Whether you’re looking to ponder internationally famous art work, walk among an array of plants and trees, or learn about animals or people around the world, Chicago has a museum, garden, zoo, or cultural center for you and chances are you can find a way to visit without blowing your budget.
Most free days only apply to Illinois residents with valid identification and only apply to general admission, not special exhibits or events.
Adler Planetarium – June 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, & 12
Lincoln Park Zoo – Always FREE
Art Institute of Chicago – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
Brookfield Zoo – No free days in spring
Cantigny Park – Free admission daily; $5 parking ($2 parking after 4:00 pm)
Chicago Botanic Garden – Free admission daily; $25 parking on weekdays, $30 on weekends
Chicago Children’s Museum – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
Chicago History Museum – March 4
Cosley Zoo – Free daily for all Wheaton Park District residents and for children 17 and under
DuSable Museum of African American History – Every Sunday
Field Museum – June 4, 5, & 8
Garfield Park Conservatory – Free daily
Morton Arboretum – Discounted admission on Wednesdays
Museum of Contemporary Art – Tuesdays
Museum of Science & Industry – April 22, May 21, June 1-5 & 8
National Museum of Mexican Art – Free admission daily
Oak Park Conservatory – Free admission daily; donations are accepted ($2 per person is recommended)
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Thursdays are free, but donations are suggested
Shedd Aquarium – June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, & 16
Swedish American Museum – Second Tuesday of every month
Chicago Public Library branches have passes to several different museums through the Kids Museum Passports that Chicago residents can check out for free. Residents of many suburbs can get free admission with the Museum Adventure Pass at their local library.