20 Best Free Things to Do in Chicago Without Breaking the Bank

Doing fun things while traveling or on the weekends doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Chicago is full of fun things to do, especially during the holidays! There is no excuse to sit around at home this weekend when there are free plenty of things to do without breaking the bank.

If you are trying to find something fun to do downtown, here are 20 of the best free things to do in Chicago.

The Complete List of Every Totally Free Museum in Chicago
Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo | 2001 N Clark St

No matter what the weather is, there are always animals to see for free at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Tigers, gorillas, lions, camels, and zebras are just a few of the animals you can catch sight of at the zoo.

Millennium Park
Photo Credit: Millennium Park

Millennium Park | 201 E Randolph St

If you’re searching for free things to do in Chicago, we suggest visiting Millennium Park to see the Bean. Even on the coldest days, you can take some fun new Instagram photos of your reflection in the shiny surface. In the winter months, the McCormick Tribune Plaza has become a fun ice skating rink, which is free if you bring your own skates.

Museum of Contemporary Photography
Photo Credit: Museum of Contemporary Photography Facebook

Museum of Contemporary Photography | 600 S Michigan Ave

Look through the museum’s contemporary images through various projects and exhibitions.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory | 2391 N Stockton Dr

If researching for things to do in Chicago for free, travel to the shores of Lake Michigan to visit the conservatory to see tropical flowers, palms, and ferns.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art | 220 E Chicago Ave

Illinois residents can go to the art museum for free on Tuesdays to see sculptures, photos, videos, and paintings.

Chicago Cultural Center
Photo Credit: Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center | 78 E Washington St

Take advantage of the complimentary art exhibits, as well as music and dance performances taking place every day of the week. You can also enjoy free building tours at the Chicago Cultural Center Wednesday through Saturday at 1:15. Get there early to ensure you get a spot.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: Smart Museum of Art

Smart Museum of Art | 5550 S Greenwood Ave

This breathtaking museum has exhibitions dedicated to European art, modern art, Asian art, and contemporary art.

Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden | 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe

To get your plant-fix in the winter, stop by to see the 27 gardens over 385 acres.

free things to do Chicago
Photo Credit: Chicago Greeter Program

Chicago Greeter Program | 72 E Randolph St

The Chicago Greeter Program provides two or four-hour free tours and events in Chicago to help you learn more about different neighborhoods across the city.

Garfield Park Conservatory
Photo Credit: Garfield Park Conservatory Facebook

Garfield Park Conservatory | 300 N Central Park Ave

As one of the best conservatories in the country, it is amazing that it is free! Explore the 2-acres of indoor gardens on a cold day, and 12-acres of outdoor seasonal gardens when the weather gets better.

Chicago Children's Museum
Photo Credit: Chicago Children’s Museum Instagram

Chicago Children’s Museum | 700 E Grand Ave

Located at Navy Pier, the Children’s Museum is free for families on Thursday from 5 to 8 pm. On the first Sunday of every month, kids under the age of 15 get in free.

Photo Credit: Chicago Architecture Center

Chicago Architecture Center | 111 E Wacker Dr

Learn more about Chicago’s architecture during a free tour from 9 am – 5 pm, every day of the week.

Chicago Bar Bucket List
Photo Credit: The Signature Room Instagram

The Signature Room at the 95th | 875 N Michigan Ave

Located on the 95th floor, the Signature Lounge boasts one of the best views of the city line. You might have to purchase a drink or two to enjoy the views.

Revolution Brewing
Photo Credit: Revolution Brewing Facebook

Revolution Brewery | 3340 N Kedzie Ave

Another free thing to do in Chicago on Wednesdays through Fridays is tour Revolution Brewery. The tours are first come, first serve.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: Navy Pier

Navy Pier | 600 E Grand Ave

While some attractions at Navy Pier do charge a fee, others are free. The 50-acre playground, Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, and other attractions can all be enjoyed at no charge.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum | 800 S Halsted St

An excellent thing to do in Chicago for free with friends or family is visiting the Hull House to gain a historical perspective of the city. It is now a memorial to Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. 

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: City of Chicago

The Historic Water Tower | 806 Michigan Ave

Check out the photography at the City Gallery to learn more about Chicago.

free things to do chicago
Photo Credit: First United Methodist Church

First United Methodist Church | 77 W Washington St

This neo-gothic church is one of the tallest in the world and a must-see sight in Chicago.

National Museum of Mexican Art
Photo Credit: National Museum of Mexican Art

National Museum of Mexican Art | 1852 W 19th St

An entertaining free thing to do in Chicago with friends or family is visit the Pilsen neighborhood to view Latino art. The art on display includes modern works, folk art, and more.

The Magnificent Mile
Photo Credit: The Magnificent Mile

Magnificent Mile Window Shopping | N Michigan Ave

Even on a cold day, it’s worth walking down the Mag Mile to see the fancy stores and brands for one of the best free things to do in Chicago.


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