Free Things to Do in Chicago

No cash? No problem. There's plenty to do in Chicago for free, you've just got to keep your eyes peeled. We've put together a list of fun things to do around the city that won't cost you a dime. (Photo: Lincoln Park Zoo)

Updated: July 08, 2010

Free Chicago Attractions


Chicago Cultural Center - Preston Bradley Hall

78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Check out the amazing stained-glass domes and explore this historic building for free anytime. There are also lectures, live music and other events that take place throughout the year.


Lincoln Park Zoo

2200 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614


Festival Hall At Navy Pier

600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Sure, you need cash to shop, dine and ride the Ferris wheel, but there's still a lot to see sans fees at Navy Pier; walk around and take in the beautiful views of the shoreline, check out the boats coming in and out of the harbor, or pop a squat on a park bench and do some people watching.


Newberry Library

60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610

History buffs and book worms will love to wander around this historic building and peruse the never-ending stacks of books. The architecture alone is worth a visit.


Brookfield Zoo

8401 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513

Many of the zoo exhibits are free for children under 2 and general admission is free year-round if you become a zoo member.


Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

The first 250 guests each day receive a free upgrade to a Shedd Fantasea Pass with the purchase of a Total Experience Pass. The aquarium also offers a list of specified free days throughout the year on its web site.


Free Chicago Museum Days


Art Institute of Chicago

111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Get in free on Tuesdays to see one of the world's great art collections.


Chicago History Museum

1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

Chicago's virtual attic documents the city's rise from frontier outpost to mega-metropolis, and it's all free for the looking and learning on Mondays.


Museum of Science and Industry

57th St and Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637

This fun-filled, activity-driven museum is free for certain days throughout the year. The 2010 free days include Aug. 30, Sept. 7-14, 20-21, 27-28, Oct. 4- 6, Nov. 11 and Dec. 6.


Chicago Children's Museum

700 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Bring the gang free to this top-notch children's museum overlooking Lake Michigan in Navy Pier on Thursday evenings from 5pm to 8pm.


Museum of Contemporary Art

220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

This modern art museum is contradictory, erratic, controversial, provocative, contentious and wonderful, and it's free on Tuesdays.