Free Days for Activities & Attractions in Chicago


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Constantly providing thought-provoking, innovative and hands-on installations, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers visitors a view into the art of our time. It is not your traditional art museum, but rather, an amazing place to see wacky and unique pieces. This museum will appeal a lot more to children, then your traditional art museum would, so stop in, take in the amazing exhibits, while enjoying a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.

  • Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
  • Hours: Tue: 10am-8pm
  • Wed-Sun: 10am-5pm
  • Web Site:

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Created as a place to develop and nurture a positive relationship between people and nature, the Nature Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the bounties of nature. Complete with a Butterfly Haven and an interactive waterplay exhibit that teaches the significance of Chicago’s waterways, Peggy Notebaert is a great place to bring your children for a fun day of learning, disguised as playtime.

  • Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
  • Sat & Sun: 10am-5pm
  • Web Site:


Art Institute of Chicago

Located in Grant Park, the Art Institute boasts such classic pieces as Nighthawks and American Gothic. The sheer size of the museum and the number of diverse collections can be a little intimidating, so remember to focus on the art that really speaks to you, and wear comfortable shoes.

  • Neighborhood: Loop
  • Hours: Mon-Wed:10:30am-5pm
    Thu: 10:30am-8pm
    Fri-Sun: 10:30am-5pm
  • Web Site:

Chicago Children’s Museum At Navy Pier

Home to the 4th largest Children’s Museum in the US, the Chicago Children’s Museum offers 3 floors full of educational exhibits, programs and events. Here, your children can climb a 3 story ship, build a skyscraper, splash and navigate their boat through a waterway, uncover a dinosaur, and much more.

  • Neighborhood: Streeterville
  • Hours: Sun-Wed:10am – 6pm
  • Thu-Sat:10am-8pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Free from 5pm-8pm for all visitor


DuSable Museum of African American History

The first and oldest museum dedicated to the study of the history and culture of African Americans, DuSable brings to light the sacrifices and advances made by African Americans. Some notable features include slavery-era relics and works by W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

  • Neighborhood: Hyde Park
  • Hours: Tue-Sat: 10am-5pm
    Sun: 12pm-5pm
    Web Site:
  • * Free from 12pm-5pm

Chicago Children’s Museum

Free admission for visitors 15 and under on the 1st Sunday of each month

Discount Days

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium offers more than just a glimpse into outer space. It makes you feel like you are an astronaut. From being on a starship in Deep Space Adventure, to seeing 3D space junk flying at you in the 3D theater, the Planetarium has something to offer everyone.

  • Neighborhood: Museum Campus
  • Hours: Daily: 9:30am-6pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission with proof of residency on:
  • Sept 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26
  • Oct 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31

Shedd Aquarium

Committed to public awareness and conservation of the aquatic world, Shedd Aquarium offers visitors an opportunity to venture underwater to a beautiful magical world. Make sure you check out the Jellies exhibit, take in an aquatic show, and go on a 360-degree tour of a colorful diverse reef community.

  • Neighborhood: Museum Campus
  • Hours: Daily: 9am-6pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission with proof of residency on:
  • September: 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25
    October: 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
    November: 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27
  • ** Residents of Chicago receive a $3 discount on admission every day.

Field Museum

The Field Museum offers visitors an exciting exploration through the creation of the Earth to the present – a glimpse into the plants, animals, people and their cultures. Some favorites at the museum include Sue (the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton), an immense human cultural anthropology exhibit (with artifacts from all over the world) and a large taxidermy collection.

  • Neighborhood: Museum Campus
  • Hours: 9am-5pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission with proof of residency on: Aug 27, 29, 30

Museum of Science & Industry

The largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, the Museum of Science& Industry offers visitors a true hands-on experience, allowing them to explore and discover how exciting science can be. Some of the notable exhibits are the MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, The Hidden Life of Ants and the U-505 Submarine.

  • Neighborhood: Museum Campus
  • Hours: Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission with proof of residency on:

September 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Chicago History Museum

For residents and visitors alike, the Chicago History Museum is a great place to learn what helped shape Chicago into the amazing city that it is today. From interactive exhibits, colorful photos and memorabilia, and unique Chicago smells in the sensory exhibit, stop in to learn more about the Windy City.

  • Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
  • Hours: Mon-Sat: 9:30am-4:30pm
  • Sun: 12pm-5pm
  • Web Site:
  • * Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission with proof of residency on:
  • August 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
  • September 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27

Always Free

#1 – Lincoln Park Conservatory

Located outside the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Conservatory offers visitors a glimpse into the lush tropical beauty of the rainforest. The most popular exhibits include the Palm House, Fern Room and Orchid room. For a more personal experience, take a free tour with a docent. Tours meet in the front vestibule on the hour and half-hour on Fri (1 – 4pm), Sat (9am-Noon; 1-4pm), and Sun (1-4pm).

  • Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
  • Hours: Daily: 9am- 5pm
  • Web Site:

#2 – Chicago Cultural Center

Located in the Loop across from Millennium Park, this beautiful building, built as the first Chicago Library, is now considered one of the most comprehensive arts showcases in the United States. When you visit, you can expect to find a wide range of the performing, visual and literary arts. Make sure to check out the two spectacular stained glass domes, one of which is the world’s largest art glass dome by Tiffany.

  • Neighborhood: Loop
  • Hours:
    Mon-Thu: 8am – 7pm
    Fri: 8am – 6pm
    Sat: 9am – 6pm
    Sun: 10am – 6pm
  • Web Site:

#3 – John Hancock Signature Lounge at the 96th

Located on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building, the Signature Lounge offers some of the most spectacular views of Chicago. Choose from a wide range of fancy specialty cocktails, get a seat by the window, and relax, while taking in the beauty of the Chicago skyline.

  • Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
  • Hours: Sun-Thu: 11am-12:30am
    Fri & Sat: 11am-1:30am
  • Web Site:

#4 – Second City

Second to none, the Second City Comedy Theater embraces all that is Chicago. It is a little raunchy, a little politically incorrect, and a lot funny. Specializing in improv-based sketch comedy, they offer a variety of shows and performances every night of the week. A free improvisation set follows the last performance every night, but Friday. Arrive 15 minutes before the start of the set to get a seat.

  • Neighborhood: Old Town
  • Web Site:

#5 – City Gallery in Water Tower

One of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the City Gallery is now a showcase for local photographers and artists. It is a great small gallery, so if you are shopping along Michigan Avenue, or visiting the John Hancock, stop in for a short tour.

  • Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
  • Hours: Mon-Sat:10am – 6:30pm
  • Sun: 10am – 5pm
  • Web Site:

#6 – Chicago Museum of Photography – Columbia College

If you are interested in photography, the museum of photography can’t be missed. It is the largest photography museum in the Midwest, and has a great range of controversial, beautiful and thought-provoking exhibits.

  • Neighborhood: Grant Park
  • Hours: Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm
    Thu: 10am-8pm
    Sun: 12pm-5pm
  • Web Site:

#7 – DePaul Art Museum

This small scale art museum offers a variety of exhibits in all media throughout the year. Some recent installations include paintings, sculptures, and printmaking by contemporary Iraqi artists, early twentieth-century photographs and Old Master prints.

  • Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
  • Hours: Mon-Thu: 11am-5pm
  • Fri: 11am-7pm
  • Sat-Sun: 11am-5pm
  • Web Site:

#8 – Jane Adams Hull House

The newly renovated Hull House museum opens up the 2nd floor of the Hull home, and displays never-been-told stories, artifacts and photographs of the original residents and immigrants helped by Jane Addams’ social reform. Another eerie reason to stop at the Hull House is that there have long been rumors that the home is haunted. Stop by and see for yourself.

  • Neighborhood: UIC
  • Hours: Tue-Fri: 10am-4 pm
  • Sun: 12pm-4 pm
    Web Site:

#9 – National Museum of Mexican Art

Home to one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections, the Museum of Mexican Art always stays close to its roots by focusing on showcasing the beauty and richness of Mexican culture. Its diverse exhibits focus on artistic expression from both sides of the border. Browse through the museum for a beautiful lesson in culture, resilience and empowerment.

  • Neighborhood: Pilsen
  • Hours: Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm
  • Web Site:

#10 – Garfield Conservatory

Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” this conservatory is immense – featuring 6 greenhouses and 2 grand exhibition halls. Stop in, browse the exotic and beautiful flowers, take in the floral aroma, and you’ll quickly forget your in the middle of the city.

  • Neighborhood: Garfield Park
  • Hours: Daily: 9am-5pm
  • Wed: 9am-8pm
  • Web Site:

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