1. Riverfront Walk
The best way to a day, is to take a leisure stroll along the river: one of the best ways to take in the grandeur of Chicago skyline!
2. The Magnificent Mile
You can have a lot of fun without spending a dime.This, is a window shoppers’ paradise. On a sunny day you can take a leisure stroll down the street (beautiful lights during holiday season) until you reach Oak Street Beach.
3. Tribune Tower
Located on the Magnificent Mile, you dont have to go into the building to have fun analyzing stones from all over the world. Stones displayed are from many of the great buildings of the world including the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
4. Michigan Avenue Bridge
Ascend to the Michigar Avenue Bridge for great photo opportunities!
5. the Art Institute of Chicago
Ranked as the No.1 Museum in the world by Tripadvisor.com, this is the hallowed ground for Art buff. Their collections are eye-opening and awe-inspiring!
Free for Kids under 14
Illinois residents from 5 to 8 p.m. every Thursday.
6. Hyde Park Art Center
With all those free classes provided, exhibitions and galleries to wander, plant recycle and seed share programs to take part in, it seems to be a great place for locals to cultivate a hobby.
7. Water Tower City Gallery
One of the only few building to servive the 1871 Chicago Fire, the Water Tower is now a popular venue for freelance photographers and local artists to showcase their work about Chicago.
8. The Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago
The society offers a gallery showcasing contemporary & avant-garde art from various international artists. A place where art meets history.
9. Chicago Cultural Center
A Free exhibition well worth your time. Highlight: Tiffany glass domes!
Also, come here for the free events (check schedule online) and pick up a FREE visitor map of Chicago! The views of Michigan Ave. and Millenium Park across the street from the upper floors of the Center are interesting and educational.
10. Museum of Contemporary Art
|Johnston Marklee: A grid is a grid is a grid is a grid is a grid|
Free for Illinois residents every Tuesday.
11. National Museum of Mexican art
Located in the colourful Pilsen neighborhood, this museum is devoted to Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture.
12. The DePaul Museum of Art in Lincoln Park
Just off the "L" at the Fullerton station, this unpretentious museum is a small hidden gem at the northern border of DePaul University Lincoln Park campus .
13. Museum of Contemporary Photography
A free museum on Michigan Avenue? Yes, I am not kidding! Founded in 1984 by Columbia College Chicago, this is a small gallery devoted to photography which won't take too long to go through. Good activity for rainy days.
14. University of Chicago's Smart Museum
A modest sized museum located within Hyde Park. The museum offers a permanent and special rotating exhibit of carefully selected art pieces.
15. Chicago Public Library
|courtesy of Chipublib.org|
16. Newberry Library
Come here to find all the rare books you ever wanted. This stunning late nineteenth century Romanesque-Revival style building is home to a huge collection of literature, preserved documents and apparently you can do some genealogical research here!
17. Cambodian American Heritage Museum
This institution is vital to Cambodian-Americans here in Chicago. See the Killing Fields Memorial at the end of the exhibition and The Wall of Remembrance honoring the 2 million people who died during the Khmer Rouge regime. A remembrance of the awful genocide and how the Cambodians adapted to life in America.
18. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Shine or rain, this nature museum is a wonderful destination for nature buffs and families with small kids. Free for Illinois residents on Thursdays.
19. Field Museum
If you are a fan of Jurassic park, get close with the largest T. rex fossil in the world at the Field Museum. Free for Illinois residents (select programs/ check online).
20. The DuSable Museum of African American History
A educational community museum displaying the history and culture of African American, giving you a taste of the real Chicago. Check out the mayor room. Note that this is not a touristy. Free on Sunday from 12p.m. to 5 p.m.
21. Chicago's Oriental Institute Museum
Be Indiana Jones for a day as you explore the fascinating artifacts of the ancient world. A place to stop by if you wish to excel in your World History Class. *wink*
22. Shedd Aquarium
No matter you are finding Nemo, Dory or Ariel, you will find something to your liking, and send you singing "Under the sea" all day long.
Free for Illinois residents on discount days.
23. Adler Planetarium.
Adler Planetarium is a cool place to hang out if you like stars, even if you don’t, the view of Chicago skyline near the planetarium is a W-I-N-N-E-R! And if you happen to be there on a Saturday evening, stay a little longer to watch the fireworks show from Navvy Pier. Free for Illinois residents on discount days.
24. Chicago History Museum
This is an easily accessible museum located at the edge of Lincoln Park. If you are interested with the history, culture and real life of Chicago, this is a good place to start. Free for Illinois residents on discount days.
