All the 2020 Chicago-Area Museum Free Days

Chicago and its suburbs have world-class museums that expand your children’s knowledge of science, animals, art, and world cultures. We are fortunate to live in a metropolitan area where these experiences are only a short drive away and we are even more fortunate that these places offer FREE days. Watch dolphins dive, tinker with building blocks, or take in beautiful works of art, all without worrying about the price tag.

Some museum free days have not been updated for 2020 yet, and others may be added later. Don’t forget to check back again later in the year! And please always confirm free days before you go, as they are subject to change.

2020 Museum and Zoo Free Days

Active duty military and their families, veterans, teachers and educators, and LINK or WIC cardholders can also get free or discounted admission at many of these museums, too.

Adler Planetarium Free Days

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

  • January 7–9, 20–22
  • February 4–6, 11–13, 17–20
  • March 9–12
  • April 20–23
  • May 10–16
  • June 2, 9, 16
  • August 22-23, 31
  • September 1–4
  • October 12–15
  • November 11, 17–19
  • December 4–6

Note: A valid ID with an Illinois address is required at the box office for free admission. Dates subject to change; double-check online.

Art Institute of Chicago Free Admission Opportunities

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

  • Beginning January 2, 2020, general admission is free to Illinois residents every Wednesday evening from 5:00 pm to 8:00 p.m. (This is a change from Thursdays in past years!) Confirm online before you go.

Brookfield Zoo Free Admission Days

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

From January 1 through February 29, 2020: free admission is provided on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check website to confirm current days, which vary by season.

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Parking is still $14 per car on free days. 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.

Chicago Botanic Garden Free Days

1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is always free, but there is a parking fee of $25/car.

Cantigny Park Free Parking Days

photo courtesy of Cantigny Park

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

From March through December, parking is free the first Wednesday of each month. Parking is also free as on select holidays, including Veteran’s Day. Check here. Admission is always free!

Chicago Children’s Museum Free Days

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

  • Play Late Thursdays: Up to four people can enter the museum for $20 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. $5 for each additional person.
  • First Sunday of every month is free admission all day for ages 15 and under.
  • Check out our review of the new Cloud Buster exhibit!

Chicago History Museum Free Days

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

  • Every Tuesday, the Museum is free to Illinois residents from 2:00–9:00 p.m. and on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, March 4, and July 4. However, many free days are cancelled in December, so check ahead before you go.

DuSable Museum of African American History Free Days

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

Admission is free to all every Tuesday.

Elmhurst Art Museum Free Days

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

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The first Friday of each month is free all year.

Field Museum Free Days for Illinois Residents

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

You’ll find all the Field Museum free days here, so double-check before you go! Proof of Illinois residency is required. Currently, the museum has released the following days for free basic admission:

  • January 8, 15, 20, 22, and 29, 2020
  • February 1–29, 2020

Lincoln Park Zoo

2001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

Every day is free at Lincoln Park Zoo!

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

1220 Kensington Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523
(630) 833-1616

Now open in its new location, Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art offers free admission on Wednesdays. Click here to get a virtual tour before you go.

Loyola University Museum of Art

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

Admission is free every day. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Museum of Contemporary Art Free Days

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

  • Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays.
  • 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.

Museum of Science and Industry Free Days

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

MSI offers free days throughout the year for Illinois residents with ID. Dates subject to change, so please check their website before heading to the city. Their currently scheduled free days for 2020 are:

  • January: 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30
  • February: 3-6, 10-13, 18-20, 24-27
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Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Donation Days

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

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents.

Shedd Aquarium Free Days

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

The Shedd Aquarium’s Discounts and Free Days page is the best resource for finding the right days! Here are the currently listed dates:

  • January 16-20 (For MLK Day on Jan. 20, Shedd will be open until 9 pm)
  • February 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28 (On Monday, Feb. 17, Shedd will be open until 9 pm)
  • June 15, 16, 22, 23 (For all four free days in June, Shedd will be open until 7 pm)
  • August 24, 25 (For both free days in August, Shedd will be open until 7 pm)
  • September 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 (Shedd will have extended hours for several free Mondays and Tuesdays in September. Please check the aquarium’s website for exact times and dates.)
  • October 5, 6, 7 (On Tuesday, October 6, Shedd will be open until 9 pm)

The offer is for Illinois residents with valid IDs. Admission can be upgraded to include Shedd’s 4-D Experience for $4.95 per guest. A $3 transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online, but ensures your spot.

Swedish American Museum Free Days

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

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

Share a photo from your free museum trip on Instagram with the #mykidlist hashtag so we can see all the fun! Also, learn about how your local library can help you save on admission any time of year.

About the Author

Katie Mayle
Katie is a mother of two girls and a baby boy (ages 5 1/2, 4, and 6 months), and has lived in the Chicagoland for her entire life. A Joliet native, she and her husband moved back to his hometown of Naperville after the birth of their second daughter. The girls keep her family very active, and she is grateful for the countless indoor and outdoor opportunities available to families in the western suburbs. She looks forward to sharing family-friendly fun with the parents of young children.

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