free/inexpensive things to do in Chicago - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 12-27-2010, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi anyone who's online this week ;)


My DSD is with us all week and I'd like to give her father and her some options for things to do.  I'm working but he always takes the week off to spend with her.  She's 12.  Any good ideas?


They are doing the (not so cheap) winter fest at navy pier tomorrow.  Will probably hit the library at some point.  It's probably too late for museum free passes, but will check into that.  What other ideas are there in the winter?



Loving mama to A (8/5/2010) R (1/3/2015) and DSD (16).
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#2 of 6 Old 12-27-2010, 03:24 PM
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I have been wondering this too. We may go in January or February if we can work it out.

Jenn- Geeky momma to one fabulous Tiny Diva (10/27/08)
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#3 of 6 Old 12-30-2010, 09:29 AM
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Chinatown for lunch or sticky buns and window shopping


The Art Institute is free on Thursdays after 5:00 pm. It closes at 8.


Chicago is huge for live theater, and there's a ton of kids' theater, much of it cheap:


The National Hellenic Museum is $5 to get in.


EL ride

My kids are easily amused and are happy to ride the EL around the City and explore. Add in a stop for a hot dog or pizza and we're set. If you go to the Belmont stop, you can walk over to Giordano's on Belmont. It's about two blocks. Ann Sather's is a Swedish restaurant that is close to the Belmont stop, too, and it's pretty popular. The Alley is a punk shopping mecca that's right off the intersection of Belmont and Clark at that El stop. (Probably better for teens.)


It's not cheap, but it's cheaper: Chicago CityPass gives you admission to Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, and John Hancock Observatory for $69.

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#4 of 6 Old 12-30-2010, 10:01 AM
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Some of our fave freebies in Chicago were


The Money Museum (the kids could never get enough of this place!)

Chicago Cultural Center (mostly art exhibits, but sometimes they have events or performances too)

Home Depot's Crafts for Kids (if I'm not mistaken, there's one this Sat. too)


I believe the zoo has enough indoor exhibits to make it worth a trip too, but we never went there. We were closer to the Brookfield Zoo and just got a membership and practically lived there. ;) My trick is to get a membership to one place each year out of my tax return, then we go there like weekly all year. We get out and have a great time every week, and by the end of the year the kids know the place like the back of their hands so we agree on a new attraction. In Chicago, you could cycle like that with just the huge attractions and go 5+ yrs between repeats! =D


All the museums, planetarium, aquarium, etc. in the town have free days too. Some are often, some are only 1-2 a year, but there are usually a lot happening over Christmas break to encourage families to do enriching things with the kids while they're out of school.

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#5 of 6 Old 12-30-2010, 10:21 AM
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Check out Milennium Park....although I was there in August, so the weather for a park was much better then.

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#6 of 6 Old 01-04-2011, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions!  Unfortunately ... we all got sick!  Such is life :(

Loving mama to A (8/5/2010) R (1/3/2015) and DSD (16).
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