A getaway to an urban hotspot like Chicago can wreak havoc on your bank account. With some careful planning, your visit to Chi-town can be just as enjoyable with these budget friendly activities.
Essentially the town square of Chicago, Millennium Park is home to a collection of art, landscape design and architecture such as Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the bean). It’s free to walk around this urban oasis off of Randolph Street between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Avenue. Millennium Park also offers many free events and exhibits such as tours, nature programs, concerts and more.
Lincoln Park Zoo
One of the oldest zoos in the U.S., Lincoln Park Zoo is also one of the few zoos in the country with free admission. You can see black bears, rhinos, gorillas and more at this Chicago staple, which is located just minutes from downtown. For a small fee, you can participate in a Twilight Safari, an evening stroll through the zoo with a zoo horticulturist and an animal expert.
Free concerts and festivals
Big name entertainers play at top Chicago venues each year, but you can also experience quality entertainment at one of the city’s free concerts or festivals. Be sure to reference an online calendar for a full list of summer events, such as the Grant Park Music Festival or the Chicago Jazz Festival along the lakefront.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Tucked in the west neighborhood of Garfield Park, the Garfield Park Conservatory offers even more free family fun. Tour the six glassed-in greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls, and don’t miss the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, as well as the Play and Grow Garden, geared specifically to the conservatory’s youngest visitors.
Chicago Cultural Center
Venture back into the Loop to visit the country’s first free municipal cultural venue, the Chicago Cultural Center. There’s a jam-packed schedule of art exhibits, music and dance performances, film screenings and lectures each day, and you can also participate in a free building tour that covers the architecture and history of the site.