Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Free museum days at Chicago's best museums can save family outings from a hefty price tag

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend a fortune in order to visit some of Chicago's best museums and cultural institutions. If you're willing to plan ahead, you can take in masterpieces at the Art Institute or gaze at tropical fish while strolling through Shedd Aquarium without spending a dime. You'll need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of many of these offers, but that's one of the perks of living in Chicago.
 
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Chicago museums

Museums, Science and technology
Adler Planetarium
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Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.
Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 3, 4, 7–12, 15–19
February 2, 5–9, 19–22
June 21
August 27–31
September 9–16
October 8, 21, 24, 25
November 11, 12, 14, 15
December 1, 3–7, 10


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Bronzeville Children's Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Bronzeville Children's Museum
Museums, Childhood
Bronzeville Children's Museum
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Free admission for children ages 3–9 on the first and third Saturday of each month. Free admission is always offered to members, as well as active and retired military personnel.
 
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Things to do, Literary events
Chicago Botanic Garden
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Chicago Botanic Garden has free admission daily, though keep parking fees in mind ($25 per car, $10 senior citizens on Tuesdays, $30 per van, $65 per limousine, minibus, bus and RV). The Metra Union Pacific North line stops just outside the gates, which means you can avoid parking fees if you're up for a train ride.
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Museums, Childhood
Chicago Children's Museum
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Free Thursday evenings from 5–8pm.

The first Sunday of every month is free for children 15 and younger. Active and retired military personnel receive free admission every day.

Teachers, firefighters and police officers receive $5 admission every day.

EBT cardholders receive admission for up to six people for $3. Groups must have at least one child 15 years old or younger.
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Museums, History
Chicago History Museum
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Free every Tuesday to Illinois residents between 12:30–7:30pm. Also free on holidays: January 16, February 20, March 4 and July 4.

Free for children 12 and younger daily, and Illinois residents enjoy free admission during Illinois Resident Discount Days.

Free to members of DuSable Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art and Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.


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Museums, History
Glessner House Museum
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Free admission every Wednesday and for children 5 years old and younger year-round. Tours are always free to members of the museum and the  National Trust for Historic Preservation.
icon-location-pin Near South Side
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Things to do, Literary events
Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)
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Free admission every Tuesday. Also free everyday for active military personnel and their families, children 17 and under, Loyola University Chicago faculty and staff, Loyola students, members of the clergy and employees from other museums (all with valid ID).
icon-location-pin Magnificent Mile
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Attractions, Zoo and aquariums
Shedd Aquarium
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Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:
June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
September 4–30
October 3, 10
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