FREE Chicago Museum Days 2018



It’s that time! Free Chicago Museum Days are a great way for Illinois residents to learn, live and love the wonderful culture, history, and architecture in and around Chicago for FREE!

It’s always a great idea to grab one of the many Chicago Travel Books to really appreciate the vast number of museums, art galleries, and shops.  One book, that I refer to regularly, is full of fun places for my kids as well as visiting guests is 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss


Don’t forget your Chicago T-Shirts & Hoodies


First, check out Chicago’s beautiful Museum Campus!

Created on 57 acres of land upon which three of the city’s most notable museums sit: 

  • The Adler Planetarium 
  • Shedd Aquarium 
  • Field Museum of Natural History

Spend a day enjoying the many sculptures, park of this scenic pedestrian-friendly area.  Even if you do not actually enter one of the museums on the museum campus, it is still a very enjoyable place to take in the best view of the city.  On a pleasant day you can sit in the grassy area and watch the many boats and water activities ging on in Lake Michigan. 

Museum Campus



Adler Planetarium of Chicago

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

Open Hours ~ Monday-Sunday 9:30 am – 4 pm

Illinois resident free days:

  • January 3, 4, 7-12, and 15-19
  • February 2, 5-9, and 19-22
  • June 21
  • August 27-31
  • September 9-16
  • October 8, 21, 24, 25
  • November 11, 12, 14, 15
  • December 1, 3-7, and 10

Check out Adler Planetarium website for Admission & Membership Opportunities!

Can’t make it to the Adler Planetarium on one of their FREE days? Don’t worry, the Adler Planetarium has three admission options to choose from. If you are planning to spend the day at the Adler Planetarium then the Anytime All Access Pass might be a great option for you. The Anytime All Access Pass which costs $34.95 for any visitors 12 years and older and $29.95 for visitors aged 3 to 11 will give you access to ALL exhibitions and all shows. This includes their newest Sky Show, Planet Nine. The Basic Pass is the cost of admission and your choice of one show. For visitors, 12 years and older the cost for the Basic Pass is $24.95. For children ages 3 to 11, the cost is $19.95. Lastly, there is the General Admission. General admission gives you access to the entire planetarium but not to the Sky Shows, Planet Nine or any of the other special shows. Ages 12 and older General Admission is $12.00 and children ages 3 to 11 pay $8.00.

The Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and was founded by Max Adler in 1930. If you are a person fascinated by science and outer space, this place is for you.  As a child, I received a telescope for my 8th birthday and it was SO unexpected but much loved.  I find it interesting that my parents, for some reason, knew that I would love that telescope.  I have visited the planetarium many times over the years; with my family, visiting relatives and school field trips with my kids.  I have also given one of my sons a telescope for his birthday; the Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope which he loves!  So if you know of any child (or adults) that you think might enjoy having their very own telescope, you should!  There’s a  good variety to choose from depending on the gift receiver’s level of interest.  The Adler Planetarium is also available for weddings and other private events!

EATS!  The Adler Planetarium has a great CHEAP eatery, Galileo’s;  known to be the least expensive of the many spots located in other Chicago museums.

CityPASS Info

You might not have to choose between visiting Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago.  Check the free days for both museums.  Use the CityPASS for one and then enjoy the other for FREE.

Admission Includes:

1.  Shedd Aquarium – PRIORITY ENTRY

2.  Skydeck Chicago – FAST PASS

3.  The Field Museum – VIP ENTRY

4.  Museum of Science and Industry   OR   360 CHICAGO Observation Deck – EXPRESS  ENTRY

5.  Adler Planetarium – VIP ENTRY   OR   Art Institute of Chicago – FAST PASS



Chicago Field Museum of Natural History

1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60605  (312) 922-9410

*Hours Open ~ Monday thru Friday  9 am – 5 pm

*Children Aged 2-6 can experience the Crown Family PlayLab! The PlayLab is FREE with Basic Admission. 


PlayLab Hours are Thursdays thru Mondays: 10 am – 3:30 pm




Illinois resident free days:

  • January 3, 4, 15, 27, and 28
  • February 1-28
  • June 20-22

Stepping into the main hall and lobby from the entrance of the Field Museum, you are invited to explore.  The main hall is grand.  Along with the huge dinosaur skeletons and other great creatures, you can see several hallways breaking off into unseen spaces.  You can easily spend 20 minutes looking around the grand hall. 

Interesting Facts:

  • This museum has over 20 million natural object and man-made artifacts.


A few of the exhibits that you might want to explore:

The First Floor

  • Mammels & Reptiles
  • Hall of Birds
  • Artifacts from ancient America’s

Second Floor

  • Huge exhibition of Asian Countries
  • SUE the T-Rex Dinosaur is on this floor; along with several other dinosaur exhibits

Lower Level

  • Ancient Egypt exhibit with Roman and Greek and other Mediterranian artifacts;  including the mummies!
  • Theaters

The Field Museum Museum is a really nice museum to slowly roam around and enjoy. The history and available information are so extensive it’s such a feast for the brain.  From the famous  Dinosaur Named Sue: The World’s Most Complete T. Rex, fossils, and ancient cultural exhibits to meteorites and the DNA Discovery Center, the Field Museum is FULL of ancient and new discoveries.  The DNA Discovery Center is my favorite and was the deciding factor in my doing the   23 and Me DNA Test Collection Kit


  • Field Bistro has gourmet options and a bar with the Field Museum Beer that you can only find here.
  • Explorer Cafe has your standard commissary foods; burgers, hot dogs, salads, pizza.

