Chicago Tourist Places
Chicago Tourist Places: Starting with the Art Institute to skyscraper-viewing boat tours, there’s plenty of brilliant things to do in Chicago. But there are a lot of ways to experience the Windy City’s art, architecture, blues, and beer without spending anything at all.
Here’s what to do in Chicago for free.
1. Millennium Park
You could spend the entire day taking in Millennium Park’s mother’s lode of freebies, especially in summer. Stretch in a morning yoga class. Respect high public art and splash in the fountain-turned-water-park in the afternoon.
Moreover, then catch a movie or concert at Pritzker Pavilion in the evening. The free nightly shows are a Chicago highlight, where locals gather to picnic and sip wine as music fills the air.
“WHEREVER YOU GO, GO WITH ALL YOUR HEART.”
2. Chicago Cultural Center
Cultural Center offers a collection of nothing goodness. Museum-quality art exhibitions, foreign film screenings, and lunchtime concerts lead the roster. Thursday to Saturday volunteers lead-free hour-long walking tours of the building.
3. Lagunitas Brewing Company
The city’s huge still approach, Lagunitas provides rollicking free tours that include. Willy Wonka music, unicorn art, arcade games, catwalks over the production area, and copious samples of the head-walloping ales.
4. Navy Pier
The most popular things to do at Navy Pier. However, the cool breezes and terrific lakefront views are always free, and in summer all fresco films, cardio workouts, mega fireworks shows, and rocking concerts add to the complimentary stash.
5. The Second City
Improve comedy began in Chicago at The Second City. Tickets typically cost around $45, however, the theater has a little-known bargain. Arrive at 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday, after the main show and you can watch the comics improvise a half-hour session for free.
6. Art on the Mart
The Art on the Mart video art extravaganza – a trippy light show projected. On the world’s largest commercial building for two hours each evening is one of the quirkiest things to do at night in Chicago.
7. Buddy Guy’s Legends
Chicago’s musical claim to fame is the electric blues and Buddy Guy’s is the expert place to hear a fret-bending set for nothing. While evening shows cost $10 to $20, guitarists wail for free during all-ages lunchtime shows and dinner jams at the club.
8. Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo has diverted families free for more than 150 years. Lions roar, apes swing, polar bears swim and snow monkeys chill just blocks from downtown’s skyscrapers.
9. Garfield Park Conservatory
The 1907 hothouse bursts with exotic cacti, ferns, and flowers. Outdoors, roam the ground past a carnivorous plant bog, lily pool, labyrinth, and Claude Monet’s recreated garden, then attend a demonstration on beekeeping or composting.
10. Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago Tourist Places
The far-flung Stony Island Arts Bank now trades in cultural capital rather than cash. This rewarding free-to-visit art center hosts provocative art exhibitions.
It holds peculiar permanent collections such as the 5000-strong vinyl trove of DJ Frankie Knuckles, the creator of house music. Hours vary, so check the website before embarking.
“LIVE LIFE WITH NO EXCUSES, TRAVEL WITH NO REGRETS.”
11. Design Museum of Chicago
The free Design Museum puts on coll exhibitions that change regularly and cover everything from stage design to bicycle design, game design, and paper design.
12. Chicago Greeter
Top-class walking tours in the Windy City don’t come as free and breezy as the two-to four-hour guided trips by Chicago Greeter. Choose a theme, maybe history or architecture, or pick a neighborhood, perhaps arty Pilsen or historic Uptown. Book at least ten business days in advance. Not only is this service free, the greeters, but all locals also adhere to a strict no-tipping policy.
13. Whistler – Chicago Tourist Places
The Whistler is part-gallery, part-cocktail lounge, and part-venue for local indie bands, jazz combos, and DJs. There’s never a cover charge. Instead, most everyone purchases a snazzy drink to fund the nightly performances.
14. National Museum of Mexican Art
Colorful folk art and politically charged paintings grace the walls at the free National Museum of Mexican Art, the USA’s largest Latinx arts institution. Eventually amble around the neighborhood to see images of Aztec gods, singing gauchos and other works by Mexican muralists splashed across the buildings – a sort of outdoor gallery that continues the theme.
Try to Visit: A Family Tour to Phuket
15. The 606
An elevated train track converted into a smart, 2.7-mile trail, the 606 unfolds overhead and connects the hipster ‘hoods of Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Logan Square. Moreover, it looks for murals, public art installations, and cool views of L trains zipping by – it all costs nothing.
16. Charnley-Persky House
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Charnley-Persky House when he was just 19 years old. While free tours on Wednesday at 10 am show how he left behind the baroque decorations of Victorian design. Moreover, kicked off a simple style that laid the foundation for modern architecture.
17. Buckingham Fountain
The centerpiece of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain is one of the world’s largest with a 1.5 million-gallon capacity and a 15 story high spray. Moreover, the central fountain symbolizes Lake Michigan, with the four water-spouting sea creatures representing the surrounding states. So far, so super-sized.
Meanwhile, the fountain then lets loose on the hour from 9 am to 11 pm early May to mid-October, attend at night by multi-colored lights and music, and all for free.
18. Replay Lincoln Park – Chicago Tourist Places
A little off-the-beaten-path, this dark Chicago bar is loaded with scores of pinball machines, classic arcade games like Tetris, Donkey Kong, and Paperboy. There’s a cover charge to enter either, but plenty of regular drink offers.
19. Signature Lounge
It’s the worst kept secret in Chicago: Signature Lounge has the best views of the city’s skyline. Best of all, it’s free. Take the elevator to the 96th floor of 875 North Michigan Avenue and order an admittedly pricey – beverage while enjoying the views from some 1000ft up in the sky. It’s especially gape-worthy at night, but children aren’t allowed in the lounge after 7 pm be prepared for a crowd.
20. Montrose Beach
Chicago has plenty of great beaches, but Montrose Beach – the bronze, baseball pitch-shaped stretch of sand in Uptown is amongst its most popular. Moreover, many rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and Jet Skis here, but with a good book, some shorts, and a towel. It’s just as lovely whiling away a day for absolutely nothing too.
“THE IMPULSE TO TRAVEL IS ONE OF THE HOPEFUL SYMPTOMS OF LIFE.”
21. Maggie Daley Park
Families love Maggie Daley Park’s fanciful, free playgrounds in all their enchanted forest and pirate-themed glory. Multiple picnic tables make the park an excellent spot to relax as well.
22. 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 backroom, 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.
23. Pilsen Murals
Pilsen is famous for its murals that splash across churches, schools, and throughout the neighborhood, all of which can be seen for free and on foot. Moreover, the 16th Street railroad embankment unfurls a particularly rich vein, with 50 works by local and international artists adorning a 1.5 mile stretch between Wood and Halsted Streets.
The whole of 18th Street station is a work of art too, its walls and steps are adorned with murals. Don’t miss the house of muralist Hector Duarte, a few blocks southwest of the station.
24. Museum of Contemporary Photography
This free museum focuses on American and international photography from the early 20th century onward. The permanent collection includes the works of Henri Cartier Bresson, Harry Callahan, Sally Mann, Victor Skrebneski, Catherin Wagner, and 500 more of the best photographers working today.
25. Smart Museum of Art
Named after the founders of Esquire magazine, who contributed the start-up money, this is the official fine-arts museum of the University of Chicago.
Moreover, Twentieth-century paintings and sculptures, Central European expressionism, and East Asian art are strong suits. De Goya, Warhol, and Kandinsky are just a few of the big-name artists on offer.