Free Museum Days

free museum days in Chicago at the shedd aquarium

Looking for something to do this summer? As the weather warms up, schools close and friends come into town there’s no need to break the bank to have some fun. Lucky for you each of Chicago’s museums have free and discounted admission days.  Remember that free days often require you to be an Illinois resident and will not include special exhibits, so plan accordingly. Not sure which day to choose? Here is your guide to these Chicago attractions.


Adler Planetarium Free Days

If you love space or have a young one who wants to know everything about the stars, the Adler Planetarium offers free days to Illinois residents. General admission will include one free show in the solar theater (exclusion of premier show), and admission to all of Adler’s exhibits. Some of our recommended visits include: Hidden Wonders – Stars in Chicago, The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time – Interactive walk through the cosmos, Our Solar System – Educational exhibits, and  Planet Explorers – A perfect place for space adventurers to climb and play.

Upcoming free dates include:

June 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Art Institute of Chicago Free Days

It’s funny how art lets us explore and just imagine. For those wanting a visit to an art museum The Art Institute may have just what you need. While children under 14 are always free, adults who are Illinois residents are welcome to view the exhibits on Thursday nights from 5:00 to 8:00 at no charge.  Your free admission has no restriction, but it is limited to three hours. Please remember, selfie sticks are now on the prohibited items list.

Free days:

For Kids under 14: Every day 10:30am-5:00pm

For Adults: Thursdays 5:00pm-8:00pm

Museum of Science and Industry Free Days

This is one of the most popular museums in Chicago especially if you have younger children. You will find hundreds of interactive exhibits, from climbing through submarines, to watching chicks hatch and seeing manufacturing in action. For recommended museum exhibits the museums website has a great tool to plan your visit based on age range and interests. Recommendations from us include: Science Storms – See the Science behind tornados and lightning, Coal Mine – Ever want to be a miner?, and The Great Train Story – If you had a basement this big you would never stop playing with trains.

Free day for residents:

May-21st | June- 1st to 5th and 8th

The Field Museum Free Days

Cool Stuff, explore dinosaurs and walk through the Pacific and Egypt. All permanent exhibits are open for free days; pick up a discovery pass for only $11 to gain access to your choice of the special exhibitions, or $18 for an all-access pass to see it all. Recommendations are the dinosaur exhibits – see sue Chicago’s famous T-Rex skeleton and other life sized dinosaurs frozen in action, and Vikings – New exhibit featuring not the fairy tail of Viking warriors but the unspoken history of the Norse.

Free and Discount Days:

June 4, 5, and 8

Shedd Aquarium Free Days

The Shedd has some fabulous special offers. On free days Illinois guests will gain access to the main floor exhibits which include the small tanks and the tropical reef exhibit. The free day is great for kids. If you choose to see the penguins, dolphins, otters, and whales the aquarium will charge you full price.

Discount Days:

June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16

September 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29