There’s nothing like being in Chicago in the summer. And there’s nothing like visiting Chicago museums in the summer – especially for FREE! We’ve put together a list of special days when Chicago museums offer free admission this summer. This list includes Chicago museum family favorites we know you love to visit, with free days between May – August.
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 Chicago museums, the kid price applies to children 3-11.
Even if you can’t visit on the specific days mentioned below, many Chicago museums also offer discounts or freebies. Some of these are for specific guests, such as for veterans and/or active military members; teachers; or first responders.
Some have offers as 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. Many offer discounts if you buy tickets online before you go.
Save more money on your Chicago visit – avoid parking charges and take the train (our advice).
SUMMER FREE DAYS AT CHICAGO MUSEUMS
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, Chicago:
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:
June 17, 18, 24, 25
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:
May 2, 4
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: June 3-5, 10-13
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
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 “suggested.” 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 changed 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 Resident Free Days: Every Tuesday
Illinois Resident children 18 and under, and non-Illinois resident children 12 and under, are free everyday, but adults are not. The Museum is free to Illinois residents every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9 p.m. More information to plan your visit. Free day savings: $38
McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, Chicago:
Free days: Sundays
This museum is only open in the summer months (this year between May 12 through October 29). Beginning at river level and spiraling five stories up, the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore a historic landmark bridgehouse. General admission is $5; children 5 and under are free, and admission is free on Sundays. Free day savings: $22
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; no one will be turned away.
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 and the National Museum of Mexican Art. Yep!
Have you had a great museum trip with your kids lately? We’d love to hear about it!