How to Explore Chicago for Free


Chicago can be a pricey city to explore. However, if you know where to go you can take advantage of the outstanding parks and museums Chicago has to offer. Rest assured, we have assembled a list of Chicago attractions with special information on how to see Chicago for free. The list below shares information on Chicago attractions, museums, and parks. Some of the venues are free for Illinois residents all year round!

Note: Many of the museums require proof of Illinois residency to be eligible for free admission days. Please visit individual museum websites for more information

1. Adler Planetarium

Free general admission for Illinois residents

  • June 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 and 12
  • September 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25
  • October 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30
  • November 5, 6, 12 and 13
  • February 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25

1300 South Lake Shore Drive,
Chicago, IL 60605

2. Art Institute of Chicago (AIC)

The Art Institute of Chicago offers free admission to Illinois residents the first and second Wednesday of every month. In addition, residents are offered free entry every Thursday from 5-8pm. Children under the age 14 are always free. For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events visit the Art Institute’s official website.

111 S Michigan Ave,
Chicago, IL 60603

3. Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

The Museum of Science and Industry is the first museum to feature interactive exibits in North America. Notable features include the Coal Mine and the Omnimax theater. Illinois residents receive free entry on the following dates in 2014.

  • May 5
  • June 1-6
  • September 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29
  • October 6, 7
  • November 3
  • December 8

5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637


4. Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago cultural center is a historical landmark that offers visitors free programs year-round. Events are extensive, including concerts, art exhibitions, dances, seminars, and film screenings. For more information check the Chicago Cultural Centers website.

78 E Washington St,
Chicago, IL 60602

5. Lincoln Park Zoo

Regarded as one of the nations top zoos, Lincoln Park zoo allows visitors to see wildlife from all over the world. Home to over 230 species of animals, the zoo provides a unique experience is one of a few free zoos in the U.S.

2001 N Clark St,
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Millennium Park

Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Many commemorate their visit to Chicago by taking pictures at the Cloud Gate, a shiny, mirror like sculpture created by artist Anish Kapoor. Other noteworthy areas of the park include the magnificent Jay-Prizker Pavilion and the Lurie Garden.

201 E Randolph St,
Chicago, IL 60602

7. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s premier attractions. The Pier offers a range of family-friendly activities and events as well as free admission to pier’s boardwalk. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass located inside Navy Pier is free year long.

600 E Grand Ave,
Chicago, IL 60611