15 Cheap Things To Do In Chicago
Chicago is a vibrant city with plenty of exciting things to do. However, many of the popular attractions can be expensive, which can put a damper on your plans if you're on a tight budget.
The good news is that there are plenty of cheap things to do in Chicago that will keep you entertained without breaking the bank.
From free museums and parks to inexpensive tours and delicious eats, there are plenty of options for budget-conscious travelers.
In this article, we'll explore some of the best cheap things to do in Chicago so you can make the most of your trip without overspending.
Things to Do in Chicago for Free (or Budget-Friendly)
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Visit The Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a great place to visit for people of all ages. It is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.
The zoo is open every day of the year and is free to enter, making it a great budget-friendly activity.
Visitors can see a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, gorillas, penguins, and more. The zoo also hosts special events throughout the year, such as holiday lights and music festivals.
Explore Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a must-see attraction in Chicago, especially for first-time visitors. The park covers 24.5 acres and is home to many iconic landmarks, including the Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as "The Bean"), the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and the Crown Fountain.
Visitors can explore the park on foot or by bike, and there are many free activities and events held throughout the year, including concerts, movies, and fitness classes.
Wander Around Navy Pier
Navy Pier is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Located on Lake Michigan, the pier features shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Visitors can take a ride on the Ferris wheel for panoramic views of the city, watch a movie at the IMAX theater, or play games at the arcade.
There are also many free activities on the pier, such as live music, fireworks, and cultural festivals.
Admire The Architecture On A Chicago Riverwalk Tour
The Chicago Riverwalk is a scenic spot to take a stroll, especially for those interested in architecture.
Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about the history and design of the city's iconic buildings, such as the Willis Tower and the Merchandise Mart.
The riverwalk also features art installations and outdoor dining options, making it a great spot to spend a few hours.
Learn Something New At The Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building that serves as a hub for arts and culture in the city. It is free to enter and features exhibits and performances from local and international artists.
Visitors can also attend workshops and lectures on a variety of topics, from music to literature to visual arts. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, with stunning mosaics, stained glass windows, and marble staircases.
Walk Through Grant Park And Buckingham Fountain
One of Chicago's most famous landmarks is the Buckingham Fountain located in the heart of Grant Park. The fountain is the centerpiece of the park and is one of the largest fountains in the world.
During the summer months, the fountain’s water display is accompanied by music and light shows that are truly spectacular. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll through Grant Park and enjoy the lush greenery, gardens, and sculptures.
Visit The Garfield Park Conservatory
Located on Chicago's West Side, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a haven of nature and tranquility in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. The conservatory has a collection of plants from around the world in eight different greenhouses.
Visitors can explore the lush and diverse indoor gardens, which include a fern room, a desert house, and an aquatic garden. Admission to the conservatory is free, but donations are encouraged.
Explore The National Museum Of Mexican Art
Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the National Museum of Mexican Art is a must-visit for anyone interested in Latin American culture and history.
The museum has a collection of more than 10,000 pieces of Mexican art, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and folk art. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are encouraged.
See The Street Art In Pilsen
The Pilsen neighborhood is known for its vibrant street art scene, with colorful murals and graffiti covering the walls of buildings and alleyways.
Take a walking tour to discover the stories behind the art and the artists who created it. Visitors can also explore local galleries and studios to see more of the neighborhood's art scene.
Visit The Museum Of Contemporary Photography
Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) is dedicated to the medium of photography and its evolving role in contemporary art.
The museum has a collection of more than 15,000 photographs, ranging from historical works to contemporary pieces. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are encouraged. The museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions, lectures, and events throughout the year.
Take A Stroll Through The 606 Trail
The 606 Trail is a 2.7-mile elevated trail that runs along the former Bloomingdale Line railroad track. The trail features art installations, gardens, and plenty of space to walk, run, or bike. It's a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while enjoying the city. Plus, it's completely free to visit.
Enjoy Free Concerts At The Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is the city's premier cultural hub, offering free art exhibits, concerts, and performances throughout the year.
The center is home to two stunning stained glass domes, as well as a variety of rotating exhibits and events. Be sure to check the center's schedule for free concerts and performances.
Check Out The Harold Washington Library Center
The Harold Washington Library Center is the central library of the Chicago Public Library system.
In addition to being a great resource for books and research, the library also offers free events, classes, and workshops. Visitors can attend book clubs, writing workshops, computer classes, and more.
Walk Through The Art Institute Of Chicago's South Garden
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most famous art museums in the world. While admission to the museum can be pricey, visitors can explore the museum's South Garden for free. The garden features a variety of sculptures and plantings, as well as stunning views of the city.
Take A Free Tour Of The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Museum
The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Museum offers free tours of its exhibits, which explore the history and functions of the Federal Reserve System.
Visitors can learn about the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy and see exhibits on topics like inflation and the global financial system. Tours are offered Monday through Friday and must be reserved in advance.
People Also Ask
What Are Some Affordable Restaurants In Chicago?
Chicago is known for its food, and there are many affordable restaurants to choose from. Some popular options include Portillo's, Giordano's for deep dish pizza, and Xoco for Mexican street food.
What Are Some Cheap Places To Stay In Chicago?
There are many budget-friendly options for accommodations in Chicago, including hostels, budget hotels, and Airbnb rentals.
Some options to consider are the HI Chicago Hostel, the Freehand Chicago, or the Airbnb rentals in neighborhoods like Logan Square or Pilsen.
What Are Some Cheap Activities For Families To Do In Chicago?
Families on a budget can enjoy a variety of activities in Chicago, such as visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, taking a ride on the Navy Pier Ferris wheel, or exploring the Museum of Science and Industry on free admission days.
What Are Some Free Events In Chicago During The Summer?
The summer months in Chicago are filled with free events and festivals, such as the Chicago Blues Festival, the Grant Park Music Festival, and the Chicago SummerDance series. Visitors can also enjoy free movies in the park or take a free architecture tour.
Chicago offers plenty of inexpensive or free activities for visitors and locals to enjoy. From exploring the city's public parks and beaches to checking out museums and cultural institutions on free admission days, there are always cheap things to do in Chicago.
And with so many affordable dining options and entertainment venues, visitors can make the most of their trip to Chicago without overspending. Whether you're a budget-conscious traveler or just looking for some wallet-friendly fun, Chicago has plenty to offer.