1. Visit The Field Museum
1400 S Lake Shore Drive, , 60605
Chicago has many of the best museums in the country. If you are local and have a city address, go to a Chicago Public library and check out a free pass. If you are not local, check each individual museum website as there are several free days a year. The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry and The Shedd Aquarium all offer free days. The Field Museum is my favorite out of the 3 because of the extensive dinosaur and mummy exhibits.
2. Walk or ride along the Chicago Lakefront Path
1600 N Lake Shore Drive, , 60657
This beautiful path is a wonderful way to see Chicago. Perfect place to be in Chicago in the summer with great views of the beach and Chicago skyline!
3. See a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
1060 W Addison Street, , 60613
There is no way to truly experience a Chicago summer better than sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley field watching a Cubs game! The crowd is always very enthusiastic and big on showing support for the team, which adds to atmosphere.
4. Ice skate at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in the winter
201 E. Randolph Street, , 60602
I recommend this ice rink in Millennium Park downtown because you get great views of the city and they have music and lights, too. Note: it can get really crowded, especially closer to the holiday season. Various other parks throughout the city also offer free ice rinks. Skate rental may be $5-10 or so. Or bring your own skates, and it is a completely free fun way to get outside in the winter.
5. Explore an extensive collection of art at The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue, , 60603
Regarded as one of the best collections of art in the country, The Art Institute of Chicago is a must when traveling to the city. There are free days listed throughout the year. Check the website for details.
6. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark Street, , 60614
One of the few zoos that is free all the time! Lincoln Park Zoo is a great small zoo with fabulous views of the city. It is great around the holiday with a spectacular Zoo Lights event where the entire zoo is decorated with Christmas decorations and lights on every tree. There is also a really cool synchronized light and music show.
7. Take pictures by Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park
Grant Park (Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway), , 60601
During the summer months there is a free water and light show every hour. In addition, Grant Park is home to numerous summer events and festivals.
8. Walk the Magnificent Mile
N. Michigan Avenue, , 60601
Walk this famous shopping district, and also make a stop in the Water Tower Place, an 8 floor interestingly designed shopping center. Very unique architecture and tall buildings along the entire mile journey coupled with a great mix of upscale and casual shopping make the Magnificent Mile a can’t miss Chicago summer attraction. The annual free Lights Festival Parade in November kicks off the holiday season downtown. The winter is another great time to stroll around downtown as Chicago is one of the best cities to visit over the holidays. There is plenty going on downtown including the annual Christmas tree and Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, lights along the Magnificent Mile, the Macy’s Holiday windows, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, horse drawn carriage rides, holiday themed productions and more!
9. Visit the Adler Planetarium(and get some great skyline photos!)
1300 S Lake Shore Dr, , 60605
Chicago has one of the best skylines in the country, maybe even the world. One of the best spots for snapping photos of the gorgeous skyline is by the Planetarium. The Planetarium is worth a visit too, especially for the shows!
10. Spend a summer afternoon at Oak Street Beach
1000 North Lake Shore Drive, , 60611
Summer in Chicago is hot and humid. Visiting this scenic beach is a great way to cool off. With the water on one side and an amazing view of the skyline on the other this is the place to be. It is known as one the places to see and be seen in the city. Clean, decent sized waves, volleyball courts, a younger crowd, and even a few palm trees!