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Entries in chicago (11)

Thursday
Jan162014

Winter Guide 2014: Visit a Chicago Museum for Free

With this bitterly cold winter we're having, a day spent inside one of Chicago's world-class museums sounds like a great option. But visiting these museums -- especially with a few kids in tow -- can get pricey.

Many Chicago museums offer community free days or regular days during a month when visitors get in free. Note that these days are often quite popular, so you might be fighting some crowds. And also make sure to check the museum’s website, or give the museum a call, before your visit to make sure nothing has changed since this guide was compiled. 

Here's a list of the published discount dates for Chicago sites in the winter of 2014, and for some spots, the whole year:

The Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. 312-922-7827. Free general admission for Illinois residents in 2014: Jan. 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29. More updates to be posted soon under "special offers" on the home page.  

Museum of Science & Industry, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. 773-684-1414. Free general admission for Illinois residents in 2014 on: Jan. 17, 20-24, 27-31; Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; March 10; May 5; June 1-6; September 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29; Oct. 6-7; Nov. 3, Dec. 8. The museum is also free for all children ages 3-11 on every day in February 2014. More details here!

Admission to the Chicago Children's Museum is free on the first Sunday of every month and on Thursday evenings starting at 5 p.m. Photo by naydeeyah on Flickr.

Shedd Aquarium, 1200 South Lake Shore Drive on Chicago’s Museum Campus. 312-399-2438. Free general admission for Illinois residents in 2014 on the following dates: Jan. 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; Feb. 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24 and 25. More dates are likely to be posted soon.

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Sunday
Sep222013

Fall Guide 2013: Visit a Chicago Museum for Free

With cooler weather on the way, a day spent inside one of Chicago's world-class museums sounds like a great option. But visiting these museums -- especially with a few kids in tow -- can get pricey.

Checking out a Museum Adventure Pass from your local library is one option. Sometimes it makes the most sense to become a member, especially if it's a place you'll visit more than once in a year. And if you plan to visit a couple of museums in a short time span, you'll want to look into purchasing the CityPass or the Go Chicago Card.

But many Chicago museums also offer community free days or regular days during a month when visitors get in free. Note that these days are often quite popular, so you might be fighting some crowds. And also make sure to check the museum’s website, or give the museum a call, before your visit to make sure nothing has changed since this guide was compiled. 

Here's a list of the published discount dates for Chicago sites in fall of 2013:

The Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. 312-922-7827. Free general admission for Illinois residents: Sept. 24 and 25. More updates to be posted soon under "special offers" on the home page.  

Museum of Science & Industry, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. 773-684-1414. Free general admission for Illinois residents on: Sept. 23-27, Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, Nov. 4 and Dec. 9. 

Shedd Aquarium, 1200 South Lake Shore Drive on Chicago’s Museum Campus. 312-399-2438. Free general admission for Illinois residents on the following dates: Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 2, Dec. 9, Dec. 16, Dec. 23, Dec. 30.

Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue in Chicago. 312-280-2660. Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays year round. 

Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street in Chicago. 312-642-4600. Free general admission for Illinois residents on all Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in September, Oct. 1-3, and Oct. 8-10.

The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. 312-443-3600. The Art Institute is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children under 14 are always free except during group visits or student tours.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. 312-922-9410. Free basic admission for Illinois residents on Sept. 24-25. More dates likely to be posted soon. 

Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 East Grand Avenue on Navy Pier in Chicago.  312-527-1000. Free for all visitors every Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and free for all children 15 and under on the first Sunday of every month. Here's a coupon for $1 off each admission, up to four per family.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive in Chicago. 773-755-5100. Thursdays are "suggested donation days" for Illinois residents.

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place in Chicago. 773-947-0600. Admission is free to all on each Sunday of the year.

Thursday
Sep122013

Get in Free to a Chicago-Area Museum on Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day Live! 

If your family has ever visited Washington D.C., you know that Smithsonian Museums are free every day. Every year, Smithsonian magazine hosts a day in which participating museums across the country give free admission to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket.

This year's event is being held on Saturday, Sept. 28. Each ticket provides free admission to one person plus a guest. There is a limit of one ticket per household. And the ticket is only for admission, it does not include parking or special events and exhibits. Here's the link to receive your ticket, which will be emailed to you.

There are more than 45 Illinois institutions that are participating this year. You can find a full list here, and below are some of those I thought might most appeal to families in the Chicago area:

  • Adler Planetarium in Chicago
  • Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Aurora
  • Cuneo Mansion and Garden in Vernon Hills
  • DuPage County Historical Museum in Wheaton
  • DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago
  • Farnsworth House in Plano
  • Graue Mill and Museum in Oak Brook
  • Great Lakes Naval Museum in Great Lakes
  • Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie
  • Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Rockford
  • Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Chicago
  • National Hellenic Museum in Chicago
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago
  • SciTech Museum in Aurora
Tuesday
Jul302013

Summer Guide 2013: A Daytrip to 31st Street Beach in Chicago

Are you ready for a bit of adventure before summer ends? Then the next time we get a hot spell, you might want to consider heading into Chicago for a day of sun, sand and amazing skyline views at 31st Street Beach.

Name: 31st Street Beach, a property of the Chicago Park District. 

Location: 3100 S. Lake Shore Drive (31st Street and Lake Shore Drive) in Chicago. The beach is about 45 miles from Geneva. Before you head out, make sure you are familiar with your directions; our trip involved I-88 E to I-290 E to I-94 E to I-55 N to Lake Shore Drive and then finally 31st Street. 

31st Street Beach underwent a massive renovation in 2012. Photo by Tara Burghart.

Hours: Swimming is permitted when life guards are on duty, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 2013 Beach Season in Chicago runs from May 24 through Sept. 2. Before heading out, you'll also want to check the water quality information and surf conditions here; Swimming at Chicago beaches is occasionally banned because of the weather or water quality. 

Amenities: The "beach house" is more like a building with restrooms inside, there were no dedicated changing stalls or showers, although there is a shower outdoors you can use to spray off the sand. (The park district says there are lockers, but I didn't see them.) There are lifeguards and also a lifeguard first-aid station. The beach features an awesome playground with a very padded surface, a climbing wall and all sorts of unique equipment -- it opened in 2013. There is a concession stand called "Pier 31" that sells food. We brought our own food, but I looked quickly at the menu, and it offered burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, etc. The burgers and chicken sandwiches were about $9 each, so definitely more economical to bring your own food! 

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Tuesday
Nov062012

A Stopover at the 'Kids on the Fly' Children's Playground at O'Hare Airport

Many of us will be passing through O'Hare International Airport during the holiday season, most likely with kids in tow. If your family has extra time before your flight departs, you'll want to consider checking out the following attraction.

Name: Kids on the Fly, an aviation-themed playground created by the Chicago Children's Museum for O'Hare International Airport. 

Location: The playground is located at the entryway to Terminal 2, before you start heading into the terminal to reach the gates. We were flying out of Terminal 1, but it was a do-able walk to reach the playground from there. It seems like it would be easy to reach from Terminal 3, too. Follow the signs that have a smiling child's face, or the maps that designate the space as the "children's museum."

Kids on the Fly is an aviation-themed children's playground at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Photo by Tara Burghart.

Admission: Free.

Hours: From what I can tell, this playground is open 24/7.

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