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 ways to spend a free weekend in Chicago. 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 peek through their studios that feature local artists and designers.

Brookfield Zoo – offers several free days throughout the year, check this website to see which days are currently free.

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 the 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.

Millennium Park – the park is an iconic location in the city with fountains, sculptures, and an amphitheater. The bean is located here!

Music

Free Summer Music Festival information can be found here.

Other Attractions

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!


Do you have any other tips for spending a free weekend in Chicago?