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Friday, September 22, 2023

Free Places To Go In Chicago

Learn About Sustainability At The Plant Chicago

Our Top 7 free things to do in Chicago off-the-beaten-path [Discover Chicago’s hidden secret gems]

The Plant is one of my favorite places in Chicago because it has a truly remarkable mission. A lot has changed since the building that houses the project was a fire station â nowadays The Plant consists of several small businesses that operate in a circular economy, meaning that the by-products of one business must be beneficial in some way to another in the building.

Stop in for a visit and check out the brewery, bakery, community garden, and much more at The Plant. They hold free events throughout the year, including an awesome farmers market.

Hit The Ice And Test Out Your Skate Skills

Whether it’s your first time strapping on some winter blades or not, youre in luckthe skating rinks in Chicago cater to both pros and first-timers alike. Downtown, Maggie Daley Park sports a quarter-mile ice ribbon that winds skaters down a circuitous path, while nearby, McCormick Tribune Skating Rink provides beautiful skyline views near Chicagos famous Christmas treenot to mention an onsite Momentum Coffee serving apres-skate snacks and hot drinks. Meanwhile, Light Up The Lake in Navy Pier hosts skating under twinkling lights inside their indoor Alpine rink, alongside other holiday festivities like an indoor light garden, craft beer and cocktails from Alpine Pub, and a holiday market where guests can purchase festive momentos. Out by O’Hare International inside Rosemonts Parkway Bank Park, Chicago Wolves Ice Rink is an NHL regulation-sized facility open to the public, while over in Hyde Park, Midway Plaisance Park offers an expansive rink complete with bargain-priced rentals.

Swing From The Trees At North Americas Largest Aerial Adventure Course

From ice skating, ice sculpting, and fat tire racing to laser tag and escape rooms, The Forge: Lemont Quarries certainly isnt lacking when it comes to winter-centric entertainment. If thats not enough, you can also fill up on cheffy post-adrenaline rush cuisine at Forgefire Adventure Dining. Suddenly, a trip to the burbs doesnt sound like such a terrible idea.

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Experience A Traditional Christmas Market

Christkindlmarket is back! The beloved Chicago tradition turns the downtown Daley Plaza into a bustling holiday market, filling the air with the smell of roasted nuts, hot pretzels, and mulled wine. Admission is free to come in and peruse artisan goods, imported German gifts, and handmade holiday decorations. You can even catch cultural activities and family-friendly events. The market is open through Dec. 24.

Visit The Dusable Museum Of African American History

Ideas for free things to do in Chicago during the summer ...

As a genuine cultural melting pot, Chicago presents as the perfect city to dive into the history of African American culture.

Through concerts, films, exhibitions, and events, the DuSable Museum of African American History has been educating its guests about the journeys of Africans and African-Americans for more than 50 years.

Its a fascinating learning experience immersed within the greenery of Washington Park a welcomed breath of fresh air compared to Downtown.

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Get A Birds Eye View On A Helicopter Tour

Take to the skies for an unrivaled perspective of the Windy City. By day, passengers can see the picturesque city in full force by night, the skyline illuminates for a completely different view.

The pilot will point out all of the citys icons as they come into view, while also providing fascinating insights into the history and culture of the city.

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

What are people saying about museums in Chicago, IL?

This is a review for museums in Chicago, IL:

“Fairly comprehensive museum with some very interesting displays on the history of United States currency and other parts of the world. Look for the $10,000 and $5,000 bills and the million in hundreds. The docent gave a very informative presentation on the Federal Reserve, it’s function and history. She was very enthusiastic and even answered my highly intelligent questions like, “Where did my money go in 2008?”, and, “Why hasn’t Hans Gruber’s brother robbed your branch?”. Museum is free so it’s definitely worth stopping in if you have an hour or two to kill.”

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Other Tours In Chicago

If you dont mind spending a few dollars to see some other places in Chicago, our partners at Get Your Guide have to offer you:

River Architecture Cruise: Discover some beautiful architectural gems on a 75-minute river cruise.

Daytime Chicago Helicopter Tour: Enjoy the views of Chicago from above, while your pilot tells you some interesting facts about the city.

Chicago Chocolate Tour: The name says it all, so just go and have the best chocolate experience you can have in Chicago.

