A big city like Chicago can sometimes mean spending big bucks. But it doesn’t have to be. There are so many different things to do in Chicago; some even for FREE. It’s a word you don’t hear too often these days, which is why we had so much fun putting together this list of free things to do in Chicago. So if you’re a value minded traveler looking to save a few bucks and make the most of your time in Chicago, be sure to hit up these top Chicago attractions!
1. Lincoln Park Zoo – Go wild in this urban oasis located just minutes north of downtown Chicago. Besides being one of the oldest zoos in America, it offers free admission every day! Be transported to exotic locales in the state of the art Regenstein African Journey & Regeinstein Center for African Apes. Or take a stroll along the Nature Boardwalk that opened in 2010 and keep your eyes open for some of the city’s wildlife.
2. Chicago Greeter Tour – Let a friendly, knowledgeable local give you an insider’s orientation to Chicago. But this isn’t your average crowded tour that shuffles you past the sights. You can create a tour that is personalized to your interests and requests through the city’s 25 different and diverse neighborhoods. If you’re in a hurry, they have several ‘drop-in’ spots with a short 1 hour Instagreeter tour option.
3. Millennium Park – Summer or winter, Millennium Park is THE spot to soak up Chicago. With a constantly rotating schedule of free activities and events, it’s not an exaggeration to say there is always something to do. See the city reflected in the iconic ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture, splash around in the Crown Fountains or plan a picnic underneath the Great Lawn. All summer long, catch music concerts and cultural exhibitions and in the winter lace up your skates for the popular ice rink.
4. Museum Free Days – World class culture doesn’t have to cost a lot…if you know the right days to go. Most of Chicago’s museums like the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Museum of Science and Industry offer free admission days throughout the year. Or, you can catch free admission hours (usually in the evening) at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Chicago Children’s Museum. But check back often, as days are frequently added at the last minute.
5. Chicago SummerDance – Love to dance? How about dancing under the shadows of Chicago’s skyscrapers? No cover charge necessary at the annual SummerDance festival in Grant Park. Each weekend, you can join the fun and show off your best moves. A different dance style is highlighted each night with awesome live music. Don’t worry if your moves aren’t up to snuff. Each night is started with some guidance and instructions from a professional.
6. Lakefront – What would Chicago be without it’s lakefront? Runners, walkers, bikers, bladers and everything in between can take advantage of the 18 uninterrupted miles of paved trail along beautiful Lake Michigan. And sunbathers can stretch out among any one of the many beaches dotting the lakefront…when the weather cooperates, of course. This is Chicago, after all!