2019 Chicago-Area Museum Free Days

One of the best things about living in the Chicago suburbs is the number of first-class museums that are just a short drive or train ride away. Exploring a new museum (or visiting an old favorite) is a wonderful way to spend the day as a family any time of year, but it’s even better when you can enjoy it for free! We’ve got the dates you need right here: Brookfield Zoo free days, Shedd Aquarium free days, Adler Planetarium free days, and many more. So bookmark this post and enjoy local museums for free all year long!

2019 Museum and Zoo Free Days

2019 Adler Planetarium Free Days

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

  • 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 free admission. Dates subject to change; double-check online.

2019 Art Institute of Chicago Free Admission Opportunities

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

  • General admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm to 8:00 p.m.
  • Admission is always free for children under 14 and for Chicago teens under the age of 18.
  • 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.

Brookfield Zoo

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

Horse-Drawn Carriage and Trolley Rides for Old-Fashioned Holiday Fun

Admission is free every Tuesday and Thursday starting October 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019. From January 1 through February 28, 2020: free admission is provided on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check website to confirm current days, which vary by season.

Parking is still $14 per car on free days. Admission is also always free for all active, reservist, and retired members of the military. 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.

Cantigny Park Free Days

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. Admission is always free!

2019 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 the price of one ticket ($14.95) from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. $5 for each additional person.
  • Piertastic Tuesdays: From June 11 through September 3, two admissions can be purchased for the price of one on Tuesdays.
  • First Sunday of every month is free admission all day for ages 15 and under.

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 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.
Family-Friendly Weekend Events: November 15–17

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. All military duty personnel from all branches receive complimentary admission.

Elmhurst Art Museum Free Days

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

The first Friday of each month is free all year. Admission is always free for students and children 18 and under.

2019 Field Museum Free Days for Illinois Residents

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

  • June 26-28 (Check website for additional free days as they are posted throughout the year.)
  • Illinois teachers (K–12) and active military personnel with valid identification receive free basic admission.

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

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

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

The Museum is closed through Fall 2019, when it will reopen in its new Oak Brook location. Please check back later for free admission details.

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

Museum of Contemporary Art 2019 MCA 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.
  • 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.

2019 Museum of Science and Industry Free Days

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

  • August 26–28 (Check website for additional free days as they are posted throughout the year.)
Breakfast with Santa and Other Holiday Meal Options in the West and Southwest Suburbs 2019

2019 Shedd Aquarium Free Days for Illinios Residents

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

  • June 17, 18, 24, 25
  • August 26–27
  • September 3, 4, 9–11, 16–18, 23–25, 30
  • October 1, 2
  • December 4

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.

New in 2019: Guests who present a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch ATM, credit, or debit card, along with photo I.D., will receive one free admission on site during the Sunday of the first full weekend of each month.

  • 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 every day.
    Chicago firefighters and police officers receive free general admission every day.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Donation Days

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

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents. Illinois teachers and active duty service members and their families are free with valid identification.

Loyola University Museum of Art

Admission is free every day.

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

Sara Heiserman
Sara is a small town girl who spent several years as a writer in the big city before heading out to the ‘burbs with her hubby to raise their growing family. Charmed by Lemont’s picturesque landscape and genuine hometown pride, Sara loves that there’s always something fun to do or see nearby with her 5- and 3-year old sons and 1-year old daughter. In warmer months, Sara and her crew enjoy playing on the family farm, splash pad hopping and catching Movies in the Park. In cooler months, she plans lots of play dates to keep everybody sane and indulges her creative spirit, crafting, baking and home decorating.

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