Have you been to Chicago? If you have any more tips of things to do in Chicago for free, share them with us in the comments!

Yamy Hartsough loves to travel with her husband, their 3-year-old son and the extended family. Their familiarity with traveling with relatives inspired them to share their stories and tips on their blog Gofamgo. Their focus is to inspire families to discover new destinations without breaking the bank while having a splendid time together. For updates, you can follow them on .

Grab Some Ice Cream At Original Rainbow Cone

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This longstanding Chicago ice creamery hibernates in the winter, but in the summer theyre teeming with elated customers and ice cream fanatics.

Visit the Original Rainbow Cone, choose from cones, milkshakes, sundaes, or banana splits, then burn off the calories with a pleasant stroll through the parks of Dan Ryan Woods.

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Art Institute Of Chicago

If you are looking for the most exquisite places to visit in Chicago, you must pay a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. There are almost 30,000 art pieces in this institute and even if you are not a connoisseur of art, you will love to observe the gorgeous artforms from different parts of the world. The restaurant which is present at the institute can provide you a great view of the city from the top. This will make the list of the best vacation spots, Chicago.

Order A Slice At Vito & Nicks Pizzeria

Contrary to Chicagos deep-dish pizza reputation, Vito & Nicks Pizzeria has been dishing up Cracker Thin Crust Pizza since the 1950s, and theyve yet put a foot wrong.

A visit to this adored eaterie and youll feel like youve stepped back in time into an old-world Chicago dive restaurant.

This isnt luxury nor sophistication, its just darn good pizza.

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Free Things To Do In Chicago

Want to do Chicago on the cheap? There are tons of free museums, cultural attractions, and things to do all over the city. Get a tour from a local, check out cutting-edge exhibits, catch a free classical concert beneath the worlds largest Tiffany dome all for no cost.

Here are 30 free things to do to add to your budget-friendly Chicago itinerary. And dont forget to check out free museum days throughout the year.

Soak In The Skyline From A Lake Michigan Sightseeing Boat Tour

45 Free Things to Do in Chicago (2019)

Get off your feet for a while sit back and relax on a boat as the captain takes you down the Chicago River, pointing out the iconic landmarks and delving into the citys rich history along the way.

If youre fed up with the crowds, take the experience to the next level by booking a private, luxury tour on your very own sailboat, or grab a two-person pontoon.

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Intuit: The Center For Intuitive & Outsider Art

Behold this free museum’s collection of naive and outsider art from Chicago artists, including rotating mixed-media exhibits and watercolors by famed local Henry Darger. In a back room the museum has recreated Darger’s awesomely-cluttered studio apartment, complete with balls of twine, teetering stacks of old magazines, an ancient typewriter and a Victrola phonograph.

Take A Chicago Greeter Neighborhood Tour

Chicago has a reputation for Midwestern politeness, and the Chicago Greeter neighborhood tours are a perfect example of that. These operate in over 25 districts local guides give you a complete rundown of the neighborhoods history, culture, and unique gastronomy. The guides are volunteers who genuinely want to show the best of their neighborhoods.

Tours are completely free, but you must make a reservation 10 business days in advance on Chicago Greeters website. Youll be able to choose the neighborhood you want to see tours takes between 2 and 4 hours.

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Rescheduled: St Alphonsus Oktoberfest

Admission: $5 before 5pm, $10 after 5pm.

This German tradition continues for another year in the Windy City.

Grab some cold beer, bratwurst, and pretzels as you enjoy the authentic German bands and culture as the festival season and month of September draws to a close.

UNDETERMINED: Lincoln Park Zoo: Adults Night Out

Tickets: $15 /$20 at the door if tickets remain

Enjoy this night out, away from the kids, as you can visit the animals after hours! Explore the zoo with animal chats, live entertainment, and cash bars scattered throughout. Must be 18+ to attend.

NOTE: Although they have not yet announced 2021 dates for this event, the zoo will be open and you can save money on tickets using a Chicago tourist pass!

Watch The Chicago Bulls Play At The United Center


With the legacy of Michael Jordan etched into NBA and sporting folklore, the Chicago locals absolutely adore their Bulls.

The teams regular home games are played at the United Center and run from October to April presenting a fantastic opportunity to escape the wind and the cold.

