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A List of 22 Cheap Things To Do In Chicago – All On Budget Options

Exploring Chicago can often be associated with high costs, but fear not! This vibrant city is filled with an array of budget-friendly attractions and activities that guarantee a delightful and memorable experience without emptying your wallet. From renowned museums to picturesque parks and iconic landmarks, Chicago offers a wealth of affordable wonders. In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the hidden gems that allow you to enjoy the best of the city while staying within your budget. Get ready for an unforgettable journey through cheap things to Do in Chicago!

Affordable Explorations of Chicago’s Cultural Tapestry

=There are countless museums and cultural establishments in Chicago that provide enthralling experiences for tourists of all ages. Many of these attractions provide inexpensive or even free options for travellers on a budget, despite the misconception that they all have expensive admission prices. Budget-conscious travellers should think about visiting these outstanding locations for the following convincing reasons:

  1. The Art Institute of Chicago:

Known for its extensive collection spanning centuries and continents, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. However, not everyone may be aware that the museum offers free admission to Illinois residents on certain days or discounted admission for students, ensuring that you can explore masterpieces without breaking the bank.

  1. Museum of Science and Industry:

For those with a curiosity for science and technology, the Museum of Science and Industry is a captivating destination. While general admission may carry a fee, the museum often offers free admission days or discounted rates for specific exhibits, allowing you to delve into the wonders of scientific exploration without straining your budget.

  1. Field Museum:

Uncover the secrets of natural history at the Field Museum, home to an awe-inspiring collection of artifacts and exhibits. By taking advantage of discounted admission options, such as purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or visiting during the museum’s free admission days, you can embark on a fascinating journey through time while keeping your expenses in check.

  1. Shedd Aquarium:

Dive into an aquatic wonderland at the Shedd Aquarium, renowned for its impressive marine life exhibits. Plan your visit strategically by taking advantage of discounted admission rates during weekdays or selecting specific exhibits to explore, ensuring a memorable experience that won’t break the bank.

  1. Chicago Cultural Center:

Immerse yourself in Chicago’s vibrant cultural scene at the Chicago Cultural Center, a hub for arts, music, and performance. This architectural gem offers free admission to its exhibitions and showcases a variety of cultural events, from live music performances to art installations, providing an affordable way to experience the city’s creative pulse.

  1. National Museum of Mexican Art:

Celebrate the rich heritage and artistry of Mexican culture at the National Museum of Mexican Art. This vibrant institution offers free admission year-round, allowing visitors to explore its diverse collection of artworks and exhibitions without any financial burden.

  1. Chicago History Museum:

Delve into the captivating history of Chicago at the Chicago History Museum. By taking advantage of discounted admission days or purchasing a Chicago CityPASS, you can explore the city’s fascinating past and gain insights into its cultural evolution without overspending.

  1. Adler Planetarium:

Embark on a celestial journey at the Adler Planetarium, where you can explore the wonders of space and astronomy. Plan your visit on a free admission day or take advantage of discounted rates to enjoy engaging exhibits and immersive shows that transport you beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

  1. Museum of Contemporary Art:

Discover cutting-edge contemporary art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where thought-provoking exhibitions and innovative installations await. The museum offers discounted admission rates for students and free admission on Tuesdays, making it an affordable option of Chicago for art enthusiasts seeking inspiration.

  1. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum:

Escape to the natural world at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, dedicated to showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Midwest’s flora and fauna. With discounted admission rates available and free admission on suggested donation days, nature lovers can appreciate the wonders of the environment without straining their budget.

Budget-Friendly Parks and Outdoor Spaces in Chicago

Apart from its world-famous museums and cultural institutions, Chicago is endowed with beautiful parks and outdoor areas that provide a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to reconnect with nature. For tourists on a tight budget, these green havens provide enjoyable and occasionally free activities. You should visit these free parks and outdoor areas for the following compelling reasons:

  1. Millennium Park:

Millennium Park is an iconic destination that offers a range of free attractions. Take a selfie with the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as “The Bean,” or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the serene Lurie Garden. During the summer, the park hosts free outdoor concerts, film screenings, and other cultural events, allowing you to enjoy world-class entertainment without spending a dime.

