Free Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

Chicago is known for its incredibly rich history and cultural diversity. Chicago is a wonderful destination for families looking for free and fun activities. Let’s explore a variety of Free Things to Do in Chicago with Kids to ensure they have a memorable time in the city. From art installations to fascinating museums and exciting outdoor adventures, Chicago offers a limited variety of activities for families to enjoy together.

The Art of the Mart

Celebrate the city’s architectural wonder, Art on the Mart, where the façade of the Merchandise Mart becomes a giant digital canvas for public art. This vibrant light and color projection brings stunning works of art to life and captures the imagination of children and adults.

Take a Walk to the Riverwalk

Take a leisurely stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk, a scenic boulevard filled with beautiful landscaping, art installations, and quaint cafes. Kids can enjoy the fountains and sculpture play as they immerse themselves in the city’s architectural beauty.

Chicago Air, Water Show, and Open Air Movie Nights

Plan your visit together with the Chicago Air and Water Show, an annual spectacular event featuring a spectacular air show on the lakefront. In addition, keep an eye out for free events throughout the city, such as cultural festivals and open-air movie nights.

The Lake Trail

Explore the scenic Lakefront Trail that winds along the shores of Lake Michigan. A perfect trail for biking, jogging, or relaxing, and offers breathtaking views of the lake and city skyline.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for an unforgettable animal adventure. This world-famous zoo offers free admission and is home to species from around the world. Kids will love looking at lions, penguins, giraffes, and more.

Millennium Park

Visit the stunning Millennium Park, where you’ll see the famous Cloud Gate statue affectionately known as “The Bean”. This contemplative masterpiece offers endless photo opportunities, and the surrounding area often hosts family-friendly events and concerts.

Garfield Park Preservation

Escape into the lush greenery of the Garfield Park Conservatory, a stunning botanical garden that displays a collection of plants from around the world. Wander through vibrant exhibits, including tropical gardens and desert landscapes.

Chicago Greeter

Immerse your family in the local culture on a guided Chicago neighborhood tour to Chicago Greeter. These volunteers offer personalized tours, showcasing the city’s hidden gems and cultural highlights.

Fireworks at Navy Wharf

Navy Wharf is a place of fun and entertainment, with spectacular fireworks displays during the summer months. Gather your family to marvel at the colorful bursts of light that illuminate the night sky.


Step into the world of culture and food as you explore Chicago’s vibrant Chinatown. Wander its bustling streets, discover unique shops, and sample delicacies from a variety of Asian cuisines.

Chicago Children’s Museum

If you want to learn and play, the Chicago Children’s Museum is the place to be. With hands-on exhibits and activities for a variety of ages, the museum ensures a day filled with exploration and fun.

Public Art in Pilsen

Explore the Pilsen neighborhood, known for its vibrant street art and colorful murals. Walk the streets and you’ll find an open-air gallery showcasing the creations of local artists.

The 606

Experience urban nature at its best by hiking or biking along ‘The 606’ elevated trail, which offers a unique view of the Chicago area This former railroad is now a green space with art installations and entertainment areas.

Brookfield Zoo

Though not directly out of Chicago, nearby Brookfield Zoo is well worth the short trip. It promises a day of family fun with a variety of animals on display, exciting educational programs and beautiful landscapes.

Naval Station

Navy Pier is a Chicago landmark that offers many attractions from the incredible Ferris wheel to free summer concerts. The hustle and bustle of the harbor and stunning lagoon shoreline are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

The Shedd Aquarium

Enjoy incredible aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium offering free naps for Illinois residents. Immerse your family in a world of marine life, from dolphins and beluga whales to colorful fish.

Art Institute of Chicago

On Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., the Art Institute of Chicago opens its doors to Illinois residents for free. Explore art collections from around the world spanning centuries and cultures, to create an educational and enriching experience for children.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Immerse yourself in African American history and culture at the Bronzeville Children’s Museum. While not entirely free, the museum occasionally offers free days, giving families a chance to learn and explore.

Sloomoo Institute

If your kids love slime and sensory play, the Sloomoo Institute is a unique experience. Although there is an entrance fee, the organization sometimes offers special events and promotions for affordable visits.

Adler Planetarium

Unlock the secrets of the universe at the Adler Planetarium. Despite the cost per admission, Illinois residents can enjoy full days throughout the year, providing divine adventures for children.

Maggie Daley Park

Let your kids unleash their strength on the playground, climbing walls and skating ribbons at Maggie Daley Park. This spacious recreational area offers a variety of activities that appeal to children.

Kayaking Adventure

Head out on the Chicago River for a fun kayaking trip. Some designers offer free kayak trips, allowing families to stroll along the river and enjoy the unique views of the city.

American Girl Place

For families with young daughters, a visit to American Girl Place is magical. While buying dolls and accessories is expensive, the store offers a lovely alluring atmosphere.

Escape Room

Apply your family’s problem-solving skills by solving the escape room challenge. Some venues allow kids in for free or discounted admission on specific days, making for a fun cerebral experience.

Tilt at 360 Chicago

Complete your exploration with a visit to TILT at 360 CHICAGO, where you’ll experience a breathtaking view of the city from 1,030 feet above the ground. This painful encounter gives us a glimpse into Chicago’s unique skyline.


Chicago is a city of boundless possibilities, offering families an array of free activities that are both enjoyable and enriching. From art and culture to outdoor adventures and immersive experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Embark on a journey of exploring Chicago with kids and create memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to discover the wonders of Chicago together.