• Rebecca Blackmon

Top 10 Free Things To Do in Chicago

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

When it comes to doing fun things in Chicago, you do not have to spend a dime. As they say, the best things in life are free. Here are the top 10 free things to do in Chicago!

1. Lincoln Park Zoo

One of the free things to do in Chicago is visiting Lincoln Park Zoo. The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the only zoos in the country with free admission. It is home to almost 200 species of animals, and is open every day.

Location: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

2. Lincoln Park Conservatory

The conservatory is home to exotic plants from around the world featured in 4 display houses. While the conservatory is free, they require you to get a ticket ahead of time - during Covid they’re limiting admission and doing timed visits.

Location: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614

3. Millennium Park

Another free thing to do in Chicago is going to the Millennium Park. It is home to the famous “Bean” (actually named Cloud Gate) and a large performance area where free concerts and movies are frequently played.

Location: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

4. Navy Pier

While there are plenty of opportunities to spend money at Navy Pier, entrance into the park is free. Navy Pier is home to a food court/shopping area, the famous Ferris wheel, rooftop bars, frequent fireworks shows, river cruises, etc. It really is magical just to take a stroll and take in all that Navy Pier has to offer.

Location: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

5. Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatoy is one of the largest botanical gardens in the country. There are more than 1,000 plant species spread across 10 acres of gardens and half a dozen display houses!

Location: 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

6. Chicago Riverwalk

It used to be that the only way to see the Chicago River was by paying for a riverboat cruise. That’s not the case anymore thanks to the Chicago Riverwalk! This 1.25 mile path now allows you to explore the waterfront without paying anything at all. There are, of course, plenty of shops and restaurants, but those are optional. Pro tip: try to catch the bridge being raised for a barge coming through! It’s so cool to watch! I think this is one of the best free things to do in Chicago.

7. Lakefront Trail

Similar to the Riverwalk, there is a lakefront trail that runs along the Chicago side of Lake Michigan. It is free and open to the public, and houses multiple parks, beaches, gardens, etc.

8. Artwork and Murals

If you love artwork. Chicago is home to some of the best artwork! Explore the city to find your favorite - mine is the “Greetings From Chicago” postcard mural located at 2226 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647.

9. The Magnificent Mile

It’s fun to window shop on the Magnificent Mile! Obviously there are plenty of opportunities to spend money, but you could spend a whole afternoon just browsing and taking in all the city has to offer. There are lots of historic buildings to see and learn about, AND the world’s largest Starbucks is there to keep you energized!

10. Explore Wrigleyville

Even if you don’t feel like paying for a ticket to see the Chicago Cubs play, it still is worth the experience to go walk around and soak up the history! There are a multitude of restaurants and shops, and plenty of stops along the way to learn about the history of one of the first professional teams in MLB history.

There are tons more free museums and art galleries in Chicago that could fill up an entire weekend, but this is a good place to start! I hope you have an amazing weekend in Chicago!


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