All the 2021 Chicago-Area Museum Free Days

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The Chicagoland is filled with some of the most renowned museums in the world, giving local families up-close and personal experiences to learn about underwater adventures, priceless works of art, and fascinating animals. Lucky for us, many Chicago-area museums have made these experiences even more family-friendly, by offering free days to their visitors. Pack up your family and head out to a fun-filled day, without worrying about admission fees. Find all the details below on when museums are offering these money-saving opportunities, and get exploring!

photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry

2021 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
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827

Adler Planetarium offered free days in the summer of 2021, but do not have any upcoming days scheduled at this time.

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

Guests 13 years old and younger are always free, as well as Chicago teens under 18, active military and educators. Check their website for free admission guidelines.

Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st Street
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Brookfield Zoo has offers free admission for all guests on: October 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28, November 2-4, 9-11, 16-18 and December 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 2021. On those days, parking fees will still apply. Visits from military personnel are always free.

Chicago Botanic Garden
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 on weekdays, and $30/car on weekends, with senior discounts available. Nonmembers must reserve parking in advance.

photo courtesy of Cantigny Park

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. Admission is always free!

Chicago Children’s Museum
Navy Pier
700 E. Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000

As of October 14, 2021, Chicago Children’s Museum has not announced plans for free admission days.

Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600

Children ages 18 and under who are Illinois residents are always free. Free admission is always granted to various professionals including members of the military, law enforcement, and educators. Check their website for more details.

DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E. 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 947-0600

DuSable Museum is not advertising free days are at this time.

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

The first Friday of each month is free all year for the McCormick House and the Artist Guild at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

You’ll find all the details about Field Museum free days on their website, so double-check before you go! Advance tickets are not reserved online, they must be purchased at the door. Proof of Illinois residency is required. As of October 14, 2021, the Field Museum is not advertising any free days.

Heritage Museum of Asian Art
218 W. 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 842-8884

Admission is free every day at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art.

Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

Every day is free at Lincoln Park Zoo! Advance online reservations are no longer required.

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art
1220 Kensington Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523
(630) 833-1616

Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art offers free admission on Wednesdays, and is free every day to guests 6 and under. Active members of the military are admitted free every day. Check out our virtual tour before you go.

Loyola University Museum of Art
820 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 915-7600

At this time, Loyola University Museum of Art has not reopened to visitors.

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-2660

Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays. Free admission is always granted to various professionals including members of the military and educators. MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy, and no one will be turned away. 

Museum of Science and Industry
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. Currently, MSI scheduled free days are: October 27, November 3, 10 and 17 and December 8, 2021.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum offers free admission to various professionals including members of the military, and educators. They are also offering suggested donations days every Thursday through the end of 2021. On these days, guests are welcome to enjoy free admission, or contribute a $10 suggested donation per household.

Philips Park Zoo
1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505
(630) 256-3860

Philips Park Zoo is always free! Check their website for hours of operation before visiting.

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

Shedd Aquarium offered a variety of free days in 2021. Check their website for information about when they’ll be doing it again in 2022. The Shedd Aquarium’s Discounts and Free Days page is the best resource for finding the right days! The offer is for Illinois residents with valid IDs. Admission can be upgraded to include Shedd’s 4-D Experience. A transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online, but ensures your spot.

Swedish American Museum
5211 N. 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 #sharekidlist 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.

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