Hanging out in Chicago can get pricy, relying on what you do.
If you wish to jam out at Lollapalooza, see the Cubs play at Wrigley Discipline and take a dinner cruise alongside the Chicago River, count on to drop a whole bunch of over the course of a pair days.
In case your funds is tight, nevertheless, there’s nonetheless loads of enjoyable available within the Windy Metropolis.
We’ve rounded up 45 free issues to do in Chicago so you may get pleasure from your self whereas saving cash.
45 Free Issues to Do in Chicago
Editor’s notice: On the time of writing, a number of of those free sights are briefly closed to the general public because of the coronavirus pandemic. Please contact particular person sights for data on re-opening.
Should-See Sights in Chicago
These high vacationer sights gained’t value you a factor.
1. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a 24.5-acre park within the downtown Chicago Loop district. It’s residence to Cloud Gate, the long-lasting mirrored public artwork sculpture generally generally known as “The Bean.” If it’s your first time within the metropolis, you’ll wish to snap a pic for Instagram. Different notable options of Millennium Park embrace the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Backyard and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
2. Jay Pritzker Pavilion
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is an leisure hotspot at Millennium Park. The out of doors amphitheater hosts free dwell music concert events and free film screenings in the summertime.
three. Grant Park
Grant Park is named “Chicago’s Entrance Yard.” The almost 313-acre area contains Millennium Park at its northwest nook and can be residence to the Artwork Institute of Chicago, the Discipline Museum of Pure Historical past, Buckingham Fountain, Maggie Daley Park, the Petrillo Music Shell and Congress Plaza. Many festivals and occasions are held in Grant Park. There’s additionally a skate park, public artwork and loads of greenspace.
four. The Magnificent Mile
Try all of the flagship shops and high-end manufacturers alongside Chicago’s Magnificent Mile — a 13-block stretch of retail, eating places and motels alongside North Michigan Avenue from Oak Road to the Chicago River. It’s the right place to window store and other people watch. You may also spot some fascinating road artwork alongside this vacationer strip.
5. Navy Pier
Dubbed the Folks’s Pier, Navy Pier is a well-liked vacationer vacation spot off Lake Michigan on Grand Avenue. Try the enormous Ferris wheel and the view of the Chicago skyline. All summer season lengthy, Navy Pier places on a free fireworks present each Wednesday and Saturday night time. The pier additionally hosts about 250 free public packages every year.
6. Chicago Riverwalk
Get pleasure from waterfront views of the Chicago River on the 1.25-mile Chicago Riverwalk. Take within the public murals, sculptures and banners alongside this scenic walkway. When you’re out at night time, the Chicago Riverwalk has the perfect views of Art on theMART, one of many largest everlasting digital artwork projections on the earth.
For Artwork and Historical past Lovers
Immerse your self in tradition and data with free admission to the numerous Chicago museums and galleries.
7. Chicago Cultural Middle
This cultural hub is positioned in one in every of Chicago’s landmark buildings. Take a free tour of the Chicago Cultural Center and take a look at the artwork displays and the gorgeous stained-glass domes. The middle additionally hosts free films, lectures, musical exhibits and dance performances.
eight. Good Museum
The Smart Museum, named after Esquire journal founders David and Alfred Good, is an artwork museum with a deal with advanced points and numerous concepts. It’s a part of the College of Chicago and is positioned on the north fringe of the campus in Hyde Park. Admission is all the time free to the general public. The Good Museum is open Thursdays by means of Sundays.
9. Nationwide Museum of Mexican Artwork
The National Museum of Mexican Art showcases Mexican artwork and tradition from folks artwork to fashionable works. The museum is positioned in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, which is the center of the town’s Mexican neighborhood. It’s open Tuesday by means of Sunday, and admission is free for all.
10. DePaul Artwork Museum
The DePaul Art Museum is positioned in Lincoln Park on the campus of DePaul College. The museum contains a everlasting assortment of over three,500 items of artwork and welcomes 4 to 9 momentary exhibitions every year.
11. Oriental Institute Museum
The Oriental Institute Museum is a part of the College of Chicago and features a huge assortment of historic Center Japanese artifacts. Admission is free however donations are urged. Reservations are at the moment required to go to the museum.
12. Wabash Arts Hall
The Wabash Arts Corridor options over 40 road murals and features a handful of artwork galleries and sculptural installations. Whilst you’re there, take a look at Jacob Watt’s “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” mural.
13. 16th Road Murals
See dozens of murals alongside the 16th Road railroad embankment. This can be a great spot to admire public artwork from varied road artists. Make sure to snap some pics.
