Chicago is an amazing city for its residents.
It's amazing for visitors, but I'm blown away at how much you can see and do as a family for nothing - or really inexpensively.
The Chicago Public Library has museum passes available to residents of Chicago with a library card. The passes get 4 adults FREE admission to about 9 museums. In addition, each museum has it's own free days for everyone.
Chicago has beaches!!
You don't think about a big metropolitan city having so many beaches, but they are here!
Lincoln Park Zoo
It's FREE!! A real zoo for free. In the city.
Chicago Park District
I LOVE the Chicago Park District.
First of all, there are dozens and dozens of great playgrounds for the kids, all over town. Every neighborhood has lots of parks = green grass or playlots for the children. There are so many activities, but these are just a few offered by our local park field houses:
Swimming: Motor Mouth's lessons are FREE.
He can go 1x/wk or 4x/wk.
Mini Me's swim class is $20 for 3 months (1x/wk)
Baseball: Motor Mouth's club/team is FREE
and includes the full uniform and equipment!
Dance: Mini Me's tap/ballet dance classes are $6.
That's total for 3 months!
Fitness: $45 for 3 mths of fitness center!!
Pilsen Art Galleries
First Fridays are free gallery openings on Halsted in the art district. See fresh, contemporary art - for free!
Fandango $5 Movie Night
Get a 5 Buck card from Fandango and you can see select first run movies at several theaters in Chicago for only $5. Each week, they email a list of the movies and showtimes the cards can be used at. It makes for a great cheap date night or girls night out.
(It's in other parts of the country too!)
Spend the day at Millennium Park. The kids can be entertained each weekday at the Chase Promenade where there are interactive kids activities, a performance stage, musical activities for kids of all ages and reading circles. You can also check out the art sculptures and take photos with the 'Bean'.
Let the kids run through Crown Fountain.
Picnic on the lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion.
You can also take a free tai chi class or catch a musical performance at the Pavilion.
Walk through the gardens before heading
to Buckingham Fountain.
Remember this from Married with Children?
Where can you go for fireworks EVERY week?
Navy Pier in the summer, feels like walking on a boardwalk in Florida. Lots of people, sidewalk vendors, boats coming in and out (tall ships too!), a Ferris Wheel.
Walk Michigan Ave and check out the architecture, sculptures/art along the sidewalk, have a picnic in the church courtyard (hidden jewel), window shop, and let the kids play at the Lego Store. It's all free. And our kids love it. They ask to go to Michigan Ave all the time.
UIC Water Fountain
Located at Halsted and Roosevelt, plan to take the kids to a book reading at Barbara's Bookstore, then head next door to the water fountains where the kids can run and play. You can enjoy a good book, gaze up at the sky in the dome, or get in the water with the kids!
This all inclusive playlot at Belmont and Damen has big and little kids jungle gyms, water park, grassy area, sand lot, choo choo trains. This great playlot is a major find in the city. Our kids love it. Bring just a few dollars because the ice cream man has found this playground too!
And There's More....
I just haven't listed it all. But Chicago is a world class city you can enjoy on a budget.