Chicago is one of the most exciting cities in the United States. It is a lot of fun to visit, but it can be expensive too. To lessen the cost of your next visit, Pooky and I have come up with a list of suggestions for some Free Family Fun in Chicago.
Lincoln Park Zoo
This world wildlife zoo is on the north end of Chicago. It is open 365 days a year and requires no admission. Aside from the fact that it’s free, there are many other things about this place that make it a top family friendly destination in Chicago. See animals from all around the world. Get up close and personal (and hands on) with small mammals and reptiles. Experience one of the many enrichment programs offered for families (some for a fee, some for free). Since you’ll probably want to spend most of the day here, consider your lunch options. There is Park Place Cafe with child-friendly options. If the weather is cooperating, you can make use of the picnic areas or outdoor eateries. Be sure to check out the seasonal offerings at the Lincoln Park Zoo such as their fall festival and zoolights.
Explore the monolithic water features and splash around in the sunshine. This piece of Millennium Park provided our family with almost an hour of free family fun and great photo ops. Also check for family concerts in the park.
There is a lot to do on Navy Pier, most of it for a fee. But you can still explore the pier and find some free entertainment. Walk amongst street performers and sculptures. And check out the current Public Art and Exhibitions that are free to the public.
Maggie Daly Park
Just behind Millennium Park is the recently opened gargantuan playground, Maggie Daly Park. This massive area has castle turrets and rope bridges in addition to a ton of slides. There are smaller areas sectioned off for kids of different ages. There are splash pads and swing sets as well. The park also has a mini golf course (for a fee). In the winter, the park is converted into an ice skating rink and path. If you put this park on your list, be prepared to spend a good chunk of time here, it’s that good.
Art Institute of Chicago
This extensive museum is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening. Otherwise there is a fee for adults, but children age 14 and under are always free. Also, you and your little ones can make use of just the children art activities in the Ryan Education Center for some free family fun. There are a variety of dining options available. The Museum Cafe is very family friendly, but there are some fine dining options as well.
Beaches on the Lake
There are many beaches along Lake Michigan just steps away from the metropolis of Chicago. These beaches are free to the public and offer a great source of entertainment for the family during the months of May through October.
We were surprised to find so much fun stuff to do for free. We hope these suggestions help you give your family a taste of the Windy City without breaking the bank.