Free Things to Do in Chicago

Like most large cities, Chicago offers a wide variety of free things to do. These free activities range from concerts to museum visits, and encompass a variety of interests and skill levels, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Taking advantage of these free activities is a great way to stretch a travel budget. Here are a few free things to do in Chicago.

Millennium Park

Chicago’s Millennium Park is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon without spending any money. In addition to public art such as the Crown Fountain and the Cloud Gate sculpture (also commonly referred to as “the bean”), there is often free entertainment that takes place at the park’s amphitheatre during the summer months. The amphitheatre is a work of art itself, with its curvy metal surround and domed grid overhead. Information on free events taking place at Millennium Park can be found at any of the Millennium Park information booths, located at various points around the perimeter of the park.

Free Concerts

In addition to free concerts at Millennium Park, there are also many other free concert events throughout the year. In the summer months, there are frequent classical and pop concerts held free of charge at Grant Park. Complete listings of these events can be found in the Chicago Reader as well as Time-Out Chicago, which can be found at most bookstores and newsstands.

The Chicago Cultural Center also hosts free jazz and classical concerts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. These concerts are indoors, and therefore are performed throughout the year.

Free Admission at Chicago Museums

While most of Chicago’s major museums charge fairly substantial entry fees, there are select days throughout the year when they offer admission free of charge. The Art Institute of Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Science and Industry, and Shedd Aquarium are among Chicago’s major attractions that can be accessed for free if visiting on the right days.

Some of Chicago’s museums have regularly scheduled free days every week or month, while other free days revolve around civic and school holidays. It is best to check online for information about Chicago’s free museum days, as they are subject to change.

Additionally, some of Chicago’s smaller museums are free of charge at all times. These museums include the Jane Adams Hull-House Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Oriental Institute, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, and the Smart Museum.

Free Dance Lessons

During the summer months, Grant Park is home to the Chicago Summer Dance Festival. Throughout the season, free lessons are offered to the community in many different genres of dance, including polka, swing, step, waltz, and salsa. For more information on the Chicago Summer Dance Festival, visit the Chicago Park District website.

Other Free Activities

There are many other free activities throughout the year in Chicago. For more information on Chicago’s free entertainment, visit the City of Chicago website or the Chicago Public Library website, both of which contain information about free things to do in Chicago.