Free or Cheap Summer Activities in Chicago

It is somehow always the case that one can have time or money but never both at the same time. So now that you do not have to read 1000 pages every week what are you going to do in Chicago that doesn’t cost much money? Well the lakefront, the parks and biking are all great options, but below are a few more you might have missed.

Museum free days

Most of the museums in Chicago have free or discounted days or offer student discounts

You can still use your Artspass, check the link for the discounts and partner institutions.

The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents on June  7, 8, 11.

Field Museum check back here for discount days. They list them throughout the summer.

Adler Planetarium has discount days on June 7th and 8th perfect if your family is arriving early for convocation.

The Shedd Aquarium has Illinois resident discount days on  June 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.  If you bank with Bank of America you get discounts on July 7-8 and Aug. 4-5 by showing your bank card.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is $7 with your Student ID.

While you are in that neighborhood you could visit the City Gallery at the Water Tower which is always free.

The Chicago Cultural Center has free exhibits, concerts and gallery talks all year round.

Students get into the Art Institute of Chicago for $12 any day and the first and second Wednesday of every month are free for Illinois residents.

On Navy Pier there is actually a free Stained Glass Museum which has great works and is not as populated as the rest of the pier.  You could stay for the free fireworks if you are braving a day on the tourist-y pier.

Also did you know that if you have a Chicago Public Library card you can check out museum passes from any branch?  Just make sure you get to the library early. The passes go quickly. The library also has lectures, readings and performances so check their calendar.

Outdoor events after the jump . . .

Get Outside

The Chicago Botanic Garden is free if you bike there.

The Garfield Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Conservatory both just have an optional donation box.

The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open to all 365 days a year.

Chicago Summer Dance has free dance lessons and live music in the parks.

Concerts, street festivals, films in the park , oh my . . .

There are actually a large number of inexpensive street festivals, free concerts and outdoor film screenings in the city all summer long.   You can use the Explore Chicago page to search for by price, event type or by neighborhood. Millennium Park has its own event listings which include free concerts, tours and outdoor exercise classes.

Get back inside . . .sort of. . .

Say you missed all the great theater Chicago has to offer. Through the Chicago Park District Theatre on the Lake has different companies performing their successful shows from earlier in the year one company. Tickets are $17.50 which is pretty good or you can get packages that make them cheaper and they are all performed right off Fullerton on the lakefront.  Hit the Wall and Moby Dick were both sold out shows and now is your chance to see them.

When you feel like reading again . . .

The University of Chicago Press offers a free ebook every month.  Check back each month and get a new one.

Get out there and enjoy your freedom.



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