9 Free Things to Do in Chicago
Chicago is a place filled with some of the most interesting architecture, history, landscapes, views, attractions, music, and performing arts; and Chicago is one of the greatest towns on earth when it comes to activities for families and adults that are free of charge. Listed here are 9 absolutely FREE suggestions...
1. Grant Park
LOCATION: 337 E. Randolph St. Chicago, Illinois 60601
Grant Park is open during specific hours 6am - 11pm. Enjoy the wonderful open space of the Grant Park of Chicago. Similar to New York's Central Park, Grant Park is the centerpiece of Chicago, a world within a world. There is much to see and do, and it is all contained within the park. You will definitely want to check out one of the park’s signature pieces, the beautiful Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain.
2. Millennium Park
LOCATION: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 742-1168
Millennium Park is Architecture’s outdoor garden. Resplendent, state-of-the art figures appear throughout every turn. Everything, including the children’s playground has been constructed according to some very innovative design. Plan your visit in advance as there are always interesting events, like string music concerts and photography exhibitions taking place within the 24 acre space.
3. Lincoln Park Zoo
LOCATION: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 (312) 742-2000
Lincoln Park Zoo is home to 1,100 different types of animals and over 200 different species. New animals like red pandas and baby gorillas frequently arrive to the zoo. There are plenty of specially designed activities for children and adults, like the LEAP Exploration Program and the Animal Enrichment Workshop. Lincoln Park Zoo hours: 10am – 5pm.
4. Lakefront / Beach
LOCATION: 1600 N Lake Shore Dr Chicago, IL 60657
Many visitors fall in love with Chicago due to the Lakefront Beach and path areas, and some say the Lakefront Beach is what makes Chicago the best city in the world. Visitors to the beach area enjoy walking, running, riding their bikes, and pushing baby strollers. The beach provides first-rate views of the city and an excellent magalopolitan experience.
5. Smart Museum of Art
LOCATION: University of Chicago 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue Chicago, IL 60637
The museum contains 10,000 works of art in modern, contemporary and Asian art varieties; Chinese artifacts as well as pieces created by the masters such as Goya, Rothko, Picasso, Rodin, Matisse, and furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The wonderful courtyard of the garden features garden sculptures by Richard Hunt and Scott Burton; as well as landscape architecture filled with river stones and native plantings.
6. Navy Pier
LOCATION: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 595-5282
The Navy Pier is filled with oodles of recreational activities and attractions. The Pier features fifty acres of shops, restaurants, parks, exhibitions, facilities, gardens, and family attractions. The pier has great views of the Lakefront beach and the magnificent Chicago skyline. There are rides: a giant Ferris wheel, boat tours, and a children’s museum.
7. Chicago Cultural Center
LOCATION: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 744-6630
One of Chicago’s landmark buildings, it is the nation's first free municipal cultural center. The Center contains thousands of visual, literary, and performing arts exhibits. Featuring an extremely beautiful interior space with 2 large Healy and stained glass domes, the Tiffany Dome (the largest known dome), a Grand Staircase, and the Preston Bradley Hall.
8. Barnes and Noble
LOCATION: Webster Place 1441 West Webster Avenue Chicago, IL 60614 773-871-3610
Checking out books and magazines at the local Barnes and Noble is always free, and if you decide to purchase a latte and lean back for a spell, so be it. Barnes and Noble of Chicago offers a free story hour for infants and toddlers that takes place on Mon,Tues, and Thursdays at 10am, and Saturdays at 11 am. Characters from the popular children’s stories come to life and visit with the children on certain days.
9. Chicago Botanic Garden
LOCATION: 1000 Lake Cook Road Glencoe, IL 60022 Main: (847) 835-5440
The Chicago Botanical Garden began with the Chicago Horticultural society in the 19th century and today has grown into one of the most beautiful living museums and conservation centers. Filled with the work of the most talented architects, landscape artists, and gardeners, the Botanic Garden contains a 385 acre living plant museum, 26 display gardens, and 4 natural areas.