Chicago (and Suburbs) Staycation Ideas


What are your plans for the summer? How about taking a “staycation” in Chicago and the suburbs? Check out the free and inexpensive events and activities in the area:

Museums and Other Attractions:

- Aurora – Blackberry Farm – Illinois residents get free admission on Family Fun Days on May 19 (9:30 a.m. to noon), June 10, June 24, July 8, and August 5.

- 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 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, September 1, 2, and 3.

- 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, 5, and 8. Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12) and active military personnel always receive free basic admission.

- 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 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, September 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30. 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 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, September 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29. 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. Guests who present a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch ATM, credit, or debit card, along with photo identification, will receive one free general admission on the first full weekend of every month: June 6, 7, July 4, 5, August 1, 2, September 5, 6

- 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 at Fox Valley Mall – Pay as you will admission.

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

- Rockford – Discovery Center Museum – Free admission for children 1 years old and younger.

- 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 – Paramount Theatre – Classic movies on Mondays for only $1 per ticket.

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

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

- West Chicago – Cascade Drive-In – Bargain Sundays – only $15 per carload.

- Everywhere – Marcus Theatres – Two free passes to Kids Dream summer movies.

- Everywhere – Cinemark – Cinemark Movie Clubhouse – Movies for $1 per ticket or buy a pass for $5 for 10 movies.

- Everywhere – Classic Cinemas – Wednesday Morning Movie Series.

- Everywhere – Regal Entertainment Group – Movies for only $1 per ticket.


- Everywhere – Kids Bowl Free – Sign up to receive 2 free bowling passes per day per child.

- Everywhere – Kids Skate Free – Sign up to receive 2 free roller skating passes per week per child.

- Chicago – Chicago Cubs

- Chicago – White Sox Kids Club – Sign up for a free 2015 Kids Club Slugger Membership and receive a voucher to get free tickets to one of the following White Sox game dates: 5/18, 5/19, 5/20, 5/21, 5/22, 6/8, 6/9, 6/10, 6/17, 6/18, 7/6, 7/7, 7/8, 7/9, 8/3, 8/4, 8/10, 8/11, 8/12, 8/27, 9/8, 9/9, 9/14, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17, 9/29, 9/30, 10/1, 10/2.

- 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

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

- Rockford – Magic Waters Waterpark

- 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 – Free admission for birth to 17 years old.

* 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.

If you are looking for staycation ideas in other areas of the country, check out the city nearest you:

A – D

Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous

F – I

Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida —
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss

K – P

Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High

R – W

Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That

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