Free Chicago Museum Days – Winter 2019


Cold weather is here, but that’s no excuse to stay home. It’s easy to cozy up to world renowned art, historical artifacts, and technological exhibits and enjoy the sights of the Chicago area. Some attractions can be pricey, especially when you’re paying for a whole family, so free days can be a huge relief to your wallet. Below is a list of free Chicago admission days so you can save a little cash while enjoying some of the best attractions in the country.

Please keep in mind that most free admission days are offered only to Illinois residents and usually include general admission only, with certain exhibits and experiences available for a fee.

Adler Planetarium – January 21-22, 29-31, February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-29, April 2-4, 9-11.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool – Opens in mid-April. Free daily.

Art Institute of Chicago – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm.

Brookfield Zoo – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays through February 28, 2019.

Cantigny Park – Garden and grounds are closed all of January and Monday-Thursday in February. Free admission; $5 parking. March through December parking is free 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 – Free admission for children 15 and younger the first Sunday of each month. 

Chicago History Museum – Every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9:00 p.m. except January 2 and 9. Also free 12:30 – 9:00 pm on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, and March 4. Children ages 12 and younger are always free.

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 21, every day in February, April 5-7.

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 Family Days, the second Saturday of the month from 11:00 am-3:00 pm through May. 

Museum of Science & Industry – January 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31, February 4-7, 11-14, 19-21, 25-28, 2019. 

National Museum of Mexican Art – Free admission daily.

Oak Park Conservatory – Free admission daily; donations are accepted ($5 per person is recommended)

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Thursdays are free, but donations are suggested.

Shedd Aquarium – January 17-21, February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28.

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.


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