Start 2020 Right with Free January Fun

After all the pomp and excess of the holidays, January helps my family settle back down to earth. Free, local events around town are just the right speed for us — especially since we overdid it on the big events in December! Here, we’ve rounded up all the free event on our calendar for January, as well as other tips on where you can go to find family activities that will help you stick to your budget this month. (I know I could use that help!)

Free January 2020 Fun for Kids in Chicagoland

Free Days at Chicagoland Museums in January 2020

Adler Planetarium
Admission is free for Illinois residents on January 7–9 and 20–22, 2020.

The Art Institute of Chicago
Admission is free to all Illinois residents on select Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Call ahead to confirm.

Chicago Children’s Museum
Admission is free to all children under 15 years old the first Sunday of the month (January 5, 2020).

Chicago History Museum
Admission is free to Illinois residents every Tuesday from 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

DuSable Museum of African American History
Admission is free to all visitors every Tuesday.

Elmhurst Art Museum
Admission is free the first Friday of the month (January 3, 2020).

Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art
Admission is free to all visitors every Wednesday. (Please note that the museum has moved and is now located in Oak Brook!)

Museum of Contemporary Art
Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays.

Free January Fun at Area Nature Centers

Hidden Oaks Conservation Area (Bolingbrook)
A habitat tree, animal sound and scent wall, and discovery rooms are just a few of the interactive exhibits you’ll find here.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center (Glen Ellyn)
Native wild species and indoor discovery area with various games, puzzles and activities.

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center (Oak Brook)
Have fun at their tree house and with many other hands-on activities.

Locally Owned Bookstores and Toy Stores Offering Curbside Pickup and Delivery!

Lake Katherine Nature Center (Palos Heights)
Explore their children’s play center, reptile and animal exhibits along with a huge book collection.

Little Red School House Nature Center (Willow Springs)
See live animals and exhibits and check out their children’s activity room.

Free January Fun at Local Zoos

Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield)
For all of January 2020, free admission is provided on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Parking is still $14 per car on free days.

Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago)
Always free admission to all visitors.

Cosley Zoo (Wheaton)
If you live in Wheaton, Cosley is always free with your park district ID! Kids 17 and under are free, too; non-resident adults pay $7, or $6 for ages 55+.

Free January Fun at Local Libraries

Libraries are always a great place for free local fun. Get lost in a good book, check out some games/puzzles, explore cool kids areas and more! Our handy list of Libraries in the Western Suburbs gives you a sneak peek into the different kids’ areas.

Free January Fun at Sledding Hills

Another wonderful outdoor activity that is free of charge… sledding! Check out all the sledding hills in the Western suburbs for a round-up of local hills and details about what you can expect.

Free January Events

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago)
January 1–5, 2020, 4:30pm – 9:00pm

Massive Lego Play at the Library (Downers Grove)
January 2, 2020, 9:30am – 12:00pm

Nature Discovery Days: Swirling Snowflakes (Naperville)
January 2, 2020, 10:00am

Storytime with Barista Lillian (Berwyn)
January 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2020, 10:00am

Nature Story Time (River Forest)
January 2 and 16, 2020, 10:30am

Frozen Sing–along (Darien)
January 2, 2020, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Family Movie: Lion King (Downers Grove)
January 2, 2020, 1:00pm – 3:30pm

READ to the Dogs (Clarendon Hills)
January 2, 2020, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Neontastic (Darien)
January 3, 2020, 10:00am – 12:30pm

Robot Day (Naperville)
January 3, 2020, 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Home Depot Workshop – Mini Hockey Game (Various Locations)
January 4, 2020, 9:00am – 12:00pm

Volunteer Restoration Day (DuPage Forest Preserves)
January 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, and 19, 2020

Nature for Little Ones: Animal Footprints (South Holland)
January 4, 2020, 10:00am

Storytime with Dad (Brookfield)
January 4, 2020, 10:30am – 11:00am

JuiceBox Concerts (Chicago)
January 4, 2020, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Inclusive Playgroup (Brookfield)
January 4, 2020, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Family Movie: Lion King (Downers Grove)
January 4, 2020, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Family-Bots (Brookfield)
January 4, 2020, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Chicago Children’s Museum Free Admission Day (Chicago)
January 5, 2020, 12:00am

