Summertime in Chicago means festivals, concerts,
street fairs and just being outside. It's a great time to
experience the city as a family and, with a few helpful tips, it
doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Start the day off with a free Wiggleworms show every
morning at 10 a.m., beginning June 9 and running through Sept. 3 at
Millennium Park. Organized by the Old Town School of Folk Music,
the show gets kids singing and dancing to popular songs. Details
"My daughter Heidi loves going to Wiggleworms, and on
really warm days we walk over to the water area at the park and she
cools down splashing around and getting sprayed at Crown Fountain,"
Chicago mom Alma Treichel said. "It's a fun, free way to stay
Watch our Wiggleworms video
North Siders can also catch free live music for the little
ones every Wednesday and Friday at 9:15 and 10 a.m. at Lincoln Park
Zoo. Starring Mr. Singer, of Sharp Cookies fame, a local kids
musical act with a handlebart mustache and quirky energy to match.
Story time at the zoo is targeted to children 6 and under, teaching
them about the alphabet, numbers, colors and animals. There's a
suggested dollar donation.
Kids looking to explore, discover and learn a thing or two
are in luck as well. Several of Chicago's museums offer free
admission throughout the summer. Chicago Children's Museum at
Navy Pier is free every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. and the Chicago
History Museum is free every Monday. The Peggy Notebaert Nature
Museum (2430 N. Cannon Drive), is free to the general
public every Thursday and includes a butterfly exhibit kids love
and, through Aug. 7, a "Nature's Architects" exhibit that's worth a
To enjoy the outdoors, take advantage of the hundreds of
parks and forest preserves throughout Chicago and its surrounding
communities. Beginning June 6, kids 8 and up can learn archery for
free at St. James Farm in Warrenville. The class is one of many
provided by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage
On extremely sweltering days, those trying to beat the
heat can head to any of Chicago's public libraries for air
conditioning and a number of free story time activities.
"Our summer reading program will start in the beginning of
June and runs through the end of July," said Leland Elder, a public
relations representative for the library.
The program is open to kids 6-13 and additional story time
sessions for toddlers and younger children are also available
throughout the summer.
Or hop on Metra's BNSF line and head west for free weekly
outdoor concerts in the villages of Hinsdale and Burr Ridge. Every
Thursday evening in Hinsdale from June 16-Aug. 18, families load up
their strollers and head to Burlington Park for free
Hinsdale resident Precious Schultz enjoys taking her three
"My husband gets off the train and meets up with us, and
it's a great place for the kids to burn off that afternoon energy
before bedtime," she said. "They dance and run around with their
The Burr Ridge Village Center offers "Concerts on the
Green" from 7-8:30 p.m. Fridays, June 10-Aug. 5, at its village
center, 1000 Village Center Drive.
After a long day of activities that require no swiping of
the credit card, take advantage of the hundreds of Chicago-area
restaurants that offer "kids eat free" options. From slices of
cheese pizza to stacks of waffles, a free or discounted meal for
the little ones can be found any day of the week by logging onto
kidseat4free.com and clicking "Chicago."
Wheaton mom Colleen Moore has often treated her daughter
Keira to breakfast for dinner at IHOP on "kids eat free"
"They have a decent array of healthy choices and if she
wants pancakes for dinner, she can have them," Moore said. "Finding
food a 2-year-old likes to eat that is healthy and free is
priceless. It's also nice knowing I'm not wasting $7 when she's
being a picky eater."
Here's a list of Chicagoland
restaurants with "kids eat free" specials to help you deal before