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.
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Museums with free admission days
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.
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.
Free every Tuesday beginning January 10, 2017 to Illinois residents between 12:30pm-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.
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).
Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.
2017 free days include:
January 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21, 27, 28
June 5, 6, 12, 13
August 28, 29
September 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26
October 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31
November 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21