After a hectic (and expensive!) December, we’re all ready for fresh ideas without a price tag come January. Below, you’ll find information about free things to do with kids this month. We’ve got both indoor and outdoor places to go, as well as events running throughout January. Bundle up, have fun, and don’t worry about your budget!
Free January 2020 Fun for Kids in Chicagoland
Chicagoland Zoos with Free Admission
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+.
Phillips Park Zoo (Aurora) – Currently Closed
Phillips Park Zoo is closed as of January 1, 2021, but check their website for updates.
Libraries are always a great place for free local fun. Grab a few new titles, check out their virtual storytimes, or log into countless streaming services for home entertainment. Our handy list of Libraries in the Western Suburbs gives you a sneak peek into the different kids’ areas to check out once they are allowed to safely reopen, too.
While some locations charge admission, there are many places that offer free ice skating. Check out our roundup of indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks.
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.
Stretch your legs and brains at these parks with Storybook Walks in the western suburbs. Forest Preserves of Cook County is running various story events throughout the month, including one of our favorite books, A Snowy Day.
Take part in the Glen Ellyn Scavenger Hunt, starting January 5. Walk through downtown Glen Ellyn and spy the landmarks identified by the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
Free January Events
Farm Life in Winter (Kline Creek Farm, West Chicago)
Daily in January, 2021 | 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Bringing the Zoo to You: Facebook Live (Brookfield Zoo, Virtual)
Weekdays in January and February, 2021 | 11:00am
Winter Lights at Central Park (Oak Brook)
December 1, 2020 – February 2021 | 4:30pm – 9:30pm
Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance.
Winter Story Trail (Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland)
Saturdays and Sundays in January, 2021 | 9:00am – 3:00pm
Nights of Lights (Wheaton)
November 20, 2020 – January 10, 2021 | dusk – 10:00pm
Festival of Lights Winter Walk (Bolingbrook)
December 6, 2020 – January 10, 2021 | dusk – 10:00pm
Holiday Lights in Lilacia Park (Lombard)
January 1 – 3, 2021 | 4:30pm – 10:00pm
Phyllis L. Fagell: Middle School Matters: 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive and Prepare for a Changing World (Virtual)
January 12, 2021 | 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Lake View Nature Center Open House (Oakbrook Terrace)
January 23, 2021 | 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dr. John Duffy: Parenting in the New Age of Anxiety: Understanding Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed and Amazing Adolescence (Virtual)
January 27, 2021 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Free Spots to Keep an Eye On for 2022
Many local destinations typically offer free days in January. These stops may be closed or modifying their plans due to current safety guidelines. Keep an eye out for all the fun they’ll have in store later in the year or in 2022.
- Adler Planetarium (Chicago)
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- Chicago Children’s Museum
- Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield)
- Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago)
- Phillips Park Zoo (Aurora)
- Elmhurst Art Museum
- Chicago History Museum
- DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago)
- Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art (Oak Brook)
You can also find lots of cozy indoor activities for the winter months in our Winter Activities Guide!