Free Chicago Museum Days – Spring 2019

The big thaw is here! Get out there and brighten your days with 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

  • April 2-4 and 9-11
  • June 3-5 and 10-13
  • September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, and 26-27
  • October 7-9 and 14-16
  • November 8 and 11
  • December 2-3, 7, and 12-13
  • Free daily for:
    • Illinois teachers
    • active-duty military
    • members 
    • members of science centers or museums who participate in the ASTC travel passport and are more than 90 miles from the Adler Planetarium 
  • Discounted admission ($1-$5 per person) for EBT/Link and WIC cardholders daily
  • Discounts available daily for:
    • Students
    • Seniors
    • City of Chicago residents

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (Open mid-April through mid-November.)

  • Free daily.

Art Institute of Chicago

  • Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm.
  • Free daily for:
    • children under 14
    • Chicago teens under 18
    • WIC  & Link cardholders
    • Illinois educators (register online)
    • members 
  • Free Memorial Day through Labor Day for active-duty military and their families
  • Discounts daily for Illinois residents and Chicago residents

Brookfield Zoo

  • No free admission days scheduled now
  • Free daily for:
    • active, reserve, and retired members of the military

Cantigny Park

  • Free admission daily; $5 parking Monday-Friday; $10 parking Saturday-Sunday and holidays
  • Free parking on:
    • May 18
    • July 25
    • September 17
    • November 11
    • First Wednesday of the month March-December
  • Discounted parking ($1) for EBT/Link or WIC cardholders

Chicago Botanic Garden

  • Free admission daily; $25 parking for cars on weekdays, $30 for cars on weekends and for vans any day.
  • Free parking for:
    • active duty military and reservists
    • former POWs
  • Discounted parking ($10) for EBT/Link card holders

Chicago Children’s Museum

  • Free admission for children 15 and younger the first Sunday of each month. 
  • Free admission daily for:
    • children under 1 year old
    • active duty military and veterans
    • members
  • $3 admission for EBT/Link or WIC cardholders (for up to 6 people).
  • Discounted admission for teachers, firefighters, police officers, and paramedics.
  • 50% off admission for members of a museum that is part of the ACM Reciprocal Network. 

Chicago History Museum

  • Free for all Illinois residents:
    • every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9:00 p.m. (except December 17, 24, & 31)
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,
    • Presidents’ Day, and
    • March 4
    • July 4
  • Free admission daily for
    • Children ages 12 and younger 
    • Illinois residents under the age of 18
    • active duty military and reservists
    • Illinois teachers
    • Chicago police officers and firefighters
    • members of the Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, National Museum of Mexican Art, or National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
  • Free for active duty military or reservists and up to 5 family members between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • $3 admission for EBT/Link or WIC cardholders.
  • $2 discount for Chicago residents.

Cosley Zoo

  • Free daily for:
    • Wheaton Park District residents
    • children 17 and under
    • members

DuSable Museum of African American History

  • Every Tuesday.
  • Free daily for: 
    • children under 5 years old
    • members (except on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
    • active-duty members of the military
    • Illinois non-active members of the military
    • Illinois POWs
  • Discounts daily for:
    • students
    • Chicago residents

Field Museum

  • April 5, 6, 7
  • May 2
  • June 26, 27, 28
  • Free daily for: 
    • Illinois teachers
    • active-duty members of the military
    • members
  • $3 admission daily for Link/EBT and WIC cardholders
  • Discounts for Chicago residents

Garfield Park Conservatory

  • Free daily.

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Rockford) 

  • First Tuesday of each month (although donations are appreciated).
  • Free daily for children under 2 years old.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

  • Free daily.

Lincoln Park Zoo

  • Free daily.

Morton Arboretum

  • Discounted admission every Wednesday.
  • Free daily for:
    • active-duty military
    • children 1 and younger
    • members
  • Discounted admission for members of gardens with reciprocal privileges

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. 
  • Free daily for: 
    • children 18 and younger
    • active-duty military
    • veterans
    • firefighters
    • police officers
  • Discounted admission for students and teachers

Museum of Science & Industry

  • June 3-5
  • Free daily for: 
    • active-duty military
    • Illinois POWs
    • Chicago firefighters
    • Chicago police
    • Illinois teachers
    • members
    • members of an ASTC participating facility more than 90 miles away
    • EBT/Link or WIC cardholders

National Museum of Mexican Art F

  • 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.
  • Free daily for: 
    • children under 3
    • active-duty military and their family
    • Illinois teachers
    • members
  • Discounted admission of $1 for EBT/Link cardholders

Shedd Aquarium

  • June 17, 18, 24, 25
  • August 26 & 27
  • September 3, 4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30
  • October 1, 2
  • December 4
  • Free daily for: 
    • active-duty military
    • Chicago firefighters
    • Chicago police
    • Chicago fire
    • Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin teachers (must register online)
  • Free admission for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch cardholders on Sunday of the first weekend of each month from September-May. 
  • Discounts available for: 
    • Chicago residents
    • EBT/Link cardholders

Swedish American Museum

  • Second Tuesday of every month.
  • Free daily for: 
    • children under the age of 1
    • members

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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