5 Totally Free Ways to Have Fun with the Kids in Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo (Photo: Alisa Farov/Shutterstock)

Kids may be small, but they’re certainly expensive! Luckily, some of Chicago’s best attractions are free — or offer a special kid-friendly rate — so you can enjoy the best of the city without emptying out your checking account. Here are five gratis things to do in Chicago with the fam:

  1. Chicago Botanic Garden. Small scouts will enjoy the trek outside the city to this beautiful garden oasis, and it’ll only cost you to park. With families top of mind, there is always some fun activity happening here, from free outdoor concerts to “nature nights” — all set to a gorgeous backdrop.
  2. Maggie Daley Park. This brand new park has all the latest bells and whistles, from a free skating ribbon, a climbing wall, a life-sized play ship and a three-level tube slide. It may have cost the city a pretty penny to build, but it won’t cost you anything to visit.
  3. Lincoln Park Zoo. Not only is the zoo free, it truly is one of the best places to visit in all of Chicago. For $3, spring for the new Lionel train ride that will cart your family through the zoo. Then, head towards the nature boardwalk, where kids can let off some steam by running along the docks and checking out the local birds and amphibians.
  4. Chicago History Museum. Kids 12 and under get in free to this interactive museum dedicated exclusively to the city’s rich history. Kids can try their hand at building bridges, be a Chicago style hot dog and learn about the great Chicago fire.
  5. Green City Market. If you time your visit right, you can catch a rainbow of fruits and vegetables at this Lincoln Park farmer’s market in full glory. Grab a sample or snack from one of the many Midwest vendors, listen to some music and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the park. Your kids may even go home vegetable lovers … or not.