Top 9 Best Things To Do in Chicago For Free in 2021
Chicago is the famous city you see in many American movies and also the place where the delicious Chicago-style dish pizza was born. With close to 3 million people living there, Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States. Gigantic Skyscrapers, interesting museums, and vibrant streets full of shops, bars, and restaurants, one might think that everything must be quite expensive over there. Actually, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with our following list of the best free things you can do while you’re in the Windy City.
Why Chicago is nicknamed the Windy City?
For many years, Chicago has been called the Windy City because of its cool breeze during summer. Since a lot of people are travelling to Chicago for visiting the city during the work holidays, many have noticed that the temperature was pretty nice with some fresh winds that cool your body during a hot day of summer. This is due to the city being located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Over the years, the name Wind City (or the City of the Wind, or more commonly, the Windy City) has stayed and almost became a bragging right for people who live there.
Is Chicago a safe city to visit?
Yes, it is totally safe to visit, as long as you don’t adventure through dark alleys and sketchy neighborhoods. You have to take into account that there is a total of 77 communities spread around 234 sq mi, so it is bound to have places that are less welcoming than others for tourists. That being said, know that you can safely walk around in Chicago downtown at night, as police are everywhere and there are a lot of people shopping or looking for a place to eat late.
Top 9 List of the Best Free Activities to do in Chicago
Without further ado, let’s dive into our list of the best activities to do in Chicago City:
Visit Millennium Park
The Illinois city’s heart is often associated with Millennium Park and its giant Bean (the Cloud Gate) made of shiny stainless steel. Located in The Loop community, the park is open from 8am to 9pm every day, so you have a lot of time to visit the latter during your time in Chicago.
There are 2 main questions we must answer right away about the Chicago Riverwalk: Is it open during COVID and where does the Riverwalk start exactly?
First, yes, the Riverwalk is open during COVID. And second, the Riverwalk is 1.25 miles long and goes from Lake Michigan to Lake Street.
You can eat at many restaurants along the way, or just appreciate the view and the people walking by. It’s a relaxing ambiance, with many activities during the day. Moreover, one of the best attractions is the Art on theMART, which is a very fun 30-minute digital projection across 2.5 acres on the river.
Lincoln Park Walk
If you are with your family, the Lincoln Park Zoo is right there and, hold your breath, it’s totally free! You heard that right! This is the only zoo in the United States (maybe there are more, not sure) that is free of admission. Additionally, you can also visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory that is also completely free. Basically, Lincoln Park will entertain you for the entirety of the day and is a perfect free activity for the family in Chicago.
Oak Street Beach
You feel like doing nothing and just relaxing under the hot sun and the breezy weather of Chicago all day? Then, Oak Street Beach, located at 1000 N. Lake Shore Drive will be the place of choice. Enjoy the beach with the view of the huge buildings in the background, and of course, enjoy the free admission!
Lakefront Trail Adventure
Feeling like taking a leisurely stroll across the famous Lakefront Trail? This extremely long and beautiful pedestrian and bicycle-friendly trail is always full of people running and training, tourists, cyclists, and caregivers. The trail goes from Ardmore Ave. on the north side, to 71st Street on the south.
Walk Around the Buckingham Fountain
The Buckingham Fountain is nothing less than one of the biggest fountains in the entire world. It was built in 1927 and is located in the very center of Grant Park between Queen’s Landing and Congress Parkway. All that being said, please note that the Buckingham Fountain only operates from May to mid-October. If you have the chance to be there during the evening, you’ll probably see a color-light show that will make your visit worth it.
Visit the Magnificent Mile Shops
Yes, we hear you, shopping is not free, but there is just something about this place! The Magnificent Mile, also sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is one of the largest shopping districts in America. Even if you don’t want to spend, there will still be a lot of things to see and to do. Just enjoy the place and the view while you walk across the Loop shop streets, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up buying something.
Explore the Chicago Cultural Center
Situated just across the street from the Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center is absolutely enormous and worth visiting. If you are wondering if the Cultural Center in Chicago is free, the answer is yes. Their events and their tours won’t cost you a penny! Know that this structure was built more than 100 years ago, and comprises the Museum of Technology, the Chicago’s Library, as well as the Art and Culture Center.
Take a Chicago Greeter Free Tour
Finally, if you want a fun a friendly free tour of the city, you can meet a Chicago Greeter who will help you discover the best spots in the city. This service is provided by the Chicago Office of Tourism. With this tour, an actual Chicagoan will show you fun places in a safe environment, so it’s a great opportunity to discover the city if you have no idea of where to begin.