2019 Chicago-Area Museum Free Days

Museum free days make some of the Chicago area’s greatest attractions a lot easier on the wallet! Big Chicago attractions like the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, and the Shedd Aquarium are all offering 2019 free days. Certain suburban museums offer free days, too. Bookmark this list and get in free all year long! This article is sponsored by Dr. Eric Jackson of Oral Health Care Professionals in Downers Grove.

Dr. Eric Jackson is an intelligent and personable dentist and co-owner of Oral Health Care Professionals in Downers Grove. He is also great with young children, which is so important in choosing a family dentist!

He is a national board member of The Academy for Sports Dentistry and received many accolades in local and national publications, including 1 of 47 general dentists selected as “Top Dentists” (January, 2018) Chicago Magazine, runner-up in the “Best Pediatric Dentist Near West Suburbs of Chicago” category on Kidlist, a “Preferred Provider” by the Invisalign corporation (2010, 2011, 2015, 2016), 1 of 12 individuals in Chicagoland named “Best Under 40” by Suburban Life Media (2015), and 1 of 2 general dentists in the western suburbs of Chicago to receive the accolade of “Top Dentist” by West Suburban Living magazine (2015)

Dr. Jackson is also very active in the community, volunteering his time, sharing his knowledge with others as a guest speaker, and being the official team dentist for the Chicago Bandits Professional Women’s Fastpitch Softball Team.

Make an appointment with Dr. Jackson by calling (630) 963-6750 or clicking on “Appointment Request” on EricJacksonDDS.com.

Museum and Zoo Free Days

We’ve listed regular prices, too, so you can evaluate the benefit of the discount and the savings for a family of four (two adults and two children under 12).

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827

2019 Adler Planetarium Free Days

  • January 21-22, 29-31
  • February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
  • April 2-4, 9-11
  • June 3-5, 10-13
  • September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
  • October 7-9, 14-16
  • November 8, 11
  • December 2-3, 7, 12-13

Note: A valid ID with an Illinois address is required at the box office for these special admission prices. Dates subject to change. Check back frequently for updates.

Regular Prices

  • General Admission: $12 for adults and $8 for children. Includes access to all exhibitions.
  • Basic Pass: $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Includes one standard show in any theater along with access to all exhibitions.
  • All Access Pass: $34.95 for adults and $29.95 for children. Includes the premier show, Destination Solar System, playing in the Grainger Sky Theater, your choice of unlimited shows, and access to all exhibitions.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4 with general admission: $40

Art Institute of Chicago

111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL  60603
(312) 443-3600

2019 Art Institute Free Admission Opportunities

  • Admission is always free for children under 14 and for Chicago teens under the age of 18.
  • General admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Active-duty military and their families receive free admission to the museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • LINK and WIC cardholders receive free general admission to the museum. Present your card along with a valid photo ID to receive free access for you and your family.
  • Free admission for current Illinois educators, including pre-K–12 teachers, teaching artists working in schools, and homeschool parents. Register online to receive a voucher for a complimentary ticket to the museum and bring a valid educator ID.

Regular Prices

  • General Admission for Illinois residents is $22 for adults $16 for seniors (65+).
  • Children under 14 years old are always free.
  • Thursday evening admission savings for a family of 4: $44

Brookfield Zoo

8400 West 31st Street
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

2019 Brookfield Zoo Free Days

Admission is free every Tuesday and Thursday starting October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. From January 1 through February 28, 2019: free admission is provided on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check website to confirm current days, which vary by season.

Regular Prices

  • General Zoo Admission is $21.95 for adults (save $1 per ticket by buying online), $14.50 for seniors (65+), $15.95 for children (3-11).
  • Admission is free for all active, reservist, and retired members of the military.
  • Parking is $14 per car.
  • The dolphin show (Dolphins in Action), Hamill Family Play Zoo, Carousel, Motor Safari, and Hamill Family Wild Encounters are all priced separately. You can find those prices on the Hours and Prices page.
  • Free day savings for a family of 4: $75.80 or $89.80 with a parked car

Cantigny Park

1 S 151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161

2019 Cantigny Park Free Days

Parking is free the first Wednesday of each month, March through December.

Regular Prices

  • Admission to the McCormick House and First Division Museum is free with paid parking ($5 per car, or $10 per car on summer weekends and summer holidays)
  • Free day savings for a family: $5-10 depending on the season.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Navy Pier
700 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL
(312) 527-1000

2019 Chicago Children’s Museum Free Days

  • Play Late Thursdays begins on January 3, 2019 in which up to four people can enter the museum for the price of one ticket ($14.95) from 4:00 – 8:00 pm.
  • First Sunday of every month is free admission all day for ages 15 and under.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $14.95 for adults and children (1+), $13.95 for seniors, $12.95 for teachers, firefighters, and police officers, and free for veterans & active military.
  • Any Illinois family that qualifies for state food assistance and is in possession of an EBT or WIC card receives admission to the museum for up to 6 people for $3.
  • Play Late Thursdays savings for a family of 4: $44.85

Chicago History Museum

1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600

Chicago History Museum Free Days

  • Every Tuesday, the Museum is free to Illinois residents from 12:30–9:00 p.m. and on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, March 4, and July 4.
  • With valid identification, the museum is always free to members of the U.S. Armed Service, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, and Illinois teachers.
  • $3 admission with EBT card or WIC and valid I.D. for up to four people.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $17 for adults, $17 for seniors (65+) and students (19-22), children (18 and younger) are free. All admission includes an audio tour.
  • City of Chicago residents receive a $2 discount with valid I.D.
  • Discounted admission fee of $3 to individuals and families presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid photo ID. Maximum of four adults per EBT card.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $34

DuSable Museum of African American History

740 East 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 947-0600

2019 DuSable Museum Free Days

Admission is free to all every Tuesday.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $3 for children (6-11), and free for children under 5.
  • Chicago residents receive a discounted rate of $2 per ticket.
  • All military duty personnel from all branches receive complimentary admission.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $26

Elmhurst Art Museum

150 Cottage Hill Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
(630) 834-0202

2019 Elmhurst Art Museum Free Days

The first Friday of each month is free all year.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), free for students and children 18 and under.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $24

Field Museum

1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

2019 Field Museum Free Days for Illinois Residents

  • January 21
  • February 1-28
  • April 5-7
  • June 26-28
  • No other dates have been listed at the publishing of this article. Check site for date past June.

