Winter in Chicago generally means yucky weather and it’s easy to get a little stir-crazy, so why not bundle up the kids and check out a museum for free?
Most free days only apply to Illinois residents with valid identification and only apply to general admission, not special exhibits or events.
Adler Planetarium – January 6–13, 16 (Martin Luther King Day), 17–20; February 6–10, 20 (President’s Day), 21–24; June 5–9
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool– Free daily
Art Institute of Chicago – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
Brookfield Zoo – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from January 3, 2017 through February 28, 2017.
Cantigny Park – Closed the entire month of January. Free admission daily; $5 parking on daily February through April. Free parking on the first Wednesday of each month.
Chicago Botanic Garden – Free admission daily; $25 parking for cars on weekdays, $30 for cars on weekends and for vans any day
Chicago Children’s Museum – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm. Free admission for children 15 and younger the first Sunday of each month.
Chicago History Museum – Every Tuesday beginning January 10, 2017, from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. and on Commemorative Days: January 16, February 20, March 4, and July 4.
Cosley Zoo – Free daily for all Wheaton Park District residents and for children 17 and under
DuSable Museum of African American History – Every Tuesday
Field Museum – January 4, 5, 16, 28, 29, 30; February 1 – 28
Garfield Park Conservatory – Free daily
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Rockford) – First Tuesday of each month (although donations are appreciated)
Lincoln Park Conservatory– Free daily
Lincoln Park Zoo – Free daily
Morton Arboretum – Discounted admission every Wednesday
Museum of Contemporary Art – Tuesdays. Free admission for families with children 12 and younger on the second Saturday of the month from 11:00 am-3:00 pm through May.
Museum of Science & Industry – January 10-12, 16-19, 24-26, 31; February 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28
National Museum of Mexican Art – Free admission daily
Oak Park Conservatory – Free admission daily; donations are accepted ($2 per person is recommended)
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Thursdays are free, but donations are suggested. Free January 9-13 to celebrate their 160th birthday.
Shedd Aquarium – January 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 27-31; February 6, 7, 10-14, 21, 27, 28
Swedish American Museum – Second Tuesday of every month
Chicago Public Library branches have passes to several different museums through the Kids Museum Passports that Chicago residents can check out for free. Residents of many suburbs can get free admission with the Museum Adventure Pass at their local library.