Check out Field Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60605  (312) 939-2438

Hours Open ~ Saturday thru Tuesday 9 am – 5 pm

                     Wednesday thru Friday 9 am – 6 pm

Illinois resident free days:

  • January 15, 18, 19, 22-26
  • February 2, 14
  • June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
  • September 4-30
  • October 3, 10

Check out the Shedd Aquarium website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




111 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60603  (312) 443-3600

Illinois resident free days:

  • General admission is free for Chicagoans under the age of 18 
  • Free Admission to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5-8pm.

Check out the Art Institute website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




57th Street S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60637 (773) 684-1414

Illinois resident free days:

  • January 8–11, 15–18, 22–25, and 29–31
  • February 1, 5–8, 12–15, 20–22, and 26–27
  • March 14
  • June 4–7 and 11–12
  • September 4–6, 10–13, 17–20 and 24–27
  • November 12

Check out the Museum of Science & Industry website for other Free Admission Opportunities!



1601 N. Clark St.  Chicago, IL 60614  (312) 642-4600

  • Admission Free Every Tuesday from 12:30 to 9 p.m.

EXCEPT: January 2, January 9, December 18 and December 25. Other free days include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, March 4 and July 4. 

Check out the Chicago History Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




700 E. Grand Ave.  Chicago, IL 60611  (312) 527-1000 

  • Free admission for visitors age 15 and under on the first Sunday of each month.
  • Free admission for all visitors on Target Free Family Night offered Thursday evenings 5-8pm.

Check out the Children’s Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




220 E. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 280-2660

  • Illinois residents admitted for FREE every Tuesday all year

Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




2430 N. Cannon Dr. Chicago, IL 60614  (773) 755-5100

  • Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents year round.
  • Illinois teachers are admitted for free with guests.

Check out the Peggy Notebaert Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




31st St. and First Ave. Brookfield, IL 60513  (708) 688-8000

Through February 28, 2018, admission is free: 

  • Tuesdays
  • Thursdays
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays

Check out Brookfield Zoo website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




740 E. 56th Pl.  Chicago, IL 60637   (773) 947-0600

  • Free admission every Tuesday.
  • Military personnel and children under 5 years also receive free admission.

Check out the DuSable Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




820 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60660 (312) 915-760

  • Illinois residents admitted for FREE every Tuesday, all year.

Check out Loyola University Museum of Art website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




99 Chicago River Walk  Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 977-0227

  • Free admission every Sunday, May thru October.
  • Children under 5 years are admitted for free.

Check out McCormick Bridge House website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 642-6502

  • Free admission every Tuesday for Illinois residents.

Check out the Surgical Science Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!



5211 N. Clark St.  Chicago, IL 60640  (773) 728-8111

  • Free admission every second Tuesday of the month year round.
  • Children 1 year or younger are admitted free.

Check out Swedish American Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




1827 S. Indiana Ave.  Chicago, IL 60616  (312) 326-1480

  • Admission is always free.
  • One-hour guided tours are free on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, year-round at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (not applicable to groups of 16 or more).

Check out the Clarke House Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




1800 S. Prairie Ave.  Chicago, IL 60616  (312) 326-1480

  • Admission is free on Wednesdays, all year.

Check out the Glessner House Museum website for other Free Admission Opportunities!




1635 N. Astor  Chicago, IL  60610 (312) 573-1365

  • Tours are free on Wednesdays, through March (tour limited to 15 individuals).

Check out the Charnley-Persky House Museum website for other Free Opportunities!




4041 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60641 (312) 326-0270

  • Free admission all year for everyone

Check out the National Veterans Art Museum website for other Free Opportunities!




1852 W. 19th St.  Chicago, IL 60608 (312) 738-1503

  • Free admission all year for anyone.

Check out the National Museum of Mexican Art website for other Free Opportunities!




78 E. Washington, Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 744-6630

  • Free entry always. 
  • Free tours.

Check out the Chicago Cultural Center website for other Free Opportunities!




1155 E.58th St. Chicago, IL 60615 (773) 702-9520

  • Suggested Admission:  $10 for adults & $5 for children under 12

Check out The Oriental Institute website for other Free Opportunities!



FREE Admission at all times to most museums for:

  • Members of the US Armed Services
  • Members of the Chicago Police Department
  • Members of the Chicago Fire Department
  • Illinois teachers

*Some museums require that you be an Illinois resident and can show proof of residency in order to receive free admission.  For additional FREE opportunities outside of FREE DAYS, check your local library for Museum Passes!

Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits.  Visit individual museum websites for admission details as well as policies and special arrangements and or opportunities for certain groups such as military, police, educators, camps, schools, etc.


Don’t forget your Chicago Souvenirs! 

T-Shirts ~ Tank Tops ~ Hoodies


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