All the 2022 Free Days at Museums in Chicago and the Suburbs

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Trips to the museums are true memory-makers for our family: a photo op with Sue at the Field Museum, watching the dolphin show at Brookfield Zoo, or visiting the baby chicks at MSI. We love venturing into the city for a one-of-a-kind experience, and love it even more with the best price tag of all — free! Museums, zoos and aquariums are offering free admission throughout the year to make these visits even more family-friendly. Check the details below to clarify any restrictions on residency and availability.

2022 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 is offering free admission to Illinois residents on Wednesday evenings from 4:00pm – 10:00pm. All tickets must be purchased online.

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

Illinois residents are free on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from January 3–March 17, 2022. 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 offered free days throughout November and December. On those days, parking fees still applied. Visits from military personnel are always free. As of December 20, 2021, no new free admission days have been announced for 2022.

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. Parking is free for members.

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 December 20, 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 free to all visitors on Wednesdays, and free every day to first responders and military personnel.

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

The Field Museum was offering free admission to Illinois residents on Wednesdays during January and February 2022. You’ll find all the details on upcoming dates their website. Advance tickets are not reserved online, they must be purchased at the door. Proof of residency is required.

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. The following dates have been announced for the beginning of 2022:

  • January: 9-12, 17-19, 24-26, and 31
  • February: 1-2, 7-9, 11, 13-14, and 16
  • March: 1-2, 7, and 13-14
  • April : 21 and 25

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 in February and March 2022. 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 is offering Illinois residents with ID free admission on the following dates in 2022:

  • January 13-17, 2022
  • February 7-11 and 14-18, 2022

The Shedd Aquarium’s Discounts and Free Days page is the best resource for finding additional information before you go. 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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