Best Free Things to do in Chicago as a Traveler

The city of Chicago is also popular as the second city. It is a fabulous place to visit as it has many beautiful architectures around the city. The city has tons of free museums and cultural attractions. The people’s hospitality is tremendous, along with many free activities, like Chicago cultural center, lakefront trail, Chicago river walk, Harold Washington library center, and many more. There are free things to do in Chicago as a traveler. If you are a night person, a few places like The Chicago Theatre, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Chicago’s Ultimate City Food Tour at Night make the time spent in the city memorable as every second counts.

Let’s take a virtual tour of all the places in the city and get an enjoyable experience.

Best Time to Visit Chicago

Chicago is at its most pleasant between September and October and from April through May. These months have a warm temperature as compared to other months. During these months, they organize many festivals, and many tourists come to enjoy them. There are many free things which you can enjoy along with your family. Chicago is renowned for its free tours.

Is Chicago an Expensive City to Visit?

Chicago is expensive city

Chicago city is on Lake Michigan, which is renowned for its architecture, buildings, and structure. It is a mixture of modern and Mexican art. you can see many street arts around the city too. The average payout for one day is $300. This is only an estimate that may change depending on the travelers’ tastes and the accommodations they select. Overall it’s a cheap city to visit as most things are free of cost to enjoy.

Top 10 Best Places to Visit

Few people think that visiting a city means you must rob a bank to enjoy yourself. Here, we’ll review a handful of the many free activities that visitors and Illinois residents may enjoy.

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Daily hours for the Chicago Cultural Center are 10 am to 5 pm. One of the most frequented locations in the structure because of its exquisite beauty. Visitors enjoy the free dance, music, art exhibits, and family festivals. In addition to hosting regional and international musicians and artists, this cultural center also sponsors local events, giving them a stage where they may readily display their skills.

Even though the tourists are attracted to these events, the building is a tremendous work of artisanship. The dome is made of 30 feet in diameter and is covered with glass, giving it a spectacular view. The building has many rare types of marbles and pieces all around it.

lakefront Trail 

Lakefront Trail

This is among the most well-liked locations in Chicago. A roughly 19-mile path winds through the city’s center, passing several picturesque locations. It is used for bicycling, jogging, walking, and mainly sightseeing.

The trail starts from the South shore of the cultural center, providing a spectacular view of Jackson Park. On your way, you can see the Smart Museum of science, a few industries, Promontory Point, and a lovely skyline view from this peninsula.

When traveling, you can find many restrooms, along with a few sitting arrangements, in case you want to sit down and enjoy the beaches on your north side of the trail.

Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago RiverWalk

Here is another most exciting sidewalk which provides free enjoyment and a lovely view. This Riverwalk is located on the south bank of the Chicago River. The length of this Chicago Riverwalk is 1.25 miles, from Michigan to Lake Street. On this Riverwalk, you must be carrying a camera as there are many beautiful sights to see with the city skyline.

You can enjoy delicious food from City Winery, which serves one of the finest wines. Apart from this, there are many shops for drinks and food you would love to taste.

If you enjoy boating and fishing, there is the spot Urban Kayaks, where you can enjoy a ride in the kayak. There is rock climbing, and if you have a permit for fishing, you can enjoy unlimited time with your chair and rods.

Harold Washington Library Center

This is the most extensive library in Chicago and the whole of America. It is spread out to a city’s block containing 1.1 million books on its 10th-story building. The inside structure is eye-catching and magnificent with all the artworks and paintings on display, making it an example of Chicago architecture.

The building is a museum, library, and gallery with a 385-seater theatre in the basement.

The Chicago public library grants easy access to everyone just by issuing a library card which is free of cost. A separate section on the 2nd floor lets the kids quickly enjoy all types of books. They do have access to the visual room too.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Museum of Contemporary Photography

The Museum is not a place for those on a tight schedule. The paintings need time and understanding, and a sneak will not satisfy your inner artist.

The Museum has collected more than 15000 paintings since its founding in 1976.

The Museum was founded to provide a gathering place for all students and artists who have a deep awareness of the function of photography.

The place is growing continuously and will develop more under the supervision of the American Alliance of Museums.

National Museum of Mexican Art

National Museum of Mexican Art

As the name indicates, this Museum features Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. The Museum was founded in 1982 by Carlos Tortolero and Helen Valdez. Here you can see the traditional culture through handicrafts and ornaments which belong to Mexico.

It is one of the best free things in Chicago, which also contribute to arranging art exhibitions.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The theater is at navy pier, where you can quickly see old Shakespeare plays that are too free of cost. The architecture, the arrangement, and the building look spectacular while the artist is performing. The theater is open all year round, with audience engagement and entertainment.

Buckingham fountain

Buckingham Fountain

This fountain is made on Lake Michigan and has four sets of horses, representing the four states that meet at the Lake. Beaux-arts architect Edward H. Bennett designed the fountain. French artist Marcel F. designed the sculptures.

The view from the fountain is breathtaking, which is why it makes the list of free things. It is at the center of Grand Park and is a famous landmark in Chicago.

United Methodist Church

The people of Chicago are very religious. Few churches are available around the city, so people can access them easily. The First United Methodist Church, Lincoln Methodist Church, and New Gresham Methodist Church are famous.

Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue

The famous Michigan Avenue in Chicago is also known as The Magnificent Mile. It is one of the world’s great avenues with a thriving and vibrant commercial, residential, and tourist area.

With Randolph Street to the south, North Avenue to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, and the Chicago River to the west, this avenue spans a vast region.

The area contains many shops, hotels, and restaurants, with the best architecture. You can access wicker park, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and the trendiest neighborhood.

