View of Chicago's The Bean and Lake Michigan

21 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Chicago This Summer

Chicago's The Bean in Summer

Since I’ve been job searching this summer, I’ve been watching my pennies a little more carefully than normal. Luckily, that doesn’t mean I miss out on all the fun, either. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on free and cheap things to do in the city that actually sound legitimately fun, so I thought I’d share with you guys in case you’re looking for something to do!

Check it out and let me know if there’s anything missing that’s on your list!

Art & Culture

Concerts in Millennium Park: Various Dates, FREE.

Chicago SummerDance (Dance Lessons and Music): Every Wed – Sunday in Grant Park, FREE.

Art Institute of Chicago Free Nights: 5-8pm Thursdays, FREE to Illinois Residents.

Museum of Contemporary Art Free Days: Every Tuesday, FREE to Illinois Residents.

Lincoln Park Zoo: Open and FREE everyday!

Garfield Park Conservatory: Open and FREE everyday! (This would be a beautiful photo shoot location – looking at you blogger friends or newly engaged people!)

National Museum of Mexican Art: Tuesday – Sunday 10-5, FREE.

Half-Price Theater Tickets (or check out my favorite shows here): Various Prices on Hot Tix.

Asian American Theater Fest @ Victory Gardens: August 13-18, tickets start at $10.

Chicago Jazz Festival @ Millennium Park: August 30-Sept 2, FREE

Keith Haring Mural Exhibit @ The Chicago Cultural Center: Now through Sept 23, FREE


Food & Street Fests

The Taste of Chicago: July 11-15 in Grant Park, FREE Admission and only $10 for 14 Food Tickets.

Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square: July 13-15, $10 Suggested Donation.

Taste of River North: July 20-22, $5 Suggested Donation.

Tacos y Tamales Festival (Pilsen): July 20-22, $5 Suggested Donation.

Wicker Park Fest: July 27-29, $10 Suggested Donation.

Randolph Street Market: July 28-29, $10 in advance or $12 at the door.


Sports & Workouts

White Sox Baseball Games: Various Dates, Tickets start at $7 – lol that’s not a typo. (Pro tip: If you show up around the 6th inning they’ll sometimes just give you a FREE ticket.)

Millennium Park Summer Workouts: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, FREE.

5K Timed Runs in Humboldt, Washington, and Warren Park: FREE, just make sure to sign up in advance!

Workouts at Gallagher Way (Wrigleyville): Mondays-Saturdays, FREE.


[This guide from Choose Chicago and this list of street festivals from LakeShore Lady were super helpful in putting this together, go check them out!]

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