14. Hyde Park Artwork Middle
The Hyde Park Art Center is a hub for up to date artwork positioned on the South Facet of Chicago. Every year the middle hosts about 200 free public occasions.
15. The Nationwide Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Tradition
The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture celebrates the richness of Puerto Rican life and historical past. The museum options free artwork displays and hosts occasions and workshops all year long. The museum is positioned in Humboldt Park, which is a hub for Chicago’s Puerto Rican neighborhood.
16. Design Museum of Chicago
The Design Museum of Chicago showcases design parts throughout quite a lot of mediums — from structure to calligraphy. Reveals repeatedly change all year long.
17. Metropolis Gallery on the Historic Water Tower
City Gallery at the Historic Water Tower is a Chicago landmark, which showcases native artwork and images. The gallery is positioned alongside Magnificent Mile. Whereas admission is free day by day, this attraction is at the moment closed to the general public because of the pandemic.
18. First United Methodist Church on the Chicago Temple
First United Methodist Church is Chicago’s oldest church, based in 1831. It’s additionally one of many tallest church buildings on the earth, housed in a 23-story neo-gothic skyscraper downtown. Excursions of the Sky Chapel on the constructing’s high ground, in addition to church providers, are free. Nevertheless, all excursions and providers are at the moment digital.
19. Harold Washington Library
The Harold Washington Library is the primary department of the Chicago Public Library System. The 10-story constructing features a maker lab, a winter backyard (each that are briefly closed because of the pandemic) and distinct areas for youths and youths. When you have a Chicago Public Library card, you will get a Children Museum Passport which provides free passes for not less than 15 totally different native museums and sights. The library additionally hosts free occasions and workshops all year long.
20. Chicago Historical past Museum
The Chicago History Museum showcases the tales of the town’s previous. Whereas the museum isn’t a free attraction for all, it gives free admission to Illinois residents ages 18 and below and free admission to non-residents ages 12 and below. Members of the Chicago Historical past Museum, activity-duty navy personnel and veterans, Chicago police, Chicago firefighters and Illinois lecturers additionally get completely free admission.
21. Chicago Structure Basis
The Chicago Architecture Center, beforehand named the Chicago Structure Basis, is the place you may study all in regards to the metropolis’s skyscrapers, historic landmarks, housing sorts and numerous neighborhoods. The middle options the most important scale mannequin of Chicago and has particulars about future constructing tasks. Whereas the middle isn’t free for all, it gives free admission to youngsters 5 and below, activity-duty navy personnel and Chicago Structure Basis members.
22. Museum of Modern Artwork
The Museum of Contemporary Art displays the work of dwelling artists, together with new artists. Whereas the Museum of Modern Artwork isn’t a free attraction for all, it gives free admission to guests ages 18 and below, museum members, activity-duty navy personnel and veterans, Chicago police, Chicago firefighters, Illinois lecturers and guests with disabilities and their caregivers. Admission can be free for Illinois residents each Tuesday.
23. Artwork Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is a downtown artwork museum that contains a assortment of labor from artists everywhere in the world all through varied eras in time. Although this attraction does require tickets for most people, it’s free for Chicago residents below 18, all youngsters below age 14, college students of companion faculties and universities, active-duty navy personnel, Illinois lecturers, WIC or LINK cardholders and staff of corporations within the museum’s company companion program.
24. Cash Museum
Try previous foreign money and see a million-dollar show on the Federal Reserve Financial institution of Chicago’s Money Museum. The museum is at the moment closed because of the pandemic.
25. Jane Addams Hull-Home Museum
The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum celebrates the historical past and affect of social activist and feminist Jane Addams. The museum is at the moment closed because of the pandemic however digital excursions and packages can be found.
Get pleasure from Chicago’s Out of doors Areas
Discover Chicago’s parks, gardens, trails and extra — all for free of charge.
26. Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is among the oldest free zoos within the nation. It’s residence to about 200 species of animals from around the globe. Lincoln Park Zoo additionally hosts free issues for households all year long.
27. Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens
The Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens has 4 indoor show rooms along with out of doors gardens, which embrace quite a lot of crops from around the globe. Attributable to Covid-19, the conservatory is barely providing pre-registered, time-accessed admission for a restricted variety of company. Admission is free, however donations are urged.
28. Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory options eight indoor show gardens, together with one room devoted to abandon crops and one other to tropical palms. The conservatory additionally has over 10 acres of outside gardens. Whereas the packages and occasions at Garfield Park Conservatory are at the moment on pause because of the pandemic, admission is open with reservations. Admission is free however donations are urged.