Winter Birds Nature Showcase (Darien)
January 6, 2020, 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art Illinois Resident Free Day (Chicago)
January 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2020, 12:00am

Instrument Petting Zoo (Clarendon Hills)
January 8, 2020, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Nature Tots (River Forest)
January 8, 2020, 10:00am

Mother Nature and Me (Willow Springs)
January 8, 2020, 10:30am

Sewing 101: Fleece Hats (Naperville)
January 8, 2020, 4:15pm – 5:45pm

How Dewey Do It? (Darien)
January 8, 2020, 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Free “Come & See” Music Together® (Sycamore)
January 9, 2020, 9:00am – 9:45am

Tiny Coders (Naperville)
January 9, 2020, 9:30am – 10:15am

Free “Come & See” Music Together® (Sycamore)
January 9, 2020, 10:00am – 10:45am

Free “Come & See” Music Together® (Sycamore)
January 9 and 10, 2020

Zoo Zen Yoga (Naperville)
January 10, 2020, 10:30am – 11:15am

Clothespin Puppets (Downers Grove)
January 11, 2020, 10:30am – 11:30am

Saturday Afternoon Cartoon (Bellwood)
January 11, 2020, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Makin’ Music Bluegrass Jam (River Forest)
January 12, 2020, 1:00pm

Storytime and Fun with Aunt Tillie (Glen Ellyn)
January 14, 2020, 10:30am – 11:30am

Wee Wonders (South Holland)
January 15, 2020, 10:00am

Observing MLK (Maywood)
January 16, 2020, 12:00am

Nature Story Time (River Forest)
January 16, 2020, 10:30am

Family LEGO Night (Clarendon Hills)
January 16, 2020, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Lego Build (Downers Grove)
January 16, 2020, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Family Movie Night: Aladdin (Darien)
January 17, 2020, 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Cabin Fever Family Fun (Woodridge)
January 17, 2020, 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Science Babies (Brookfield)
January 18, 2020, 10:30am – 11:00am

JuiceBox Concerts (Chicago)
January 18, 2020, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Iditarod Fun (Clarendon Hills)
January 18, 2020, 1:00pm

Kids vs. Police Hockey Showdown (Bloomingdale)
January 18, 2020, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Hot Cocoa Saturday (Bloomingdale)
January 18, 2020, 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Family Movie: Missing Link (Downers Grove)
January 19, 2020, 2:30pm – 4:00pm

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemorative Day (Chicago)
January 20, 2020, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Martin’s Museum Makers (Darien)
January 20, 2020, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Zoo Zen Yoga (Naperville)
January 20, 2020, 11:15am – 12:00pm

Kids Movie Matinee: Toy Story 4 (Clarendon Hills)
January 20, 2020, 12:30pm

READ to the Dogs (Brookfield)
January 21, 2020, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Cookies and Hot Chocolate Storytime (Maywood)
January 22, 2020, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Family BINGO Night at Nichols Library (Naperville)
January 22, 2020, 7:00pm – 7:45pm

Dog Man to the Rescue (Naperville)
January 23, 2020, 4:15pm – 5:00pm

Writing Club for Kids (Homewood)
January 23, 2020, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Language Storytimes (Clarendon Hills)
January 24, 2020, 10:00am – 11:00am

Language Labs Presents: French Storytime (Downers Grove)
January 24, 2020, 10:30am – 11:00am

Family Trivia Night (Darien)
January 24, 2020, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

After-Hours Mini-Golf (Berwyn)
January 24, 2020, 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Winter Campfire & Night Hike (South Holland)
January 24, 2020, 7:00pm

Family Loteria (Berwyn)
January 28, 2020, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Snowman Bingo (Brookfield)
January 28, 2020, 6:30pm – 7:15pm

National Puzzle Day (Clarendon Hills)
January 29, 2020, 12:00am

Kids Movie Club (Brookfield)
January 31, 2020, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Dog Man to the Rescue (Naperville)
January 31, 2020, 4:00pm – 4:45pm

You can also find lots of cozy indoor activities for the winter months in our Winter Activities Guide!

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie and her kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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