Chicago is one the best places to be during the summer, especially if you are balling on a budget. Here are just some Chicago classics that you can enjoy almost any day of the week for free.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is completely free and is one of the oldest and only free zoos left in the country. Enjoy educational programs for both kids and adults, look at over 200 different species of animals, or enjoy a glass of wine at Wild Things, their all-organic eatery or the Patio in Café Brauer. Check out more fun things to do at the zoo on their full calendar. The zoo is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue and spans more than 24.5 acres. It is home to a multitude of free events that happen every day: Watch free movies every Tuesday evening in the park, have a picnic on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and listen to the Grant Park Orchestra’s Lunchtime rehearsals, attend one of their Free Wednesday evening concerts or Free Friday and Saturday evening concerts, get your obligatory Cloud Gate (the Bean) Instagram photo, or take a stroll down Lurie Garden. Also, don’t forget about the Art Institute of Chicago which is free every Thursday from 5 pm – 8 pm. For more free events, check out their full calendar. Millennium Park is open daily between 6 am and 11 pm.
Chicago Beaches: Ohio Street Beach, North Avenue Beach
Don’t let the cityscape fool you; Chicago’s beaches are sandy, sunny, and home to about 26 miles of lakefront. Walk, jog, swim, paddle, bike, rollerblade, sail, play volleyball, or just relax with the waterfront in front of you and high rises behind you. Swimming is only permitted from 11 am to 7 pm each day.
Summer in Chi-town means one thing: festivals. Almost every neighborhood in Chicago has their own local festivals, but here are a few of our favorites that are free of charge and are coming up this summer: Chicago Blues Festival (June 7-9), Grant Park Music Festival (June 12-August 17), Chicago Food Truck Festival (June 22-23), Chicago SummerDance (June 27-August 24), Pride Parade (June 30), ArtFest Michigan Avenue (July 19-20), Millennium Art Festival (June 28-30), Chicago Air and Water Show (August 17-18), and Chicago Jazz Festival (August 23- September 1).