Here’s When You Can Visit Chicago-Area Museums and Zoos for Free in 2024

(Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)(Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

If you want to get out and about this winter — without breaking the bank — look no further than Chicago-area museums and zoos. Many recently announced free admission days in 2024.

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Brookfield Zoo is offering free admission on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in January and February. Parking fees still apply ($7-25).

The Lincoln Park Zoo is always free; parking ranges from $30-40 per day.

Shedd Aquarium is hosting a number of free admission days for Illinois residents in January and February, plus free Tuesday evenings the following four months. Tickets must be reserved online; a $5 processing fee applies to each order (up to 14 tickets). Adults must provide proof of residency at the aquarium. Free admission days include: Jan. 9-16, 23-25, 30, 31; and Feb. 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29. 

Shedd’s free evenings run 5-9 p.m. on: March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21, 28; and June 4, 11, 18, 25.

The Field Museum has announced free admission every Wednesday in 2024 for Illinois residents. Tickets are available on-site only; visitors must provide proof of residency.

At the Adler Planetarium, Illinois residents receive free admission every Wednesday evening (4-10 p.m.). Tickets must be reserved online; proof of residency is required.

The Art Institute of Chicago is offering free admission for Illinois residents Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from Jan. 8-March 22. Tickets can be reserved online, but it’s not a requirement.

Illinois residents can visit the Chicago Botanic Garden for free on select days each month of 2024. Online registration is required; parking fees still apply (prices start at $8). The 2024 free dates include: Jan. 8-15; Feb. 4-9, 19; March 18-22; April 8-11; May 7, 9; June 11, 13, 19; July 9, 11; Aug. 6, 8; Sept. 10, 12; October 1, 2, 14; Nov. 4-8, 11-12; and Dec. 9-15.

The Chicago History Museum announced free admission days for Illinois residents for early 2024. These include: Jan. 15-19, 23-26, 30-31; Feb. 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 19-23, 27-29; and March 12, 27-28.

Admission at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays; identification is required.

On Donation Days (Thursdays) at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Illinois residents can enjoy free admission or make a suggested $10 donation. Tickets can be reserved online, but that’s not a requirement.

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center provides free admission every Wednesday.

Admission to the National Museum of Mexican Art is always free.

The Museum of Science and Industry is offering free admission for Illinois residents on Jan. 22-24, 28-31; Feb. 5-8, 11-15, 20-22, 26-29; and April 21. Be prepared to show proof of residency.


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