Best Free Things to Do in Chicago

THE 10 BEST Free Things to Do in Chicago

Best Free Things to Do in Chicago

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223 places sorted by traveller favourites
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.
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What travellers are saying

  • TimCampbellSMS
    Puslinch, Canada48 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The park is gorgeous, and there's always something going on - from concerts to food trucks to buskers, it was so fun to walk through. I went three different days during a trip and there was always something cool to see!
    That said, the one caution I have that people can, frankly, suck. One person who worked at the park told me I couldn't have my DSLR camera. They couldn't tell me why, or what the rule was, and expected compliance; which, I didn't give and there were no problems. Some tourists also have no concept of how much physical space they inhabit and can disrupt the experience.
    Written 28 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Uccman39
    North Brunswick, NJ213 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A wonderful place to visit on a nice day. I stopped in Chicago for the day on my way out west. Chicago is an underrated city for shopping and beautiful lake views. Didn’t have time for the restaurants but would like to return soon
    Written 3 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Mathias n
    6 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fun to see but the bean was fenced off for some reason put a real damper on the visit. I assume it’s either a short term project or for the winter weather. Regardless it was cool would like to see it up close next time.
    Written 27 March 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • scott f
    32 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Chicago is amazing, must see Starbucks Reserve, Girl and the Goat, Chicago sports teams, lakefront , Museums and a LSD drive to Bahi Temple just to name a few!!!!
    Written 21 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • GLars
    Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, USA446 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The zoo grounds were in full bloom and with a 70-degree day everything looked great. Just walking the zoo itself with the plantings was a good experience. Throw in a zoo and you have a nice outing. To those not familiar with Chicago it lies near the lake just north of Michigan avenue, so it is definitely in the city. We got there not too long after it opened and parked out front on the east side of the zoo. It was very convenient to the zoo. I have gone to this zoo since I was child and have seen it change over the past 60 years. The older zoo buildings where the animals were housed for so many years have been repurposed and not necessarily for the better. The cat house is vast empty expanse looking into the outside lion enclosure. What's the point? The day we visited the aviary was closed - no reason given. The children's zoo was under renovation and when we went into it was saw exactly one animal - a tortoise. The rest was murals, empty cages and a climbing apparatus for kids that was fun to watch. It was a zoo exhibit in its own right. Many enclosures were empty with the animals choosing to stay inside. A modern zoo wants to give animals more enrichment but if they want to spend all their time inside a concrete box that's okay... As a consequence, there's lots of large empty exhibits. This is not specific to Lincoln Park as many other zoos are the same. We wanted to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory which in next door but that is now closed every Monday and Tuesday. It has always been open for every prior visit in my life but no longer. There was a lot of school groups there on a Monday morning but I like kids so it didn't bug me. The only large "typical" zoo animals we saw were polar bears, zebras and a side view of a lion seen through blurry plexiglass. The reason it's a 4 star review is that I think too many things were closed during our visit and not enough animals out in the exhibit area.
    Written 23 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • MojoLad
    Graton, CA306 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We went here just to check out the famed Tiffany Dome, but as there was a free docent-led tour starting, decided to take in the whole experience. It was wonderful! And free! The building itself is something else, with jaw-droppingly beautiful mosaics throughout, recently cleaned and now in their full original glory, and of course the Dome, which just in itself is worthy of a visit. There's also a cool little (unafiiated) gift shop with very interesting art & souvenirs for sale entirely created by local Chicago artists. Strongly recommended.
    Written 22 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Baybug2
    Macon, GA311 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Just be prepared for the wind...........it was nice and warm and people were out and about. It was our first time visiting the Pier. It was nicely done and very spread out so you could move about even when it was busy.

    We will come back for the boat tours and probably some good food as well.