Discounted All-Access and Discovery passes must be purchased on arrival at The Field Museum and are not available online in advance.

Regular Prices

  • Basic Admission: $24 for adults, $21 for seniors (65+) and students, $17 for children (3-11). Includes entry to general admission exhibitions.
  • Discovery Pass: $32 for adults, $28 for seniors (65+) and students, $23 for children (3-11). Includes one ticketed exhibition or 3D movie.
  • All-Access Pass: $38 for adults, $33 for seniors (65+) and students, $27 for children (3-11). Includes complete access to the museum, including ticketed exhibitions and one 3D movie.
  • Illinois teachers (K-12) and active military personnel with valid identification receive free basic admission.
  • Guests with WIC or EBT cards receive $3 per person admission for up to 6 people.
  • Free Days savings for a family of 4: $82 (Based on the basic admission price.)

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

220 Cottage Hill Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
(630) 833-1616

2019 Lizzadro Museum Free Days

Free admission every Friday.

Regular Price

  • Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors (60+), $3 for students and teens, $2 for children (7-12), free for children under 7.
  • Active members of the Armed Forces are admitted free of charge on any day the Museum is open to the public.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $14

Loyola University Museum of Art

820 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 915-7600

Loyola University Museum of Art Free Days

Admission is free for all visitors every Tuesday.

Regular Prices

  • General Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), and free for youth 17 and under.
  • Admission is free for clergy members, employees of other museums, and active military members and their families.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $18

Museum of Contemporary Art

220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-2660

2019 MCA Free Days

Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays.

Regular Prices

  • MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy, and no one will be turned away. Suggested admission is $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.
  • Free for members of the military and police and fire departments, veterans, and children 12 and under.
  • Helpful tip: Wednesdays and Thursdays are the least crowded days at the MCA.

Free Day savings for a family of 4: $30

Museum of Science and Industry

5700 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

2019 Museum of Science and Industry Free Days

  • January: 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31
    February: 4-7, 11-14, 19-21, 25-28

Regular Prices

  • Museum entry is $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 3-11. Does not include parking, special exhibits/events, U-505 Submarine On-board Tour, Coal Mine, WOW! Tour, Omnimax film, Fab Lab, Future Energy Chicago, or Brick by Brick.
  • Museum Entry + 1 adds one special exhibit ($31.95 for adults and $21.95 for children 3-11), Museum Entry + 2 adds two special exhibits ($43.95 for adults and $30.95 for children 3-11), and Museum Entry + 3 adds three special exhibits ($59.95 for adults and $39.95 for children 3-11).
  • Save $2/ticket by buying online.
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4 with basic entry: $69.80

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 North Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100

2019 Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Donation Days

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors (60+), $6 for children (3-12), and free for children under 3.
  • Illinois teachers with valid identification are free.
  • They offer a discounted admission fee of $1.00 to individuals and families presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card. Museum visitors who display their EBT Card and a valid form of identification will receive a discounted admission rate of $1 per person, for up to six people in their party.

Shedd Aquarium

1200 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

2019 Shedd Aquarium Illinois Resident Discount Days

As of publish, 2019 dates have not been released.

The Shedd Passes and Total Experience Passes are both discounted by $8 for each adult and $6 for each child.

A $3 transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online. This helps ensure access to as many neighbors as possible by validating orders.

Regular Prices

  • Shedd Admission: $39.95 for adults, $29.95 for children (3-11
  • Shedd Admission +4D: $44.90 for adults, $34.90 for children (3-11) when purchased online (saves $2 per ticket) Includes everything at the Shedd plus a 4D experience
  • Free daily admission (up to 4) for low income families with an EBT card.
  • Active duty military receives free general admission everyday and veterans, senior citizens, and student over 12 receive a $3 discounted price everyday.
  • Chicago firefighters and police officers receive free general admission everyday.
  • Discount Days savings for a family of 4: $139.80

Swedish American Museum

5211 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 728-8111

2019 Swedish American Museum Free Days

Admission is free for all visitors on the second Tuesday of each month.

Regular Prices

  • Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children, students and seniors, $10 for families
  • Free Day savings for a family of 4: $10

Share a photo from your free museum trip on Instagram with the #mykidlist hashtag so we can see all the fun! Plus, find more resources for families to stay in the loop with the latest tips and tricks for family fun.

About the Author

Jill Kowalski
Jill is the mom of two energetic little girls, ages two and four, who keep her seriously busy. She and her husband grew up in Orland Park and are now raising their family there as well. When Jill and her family have free time, they love to check out local parks or drop-in at fests where their girls can take over a dance floor. She is always looking for cheap, yet entertaining and worthwhile things to do. When she is not wrangling her kids, Jill has a passion for starting, and sometimes finishing, do-it-yourself home improvement projects, trying out random recipes she finds on Pinterest, and organizing every nook and cranny of her life.

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