25 Free Summer Activities in Chicago to Do with Kids

I think Chicago is one of the finest cities in the world. But it can be costly if you don’t know how to use the city. Today we’re talking about 25 free summer activities in Chicago you can do with the kids and whole family!

25 FREE Summer Activities in Chicago for Kids and Families

Photo Credits Courtesy of: ©City of Chicago and ©Choose Chicago

25 Free Summer Activities in Chicago to Do with Kids

Every summer the families of Chicago come out in droves to explore this fine city.

They fight through the crowds and the traffic to enjoy every moment of warm weather that can be found.

Chicagoans know how to entertain themselves and their children on the cheap, and today Kirsten from Kids Are a Trip is sharing her secrets with 25 free things to do with kids in Chicago this summer.

1. Watch the evening water show at Buckingham Fountain, every hour on the hour beginning at dusk.

2. Fly a kite at the free Kite Festival at the Chicago Botanic Garden August 8th and 9th.

3. Visit a local library and enjoy crafts and story time.

4. Free museum days at the Chicago Childrens Museum every Thursday evening.

5. Play in the water from the Crown fountain towers and take pictures with Cloud Gate.

6. Explore the play structures at Maggie Daley park.

7. Play with the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo where admission is always free.

8. Grab your sand castle making tools and head to one of Chicagos beaches, there are 26 miles worth of beachfront to explore!

9. Hike the trails at Heller Nature Center in Highland Park.

10. Take a family bike ride on the 606.

11. Visit the Peggy Notabaert Museum on Thursdays, free with a suggested donation.

12. Borrow someone’s kayak and head for the Skokie Lagoons.

13. Head to a local farmers market and sample the food.

14. Watch the fireworks at Navy Pier, Wednesdays at 9:30 and Saturdays at 10:15.

15. Go camping at a local campsite or in your own backyard.

16. Watch the amazing Air  & Water Show (August 15-16, downtown).

17. Spend the day exploring one of Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods: Chinatown, Pilsen, Andersonville, or Little Italy.

18. Head to Millennium Park for their Family Fun Festival, which offers daily kid friendly activities through August 23rd.

19. Take the kids bowling for free, one game each day during the summer when they sign up on Brunswicks website.

20. Gather up your blankets and popcorn and head to a park near you for Movies in the Parks from the Chicago Park District.

21. Explore Napervilles Riverwalk where you can walk along the DuPage river, play on the playground, feed the ducks and grab a bite to eat.

22. Grab your poles and go fishing at Independence Grove in Libertyville.

23. Find a free concert in the park, they’re everywhere this summer.

24. Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory where every Wednesday evening admission is free and kids can get out and explore nature.

25. Take some art supplies and have an outdoor art class as kids try to copy what they see at the Skokie Sculpture Park.

Other wonderful Chicago activities for the family include:

Do you have any favorite free events your family enjoys during the summer? We would love to hear about them!

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    About Kids Are a Trip

    Kirsten writes at Kids Are A Trip where she shares her family’s travel adventures and tips including the challenges of traveling with a child with food allergies.  She’s a substitute teacher and mom to three over-scheduled children when she’s not planning their next vacation. Be sure to stop by her site and find some inspiration for your next family trip.

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