Chicago is home to many exciting attractions that are sure to appeal to any age groups. From bars and clubs to museums and theater productions, Chi-Town is sure to entrance them all. But a day off in the Windy City doesn’t have to be a wallet-drainer. Here are five excellent ways to spend your day in Chicagoland, without spending a dime.
Meditate and Reflect at the Tranquil Osaka Japanese Garden
Image via Flickr by Kinchan1
This tranquil garden was guilt during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 with the intent to solidify the friendly relationship between Chicago and Japan. It’s quietly nestled in the shadow of the Museum of Science and Industry, within beautiful Jackson Park. These two entities are among the very few relics still standing from the historic World’s Fair. While it has since been vandalized, abandoned, and later rebuilt, this garden remains a calming retreat within the bustling city.
Bring a book to relax or take a stroll around the grounds. No matter how you choose to enjoy the garden, it won’t cost a cent.
Appreciate the Architecture of the Majestic Holy Name Cathedral
Image via Flickr by vxla
Make your way downtown to visit Chicago’s only standing cathedral. Whether you’re religious or atheist, Catholic or Protestant, the rich history and architectural vibrance of this inviting structure. Built to replace the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Church of the Holy Name after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this structure is teeming with cultural history and artistic beauty.
Attend Mass during any one of its scheduled times, or drop in to take a look anytime. Regardless of theologic beliefs, Holy Name Cathedral is a must-see for Chicagoans and tourists alike.
Let Your Inner Child Roam Free at the Chicago Children’s Museum
Image via Flickr by jameskm03
Located on the stunning Navy Pier, this family friendly educational extravaganza is. It features three floors that are chock full of interactive, educational activities for the whole family to enjoy together. Kids will lose themselves in the Treehouse Trails, create their own masterpieces at the Kraft Artabounds Studio, and climb their way to euphoria at the Kovler Family Climbing Schooner.
Whether you’ll attend with the family in tow, or plan to enjoy the refreshing, youthful vibe of the facility solo, it’s a wonderful way to get away from the stresses of life and enjoy the little things. Families get in free on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. until 8:p.m., and kids under 15 get in free on the first Monday of each month.
Discover New Species at the Marvelous Shedd Aquarium
Image via Flickr by Tania Liu
The John G. Shedd Aquarium is one of the first inland aquariums to be built in the world, and is host to millions of visitors every year. Enjoy a relaxing day floating through this cultural attraction, learning about the wonders of the Caribbean Reef, bond with the stingrays at the Stingray Touch exhibit, and revel in the splendor of the facility’s seven Beluga whales. Home to more than 32,000 remarkable animals, there’s certainly a place for everyone to enjoy inside this legendary compound.
With the mindset of being the city’s most accessible spots, it offers 52 discount days to Illinois residents each year. There are also daily discounts for Chicago residents, students, and senior citizens. Free admission is offered to police, fire personnel, active-duty military, and teachers.
Don’t miss this place, especially if you’re planning on moving to the area. ForRent.com apartments for rent in Chicago are great affordable living options for those who want to experience all the city has to offer, and take advantages of the resident discounts offered by local attractions.
Free weekend passes are also available to those who present a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch ATM credit or debit card with their photo ID during select weekends.
See the City From the Eyes of a Chicagoan
Image via Flickr by City Running Tours Chicago
Get an insider’s perspective of the city by participating in the Chicago Greeter program. The free service matches enthusiastic, knowledgeable local volunteers for two to four hour-long guided tours of the city. Just register ten business days ahead of time, and experience a custom-tailored tour of the city, based on your groups interests.
This isn’t your typical guided tour, where the guides show you around a predetermined route, spouting scripted facts and tidbits for a paycheck. No, the stops along this tour are determined by you, for you, and facilitated by people who know and love the city.
You can choose from more than 40 special interests to theme the tour, and select one of more than 25 versatile neighborhoods. The guides are actually volunteers, so they are there with the sole intention of making sure you and your group experience the city in a true, organic way.
Whether you find yourself mingling with the dolphins at the Shedd Aquarium on discount day, decide to mosey through the Osaka Japanese Garden, or want to get in touch with your inner child at the Children’s Museum, this city has a whole lot to offer. There’s no need to spend a fortune to see it, either. Which spots do you enjoy most in this thriving city?