300+ Free Activities and Events in January 2024


Let’s face it: December is not a budget-friendly month! Holiday celebrations, gifts, and family get-togethers can certainly add up quickly. That’s why we’ve gathered hundreds of ideas for free things to do with kids in January, from local events happening every day of the month to free activities running all season long.

That’s right: you and your kids can explore museums, watch movies, or play outdoors, all without spending a penny this winter. So give your bank account the refresh it needs with these events and activities for free January fun. Bookmark this list for daily ideas!

Free January 2024 Fun for Kids in Chicagoland

Events may change, and some require prior registration. Please check directly with the hosting organization before you make plans!

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Kids playing a match-the-smell game at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook

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More Ideas for Free Things to Do with Kids in January

Chicagoland Zoos with Free Admission

Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago)

Always free admission to all visitors.

Phillips Park Zoo (Aurora)

Phillips Park Zoo is also always free to visitors. There is a huge playground area next to the zoo to add to your visit.

Cosley Zoo (Wheaton)

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

Local Libraries

Libraries are always a great place for free local fun. Grab a few new titles, check out their storytimes and regular programming, 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, too.

Free Outdoor Fun

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 exciting 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.

While most of the Holiday Lights turn off after Christmas or the start of the new year, some continue on through the first week of January. For example, Nights of Lights in Adams Park in Wheaton and Winter Lights at Central Park in Oak Brook will run until January 7, 2024.

Free Indoor Fun

The Chicago-area is full of incredible museums, many of which offer free days throughout the year. Find all the details about Museum Free Days happening in January.

Nearly all of the nature centers in our area are free. Pop in to learn more about native animals, or check out some of the free events listed below.

Bring the outdoors indoors. Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Elmhurst’s Wilder Park Conservatory, and Oak Park Conservatory are all free.

Many families find time to give back during the holiday season, but the needs in our communities don’t end after the new year. Use our Volunteering Guide to find a way to make an impact with your family.

While your entire bill won’t be free, these Kids Eat Free deals will certainly minimize your restaurant tab.

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

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