23 Love It
Save it

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

Photograph: Courtesy the Field Museum

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: Complete guide to Chicago museums

Museums with free admission days

Adler Planetarium

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

Book now Read more
Museum Campus
Advertising

Bronzeville Children's Museum

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.

 

Read more
Calumet Heights
Advertising

Chicago Botanic Garden

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.

Book now Read more
Suburbs

Chicago Children's Museum

Recommended

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.

Read more
Streeterville
Advertising

Chicago History Museum

Recommended

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.

Book now Read more
Lincoln Park
Advertising
Advertising

The Field Museum

Recommended

Active military personnel and Illinois teachers receive complimentary admission.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:
January 3, 4, 15, 27, 28
February 1–28
June 20, 21, 22

Read more
Museum Campus

Glessner House Museum

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.

Read more
Near South Side
Advertising
Advertising

Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)

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).

Read more
Magnificent Mile
Advertising
Advertising

Museum of Contemporary Art

Free every Tuesday for Illinois residents with ID year-round. Free for military personnel and veterans, members of police and fire departments and children 12 and under.

Read more
Streeterville

Museum of Science and Industry

Recommended

Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 8–11, 15–18, 22–25, 29–31
February 1, 5–8, 12–15, 20–22, 26, 27
March 14
June 4–7, 11, 12
September 4–6, 10–13, 17–20, 24–27
November 12

Book now Read more
Hyde Park
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Shedd Aquarium

Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 15, 18, 19, 22–26
February 2, 14
June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
September 4–30
October 3, 10

Buy tickets Read more
Museum Campus
Advertising

Comments

4 comments
Michelle R

You are missing free days at the International Museum of Surgical Science - free for everyone on Tuesdays.

Sherry F

Except if you live in Indiana. Frosts my cookies that someone that lives 400+ miles away, but still in Illinois, can get free access.  Yet those of us here in NW Indiana, less than 40 miles away, who work and relax in the city, cannot. Boo I say!!! 😊

Andrea B

@Sherry F IL residents support the museums through taxes, which is why the museums are required to offer free admission days for IL residents.  Still, the state misses out on $ by not including free days for nearby states--years ago before the IL resident aspect was used/enforced, we went with large groups and $ was spent on food, parking, gift shop items, etc.  We haven't been back in ten years or more--used to be trips twice a year.  (Nearby in MI/IN)


It's too bad they limit it.  I think it loses the city money.

Beverly K

Regarding the "Train" stopping at Botanic Garden. What train are you refereeing to. The only one I know stops 1/2 mile (at least) away. Trains do stop outside Ravinia, but only on concert dates..