  1. Grant Park:

As one of Chicago’s most renowned parks, Grant Park offers a vast expanse of green space and breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. It’s home to famous landmarks such as Buckingham Fountain and the Museum Campus. Take a leisurely walk, have a picnic, or simply soak in the beauty of the park’s landscape. The best part? It’s free to enter and explore.

  1. Lincoln Park:

Spanning over 1,200 acres, Lincoln Park is a nature lover’s paradise. This expansive park features walking and biking trails, picturesque gardens, and even a zoo – the Lincoln Park Zoo, which offers free admission year-round. Enjoy a serene escape from the bustling city, surrounded by the beauty of nature, all without spending a dime.

  1. Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon:

During the winter months, head to Maggie Daley Park to experience the joy of ice skating on the Ice Skating Ribbon. This unique skating experience offers picturesque views of the city skyline and is more affordable compared to other skating rinks in the area. Rentals are available at reasonable prices, making it a budget-friendly winter activity.

  1. Garfield Park Conservatory:

Escape to a lush oasis at the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatories in the United States. Admission to this botanical haven is free, allowing you to wander through its vibrant displays of plant life, including exotic flowers, towering palms, and tranquil ponds.

  1. Lincoln Park Conservatory:

Another botanical gem, the Lincoln Park Conservatory invites visitors to explore its diverse collection of plant species. From tropical palms to vibrant orchids, this conservatory offers a tranquil retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Best of all, admission is free, making it an affordable way to enjoy the beauty of nature.

  1. Chicago Botanic Garden:

While located just outside of downtown Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden is worth the short trip for nature enthusiasts. Though there is a parking fee, admission to the garden itself is free. Marvel at the meticulously manicured gardens, explore serene lakes and take in the stunning displays of flora from around the world.

Affordable Chicago Iconic Landmarks and Architectural Marvels Views

Chicago is famed for its famous structures that adorn the city’s skyline. Although visiting these places might seem pricey or elite, there are methods to do so without breaking the bank. Here are some strong arguments for why travellers on a tight budget should check out these accessible Chicago landmarks:

  1. Cloud Gate (The Bean) in Millennium Park:

Located in Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean,” is an iconic stainless steel sculpture that reflects the city’s skyline and offers unique photo opportunities. Best of all, it’s free to admire and interact with, allowing visitors to capture their memorable moments without spending a penny.

  1. Skydeck Chicago:

Ascend to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) for breathtaking views of Chicago’s skyline. While there is an admission fee, it’s worth considering purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or looking for discounted tickets to make this awe-inspiring experience more affordable.

  1. Riverwalk:

Stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk and marvel at the city’s architectural wonders from a different perspective. This scenic pathway offers stunning views of the river, skyscrapers, and iconic bridges. It’s free to access, making it a budget-friendly way to enjoy Chicago’s urban landscape.

  1. 360 CHICAGO (Formerly John Hancock Observatory):

This place is formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, 360 CHICAGO provides panoramic views of the city. It seems unreal from its observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. While there is an admission fee, consider visiting during discounted hours or searching for online deals to make the experience more budget-friendly.

  1. Navy Pier:

Navy Pier is a beloved Chicago landmark featuring entertainment, dining, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. While some attractions at Navy Pier may have admission fees, exploring the pier itself and enjoying the lakefront vistas is free. Take a leisurely stroll, watch the fireworks display (seasonal), or simply admire the beauty of the lake and the city skyline.

WrapUP: Experiencing cheap things in Chicago

never miss the free-of-cost bliss! As I consider my own experiences travelling on a tight budget in Chicago, I’m happy to report that this exciting city provides a variety of interesting activities that are both cheap and interesting. I knew there was much more to see in Millennium Park without spending a fortune the instant I set foot there and saw the captivating Cloud Gate sculpture. I was able to explore the fields of art, science, and history by going to the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, and Field Museum while taking advantage of student discounts or reduced entry days. At a fraction of the price, the Shedd Aquarium and the Garfield Park Conservatory offered breathtaking experiences with aquatic life and rich plant wonders. Also,  Visiting Chicago wouldn’t be complete without seeing its famous monuments. The incredible skyline could be seen from the Skydeck Chicago, which is perched high above the city, and wandering around Navy Pier offered several hours of enjoyment and mesmerizing views of Lake Michigan. 

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