Chicago Museum Winter FREE Days


Beat the winter doldrums with an adventure to ancient lands or back in time, and still be home in time for dinner.  Take advantage of FREE admission at Chicago museums and plan a day to experience a different time and place! Don’t want to fight free day crowds? Take advantage of the other low-cost alternative to visiting some of our areas great museums, the Museum Adventure pass, available free at your local library!

Chicago museum free days

As always, days can change and residency restrictions may apply. Be sure to check the museum’s pages before heading out.

Worried your kids are too young? Melissa breaks down the museums based on your preschooler’s personality and gives you tips on going with littles.

Free Admission Days at Chicago Museums

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive., Chicago | (312) 922-STAR (7827)
Free general admission: 
January: 7-9, 20-22
February: 4-6, 11-13, 17-20
March: 9-12
Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12) and active military personnel receive free general admission which can be applied to any admission pass. Please show proper identification at the box office to take advantage of this benefit.
Should you go? Read: Exploring Space with Kids

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | (312) 857-7161
Free admission Thursday Evenings, 5:00-8:00 p.m. Admission is always free for kids younger than 13. Ryan Education Center (enter through the Modern Wing entrance at 159 East Monroe Street) admission is always free!
Should you go? Read: Taking Kids to the Art Institute

adler planetarium

Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E Grand Ave., Chicago, | (312) 527-1000
FREE for all visitors every Thursday, 5:00-8:00 p.m. FREE on the first Sunday of each month for children 15 and younger. Always free to children younger than one.

Dunn Museum
1899 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville, IL 60048 | (847) 968-3400
Tuesdays are Discount Days – Children younger than 17 are free (with an adult) and adults are only $3! On the first and third Thursday of the month, the museum stays open until 8:00 p.m. with family activities and free admission (after 5:00 p.m.) courtesy of USG. Take a look at this brand new museum in our review.

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (312) 922-9410
Free basic Admission:
January: 8, 15, 20, 22, 29
February: 1-29
Illinois residents can enjoy FREE Basic admission on Field Museum Discount Days. On these Discount Days, Illinois residents may upgrade to a Discovery Pass for $11 or upgrade to an All-Access Pass for $18.Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12) and active military personnel receive free basic admission.

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago | (312) 280-2660
Free Admission: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Tuesdays. Always free for kids 12 and younger.

Museum of science and industry

Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (773) 684-1414
Free General Admission:
January: 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30
February: 3-6, 10-13, 18-20, 24-27
Homeschoolers get free admission anytime.

Notebart Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago | (773) 755-5100
Free Admission Thursdays. Children younger than 3 are always free.
Should you go? Melissa’s review of Notebart Nature Museum

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (312) 939-2438
Free General Admission:
January: 16-20
February: 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28
On Illinois Resident Discount Days, Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission. This includes the Waters of the World, Amazon Rising, and the Caribbean Reef. Learn about Shedd’s commitment to animal rescue and rehabilitation.


Round Lake Children’s Neighborhood Museum
814 Hart Rd., Round Lake | (847) 546-8558
Free Admission Wednesdays 5-6:30 p.m.
Read about the remodel of the museum.

Wildlife Discovery Center
1401 Middlefork Drive (Elawa Farm), Lake Forest
Free Admission during normal visiting hours Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (closed on major holidays) Read why it’s a Little Lake County favorite.

Which museum will you be visiting this winter?

Chicago Museum Winter FREE Days
About Melissa Haak 626 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

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