A Guide to Spending a Free Weekend in Chicago
The city of Chicago is a beautiful place to visit (or live)! It can be expensive to visit all the iconic museums and restaurants, but there are lots of free things to do in the city. Below is a list of museums, parks, and attractions that are free to the public.
Museums & Galleries
Block Museum of Art - located north of Chicago in Evanston, IL at Northwestern University, this art museum is always free.
Bridgeport Art Center - offers free 3rd Fridays for a sneak peak through their studios that feature local artists and designers.
Chicago Children’s Museum - offers several discounted and free visits and tours.
Hyde Park Art Center - open 7 days a week and free to the public, offers 6 galleries of contemporary art.
Lincoln Park Zoo - open 365 days a year and always free.
National Museum of Mexican Art - one of the most prominent museums of Mexican art in the world, always free to the public.
The City Gallery at the Historic Water Tower - this free gallery features the work of local photographers and artists.
The Oriental Institute - offers ancient Middle Eastern artifacts and is free to the public, although there is a suggested donation.
Smart Museum of Art - Located at the University of Chicago this museum is free to the public.
Parks & Nature
Buckingham Fountain - the fountain is located inside Grant Park and is a popular destination and Instagram location.
Chicago Botanic Garden - the garden is located outside of the city in Glencoe. There is a cost for parking but not garden entrance. Ride the Metra up to the park and admission will be free.
Garfield Park Conservatory - the park is open 365 days a year and is free to the public.
Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens - a beautiful location in the city that’s free to the public.
Free Summer Music Festival information can be found here.
Chicago Cultural Center - a landmark building that often offers free public events.
Chicago Greeter: Free Guided Tours - visit the website to register for a tour 10 days before your visit to the city.
Navy Pier - a Chicago landmark with shops, amusement park attractions, restaurants, and more.
What are your favorite free Chicago activities? Let us know in the comments below!