Chicago has many nicknames, the second city, city of big shoulders, windy city, Chi-town and many others. Chicago is a great place to visit if you are on a budget. Here are 7 awesome things you can do for free that you couldn’t do in many other big cities.
Willis Tower Sky Deck
Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower is the tallest building in Chicago and the second tallest building in the US at 1453 feet taking up two city blocks. The formerly named Sears Tower opened in 1973 and has been a top tourist destination for many years. On a clear day you can see over 50 miles away and up to 4 states from the Skydeck’s 103rd floor. The main attraction is the Ledge, a series of glass boxes that hang out over the edge of the building that give a feeling of weightlessness high above the city. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning or close to dusk to avoid excessive crowds.
Wrigley Field is home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team since 1916. It is the second oldest baseball stadium after Fenway Park in Boston that opened in 1912. This iconic stadium has been in countless movies and TV shows over the years and is known for it’s original hand-operated scoreboard, the big red marquee at the entrance and it’s ivy covered brick walls in the outfield. . It is definitely one of the best places to see a day baseball game in the country.
The park is known for it’s state-of-the-art architecture, landscape design and artwork and offers hundreds of free exhibits, concerts and family activities, tours and cultural programs ever year. There are several individual attractions within the park that include the BP Bridge that links Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion where many concerts are held, Lurie Garden, Cloud Gate, referred to as “The Bean” and the Crown Fountain.
Art Institute of Chicago
This museum has a collection of more than 300,000 permanent artworks including the famous Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic are housed here. You can also see Georges Seurat’s iconic painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and Marc Chagall’s American Windows (stained glass installation) which were seen in the popular 80’s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.When you work up an appetite head to the Art Institute’s restaurant, Terzo Piano for an authentic Italian meal.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Known as “Landscape art under glass” opened in 1908 and is one of the largest conservatories in the world and has some amazing architecture as well. The 1.6 acre building has over 120,000 plants from 600 species including many ferns and palm species from around the world. Throughout the year they offer many workshops, installations, family and adult programming, even yoga with goats!
Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo offers over 1200 animals from all of the world and best of all it’s free to get in….no admission fee. Originally built in 1868 and then rebuilt in 1969, it is one of the oldest zoo’s on the continent. They have tons of activities throughout the year and is becoming a popular place for wedding due to it’s amazing views. It is also home to one of the largest conservation programs in the country that give world class care to all of their animals as well as new animals entering the park.
Come visit probably the only museum in the country that pays you to visit. The Money Museum is inside the Federal Reserve bank of Chicago. One of 12 reserve banks in the country it houses 100’s of millions of dollars for other banks when they run out of room. Within the museum is a machine that passes old unusable bills through a tube and into a shredder right on front of the visitors eyes. Once shredded the money confetti is then given to the visitors as a souvenir. There is also a huge glass tube stuffed full of old bills and an unused elevator shaft filled with $50K worth of old coins. Because the admittance is free and your confetti souvenir, in a way you are getting paid to visit!…OK, not really but still pretty cool place to visit.