Chicago, also known as the ‘Windy City’, is one of the most popular cities in the U.S. for traveling. The city has a lot to offer to all types of tourists, including those traveling on a tight budget. Here are some of the attractions in the city that are completely free but will leave you with a lifetime of memories. Here is the list of free things to do in Chicago:
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Chicago Navy Pier
The historic Navy Pier extends more than a mile into Lake Michigan and is one of the most happening spots in the city. There are a number of attractions on the pier such as a big Ferris wheel along with a couple of museums for children, but these charge admission fees. However, entry to the pier is completely free, which means that visitors are free to stroll and enjoy the views. There are also a couple of attractions like the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows that do not charge an entry fee.
Meet the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
One of the most popular free attractions in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is perfect for animal lovers. There are a number of different animals that you can see in the zoo such as polar bears, penguins, leopards, gorillas, reptiles, antelopes, zebras, sea lions, vultures, white storks, bald eagles, snowy owls, and much more. It provides a family-oriented wildlife experience. Adults who are looking to get an insight of the history and importance of zoos may ask for the free special 21st Century Zoo Tour that is conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If anyone is feeling a little hungry, then they may grab a bite at one of the many cafés in the zoo, which, of course, they will have to pay for.
Get a dose of culture at the Millennium Park
The Millennium Park is one of the places in Chicago that every tourist must visit at least once. The fact that entrance is free means that there is absolutely no reason not to. The park features a number of attractions such as the Cloud Gate, a bean-shaped public structure that is famous for its unique reflective properties and seamless smooth finish though it is made of 168 stainless steel plates. There is also the contemporary sculpture garden, the Lurie Garden, and more sights to check out. There is also McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink where visitors can enjoy a bit of ice skating if they get tired of all the art. They can also visit the Jay Pritzker Pavilion where live performances are held in the evenings.
Enjoy a free show at the Buckingham Fountains
The Buckingham Fountains are one of largest fountains in the world and operate from mid-April to mid-October. The fountains have over 134 jets and displays are held every hour and each display lasts for about 20 minutes. The displays are also accompanied by sound and light that make the fountains a joy to behold after dusk. The fact that the whole show is completely free for anyone to see is quite amazing.
Get closer to nature at the Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory houses a number of rare plants and offers a number of different activities for visitors to enjoy ranging from beekeeping demonstrations to composting. There are also a number of family-friendly events that are organized during the weekends such as scavenger hunts, recycling food scraps, growing plants, and more. Those interested can also volunteer at the conservatory if they want to.
Take a tour and befriend a local with the Chicago Greeter Program
The Chicago Greeter Program lets visitors enjoy a walking tour of the neighborhoods with a local who will with them as their guide. It is an excellent way to get to know small details about the city that aren’t usually there in large tour groups. The tours generally last about two to four hours and require visitors to book at least 10 days in advance. They also offer an InstaGreeter tour that is about an hour long and is only available on the weekends but is available at the last minute.
Laugh out loud at a free stand-up comedy show
The Congrats on Your Success show is a stand-up comedy show operated out of a book store and is free for all to enjoy. It generally features a mix of established and up-and-coming comics who will have you giggling your guts out in a matter of minutes. If that isn’t all, there is also a BYOB or Bring-Your-Own-Beer system in place. If visitors arrive early, they may get a courtesy beer at the Powell Brew House.
Check out the Chicago Cultural Center
A visit to the Chicago Cultural Center is a must for any art and culture connoisseur. A number of art exhibitions are held there every day and some of the programs are absolutely free. These programs actually include concerts, dance events, theatre, films, and lectures. Even the building is a work of art in itself. It houses the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome.