When we first moved to Chicago, I felt extremely intimidated by the thought of parenting in such a big, fast-paced city, but oh was I naive! We have discovered so many free kid and toddler friendly activities in Chicago. Check out my list below for activities that ensure you and your littles are able to experience the city and learn in all kinds of different ways.
Free Kid & Toddler Friendly Activities in Chicago
Get up close with nature through exploring Garfield Conservatory. It’s free to enter (although they do collect donations) and you can explore one of the largest botanical conservatories in the nation. They offer different free Family Programs including Fiddleheads, Morning Glories (a favorite of River’s!) and Wild Wednesdays. The tropical temperature indoors makes this a great activity for littles during the winter!
Several museums in the city offer free days for Illinois residents, so be sure to keep an eye on their calendars! Here are a few below:
2018 Free days:
October 8, 21, 24, 25
November 11, 12, 14, 15
December 1, 3–7, 10
Free on Thursdays from 5-8 pm and free for kids under 14 at all times.
Free on Thursdays from 5-8 pm and free for kids 15 and under the first Sunday of every month.
Free every Tuesday between 12:30 and 9:00 pm. No admissions fee for those 18 and under.
2018 Free Days:
October 8, 20, 28, 31
November 11, 18
December 9, 16
2018 Free Days:
2018 Free Days:
October 3, 10
Don’t just wait for the free days to explore the museums- check out some of the local libraries where residents can check out free museum passes.
Also, check out The Art Institute of Chicago’s Kid’s Wing which is free before entering the rest of the museum!
Smart Museum of Art offers bold encounters with art, perfect for inspiring those with creative minds.
Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic not-for-profit landmark, offers great views of the lake and also houses the beautiful Centennial Ferris wheel. Check out their #wheelwednesday page for when they’re offering complimentary Wednesday rides.
For kids who move around a little more freely, check out one of the Free Chicago Walking Tours to move around and learn more about the city.
Teach your kiddos about horticulture and conservation by visiting the 27 gardens and 4 natural areas of the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
Take a step into the wild at Lincoln Park Zoo, and be sure to check their calendar for their seasonal events including Fall Fest, Zoo Lights, and more!
Maggie Daley Park offers beautiful lush greenery and kid’s play areas divided by recommended ages. Located next to Millennium Park, hop over to the bean for pictures when you’re finished playing and add those iconic selfies to your albums.
Have something to add?
If you have any other free kid & toddler friendly activities in Chicago recommendations, help us add to the list by leaving us a comment below!
Nikki is a wife, a mama, a blogger and a working professional. Her trick to balancing life is to always incorporate things that bring her joy. For Nikki, joy isn’t only in the big adventures, but also in those little every day moments.