Best Cheap Activities To Do With Kids In Chicago

May 23, 2014 7:00 AM

(Photo Credit:

Don’t you hate it when you read a guide on things to do with your kids in the Chicago area, and then you realize every option will wind up costing a family of four at least $50? This is not that article. It’s actually possible to have fun in the city and suburbs without breaking the bank. The following five venues are cheap, if not completely free, and will make for great time to spend with your family. To get started in finding the best cheap activities to do with your kids in the Chicago area this summer, keep this list handy.

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Cantigny Park And Gardens
1s151 N. Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161

For many families, finding one activity that everyone will enjoy can be a difficult task. That’s why you should put a visit to Cantigny Park and Gardens on your list of family activities to do this summer. Explore Robert McCormick’s mansion, take a walk through the gardens or learn about history through the First Division Museum. Cantigny also plans a number of family-friendly events throughout the year, including the upcoming vintage baseball match on June 1, 2014. Daytime parking rates start at $5 per car; for more information, check out Cantigny’s website.
(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

There’s nothing quite like spending a sunny day at Lincoln Park Zoo, so why not make it part of your family’s plans this summer? The zoo is free and open 365 days a year, so virtually any day is a good day to visit. You and your family can see the otters, bears, foxes, camels and more. If you have small children, then definitely put the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo and the Farm-in-the-Zoo on your list of exhibits to visit. Information on the zoo’s parking lot fees is available on its website, as well as directions and how to get to the zoo via public transportation.
(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Movies In The Parks
Parks throughout the Chicago Park District
(312) 742-7529

This summer, consider packing chairs and a picnic so you can catch a film through the Movies in the Parks program from the Chicago Park District. The summer-long program will show an assortment of family-friendly films at different parks throughout Chicago. Some foreign language films will also be shown. For a complete listing of movies and parks that will host the Movies in the Parks program, check out the Chicago Park District’s website. Plan to arrive well before showtime so you and your family can grab a good spot to watch the movie.

Related: A Guide To Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo
(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

National Museum Of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 738-1503

Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the National Museum of Mexican Art has an extensive collection of art that goes back approximately 3,000 years. You and your family can explore and learn about Mexican art through the museum’s collection of folk art, photography, paintings, sculptures and more. The museum has free admission and holds a number of permanent and temporary exhibits. The museum also offers programs geared to children, teens and families that teach participants about art. Registration for the programs is required; for more information, consult the museum’s website.
(Photo Credit: Oriental Institute- University of Chicago's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Oriental Institute- University of Chicago’s Facebook)

Oriental Institute Museum Of The University Of Chicago
1155 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 702-9514

When the temperatures hit the triple digits in Chicago during the summer, you’ll want to head indoors and visit the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago. Located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the Oriental Institute features a treasure trove of artifacts from all over the world, including ancient Egypt and Nubia. Admission to the museum is free, and you can easily spend at least two hours exploring the artifacts. If you’d like to learn more about the museum, make sure to use the self-guided tours.
Related: Best Parent Gathering Places In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at