Looking for things to do in Chicago with your family that won’t cost a fortune? This list of free events for kids will keep you busy all November long
Keeping a family entertained, particularly in a big city, can deflate the wallet rather quickly. Teach your family the value of a dollar by exploring the free (or, at the very least, the incredibly cheap) things you do in Chicago with kids. Although there are countless new free events happening every week, we gathered up our top overall picks for November, which add up to a whole wealth of fun. You’ll be busy all month long! Plus, it’s easy on your pocketbook. You can thank us later.
Free Kid-Friendly Events around Chicago in November
Nov. 2: Free Admission at Field Museum - If you're an Illinois resident, enjoy Free Admission Day at the Field Museum! This is an awesome opportunity to explore such a cool museum. Event details.
Nov. 1: Visit MSI Free - Visit the Museum of Science & Industry for free (if you're an Illinois resident) on this day! Check their calendar each month to find more free days. Event details.
Nov. 2: Free Night at Adler Planetarium - The Adler Planetarium is open and free on Wednesday nights to Illinois residents. See space from a different perspective! Event details.
Nov. 4: Take a Naturalist Class - Take your kiddo to the Garfield Conservatory and let them learn to be a roving naturalist! They'll take part in activities and learn about science and plants. Event details.
Nov. 19: See the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Display - Any Monday after November 19th, go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and check out their amazing zoo lights display! The whole family will love it. Event details.
Nov. 4: Celebrate Dia de los Muertos at the Center for Arts & Technology - Celebrate Dia de los Muertos at the Chicago Center for Arts & Technology with food and festivities. Event details.
Nov. 4: Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Marquette Park - Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with your family at Marquette Park. There will be music, games, and celebration. Event details.
Nov. 5: Check out 'Scopes the City at LaBaugh Woods - Set your sights on Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon at a free 'Scopes the City event! See stars, eat s'mores, and swap stories in LaBaugh Woods. Event Details.
Nov. 5: Compost Your Pumpkin at Plant Chicago - Bring your pumpkins to be composted and smashed at Plant Chicago! Event details.
Nov. 6: Enjoy a Fall Fest - Bring the family to a fall fest and explore a truck, have some donuts & s'mores, and even pet baby goats! Event details.
Nov. 7: Star-Gaze in the Park - Take the family star-gazing in Bloomingdale Trail Park and see some amazing sights! Event details.
Nov. 8: Visit MSI for Free - As an Illinois resident, you have a second opportunity to visit the Museum of Science & Industry for free! Event details.
Nov. 12: Make Art at Chesterton Art Center - Explore and create art with the family at the Chesterton Art Center. You'll all love creating art together! Event details.
Nov. 12: Listen to Captain America Story Time - Take your kids to meet Captain America and hear stories read by him. It'll be a day they won't soon forget! Event details.
Nov. 19: See the Magnificent Mile Holiday Lights - Check out the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival at 11am for all sorts of family festivities or at 5:30pm for the parade! Event details.
Nov. 12: Check out Family Day at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - Take part in workshops, open studio sessions, gallery tours, and more. Event details.
Nov. 19: Try a Free Throw Contest - If your kiddo is at least 9 years old, but under 13, bring them to a basketball free throw contest at West Lawn Park! Event details.
Nov. 19: Enjoy a Jam Session - Let the kids dance and sing during a jam session with Miss Dawn. They'll have a blast! Event details.
Free Museums and Zoos around Chicago in November
Lincoln Park Zoo
It’s full of creatures big and small, it has the perfect lakeside address with gobs of family activities and restaurants all around it, it’s gorgeous . . . and, it’s free! What’s not to love about Lincoln Park Zoo? Plan a day spent at the zoo visiting hundreds of animals from around the world, including critically endangered animals and species that are extinct in the wild.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Visit the historic Victorian building that is the Lincoln Park Conservatory! There you will see all kinds of amazing and beautiful plants that wow your kids and keep you coming back. Admission is free.
National Museum of Mexican Art
See a colorful new world unfold at the free-admission National Museum of Mexican Art. The 10,000-piece permanent collection spans ancient Mexico to the present day, and is one of the largest in the country.
Free Cultural Sites in Chicago
If you've never heard of Cloud Gate, chances are you are well-versed in this free tourist destination thanks to its more popular name based on its peculiar shape, The Bean. Located in Millennium Park, the lakefront attraction has become one of the most identifiable monuments in the city, and perhaps the most fun one to try to snap a selfie with.
The beautiful domed building of the Baha'i Temple was constructed in 1953 and designed by French Canadian Louis Bourgeois. Just a stroll around the outside wows with architectural feats. Be sure to take time to check out the intricately carved stone pillars and surrounding manicured gardens during your visit.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Expose kids to another culture in their own city with a walking tour through Chinatown. Start things off at Ping Tom Memorial Park, known for its traditional architecture and festive dragon boat races as well as gorgeous city skyline views. Then make your way through Chinatown Gate, which leads into “Old Chinatown,” where the area’s original restaurants, homes, churches, and schools are clustered. Don't forget to check out the Nine Dragon Wall, which is one of only three such replicas outside of China. And consider ending your trip with a stop at Legend Tasty House for delicious rolled ice cream.
Free Indoor Activities around Chicago in November
Five cents doesn’t get you very far these days, which is why Northbrook’s Nickel City is so refreshing. Games like Skee-Ball and Bozo Buckets take mere nickels instead of pricy tokens, and old-school arcade staples like Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat operate for free.