Top 10 Free Things to Do in Chicago
06.11.2017 03:04
Chicago is unlike any other city. For starters, it has a lot of nicknames. The most famous of course, is the Windy City. While its lakes and tall buildings definitely generate a lot of wind, most sources indicate that the nickname actually stands for boastfulness and long-windedness. Other nicknames include Chi-town, Second City, the City that Works, and My Kind of Town.

There are various theories about how the city got its name. Most essentially agree that it stems from a Native American word that most likely means striped skunk or smelly onion. Some also claim that onion is incorrect and that the translation actually refers to garlic.

Chicago. About 40 million people visit the city every year. No wonder. Its both beautiful and fascinating and theres so much to do and see. Many of the fun things to do are a free. Here are ten of them:

1.Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago cherishes this thirty-five acre zoo. Its open all year, so you can visit any time. Theres a lion house; a hot spring forest with snow monkeys; a center for African apes with three distinct habitats and five thousand feet of vines; a glass-domed small mammal and reptile house; polar bears and penguins; birds; a petting zoo; amusement rides, lights, and a farm; rare and endangered animals; and, every other mammal you can imagine.

2.Chicago Botanic Garden. In this stunning 385-acre garden, youll find twenty-six unique gardens, including a Japanese Garden, evening garden, and a childrens growing garden. Three large greenhouses keep fragrant flowers continuously blooming. You could even bring a bike and pedal along a scenic one-mile path as you go from one lovely destination to another (racks available). Multiple visits are required to see everything. (Special exhibits charge fees).

3.Guided Tours / Walks. Chicago Greeters offer customized, two-four hour personal tours, based on your choice of neighborhood, language, and special interest (Foodie, history, art). Over two hundred volunteers offer their services and are eager to share their experiences with you. If youre interested, make sure to register at least ten days in advance on the Greeters website.

InstaGreeter offers hour long guided walking tours of downtown Chicago, Friday through Sunday. Early registration is not required.

4.The Beach. Yes, it gets hot in Chicago during the summer, and, yes, there are beaches. So, if youre there during the summer and feel like cooling down, head on over to the public beaches along scenic lake Michigan. Theyre open Memorial Day through Labor Day. You can swim the deep waters at the Oak Street beach or play volleyball, jog, and bike along the path at the North Avenue beach. At the 57th Street beach, you can enjoy the citys view and Promontory Point and then splash around the water across from the Museum of Science and Industry.

5.An Improv Show. Second City comedy club launched the careers of several successful comedians, including Dan Aykroyd, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and John Belushi, just to name a few. In addition to shows, on most nights, there is a free improv set featuring cast members and sometimes, an unannounced guest (every now and then, a Places To Eat In Chicago famous one). So, go catch a free show. You never know who might end up seeing.

6.Brewery Tours. What could be better than seeing how beer is made? Free bear! Experience both with a free brewery tour. These breweries offer free behind-the-scenes looks:

oTwo Brothers Brewery in Warrenville offers tours on Saturdays and Sundays. No reservations required.

oLagunitas Brewing Company, Chicagos largest, tours and tastings at its Douglas Park location at various times during the week and hourly on the weekends.

oRevolution Brewings Kedzie Production Brewery provides tours of its brew house Wednesdays through Saturdays. The tour usually reaches its thirty person capacity on weekends fairly quickly, so make sure to arrive early to secure your spot.

7.Chicago Cultural Center. Occasionally called the Peoples Palace, the Chicago Cultural Center houses the worlds largest Tiffany stained-glass dome. The century old, stunning architectural showpiece features a marble lobby, mosaics, and gold leaf. The center presents over seven hundred screenings, exhibits, lectures, and performances yearly. Forty-five minute tours are available Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 1:15 pm.

8.Museums. While the big name museums charge admission fees, many of the lesser name museums are just, if not more, interesting and are free to everyone year round. They include:

oJane Addams Hull-House Museum. Peace advocates and social welfare pioneers Jane Addams and Ellen Gates started the American settlement house movement in this redbrick Victorian in 1889. They shaped near-miracles in the nearby community, which was practically a slum for immigrants. Letters and photos recreate and add perspective to what became the birthplace of social work. The museum also hosts progressive social events.

oThe National Museum of Mexican Art. This is the biggest Latino gallery in the nation and the only Latino museum the American Alliance of Museums accredited. The 8,000-piece collection features traditional, contemporary, and Mesoamerican art from both America and Mexico. Exhibits vividly trace the Latino peoples immigration and political struggles and the huge "Day of the Dead" exhibit features altars from artists across the country.

oThe Museum of Contemporary Photography. Columbia College Chicago founded the museum and regularly displays work created by emerging national and international artists. Rotating exhibits have featured examinations of crime, infrastructure, and American individuality.

oThe University of Chicagos Smart Museum of Art. This is the ideal place for those who want to see masterpieces, but just dont feel like walking around a huge museum. It houses a variety of work and features Frank Lloyd Wrights furniture, Degas sculptures, as well as Degas, Matisse, Rodin, and Henry Moore works.

oDuSable Museum of African American History. This unique museum offers a touching and moving study of the African American slave experience. It also features W.E.B. DuBois and Langston Hughes writings and memorabilia, Motown performers handwritten lyrics, and a noteworthy art collection.

9.Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Actors perform one of the Bards plays at eighteen different parks throughout the city every summer. Youd be surprised how much youd really like a Shakespeare play if youd give it a try. And, hey, its free!

10.Garfield Park Conservatory. This is one of the countys largest and most beautiful greenhouses. Its nickname is landscape art under glass. It stretches about two acres and houses thousands of plant species. Enjoy the warmth as you stroll along lush flowers. Youll forget for a while that youre in a bustling city. In summer, theres also a gorgeous outdoor garden.

This is just a sampling of the cost-free fun Chicago has to offer. Just looking around the beautiful city is a treat. And, then theres the food, music, and the friendly people. After just a few hours, youll be calling Chicago My Kind of Town.


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