Get your entire family into your favorite Chicago attractions for free on specific days this summer
Do you love visiting museums? Do you love visiting museums for FREE? We’ve put together our list of special days when we know Chicago museums offer free admission this summer, from June through August of 2022.
Tip: Don’t be disappointed by the relatively few options for free museum days during the summer. Plan ahead for next winter — January and February usually bring the most free day opportunities for Chicago museums.
Need to stretch your summer entertainment budget? Check out our 50+ ideas for Summer Fun on a Budget.
Check for any COVID-related protocols before your visit, including whether masks are required or recommended, whether timed entry reservations are required, whether tickets are sold online only or also at the door, whether coat checks are operating, or whether concessions are open or closed.
The days listed below are mostly free for Illinois residents. That means you must provide valid Illinois proof of residency; a driver’s 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, but sometimes it’s 13 and under. Always look at the fine print. (Prices are subject to change without notice.)
Many of these free days happen on certain dates or days of the week. Remember, you might have the ability to go to a museum any day of the week and get a great discount, if you have a museum membership. Always ask about reciprocal agreements, such as the Nationwide Museum Passport Program.
Our article focuses on general admission. However, many museums also offer discounts or freebies for veterans, as well as teachers or first responders. Some are part of the Museums for All program, for those who have valid EBT or WIC cards; some offer $3 admission for up to six family members. Check the websites accordingly for more info.
And finally, another option to save money on your Chicago visit — avoid parking charges and take the train.
Summer 2022 Free Museum Days in Chicago
ADLER PLANETARIUM, Chicago
Free days: Wednesdays
Museum entry is free for Illinois residents every Wednesday from 4-10 p.m. (its new Wednesday hours). Museum entry provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the Atwood Sphere experience and sky shows); entry to all sky shows can be purchased at a discounted rate at checkout. All tickets must be reserved online and in advance. Free day savings: $54
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
No Illinois resident free days currently posted
Illinois residents under 14 are always free with an adult. To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance. Resident status will be verified using the zip code associated with the billing address provided.
BROOKFIELD ZOO, Chicago
Free days: August 1-3, for children 11 and under
Free general admission for children 11 and under. General admission for adults, parking, rentals, and ticketed attraction fees still apply on these days. Free day savings: $36
DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY, Chicago
Free days: Wednesdays
Online booking in advance is required for all visitors. Free day savings: $39
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 19, July 4, Aug. 23-26, 30-31
Illinois residents 18 and under are always free. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online. Discounts can only be applied on tickets purchased in person. Free day savings: $38
FIELD MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 20; Aug. 23, 24, 30, 31
For Illinois residents. It looks like many more Free Days are planned for Sept.-Nov. Must show proof of residency; you can only receive free admission in person. Free basic admission on Illinois Free Days is included; discounts are available for upgrades, so free day can be a great time to do the upgraded stuff you’ve always wanted to do. See the website to plan your trip. Free day savings: $86
ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST MUSEUM AND EDUCATION CENTER, Skokie
Free days: Last Friday of every month in 2022; all kids are free during June
Admission includes access to all current special exhibitions, some of which have timed entries. One of its ongoing exhibits, Make a Difference! is a highly interactive space where hands-on activities for kids ages 8-12 foster leadership skills, empathy, self-esteem, and positive decision-making. Free day savings: $48
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, Chicago
Free days: Tuesdays
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
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, Chicago
Free days: June 1, 14
Free entry for Illinois residents with valid proof of residency. Limited to six children (under 18) admitted per one accompanying adult. It looks like many more Free Days are planned for Sept. and Oct. Giant Dome Theater films, the U-505 tour and certain special experiences/exhibits are not included in museum entry and require separate admission. See the website to plan your trip. Free day savings: $70
PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; July 7, 14, 21, 28; August 4, 11, 18, 25
For Illinois residents. A donation of $10/family is suggested on these “Suggested Donation Days” but not required. Free day savings: $30
SHEDD AQUARIUM, Chicago
Free days: June 20, 21, 27, 28
On select days throughout the year, Illinois residents with a valid ID (present ID upon redeeming ticket) receive free general admission to the aquarium. Illinois Resident Free Days include all habitats, animal presentations and exhibits, including Underwater Beauty, the latest special exhibit, and seasonal Stingray Touch. 4-D Experience is a $4.95 upgrade (subject to availability). Tickets must be reserved online before your visit. Free day savings: $140 (not a typo!)
SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: second Tuesday of every month
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 (unfortunately closed as of this writing). Free day savings: $15
- GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY
- LINCOLN PARK ZOO
- CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
- NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART
- CHICAGO FED’S MONEY MUSEUM (temporarily closed)
NOT CURRENTLY OFFERING FREE DAYS
- CHICAGO CHILDREN’S MUSEUM, Chicago
- GLESSNER HOUSE MUSEUM, Chicago
Have you had a great Chicago museum trip with your kids lately? Email us and tell us all about it!
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