29. Chicago Botanic Backyard
The Chicago Botanic Garden is ready on 385 acres and contains 27 gardens and 4 pure areas. The backyard is positioned in Glencoe about 20 miles north of Chicago. Because of the pandemic, this attraction is asking that non-members register for timed entry. Backyard members would not have to register. Whereas admission is free, there’s a charge for parking.
30. Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain is an elaborate fountain in Grant Park. It’s identified to be one of many largest fountains on the earth. The fountain runs from Might by means of October with a 20-minute water show at the start of each hour. At night time, the water shows are accompanied by music and lights.
31. Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is a superb place to go to for those who’ve bought younger youngsters. It’s positioned within the northeast nook of Grant Park and contains a number of playground choices for youngsters as much as age 12. There’s additionally area to curler blade or journey on scooters. Different park options — just like the climbing wall and mini golf — include a charge. The park hosts free issues for guests all year long.
32. Humboldt Park
Humboldt Park is positioned on Chicago’s West Facet and contains varied sports activities fields, tennis courts and playgrounds. Humboldt Park can be residence to the Nationwide Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Tradition.
33. Jackson Park
Jackson Park takes up over 550 acres of area within the Chicago neighborhood of Woodlawn within the South Facet. This park features a Japanese backyard the place you may see the cherry blossoms bloom within the spring. Additionally, be certain to see Yoko Ono’s public artwork set up “Sky Touchdown.”
34. Lake Michigan Seashores
Chicago’s waterfront alongside Lake Michigan contains about two dozen free public beaches. Fashionable spots dotting Lake Shore Drive embrace North Avenue Seashore, Oak Road Seashore and Ohio Road Seashore. Fullerton Seashore is essentially the most family-friendly, being close to the Lincoln Park Zoo.
35. Chicago’s Lakefront Path
The Lakefront Trail runs for 18 miles alongside the western fringe of Lake Michigan from Ardmore Road to 71st Road. It’s the right space to go strolling, working or biking whereas taking in a terrific view.
36. The 606
The 606 is an elevated, 2.7-mile path that runs by means of a number of Chicago neighborhoods on the northwest facet of the town. It was previously an deserted rail line that was repurposed for leisure use. Stroll, run or cycle alongside the path and look at the general public artwork installations.
37. Strolling Excursions with the Chicago Greeters
Take a free guided tour by means of totally different Chicago neighborhoods. Chicago Greeters are locals who volunteer their time to point out guests what they love in regards to the metropolis. When you join 10 enterprise days prematurely, you may take a free two-to-four hour tour. Nevertheless, even with out advance discover, Chicago Greeters can take you on free excursions of downtown for an hour on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
38. Maxwell Road Market
Maxwell Street Market is a farmers market at the moment held each first and third Sunday of the month from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. The market is a long-standing custom, which began in 1912. There’s dwell music and loads of paintings to soak up for those who’re seeking to preserve your journey to the market freed from value.
Free Festivals and Annual Occasions
Whether or not you’re a resident or a customer, you should put one (or extra) of those free occasions in your calendar.
39. Chicago Blues Pageant
This annual music competition options blues legends and up-and-coming artists alike. The Chicago Blues Festival is often held in early June on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Because of the pandemic, the town will as an alternative host a collection of free music festivals on the pavilion in September 2021 that includes gospel, jazz, home music and blues.
40. Chicago Gospel Music Pageant
The Chicago Gospel Music Festival showcases gospel artists from everywhere in the nation, that includes quite a lot of kinds from conventional choirs to hip-hop-inspired gospel. The competition is normally held on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion over the past weekend in Might. Because of the pandemic, the town will as an alternative host a collection of free music festivals on the pavilion in September 2021 that includes gospel, jazz, home music and blues.
41. Chicago Jazz Pageant
The Chicago Jazz Festival is an annual occasion that takes place in Millennium Park on Labor Day Weekend. Because of the pandemic, the town will as an alternative host a collection of free music festivals on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in September 2021 that includes gospel, jazz, home music and blues.
42. Grant Park Music Pageant
The Grant Park Music Festival is a collection of classical music concert events that happen all through the summer season on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free seating is out there to the general public.
43. SummerDance in Grant Park
SummerDance is an annual collection of music and dancing occasions that takes place in Grant Park in the summertime. In 2021, the competition can be held throughout August and September in parks all through the town.
44. Open Home Chicago
Open House Chicago is an annual competition that takes place each October and celebrates traditionally and culturally important websites across the metropolis. It’s organized by the Chicago Structure Middle.
45. Christkindl Vacation Market
Christkindl Holiday Market is a German-style vacation market held from November by means of December at Daley Plaza. See the lights, hear the Christmas carols and get within the vacation spirit.
Nicole Dow is a senior author at The Penny Hoarder.