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5 Things To Do In Chicago For Free

Jul 24, 2008
Everyone loves something for nothing, and while lunch still might not be free, there are at least five things to do in Chicago that won't cost you a dime.

Millennium Park

It is said that Millennium Park is now rivaling Lincoln Park Zoo as the most popular Chicago attractions. What makes Millennium Park one of the great things to do in Chicago is that it is completely free. The park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago and has over 24 acres of exhibits and parklands. The park is most famous for its architectural and art installations. The Cloud Gate sculpture has gained worldwide acclaim. The structure, designed by Anish Kapoor is the artist's first outdoor work in the United States. The 110-ton sculpture was inspired by liquid mercury and measures 66-feet long by 33-feet high. A 12-foot high arch provides a 'gate' into the underbelly of the sculpture.

The park also offers other free things to do in Chicago, including free public concerts in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and a free 16,000 square-foot skating rink during the winter months.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Also one of the best known free things to do in Chicago is a visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo. One of America's most established zoos, the Lincoln Park Zoo has been home to all sorts of wildlife for many years. In 2008, one of the zoo's oldest residents, Keo the Chimpanzee celebrated his 50th Birthday. The Zoo puts on many educational events, including cooking classes, concerts, and talks every day, year round.

Buckingham Fountain

Another iconic Chicago sightseeing spot on the tourist trail is Buckingham Fountain. The fountain was opened on May 26, 1927 and is one of the largest in the world. The fountain was designed with four sea horses that represent the four states that border Lake Michigan: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Every hour on the hour, there is a free twenty minute water display in which the center jets spray 150 feet in the air. Beginning at sundown, the fountain's water display is accompanied by a spectacular light and music display.

Free Museum Days

The free things to do in Chicago also extend to the city's famous museums. Each year, Chicago's museums release their calendars of free or discounted admission periods. A few of the participating museums are Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science & Industry, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum (which is free the entire month of February), the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

If you miss out on those dates, while not free, the Chicago City Pass offers discounted tickets to most of the above things to do in Chicago.

Beaches & Lakes
One of the nicest things to do in Chicago during the warmer months is to explore Chicago's 26 acres of waterfront. Unlike some beaches, admission to Chicago's beaches is completely free. There are fifteen swimming beaches, which are monitored by lifeguards during the summer for most of the day. There is also the Montrose Beach Dog Friendly area where supervised dogs can roam unleashed.

Nine lakefront harbors stretch from Lincoln Park in the North to Jackson Park in the South. There are 18 miles of paved running and walking tracks that follow the shoreline. Maps of these walking tours tracks are available to download for free from the Chicago Park District website.
About the Author
Dakota Bressler is an author for Trusted Tours & Attractions, an online resource for discount tickets to the country's best sightseeing tours, attractions and museums. Their website features tickets from New York Tours to the best things to do in Chicago and everything in between.
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