top of page

Free Days at
Chicago Museums

If you are looking for some FREE fun in Chicago, look no further!  Here are the FREE DAYS at several popular Chicago Museums, many of which have free admission days on the same day!

Advanced ticket purchase is always required on free admission days. Click the "Explore More" button under the museum listing to purchase.

Dusable Museum of African American History

Once a week throughout the year, the DuSable Museum offers free admission:

  • Every Wednesday throughout the year is FREE!

  • Online booking in advance is currently required for all visitors.

  • Admission is always free for military and first responders.


Adler Planetarium

Throughout the year, Alder Planetarium host plenty of free days for America’s first planetarium. Take note that this is only free for Illinois residents.

Every WEDNESDAY NIGHT (4p - 10p) is free for Illinois Residents (with proof of residency). 

*All tickets must be purchased online and in advance.* Admission is always free for Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12), active duty military and veterans, and active police and firefighters.


Art Institute of Chicago

Illinois residents can enjoy free admission to the Art Institute throughout the year. Here are some upcoming dates:

  • Thursday evenings (5 – 8 p.m.), May 18 – Aug. 31, 2023.  

  • To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance.

  • The museum is always free for Chicago teens under the age of 18, all children under age 14, Link and WIC cardholders, active-duty military, and Illinois educators.

  • The public can enjoy the following public museum areas free of charge:

  • The Ryan Learning Center in the Modern Wing

  • The North and South Gardens (accessible from Michigan Avenue)

  • The Nichols Bridgeway connecting the museum to Millennium Park

  • The Bluhm Family Terrace on the 3rd floor of the west pavilion of the Modern Wing

You MUST secure your tickets in advance in order to receive free admission. Click the link below for tickets.


Brookfield Zoo

Free admission at the Brookfield Zoo for all active, reserve, and retired members of the military with an ID. Admission is also free for children age 2 and under.

*Brookfield Zoo will not require proof of vaccination to enter the zoo, visit the indoor animal exhibits, use the restrooms or to purchase food to-go from outdoor or indoor restaurant locations. 


Chicago Botanic Garden

Preregistration for nonmembers is required and will extend until the Garden is at capacity; parking fees apply.

Visitors can preregister up to two months in advance for free admission days.  See chart below for the 2023 Free Admission Days. 

  • January 9 – 16

  • February 5 – 10, 20

  • March 6 – 10

  • April 10 – 13

  • May 9, 11

  • June 13, 15, 19

  • July 11, 13

  • August 8, 10

  • September 12, 14

  • October 9 – 10, 12

  • November 6 – 12

  • December 11 – 17


Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum offers veterans and active military free admission every day with the presentation of valid military status identification. In partnership with Navy Pier, Free Family Days in 2023 are the last Thursday of the month January through May as well as September and October. No pre-registration is required.


The Field Museum

Illinois residents can spend a day at The Field Museum with complimentary admission on the following free days:

2023 Dates 

  • Jan. 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31

  • Feb. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20

  • March 7, 14

  • April 18, 22, and 25

  • May 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30

  • June 6, 13, 19, 20, and 27

Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) and active military personnel receive free basic admission year-round.


Lincoln Park Zoo

This amazing zoo in the heart of Chicago, sitting in one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, is this sprawling zoo with beautiful gardens. 



Museum of Contemporary Art

MCA is free to Illinois residents.

  • FREE EVERY TUESDAY, year-round

  • Free for those under 18, or who are members of the military (active or veterans), police, or fire department, visitors with disabilities and their caregivers, and Illinois elementary through high school teachers.

  • To encourage more people to visit and visit often, the MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy — no one will be turned away! How cool is that?!


Museum of Science and Industry

Illinois residents can enjoy free admission on the following days:


Jan. 30 – 31

Feb. 1 – 2, 6 – 9, 13 – 14, 16, 21

March 1, 6, 14 

April 18, 22

May 4, 9, 17 – 18

June 1, 6 – 7

Aug. 22, 28 – 29

Sept. 5 – 6, 11 – 12, 15, 18 – 20, 26

Oct. 4 – 5, 9, 16 – 17

Nov. 1, 8

*Limited to six children (under 18) admitted per one accompanying adult. 

The Museum of Science and Industry is always free for United States military active-duty personnel and veterans, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois teachers (Pre-K through 12th grade).


The Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is offering Illinois residents free access to all permanent exhibits, including special exhibits Underwater Beauty and seasonal Stingray Touch.

Jan. 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16

Feb. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, and 28

March 1 and 2

Advance reservations are required; no tickets will be available onsite. A $3-per-order transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online. All adults must provide proof of residency in-person when redeeming tickets at the discounted rate.


Chicago History Museum

Children under 12 years old and Illinois residents under 18 years old are always free.


Free admission is also always available to all active-duty military and all veterans, active duty Chicago Police Department members, active duty Chicago Fire Department members, City Colleges of Chicago students, faculty, and staff, and Illinois teachers.

Jan. 16 – 20, 24 – 27, 31

Feb. 1 – 3, 7 – 10, 14 – 17, 20 – 24, 28

March 12, 29, 30

April 4, 26

May 4, 29, 31

June 19, 28

July 4


National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art is offering free admission...



Chicago Cultural Center

Admission is free year-round at the Chicago Cultural Center



Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is offering suggested donation admission on the following days in 2023:

Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26

March 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30

April 6, 13, 20, and 27

Admission is always free for active-duty service members with ID and their families, Illinois teachers, and children under three.


Swedish American Museum

Free admission every second Tuesday of the month year-round at the Swedish American Museum. Children aged 1 year or younger are admitted free.


Illinois Holocaust Museum

The Illinois Holocaust Museum is offering free admission...


Reserve your free tickets in advance. Visitors with an active Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and a photo ID receive several other Free Admission dates (also found in the link below).


bottom of page