Top Attractions In Chicago For Free

Did you know that Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States?

It’s a great place to visit in America if you’re looking to immerse yourself in art and culture as Chicago has a fantastic art gallery and museum scene.

There’s also awesome parks situated throughout the city and plenty of walking trails to enjoy too for beautiful views of Chicago.

If you’re looking for inspiration of things to do in the city, check out our extensive list of the 10 best free attractions in Chicago, as well as the top 10 rated paid attractions to enjoy in Chicago.

Free Things To Do in Chicago

1. Millennium Park (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Renowned as being one of the best and most popular public spaces in the world, Millennium Park stretches across an impressive 24.5-acres and offers a great area for performing arts and musical showcases.

Inside the park you’ll also see the sculpture that’s arguably the most famous free attraction in Chicago; the Cloud Gate, or the “bean” as it’s more affectionately referred to.

There’s also numerous sculptures, statues and fountains to admire inside Millennium Park and it’s the perfect place in Chicago to visit with the whole family.

You’ll definitely want to check out the Crown Fountain which is an intrinsically designed project which gives the illusion of water spurting out of famous Chicago’s citizens’ mouths that’s projected onto LED screens!

Address:201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

2. Lakefront Trail (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Lakefront Trail is another one of the best free attractions in Chicago that’s an ideal excursion for the whole family.

It’s an 18-mile path that spans along the western shore of Lake Michigan and will take you all the way from the far north of Chicago, to the south side of the city.

The trail is an ideal place for walkers, runners, cyclists and skateboarders, and it’s popular with both locals and tourists alike.

You can see some of Chicago’s top sights along the Lakefront Trail, including the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, The Lincoln Park Zoo, plus much more.

It’s one of the best free things to do in Chicago as it offers a peaceful and beautiful way to see the city!

Address:Western Shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois

3. Garfield Park Conservatory (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Renowned for being one of the world’s largest indoor garden spaces, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a must-visit place on your list of things to do in Chicago.

It’s a great place to bring the kids as there’s plenty to see and enjoy while you’re there.

You’ll get to see the ever-changing species of plants that are constantly being brought into the Conservatory, as well as the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden which is home to giant roots and 7ft tall seeds that are simply designed for children to climb!

There’s also plenty of other cool things inside Garfield Park that the whole family will find entertaining; especially the French Fry plants that smell like the beloved McDonald’s takeaway fries, and a Sensitive Plant that cringes away when you touch it!

Address:300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

4. Chicago Riverwalk (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Chicago Riverwalk has won awards thanks to its eclectic offering of art, sculptures and music shows that are paraded along the riverbank in central Chicago.

It’s a 1.25-mile promenade so you can easily see the whole thing in less than a couple of hours and you can bring the kids along to admire one of Chicago’s best free things to do.

There are six main intersections where you can join up with the Chicago Riverbank entertainment including; The Marina, The Cove, The River Theater, The Water Plaza, The Jetty, and The Riverbank.

The Water Plaza area is ideal for kids to frolic in during the summer months to cool down in the hot summer sun.

Address:Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601

5. Chicago Botanic Garden (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The remarkable 385-acre plant museum is one of the best free attractions in Chicago if you’re wanting to escape the busy city streets for a few hours and immerse yourself in beautiful, natural surroundings.

There are over 27 gardens that are spread out across nine different islands inside the Chicago Botanic Garden and it’s an absolute sanctuary for outdoor lovers!

You could happily bring the children along to the Botanic Garden; even if they’re not particularly interested in flowers or plants, there’s plenty of outdoor space for them to run around in and blow off some steam.

They’ve also just introduced a new exhibit at the Garden called “Lightscape” where you can see beautiful light shows throughout the gardens. However, you do have to purchase tickets for this event, but the rest of the gardens are completely free to visit!

Address:1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022

6. Chicago Cultural Center (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Chicago Cultural Center is one of the most visited free attractions in Chicago; every year hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city’s epicentre of culture to experience art, lectures and music performances.

It’s an iconic landmark in the city of Chicago; defined mainly by the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome that sits atop the Cultural Center with pride.

You’ll love a visit to the Cultural Center while you’re in Chicago as it’ll give you the chance to experience some of the city’s best free music events, as well as free dance and theater performances.

For almost 100 years, the building stood as a public library but today it holds pride of place in Chicago’s city centre as being one of the best places in town to watch some epic free performances.

Address:78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

7. Humboldt Park (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

What you need to know:

Humboldt Park spans across an impressive 197-acres in Chicago.

It’s known for its many public park areas, the island beach and lagoon and the Boathouse Café.

You could easily spend hours wandering around Humboldt Park and enjoying all the free activities is has to offer, or you could head to the paid-for gym if you so wish to ensure you’re getting some exercise in while travelling!

There’s also a historic fieldhouse that makes for a cool and alternative place to look around if you want to see where some of the sports events were held in the city of Chicago over the years.

It’s a fun place in the city to go with the kids if you feel like getting out in the open air a bit and away from the bustling city streets of downtown Chicago.

Address: 1400 N Humboldt Dr, Chicago, IL 60622

8. Lincoln Park Zoo (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Lincoln Park Zoo is very special for a number of reasons. Not only is it one of the oldest zoos in North America, but it’s also one of the very few free admissions zoos in the country.

This makes it the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon out with the whole family.

You can see a vast range of exotic animals and reptiles such as lions, giraffes, elephants, sea lions and snakes.

The Zoo is actually open every single day of the year, so regardless of when you’re visiting Chicago, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to add it in to your schedule while you’re there!

Lincoln Park Zoo is without a doubt one of the best free attractions in Chicago and is a place that’s full of family fun and entertainment!

Address:2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

9. Jay Pritzker Pavilion (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

What you need toknow:

Known as one of the best places in the city to listen to free, outdoor music, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the best free things to see in Chicago.

At the Pavilion, you’ll find a wealth of different performances happening on the proscenium bandshell, with famous musicians and performers from all over the world putting on a show for the whole audience.

Depending on who’s performing while you’re in Chicago, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion might not be the best place to take children.

However, there are some kids’ entertainers who take to the stage occasionally so make sure you check out the website below for updates on scheduled performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Address:201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

10. Smart Museum of Art (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Smart Museum of Art is renowned for being one of Chicago’s most intriguing cultural institutions.

Located on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, the Museum houses an astounding collection of over 15,000 incredible exhibits, paintings, sculptures and artefacts and is often cited as one of the best free attractions in Chicago.

It’s a place that’s more aimed towards those seeking a bit of culture and artistic discovery while in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean to say that kids won’t enjoy it too.

As part of the many collections at the Museum, you’ll find work influenced by the Americas, Europe and Asia and there’s some top paintings and sculptures by famous artists such as Henry Moore and Mark Rothko.

Address:5550 S Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

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