5 Free Things to Do in Chicago

5 Free Things to Do in ChicagoPhoto courtesy of Navy Pier

Walk the pier

This 3,000-foot-long Navy Pier is an entertainment Wonderland, including parks, promenades, a Ferris wheel, children’s museums, ice skating, and even the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows (admission is free). From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors can see a free fireworks display ever Wednesday and Saturday night.

Meditate on masterpieces

The Art Institute of Chicago is free on Thursday and Friday nights from Memorial Day until Labor Day and free on Thursday nights Labor Day to Memorial Day. Its permanent collection includes works by a vast number of artists from around the world, including Marc Chagall, Eva Hesse, David Hockney, and Ellsworth Kelly. It also has exhibits focused on themes, such as the depiction of children in art.

Go to a show

The Shakespeare Project of Chicago has produced more than 80 classic plays, including each of Shakespeare’s plays at least once. Its mission is to make passionate professional theater accessible to everyone. The Tempest will be playing this spring.

Wonder at the water

From mid-April until mid-October, you can watch free water displays every hour at the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Its four seahorses symbolize the four states that touch Lake Michigan: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Go between dusk and 10 p.m., when the fountain’s 134 spouting jets are accompanied by a music and light display.

Learn about Chicago

In an old water tower is housed the City Gallery, where local photographers display their work. Photographs can include any subject but must be about Chicago. Past exhibits include: “Connecting: Chicago Fashion Photography” and “No Ketchup, Photographs of Chicago Hot Dog Stands.”

Sources: nationalgeographic.com, thelocaltourist.com, explorechicago.com, guardian.co.uk

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