Do you love visiting museums? Do you love visiting museums for FREE? We’ve put together a list of special days when we know Chicago museums offer free admission this winter. This list includes family favorites we know you love to visit in Chicago, from January through March.
Winter Fun in Chicago: Free Days at the Best Museums
The days listed below are mostly free for ILLINOIS RESIDENTS. That means you must provide valid Illinois proof of residency; a drivers’ license or state I.D. usually suffices.
We’ve also included the average free day savings for a family of four (two adults, two kids) so you can see how beneficial these are to your family budget. For many museums, the kid price applies to children 3-11. Always look at the fine print. (Prices are subject to change without notice.)
Save more money on your Chicago visit – avoid parking charges and take the train (our advice).
(Our article focuses on general admission. However, many museums also offer discounts or freebies for veterans, as well as teachers. Some are part of the Museums for All program, for those who have valid EBT or WIC cards – many offer admission for $3 up to six family members. Check the websites accordingly for more info!)
WINTER FREE DAYS AT CHICAGO MUSEUMS
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, Chicago: Free days
January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31
February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28
Want to go to the Museum of Science and Industry for free? Illinois residents who show valid proof of residency can get free admission to this family favorite on multiple days in January and February (a HUGE cost savings!). On Illinois Free Days, museum entry is free for all Illinois residents who show valid proof of residency. OmniMax films, Coal Mine and optional U-505 onboard tours, and certain temporary exhibits are not included in museum entry, and require separate admission. See Ticket Prices on Illinois Free Days and Parking for all the fine print. Free days savings: $62
SHEDD AQUARIUM, Chicago:
On select days throughout the year, Illinois residents with a valid ID receive free general admission or discounted upgraded admission to the aquarium. Three options are available on your Illinois Resident Discount Days – free General Admission, or discounts on the Shedd Pass and Total Experience Pass. Our tip: at the Shedd, you can serve free day tickets online, although there is a small service fee. Free days savings varies, but free general admission saves $140 (no that is not a typo).
FIELD MUSEUM, CHICAGO:
Free days: January 21 (Martin Luther King Day); February 1 – 28 (all month!)
Did you know that Sue the T. Rex is back at the Field Museum in a new permanent home? It’s the talk of the town. Go see her! For Illinois residents. Must show proof of residency. Free basic admission is included; discounts are available for upgrades. See their website to plan your trip. Free day savings: $82
ADLER PLANETARIUM, Chicago:
Illinois Resident Discount Days: January 21-22, 29-31; February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days – where Illinois residents receive free General Admission to the museum (note: shows are extra). More information on the Adler Planetarium website. Free day savings: $40
BROOKFIELD ZOO: Did you know Brookfield Zoo is open 365 days a year? I didn’t. Located in the burbs, Brookfield is large and spread out, but has a lot of inside exhibitions as well. (See our review). General Zoo Admission is free on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from January 1, 2019 through February 28, 2019. Parking fees (Cars $14, Buses $20) still apply. Free day savings: $75.80
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO: General admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5-8 p.m, year round. Children 13 and under are free every day. Free night savings: $44
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO: Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays, year round. Must have proof of residency. Children 18 and under are free daily. Admission is just suggested; the museum does not turn away anyone. More info here. Free day savings: $30
DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY, CHICAGO: Admission is free every Tuesday. More information: http://www.dusablemuseum.org/ Free day savings: $26 (FYI that kids 5 and under are free).
CHICAGO CHILDREN’S MUSEUM: The first Sunday of each month has free admission for visitors 15 and under. More information, visit their website. The museum has change its Thursday night promotion, as of 2019 up to four people get in for the price of one ticket. Free day savings: $30
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM: Illinois residents 18 and under are free everyday, but adults are not. The Museum is free to all Illinois residents every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9 p.m. and on Commemorative Days: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, March 4, and July 4. More information visit the website. Free day savings: $38
PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM: We loved this museum when we visited a few winters ago. One of Chicago’s hidden gems, located in Lincoln Park. (Read our review.) Thursdays are suggested donations day for Illinois residents, year round. Typical admission for a family of four: $30
SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM: Located in Andersonville, one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage in the United States, with Swedish roots dating back to the 19th century. What’s of most interest to families is the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration. Free admission the second Tuesday of every month. More info: website. Free day savings: $10
Free every day: Lincoln Park Zoo. Yep!
Have you had a great museum trip with your kids lately? We’d love to hear about it!