Cantigny Park’s First Division Museum.
    36. Kids under 12 can get into the Chicago History Museum for free.
    37. The kids will enjoy hanging out at Maggie Daley Park.
    38. And don’t forget to check out Lake Michigan and the beaches. Find public beaches here.
    39. Fireworks happen twice a week at the Navy Pier. Perfect for a free date night in the park!
    40. Take the kids to Green City Market, Chicago’s Biggest Farmers Market to check out all of the fresh veggies and the Sprout Tent for kids.
    41. Take a tour through the Jelly Belly warehouse. And you will get a ride on the Express Train!
    42. Enjoy being outdoors? Enjoy nature at Humboldt Park or Lincoln Park. {Find more park ideas: Chicago Park District}
    43.  Grant Park (Home of Buckingham Fountain. Visit at night, to see the light show! It sprays 150 feet into the air, every hour.)
    44. Hit the trails at Palos HillsNorth Shore Channel Trail, Chicago LakefrontLincoln Park Ride or  Chicago Loop
    45. The DuSable Museum offers free admission every Sunday.
    46. Free concerts, such as the Downtown Sound happens every Monday and Thursday.
    47. Have a date night and stroll through City Gallery to look at the art.
    48. Find more museums and free attractions from Choose Chicago.
    49. Skip the Sears Tower and get the same views at the Hancock Building.
    50. The kids will enjoy The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. It’s free on Thursdays.
    51. Find more awesome deals, discounts going on in Chicago- HERE.
    52. Grab a Chicago Explorer pass, on sale right now. This is a great way to save several attractions at one low price. 

Get tips on how to pay for gas and other ways to afford summer travel

There’s always a ton of free things to do in Chicago, so keep up to date with this current calendar if you’re searching for specific things to do each week. Save up to 53% on Chicago’s five best attractions with CityPASS. Shop Now!

You can also check out my tips on vacationing to Chicago on a budget!

Other Chicago related tips:

5 Free Family Friendly Activities in Chicago

What to do at an American Girl Store

American Girl Store on a Budget


Free Things To Do In Chicago

Now, what are you going to do first in the Windy City?

Planning a trip to Chicago soon? There's a ton of FREE things to do in Chicago. Whether you're looking for a staycation idea in Chicago, traveling with kids to Chicago, check out over 51 FREE Things To Do in Chicago!

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  1. July 16, 2015

    Thanks so much for this!! I will most definitely use this when we my hubby and I visit for a little mini getaway. Great ideas.

    • July 17, 2015

      You’re welcome! There is sooo much to do in Chicago! Enjoy!

  2. Love, love, love this list, Tatanisha. I’ve booked marked and printed it.

  3. Going to Chicago in September. Took some notes for things to do while there. Thanks for sharing!

    • July 9, 2019

      You’re welcome! Have so much fun! Chicago is such a great city.

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