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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Think a trip to the Windy City is out of your budget’s reach? Nonsense. Flights will set you back a bit but city sightseeing needn’t cost a penny. With dozens of free museums, attractions and sights, here’s your guide to experiencing Chicago for free.

Sights and Museums


There are a number of museums and galleries that offer free entry at certain times and days of the week. Here’s your guide to what’s free, and when.

  • The Art Institute of Chicago is free on Thursdays 5-8pm
  • Chicago Children’s Museum is free the first Sunday of the month plus Thursdays 5-8pm
  • Museum of Contemporary Art is free on Tuesdays
  • National Museum of Mexican art is always free
  • DePaul University Art Museum is always free
  • Chicago History Museum is free on Mondays

The city’s waterfront is a sight in it’s own right. In summer the shore is dotted with free beaches and lush, green parks. Boardwalks along Lake Michigan are perfect for cycling, jogging and walking. The waterfront isn’t lost when winter hits. The Chicago Park District opens ice rinks at selected park, including Millennium Park downtown and skating is completely free. Skate rentals will set you back only a couple of quid.


Free city tours

Chicago has a great city Greeters Program which pairs tourists with local volunteers who will take you around to their favourite neighbourhoods. Want to explore the city on your own? Self-guided tours with interactive maps and articles from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is a good place to start.

There’s plenty more to see and do for free, just pick up a copy of the Chicago Reader or Time Out Chicago when you arrive to see what kind of free events, concerts and exhibitions are on while you’re enjoying your holidays in Chicago.

Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.

Imgs: julianzarate, paul7of8, charkesw / Flickr cc.

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2 responses to “How to: experience Chicago for FREE

  1. Just got back from a week in Chicago and the locals told me that if you want to get the latest free things to do and freebies, then you need to check out the website Free Things to Do in Chicago at They have lots of current free events, money-saving tips and lists of different things to do.

    They have quite a large following with almost 200,000 fans on their facebook page.

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