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2012 Free Days at Chicago Museums

In Chicago, blizzards and museums go hand in hand. As the temperature drops outside, locals seek shelter among the dinosaurs at The Field Museum or beneath the stars at The Adler Planetarium.

With that in mind, it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the following free days (for Illinois residents only):

  • Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier (free for ALL visitors every Thursday night, 5-8 p.m.; kids 15 and younger are free on the first Sunday of each month)
  • Museum of Science & Industry (Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; March 5; April 19; May 23; June 4-8, 11; Sept. 4-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28)
  • The Adler Planetarium (Feb. 1, 6-9, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29; March 6, 7)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago (Feb. 1-3, 6-10; March 7, 14)
  • Shedd Aquarium (Feb. 6-7, 13-14, 19-23, 27-28; June 17-22; Sept. 10-11, 17-18, 24-25)

Before venturing out in the cold, visitors should ask if the museum’s “free day” covers admission to all exhibits. For instance, the Shedd Aquarium’s free day does not include admission to the Oceanarium, Wild Reef or Polar Play Zone.

Museums on free days can get pretty packed with field trips, tourists and locals. Try visiting toward the end of the day when most of the crowd has gone home. Instead of waiting in long lines, you can breeze through the museum in two hours or less.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Monday, January 23, 2012
See more Tips from
Josh Gershenson