Education is expensive, but does it have to be? Chicago is a vibrant city with much to absorb and there are countless tours out there that are well worth their money to experience, but what about an experience on a budget? Here are five free tours that you can enjoy in Chicago without breaking the bank.
Chicago, IL 60606
What could possibly be better than a free tour? How about a free customized tour? Volunteer greeters are matched up with visitors for a two- to four-hour tour based on the visitors’ interests, neighborhood and language. You’ll need to book your tour at least 10 days in advance for the longer custom tour, but if you’re in a pinch or want some flexibility, you can always go with the “InstaGreeter” which is one hour and includes a walking tour of downtown attractions with no registration required.
Free Tours By Foot
2231 N. Kimball Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Free Tours By Foot offers several different free walking tours of various locations of Chicago, including a tour of the Loop, Michigan Avenue (at night), Graceland Cemetery and even more. The company’s goal is to also offer free food and bike tours (see the website for updates). Reservations are required once you’ve chosen your tour and groups and private tours are available. At the end of the tour, if you feel the tour was worth paying for, you are encouraged to pay what you want, but never required.
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, Millennium Park is one of the ‘must see’ free attractions in Chicago. You can tour the gardens, Crown Fountain and any concerts at the Pavilion for free. Different free events and art exhibits are offered seasonally in the park (for a listing of current events, click here) and you can even bring a picnic basket and lunch on the Great Lawn if so desired. Free wifi is also supplied throughout the park. Pay special attention to the foliage on display as you tour the gardens, it also changes seasonally.
Related: Best Free Art Activities In Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
Date: Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Considered one of the best museums in the United States, The Art Institute of Chicago offers all Illinois residents free admission every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Similar free days are also offered by The Chicago History Museum and The Museum of Science and Industry. Free admission is offered to Illinois educators, provided they sign up at the Crown Educator Resource Center. Children can also check out a pass from the Chicago Public Library for free museum admission (see the regulations here).
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
The Lincoln Park Zoo is open every day of the year and it is always free to visit. Hours are seasonal, find them here, along with directions and any sectional closing notifications. Maps are available for free at the park or you can download and print them yourself prior to your visit. Different activities are also available every day. Watch an ape training session, feed an animal or maybe meet a new one. Check out what events are available each day here.
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