Chicago Visit with Kids

Many tourists visit Chicago city with their young kids. They tend to find those spots where there are activities and enjoyment for their kids too. Chicago offers a few unique places for everyone, ages 5-35. These are best for Illinois residents to enjoy their free time with their families and kids.

Lincoln Park Zoo 

This is one of the largest zoos, which was established in 1868. It has an area of 35 acres with various animals within your reach with no fees. The place holds an attraction to both families and couples.

The best areas to visit are the gorillas and chimpanzees and the beautiful sight of penguins and polar bears.

The visit to the zoo is free of cost and needs at least 4 hours to enjoy the zoo fully.

There are almost 230 species present in the zoo, which fascinate not just the kids but animal lovers of all ages.

Lincoln park conservatory is near this zoo, which holds the most astonishing things for everyone. The visit to this zoo will make your trip memorable.

Millennium Park

The millennium park is located in the Loop Community Area, and the Chicago cultural and development department operates it. It is a well-known municipal hub close to the Lake. It covers an area of 24.5 acres surrounding many sightings for the locals and tourists.

The park has various attractions like the crown fountain, the cloud gate, and the Lurie Garden. It is connected with Nicholas Bridgeway and BP pedestrian bridge with the other parts of this grand park.

The park is created with various parking spots for the convenience of visitors, as well as bathrooms for children. This park is continuously renovated to provide free tours to all the people. Many tourists added visiting millennium park to their to-do list.

Maggie Daley Park

Here is another park that can capture your attention when you enter it. This park is located on top of the parking building in downtown Chicago.

Over the decades, the park was leaked down because the garden had to be replaced. The park’s new design was designed by Michael Van Valkenburg, an award-winning architect who split the park into active and passive sites. It makes the garden more attractive with a spectacular background of skyscrapers from the north to the west. You can see the traffic moving through Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan.

The park is spread out on 20 acres of land, having approx. $60 million of cost in maintaining the trees. These trees are specially selected and planted there.

Garfield Park Conservatory

The conservatory is another one of the spectacular landscapes present in Chicago. This is known as the ‘landscape art under glass. The total covered area is approx. 2 acres, where there are thousands of species put on display. These magnificent views are far from the crowded streets of Chicago, making in the top 10 free things this city has to offer.

The place keeps you preoccupied for the next few hours, where you can easily enjoy the aroma of flowers and the beautiful flowers.

The palm house, the fern house, and the snow house display an exciting variety according to their exhibit.

The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, Aroid House, and Dale Chihuly’s 16 yellow pads are the most loveable around kids.

In 2008, the conservatory celebrated its 100th birthday and opened a new space called ‘sugar from the sun.’ it is fascinating as it describes and displays the process of photosynthesis.

Navy Pier

So, Is Navy Pier Free? Yes, The navy pier is another one of the most crowded areas in Chicago. Even locals want to visit the place as it offers free entry and fantastic Chicago fireworks over the Lake twice a week. The firework is so satisfying and is synchronized with music, which can be heard all over the Navy Pier.

There is a Ferris wheel too, which will cost you $13-$16 but the skyline view from the Lake and up is heart taken. You can see unlimited stars in the sky and enjoy a picture of the city.

The place also arranges free music performances, which are life and have free access. Many Chicago festivals are organized where the locals and Chicago neighborhood tourists can enjoy their time with their family and friends.

Chicago’s Children’s Museum

The City of Chicago is a very diverse city, where many things are considered to be the most important following the future generations. In this aspect, the town holds 11 different Chicago museums, each with a unique topic, making the younger generation choose what they want to do and get first-hand knowledge about it. They can visit any day and get a free tour to explore their favorite topic. These are free museums; if you are with kids, this must be added to your free things list. Almost all of these exhibitions prove to be art institute for children who wants to be affiliated with art.

  • Chicago Children’s Museum is at navy pier, giving a splashing experience to all the kids.
  • Museum of Science & Industry: the Museum contains all the facts in an exciting way
  • Field Museum: this place will make your kids go crazy as this is the place for dinosaur lovers.
  • Bronzeville Children’s Museum: this is the first African American Museum containing all the historical information about the country.
  • Chicago Sports Museum: the Museum has interactive, high-tech sports simulations for kids.
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: this Museum contains many trees and forest life highlights.
  • The Chicago History Museum includes a thrilling experience of all of history’s old machines.
  • Adler Planetarium: this Museum has all the information about the stars and the galaxy.
  • American Writers Museum: this Museum supports young writers and helps them make a career for themselves.
  • Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration at the Swedish American Museum: this Museum is allotted for the issues and importance of immigration.
  • Busy Beaver Button Museum: this Museum has pin-back buttons of every type.

Free Things to Do in Chicago at Night

Chicago at Night

The city awakens at weekends with free live music, free movies, and clubs. You may get live music and shows at a reasonable price at Cadillac Palace Theatre, Briar Street Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Auditorium Theatre. If you wish to enjoy your dinner, you are looking in the right direction.

There are many places which are within our budget. If you like to have some solitary time, then a river walk at night is the best to enjoy the sight along with your partner.

The cruise company offers cruise ship tours, from where you can see lighted towers along the view of stars. The view is very spectacular and looks extraordinary. The Chicago skyline looks more tempting when you know the grant park music festival from your cruise.

Also, If you would like to check out the 10 Best free things to do in san Diego as a traveler, you can check it out.


Here we have all the details which can be helpful to all the tourists who are planning to visit Chicago city.

The city is full of many adorable and exciting places that it would be challenging to decide what to do on Saturday night. You can have a marvelous time at the sandy beaches at North lake shore drive and north avenue beach, making it a memorable trip. Or an evening at the navy pier watching free fireworks.

Decide wisely and enjoy your trip with this city’s many free things.

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