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Staycation Ideas: Chicago and Suburbs

Submitted by on May 19, 2014 – 8:00 am24 Comments


There are so many free and inexpensive things to do around Chicago and the suburbs that you can take a “staycation” doing any of the following things.

Museums and Other Attractions:

- Aurora – Blackberry Farm – Illinois residents get free admission on Family Fun Days on May 23, June 6, June 20, July 18, August 12, and August 27.

- Aurora – Red Oak Nature Center – Admission is always free.

- Aurora – Sci-Tech Museum

- Bensenville – Fischer Farm – Admission is always free.

- Chicago – Adler Planetarium – Illinois residents get complimentary general admission on June 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12. Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12) and active military personnel receive free general admission which can be applied to any admission pass.

- Chicago – Art Institute of Chicago – Illinois residents get free general admission every Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm. Active-duty military and their families receive free admission to the museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Free admission is available to Illinois educators, including pre-K–12 teachers, teaching artists working in schools, pre-service teachers, and homeschool parents.

- Chicago – Chicago Botanic Garden – Admission is always free.

- Chicago – Chicago Children’s Museum

- Chicago – Chicago History Museum – Illinois residents get free admission on July 4, August 19, August 20, August 21, August 25, August 26, August 27, August 28, and every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in September.

- Chicago – The DuSable Museum of African History – Illinois residents get free admission on Sundays. Children under 5 years old are always free.

- Chicago – The Field Museum – Illinois residents receive complimentary basic admission on June 4, June 5, and June 9. Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12) and active military personnel always receive free basic admission.

- Chicago – Friends of the Chicago River – Admission is free on Sundays.

- Chicago – Garfield Park Conservatory – Admission is always free.

- Chicago – Millenium Park – Always free.

- Chicago – Museum of Contemporary Art – Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays year round.

- Chicago – Museum of Science and Industry – Illinois residents receive free admission from June 1st through June 6th. Active duty military, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) always get free admission.

- Chicago – Navy Pier – Admission is always free. You just have to pay for the activities or meals there.

- Chicago – The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois Residents. Children under 3 years old are always free.

- Chicago – Shedd Aquarium – Illinois residents receive free general admission or discounted upgraded admission on June 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17. Educators from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin can receive a complimentary Shedd Pass by registering online. Active-duty military personnel, Chicago police officers and firefighters receive a free Shedd Pass with proper ID.

- Elmhurst – Elmhurst Historical Museum – Admission is always free.

- Glenview – Kohl’s Children’s Museum

- Glenview – Wagner Farm

- Libertyville – Lambs Farm

- Naperville – DuPage Children’s Museum

- Naperville – Naper Settlement – Naperville residents get free admission with proof of residency.

- Rockford – Discovery Center Museum

- Wheaton – Cantigny Park

– There are per car parking fees.

* Borrow the Museum Adventure Pass from a participating library and get free admission to select museums and attractions.


- Aurora – Movies in the Park – Phillips Park – Always free admission.

- Chicago – Movies in the Park – Always free admission.


- Chicago – Chicago Cubs

- Chicago – White Sox Kids Club – Sign up for a free 2014 Kids Club Slugger Membership and receive a voucher to get free tickets to one of the following White Sox game dates: May 26, May 27, May 28, June 9, June 10, June 11, June 17, June 18, June 30, July 1, July 2, July 4, July 21, July 22, July 23, August 4, August 5, August 18, August 19, August 20, August 26, August 27, August 28, September 8, September 9, September 10, September 12, September 25, and September 26.

- Geneva – Kane County Cougars

- Schaumburg – Schaumburg Boomers – There is a Family Sunday Deal where you’ll receive 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 sodas on any of the following dates: May 25, June 8, June 22, July 6, July 13, July 27, August 10, and August 24.

Water Parks:

- Aurora – Splash Country Water Park – There are Twilight discount admissions.

- Des Plaines – Mystic Waters Family Aquatic Center

- Gurnee – Hurricane Harbor – Admission is only $5 when added to your Six Flags Great America Admission Ticket.

- Gurnee – Magic Waters Waterpark – There are many special packages, which include waterpark admission.

- Rockford – Magic Waters Waterpark – Children under 12 months are always free. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are bargain days where admission is only $12.

- Yorkville – Raging Waves – Children 2 years old and under are always free.


- Aurora – Phillips Park

- Brookfield – Brookfield Zoo

- Chicago – Lincoln Park Zoo

- Wheaton – Cosley Zoo

* We’ll continue to add more to this list as we find more events and attractions in the Chicago-area to help you have a wonderful staycation!  Check back often for our updates.  Leave a comment for us if you have any ideas on what to add to our list.


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