In terms of getting there, the Blue Line which stretches through Downtown drops you off within walking distance.

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Get Your Strudel And Bratwurst Fix At Christkindlmarket

Back this year in full swing, the 25th annual Christkindlemarket is slinging steins, hawking sausages, and selling handmade items from all around the world at Daley Plaza in the Loop and Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville. Along with some yummy authentic German food and bev, the 82 local, national, and international vendors will have you loading up on one-of-a-kind gifts like delicately carved chocolates, colorful glass figurines, hand woven outerwear, gorgeous painted ornaments, and other surprising goodies.

Learn About Chicago Architecture

One of the top things Chicago is known for is the diverse and impressive architecture youll find around the city.

Learn about the different styles and time periods on a guided Architecture Tour of Chicago.

Just as there are many diverse bridges, buildings, and structures, there are diverse ways of seeing it all and learning about the architects.

Architecture tours come in multiple forms like river tours, which give an interesting perspective, as well as free walking tours.

The biggest architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the Chicago Architecture Foundations over 3-hour bus tour.

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Kindle Some Romance On A Sunset Sailing Tour

With a glass of wine in one hand and your camera in the other, soak in the glorious sunset as it reflects off the Chicago skyline on a twilight boat tour.

Choose from a budget-friendly option on a large, shared vessel, or splurge on the ultimate romantic experience with a privately chartered sailboat.

Experience Michelangelos Masterpieces In An Immersive Photographic Exhibition

Millennium Park

Cant you travel to Rome and see the Sistine Chapel? No problem!

Go back in time visiting a full-scale photographic reproduction of Michelangelos masterpieces. The exhibition is created with a unique technique that makes the digital reproductions looking like paintings and frescoes.

The photographic exhibition reproduces 34 famous frescoes from the universe of Michelangelo.

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Catch A Summer Street Festival

Chicago becomes the land of festivals in the summertime. Each neighborhood has its own lineup, on a wide variety of themes. The citys diversity shines at these festivals, as many of them showcase music, food, and art from different countries and cultural backgrounds.

A full schedule of Chicagos free street festivals can be found here. Even if you visit during the spring, fall, or winter, you can still find a festival somewhere in the city.

Tour The Chicago River By Kayak

In either a solo or tandem kayak, soak in the famous skyline views with a peaceful paddle along the Chicago River.

All the equipment is included with the tour, likewise the knowledgable guide wholl spill architectural, cultural, and historical tidbits throughout the journey.

For something a little more spooky, glide down the river by moonlight on a ghost-themed outing.

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Game Room At The Chicago Athletic Association

One of the few athletics clubs to survive the Great Depression, the club building is today a luxury hotel. But the sporting spirit survives in the Game Room!

The Game Room at the CAA offers shuffleboard, pool tables, foosball, and bocce. Open to the public, the games are free to use!

Find the Game Master to make a reservation while you enjoy something to sip on in front of the bar or coffee shop.

Stand Above Chicago At The Willis Tower Skydeck


Take the lightning-quick elevator up to the 103rd floor of the former Sears Tower for views that arguably overshadow those even of the John Hancock Center.

While you wont be able to see the Willis Tower , the scenes are truly remarkable.

Acrophobics, look away now the Skydecks Ledge features four glass cube enclosures that jut out into the thin air. They make for amazing photo opportunities and get the adrenaline pumping.

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Consider Getting A Tourist Pass

There are a few different tourist discount passes in Chicago which allow you to save money on a variety of popular attractions.

If you’re planning to visit some of the most notable sites in the city or take a tour, we recommend looking into a tourist pass to cut your costs by as much as 50%.

Here are a few activities and locations you can visit using one of these services:

  • 360 Chicago

For more information about how to use them, please read our post covering Chicago tourist passes.

Satisfy Your Palate On A Food Tour

Chicago might be renowned for its deep-dish pizza, but the Windy City actually boasts a number of local delicacies.

Try them all as you loop around the city on foot, devouring Chicago-style hot dogs, dipped Italian beef sandwiches, a classic deep-dish slice, and treats of your choice for tea merchants, confectioners, and bakeries.

These locally-led tours take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps and chain restaurants youll be guided exclusively through the doors of beloved and authentic local eateries.

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