25. Museum of Science and Industry
Ask any kid in the city about their best field trip experience and the answer will probably be the Museum of Science and Industry. I mean, it is not an everyday thing that you can walk right into an actually German submarine (U-505), and explore a real Boeing 727 (United Airlines)! Kids will surely LOVE it to the max. The Mirror Maze was pretty amazing to especially if you visit early without the mob. Free for Illinois residents on discount days.
26. The International Museum of Surgical Science
Medical students, behold, your Surgery text book brought to life! Free admission on Tuesday.
27. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
This museum serves as a tribute to Jane Addams—the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, housing a lot of free interesting exhibitions.
28. Chicago Architecture Foundation
Learn about the Chicago Architectural history and current projects (daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
29. Maggie Daley Park
I accidentally found this park while walking in the Millennium Park (it was not in my plan). It is a playground for kids and kids-at-heart, featuring climbing walls, bridges, life-size ship, sand, skating ribbon, slides, swings and jungle gyms... what a wonderful city oasis, suitable for all ages.
30. Bloomingdale Trail, the 606
If you've been to New York, you will be trilled to find another version of High Line in Chicago. This is a 2.7 mile elevated park trail above the streets, suitable to explore with a bike.
31. Buckingham Fountain
If you visit in the evening, there will be a hourly musical light fountain show to enjoy! Show is available only from mid-April to mid-October.
32. Navy Pier
Must see for first timer in Chicago. If your budget allows, take the iconic Ferris Wheel for some great shots over the city. The Crystal Gardens and Smith Museum of Stained Glass located within Navy Pier is free to wander. The Children Museum offers free family admission on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m., and children ages 15 and under enter free on the first Sunday of each month.
There will also be Firework shows in certain time of the year (check schedule online): every Wednesday and Saturday night.
33. Lincoln Park Zoo
Easily accessible with the city bus, it is a free attraction and offers a lot of photo opportunities of the Chicago skyline. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it under the hive structure.
34. Lincoln Park Conservatory
Free and open 365 days a year. This attraction is a must for plant enthusiasts. Come to wander the four display houses after a visit to the zoo: the Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House, and Show House.
35. Millennium Park
Catch a free outdoor concert at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, take of your shoes for the Crown Fountain, non-stop selfies at the iconic Cloud Gate (Bean)... there are so much to do and see in this 25-acres picturesque city park. There will be a free 45-minute tours of the art and architecture by the Millennium Park Greeter within the park in summer.
Grab a map at the visitor center and take your time exploring this peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle downtown. Fun fact: it was made out of swampy area and it became the place-to-go to capture the perfect nature photo! There are educational programs, free events and yoga classes within the park. The best part? They are giving away a free plant every month starting May.
Open from 8 a.m. until sunset.
37. Garfield Park Conservatory
This is a big, warm, peaceful, FREE conservator€ to escape to during cold weather. Take an “L” from downtown. Weekend family-fun activities are available in spring and summer—like scavenger hunts and story reading.
38. Chicago Parks & Beaches
Chicago has hundreds of free public parks: Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Jackson Park's Osaka Garden, Ping Tom Memorial Park and many more.
39. Union Station
Movie buff will surely recognise this beautiful building. Clue: “Untouchables” baby carriage scene, “Man of Steel”...
40. Chicago Neighborhood
Explore the colourful and unique ethnic villages with The Chicago Greeter Program (a free walking tour hosted by volunteers).
Come to see the Nine Dragon Wall just across the street from the Wentworth entrance and the Chinese Zodiac at the square.
42. Free Movie in the Park
The Chicago Park District shows free films in city parks at dusk in Summer.
43. Free Theatrical readings
The Shakespeare Project of Chicago offers theatrical readings at libraries.
44. Free Theater Performance
The Free Street Theater group performs in various venues throughout Chicago.
45. Free dance lesson
Chicago's annual Summer Dance festival at Grant Park: Get a free one-hour dance lesson and two hours of live music and dancing.
46. Explore Chicago’s underground pedway
Can you imagine, more than 40 downtown buildings are actually linked through a smartly built system of subterranean tunnels and overhead bridges? This is totally insane!
47. Free iO Theater shows
Check website in advance to know what and when. Some shows are not suitable for kids.
48. Wicker Park
Free art walk every First Fridays of the month at the Flatiron Arts Building. Attend an open events here if any!
49. Free brewery tour
The Kedzie Production Brewery offers complimentary guided tours every Wednesday through Friday at 6pm and 7pm; Saturday and Sunday tours at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm. Run on first come, first served basis. So, pop in early, enjoy a pint or two, and sign up for the free tour with one of the bartenders
50. Baha’i House of Worship
|image via wikipedia.com|
Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my opinion or personal experience.
Now Chicagoans, kindly suggest more free things to do in Chicago!
Let's expand the list!