On a Budget? No Problem!
Don't worry budget travelers, Chicago doesn't have to be too expensive! For your next trip, we have assembled a list of the best free things to do in Chicago. And fortunately, that list is long. From the Money museum to the various parks, gardens, galleries, and more, here's a great list of free stuff in Chicago to get you started.
The Chicago Cultural Center
Located in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center opened in 1897 to house the first Chicago Public Library and to serve as the headquarters for the Grand Army of the Republic. Today it is a free cultural center that hosts a number of free concerts, art exhibits and other activities that are open to the public.
78 E Washington St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60602
Smart Museum of Art
Located on the University of Chicago campus, this art museum houses the university's collection of fine arts and antiquities. There are ceramics and ancient works all the way to contemporary pieces. There's also a sculpture garden in the courtyard.
5550 S Greenwood Ave, Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, 60637
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo is also one of the largest free zoos in the country. It has more than 200 species of animals that are each divided into different exhibits. There ae two-toed sloths, western lowland gorilla, African penguins, lion, giraffes, and more.
2001 N Clark St, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Lincoln Park Conservatory
This impressive Victorian style greenhouse has four separate sections that include the Orchid House, Palm House, Fern Room, and Show House. There's also an outdoor Formal Garden and the English Grandmother's Garden. This is a beautiful conservatory and it's free to the public.
2391 N Stockton Dr, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a stage in Millennium Park that hosts regular concerts and events including the Grant Park Orchestra during the summer months (a series of free concerts). The Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and Grant Park Music Festival are all held here as well.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
Garfield Park is a popular city park on the West Side of the city in the Garfield Park neighborhood. It has a number of recreational facilities including baseball, boxing, basketball, tennis, and swimming. There's also a playground and trails for running, walking and bike riding. When the weather isn't cooperating, you can head inside to the Garfield Park Conservatory, which has about 120,000 plants from 600 different species in a 1.6 acre indoor space.
300 N. Central Park Ave., Garfield Park, Chicago, IL, 60624
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum
This free museum will teach you all about money. You can keep your hard earned cash while you learn all about historical currencies, how the Federal Reserve works, and more. It's a fascinating and unique museum for anybody with or without money.
230 S LaSalle St., Loop, Chicago, IL, 60604
Chicago's Chinatown is a unique area to explore with authentic Asian grocery stores, family-owned restaurants, and excellent dumplings and dim sum. The neighborhood has a number of beautiful archways, pagodas, and statues. There are also shops that sell traditional items next to souvenirs and other trinkets. The original part of Chinatown runs along Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue. Chinatown Square mall is in the area as well.
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $7 to $420. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $86. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Chicago