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There’s plenty to do in Chicago. From seeing remarkable concerts to enjoying delicious food, the city has an infinite list of fun activities. But what if you’re sick and tired of spending excessive amounts of money to enjoy yourself? Here are some fantastic things to do in the city that won’t cost you a penny.
This one is a no-brainer for Chicago residents. The Lakefront Trail is one of the city’s most iconic and scenic trails, which connects the north and the south sides through a winding, paved pathway.
You’ll be able to walk, rollerskate, or bike from Roger’s Park down to 71st street on the Lakefront Trail. If walking is getting old, the path intersects with various gardens, tennis courts, and monuments. Off of Montrose lies the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, home to hundreds of migrating birds throughout the year.
Strolling along the Lakefront Trail and taking in all the beauty of Lake Michigan is the best use of free outdoor time in Chicago. If you’re visiting the city, the first walk you take has to be on this scenic trail.
Located on Chicago’s westside, the Garfield Park Conservatory is the best, no-admission plant conservatory in the midwest. Its half-dozen greenhouses are home to native and exotic plants, with mesmerizing glasswork adorning the exhibits.
Going to the conservatory during the day is a refreshing experience. The light shines through the ceiling windows of the greenhouses and illuminates the colorful, unique plant species. The conservatory spans 12 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, with rooms tailored to different environments like the desert and prehistoric midwest.
If you’re walking along one of Lincoln Park’s busy streets, you might hear the roar of a lion far out in the distance. That’s because the center of the neighborhood lies in Chicago’s exciting zoo, with animals from around the globe.
Founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most renowned and visited zoos in the United States. The zoo tailors to both kids and adult experiences for an exemplary family visit. The farm-in-the-zoo exhibit has a real barnyard, pigs, goats, and cows. The primate and reptile house are popular zoo destinations, with hundreds of exotic creatures to learn and explore. Alongside its many informational exhibits, the zoo hosts various themed nights, garden tours, movie nights, and more.
Walking around downtown can be exciting for about 15 minutes, then the hustle and bustle of city life starts to feel overwhelming. Luckily, a walk past Michigan Avenue towards the lake will lead you to Maggie Daley Park, Millennium Park’s adjacent greenspace.
Maggie Daley Park is known for its winding, ribbon-figured ice-skating rink in the winter but also hosts many outdoor activities in the summer. For the kids, a unique play structure with a miniature lighthouse, two climbing walls, and an exhilarating suspension bridge. The park also has lovely picnic areas, tennis courts, and tremendous water features for the adults to peruse.
Pilsen, one of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods, hosts wonderful activities in the summer and fall. One incredible year-round adventure is visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art, located on 19th street between Damen and Wood.
The National Museum of Mexican Art was founded in 1987. For almost 35 years, the museum has had a mission to represent Mexican artists both in and outside the community. Its commitment to accessibility and education is apparent in its free admission rate. Today, the museum spans 48,000 square feet and has the United States’ most extensive Mexican art collection, with more than 7,000 seminal pieces from ancient Mexico to the present day.
Free isn’t always available when exploring densely populated cities in the United States. Luckily, Chicago hosts an indefinite number of accessible tours, visitations, and activities for visitors and residents to enjoy.