12 Cool (Mostly Free) Things To Do In Chicago
- 1 Cool Things to Do in Chicago: Sights and Parks
- 2 Cool Things to Do in Chicago: Museums
- 3 Cool Shopping in Chicago:
- 4 Wrapping up
Cool Things to Do in Chicago: Sights and Parks
1. Millennium ParkFirst on the list of cool things to do is Millennium Park, with the famous bean sculpture, great for taking photos. There are also several parks for children to play, and a beautiful walk along the river. This is a good, central starting point to explore Chicago. During the warmer months, there are many free concerts and art events in Millennium Park, making it a community gathering point. Check out the famous Chicago Jazz Festival, as well as many other great festivals throughout the year!
Navy Pier is part amusement park, part museum, part shopping mall, and of course, part pier. Take the kids to the childrenâ€™s museum (see below), ride the ferris wheel, stop for a meal, get a temporary tattoo, or use it as a launch point for the a boat tour.
3. Willis TowerWillis Tower offers a world-famous glass viewing deck and expansive views of Chicago. This is not free, but you can score deals on groupon, or through group rates. Honestly, I was happy looking at the tower from the street.
4. Lincoln Park ZooYes, you can get into the zoo for free! Set in beautiful Lincoln Park, about 2 miles from downtown. Lincoln Park Zoo is free, and also hosts regular community events. The 35 acre (14 ha) park has lions, polar bears, gorillas, and more. They offer excellent community education programs. See the new baby gorillas, or participate in one of the community events, like the craft beer festival.
5. River WalkPerfect for walking, biking, scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, and more, the Chicago River walk runs along the Chicago River through downtown Chicago. There are opportunities to rent kayaks to take on the river, and many benches and picnic areas to enjoy the river on a nice day. Check out the educational jetty to learn more about the conservation of the area, or join one of the many tours, on river or on land, starting from the river walk area.
6. 606 Urban Hiking TrailImagine an elevated walkway with art installations, playground stops, and views over the city. This is exactly what the 606 Urban hiking trail offers. Not only for hiking, the 606 is great for bikes, strollers, rollerblades and more. Get out, get moving, and see some of the cool art and culture of Chicago!
7. Wrigley Field + Guaranteed Rate FieldChicago is actually home to two major league baseball teams. Wrighly Field is home of the Chicago Cubs, while Guaranteed Rate Field is home to the Chicago White Sox. Wrigley Field, is located on the North side; Guaranteed Rate Field is located on the South side. Fans tend to be fiercely loyal and there is a city-wide competitor between the two teams that has been going on for more than a century. Both offer a fun, competitive, and all-American experience. From inexpensive tickets, to free tours, or cultural events, it is worth a stop to at least one of these incredible stadiums. To honor of my father, a native Chicagoan and big Cubs fan, I recommend Wrigley Field.
Cool Things to Do in Chicago: Museums
8. Art Institute of ChicagoThe Art Institute of Chicago has a beautiful permanent collection of impressionist paintings, as well as many touring exhibits. It is large, but not overwhelming. Although entry is not free, you can get Groupons or museums passes to save on the entry. https://chicagoonthecheap.com/citypass-chicago/It is free for Illinois residents every Thursday from 5 to 8 pm.
9. Natural History Museum (Field Museum)Offering a fascinating range of science-based exhibits, from dinosaurs, to blocks from Egyptian pyramids, with a selection of rotating current exhibits, the Field Museum is a top choice for kids and adults alike. Entry is free on June 26-28, and it is free for Illinois residents every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9 pm. Otherwise, get a museum pass. It is worth the price!
10. Childrenâ€™s MuseumThe Childrenâ€™s Museum is located on Navy Pier. There is a giant climbing structure and 2-storey slide, building blocks like giant Legos, a water room for experiments with water, and more. Appropriate for kids from toddlers to teens, and fun for all! There are free days, and if you are a member of any other museum group in your hometown, admission may be free.
Cool Shopping in Chicago:
11. The Magnificient MileThe Magnificient Mile is basically Chicagoâ€™s version of the upscale designers in every big city of the world. But it is worth seeing and experiencing, for the lights, the crowds, and the excitement. I recommend stopping into Watertown Place, where you can pick up some food, rest, and get more views of the city. While it is not my first choice for shopping, if you hit sale season â€“ typically January, May, September â€“ you may be able to score some great deals.
12. Little India and ChinatownOne of my favorite areas to explore in Chicago are the international communities. Little India is great for inexpensive and delicious Indian food. The silk saris are very nice for home dÃ©cor. Little India is right next to the Jewish quarter, and an Arabic area, so if you love international cuisines, this you can stock up on inexpensive and delicious treats!
Wrapping upChicago is a fun, lively city with beautiful parks, great shopping, and an interesting mix of cultures, without feeling over crowded or over done. You could spend a day or a week, and Chicago will always have more to give. If you want a downloadable map with all the destinations mentioned in this article, you can download it here. I will receive a small commission for your purchase, at no additional cost to you (a subscription is the best deal!) Cheers! Kimberly Want to remember this? Post these 12 Cool (Mostly Free) Things To Do In Chicago to your favorite Pinterest board!
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