    The view is just absolutely beautiful. It is really hard to believe it is a freshwater lake. Reminded us alot of the Destin FL harbor.
    Written 30 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • TimCampbellSMS
    Puslinch, Canada48 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Love this fountain. Beautiful.
    Side note: be careful people selling you overly expensive stuff around it like ice cream, balloons or rides.
    Written 28 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • María Angeles G
    8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful and very well kept. Lots of different plants and trees. A very nice surprise and worth the visit. Easy to get to. Subway stops near by.
    Written 9 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • CubanWaters
    Westmount, Canada3,992 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    I got to rent a bike and went on my merry way northward on the bike trail. There is a lot of parkland and some beach areas along this path. A splendid stroll or walk, whichever way you fancy doing it. I did get going the pathway southbound as well but did not have time to sufficiently discover it in that direction. Will do next time, whenever that will be. If you are a bicyclist, definitely try it.
    Written 19 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • THINGS2LIVE4
    Rocky River, OH2,109 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This church is downtown by the Mag Mile. The organ and ceiling are unique, I’ve been to hundreds of Roman Catholic church’s. People need to explore these beautiful church’s.
    Written 12 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Taylor B
    Chicago, IL8,231 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We are very fortunate people. We live in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. For the last 40 years in the same building. With a view of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan. Every day, weather permitting, we take walks through Lincoln Park. It covers 1,208 acres from North Avenue on the south to Ardmore Street on the north, near the terminus of Du Sable Lake Shore Drive, along Lake Michigan, on Chicago's North Side. It is the city's largest public park and is the second most visited city park in the United States, behind Central Park in New York City. It includes two museums, a zoo, parkland, recreational areas, a nature preserve, bird refuges, beaches, a golf course and harbors. In the spring and summer, it hosts one of the largest farmers' markets in the city, on Wednesday and Saturday. Most popular destinations are Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago History Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Preserve, Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond, Waveland Avenue Golf Course and North Avenue Beach, where you can enjoy the most spectacular view of downtown Chicago's skyline. My wife and I love to walk past the Abraham Lincoln statue behind the Chicago History Museum, view the birds that call the Lincoln Park pond their home and visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, making sure to see the daily show at the seals' aquarium. On the way back, we always walk past the magnificent Ulysses S. Grant statue. The park is a popular gathering place for dog lovers. And there are plenty of benches for retirees like us to enjoy the scenery.
    Written 27 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jill E
    Easley, SC371 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    What a glorious gem of beauty in the middle of the bustling city! And free! (We made the suggested donation of $10 per person, but it is not required for entry.) There are four beautiful rooms - palm; fern; show; and orchid. Each is filled - to the roof in some cases - with incredibly lush plants/flowers/trees. (The orchids are amazing!) There are a few benches throughout if you want to stop and soak up the beauty. The outdoor gardens are also included, though there wasn’t much to enjoy there during our visit, since it was still fairly cold. I suspect when in bloom, the outdoor areas are equally as lovely as the indoor. What a perfectly lovely way to spend an hour or so in Chicago! Highly recommend!
    Written 4 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • TravelingSoccerLoon
    Saint Paul, MN5,126 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Loop refers to downtown Chicago and specifically to the area marked by the L Trains (elevated trains) that circle around the city. This is the financial, commercial and entertainment heart of the city. It is also filled with hotels, restaurants, and bars and much that can be enjoyed by visitors including the Willis Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, taking an architecture by boat along the Chicago River, or visiting nearby Grant Park and Millennium Park. The area is generally safe although some caution is needed at night, and you should remain aware of your surroundings after dark.
    Written 14 March 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • TravelingSoccerLoon
    Saint Paul, MN5,126 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Chicago has arguably the best skyline in the country. Sorry NYC, I love you and your skyline is more impressive from the sheer number of skyscrapers, but Chicago's architecture is more beautiful and interesting and its location along the shores of Lake Michigan adds to the appeal. So many iconic buildings including the Willis (Sears) Tower, John Hancock Center, Wrigley Building, Chicago Board of Trade, Tribune Tower and many more. Best views are from Grant Park or Millennium Park and along the Lakeshore. Taking a boat tour on the Chicago River is also a great way to experience the city's architecture.
    Written 13 March 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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