Chicago is a classic American city filled with some of the most interesting history, architecture, city views and attractions in all of the 50 states. Chicago is also one of the greatest destinations when it comes to activities that are free of charge. Check out this list of seven absolutely free places to visit on your next trip to Chicago.
Enjoy the wonderful open space of Chicago's most famous park. Similar to New York's Central Park, Grant Park is the centerpiece of Chicago, a world within a world. There is much to see and do, and it is all contained within the lakefront park space. Probably the most famous highlight is the park's signature piece, the beautiful Buckingham Memorial Fountain, which has been featured in numerous films and TV shows.
Millennium Park is an architectural, outdoor garden with state-of-the art pieces around every turn. Even the children's playground has been constructed according to a specific, innovative design. Plan your visit in advance as there are always interesting events like concerts and photography exhibitions taking place within the 24-acre space.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is home to 1,100 different types of animals and over 200 different species. New animals like red pandas and baby gorillas also frequently arrive to the zoo. There are plenty of specially designed activities for children and adults, like the LEAP Exploration Program and the Animal Enrichment Workshop which give visitors a firsthand opportunity to learn about the animals who call this zoo home.
Many visitors fall in love with Chicago due to its lakefront location, beaches and miles of paths lining the lake. Some even say the lakefront is what makes Chicago one of the best cities in the world. Visitors to the lakefront can enjoy walking, running or riding their bike on the path and even soak up the sun (in the summer months) or play volleyball on one of the many sand beaches. The lakefront also provides excellent views of Chicago's iconic skyline from both the northern and southern ends. Make a trip to the Adler Planetarium on the Southside for the most scenic skyline views in town.
Smart Museum of Art
The museum contains 10,000 works of art including modern, contemporary and Asian art. You'll also find pieces created by famous masters such as Goya, Picasso and Matisse and also furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The wonderful courtyard of the garden features sculptures by Richard Hunt and Scott Burton as well as landscape architecture filled with river stones and native plantings.
Navy Pier is filled with countless recreational activities and attractions for all ages. The pier features 50 acres of shops, restaurants, parks, exhibitions, facilities, gardens and family attractions. The pier has great views of the lakefront as well as the magnificent Chicago skyline. Some of the most popular attractions include the giant Ferris wheel, boat tours and a children's museum.
Chicago Cultural Center
This is one of Chicago's landmark buildings and was the nation's first free municipal cultural center. The center contains thousands of visual, literary and performing arts exhibits. It features a beautiful interior space which contains two large Healy and Millet stained glass domes, the world's largest Tiffany Dome, a grand staircase and the magnificent Preston Bradley Hall - all making this buildings interior one of the most interesting pieces of interior architecture in the city.
What free activity interests you most in Chicago?
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