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 in Chicago
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.
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 in Chicago
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.
Music in Chicago
Free Summer Music Festival information can be found here.
Other Attractions in Chicago
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!