Free Kid-Friendly Events in Chicagoland

Are you on a budget, but still want to take your family to do something fun? Find free things to do in the city and suburbs.

There are plenty of budget-friendly activities to do in Chicago and the suburbs, but you just have to find it. Luckily, we’re done that for you. Each activity listed here won’t cost you a dime to attend. You might have to splurge on parking or something you want to purchase at the event, but that’s it! Check back here regularly because we’re always updating events we find. Also, be sure to check our calendar for more family fun.

Free events in Chicago

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Story Time at King Branch

Jan. 13, 2024

Ages 0-6 can come to King Branch to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an evening of crafts and stories. Registration required.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! at South Shore Branch

Jan. 13, 2024

Ages 3-12 can come out to South Shore Branch to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with crafts, stories and activities.

Film Screening: Selma (2014) at King Branch

Jan. 14, 2024

Join the library for a screening of Selma (2014), which is set during the Civil Rights Movement and focuses on the actions of Dr. King. Rated PG-13.

Film Screening: Selma (2014) at Vodak-East Side Branch

Jan. 14, 2024

Join the library for a screening of Selma (2014), which is set during the Civil Rights Movement and focuses on the actions of Dr. King. Rated PG-13.

Film Screening: Selma, Lord, Selma (1999) at Jeffery Manor Branch

Jan. 14, 2024

Join the library for a screening of Selma, Lord, Selma (1999), which depicts two young black schoolgirls’ recollections of a violent civil-rights event in 1965 Alabama. Rated PG.

MLK DAY 2024: Yesterdays, Todays, and Tomorrows at Hyde Park Art Center

Jan. 15, 2024

Teens can join Hyde Park Art Center to celebrate MLK Jr. and also celebrate Black creators and artists, shop at a pop-up bookshop, enjoy live music performance by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Chamber Ensemble and more. Registration recommended.

Polar Adventure Day at Big Marsh Park

Jan. 20, Feb. 17, 2024

There will be tons of winter activities including birds of prey, nature art activity, storytelling, guided winter hike, hot cocoa and more.

Family Fun Fest at Harold Washington Library Center 

Jan. 21, 2024

Families with kids ages 13 and under can enjoy winter play activities, music, art and more. Registration required.

Winter Wonderland at Rauner Family YMCA

Jan. 26, 2024

Hosted by Aetna Better Health of Illinois, this pop-up event offers a place for attendees to get access to free flu vaccinations and blood pressure checks while enjoying photo opportunities, face painting, a live DJ, refreshments and more.

Winter Wonderland at Eat to Live Urban Farm

Jan. 27, 2024

Hosted by Aetna Better Health of Illinois, this pop-up event offers a place for attendees to get access to free flu vaccinations and blood pressure checks while enjoying photo opportunities, face painting, a live DJ, refreshments and more.

Valentine’s Day Frames at Gage Park Branch

Feb. 1, 2024

Ages 6-plus can come out to Gage Park Branch to paint a frame to gift for Valentine’s Day. Registration required.

Valentine’s Greeting Cards at Roden Branch

Feb. 3, 2024

Ages 10-plus can create unique Valentine’s Day greeting cards for their family and friends with instructor Barbara Pisciotto. All supplies will be provided. Registration is required.

Valentine’s Day Bracelets at Gage Park Branch

Feb. 6, 2024

Ages 6-plus can stop by Gage Park Branch to create their own Valentine’s Day inspired bracelets. Registration required.

Valentine’s Day Garland Craft at Manning Branch

Feb. 7, 2024

Teens and tweens can come out to Manning Branch to make a holiday letter garland using a Cricut machine and other supplies.

Valentine’s Day Dance at Lake Shore Park

Feb. 9, 2024

Bring the entire family to this great Valentine’s Day Dance and enjoy dancing, treats and crafts. Also, bring a camera for the photo booth. For all ages.

Valentine’s Dance at Lincoln Park Cultural Center

Feb. 13, 2024

Ages 14 and under can join Lincoln Park Cultural Center for their annual Family Valentine’s Day Dance. There will also be a raffle and refreshments.

Kids’ Valentine Craft & Play at Altgeld Branch 

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 18 month to 13 years old are invited to Altgeld Branch to celebrate Valentine’s Day. There will be coloring pages, a DIY paper rose crafts and more.

Love-Bug Valentine Activity at Manning Branch

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 6-13 can create cute monsters out of mini cups and yarn, to share with someone special for Valentine’s Day. Registration required.

Valentine Crafts & Open Gym at Olympia Park 

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 1-5 can come out to Olympia Park make Valentine crafts and enjoy fun and games in the gym. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required.

Valentine’s Day Story Time at McKinley Park Branch

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 0-5 years old along with their caregivers can come out to McKinley Park Branch to enjoy a Valentine’s Day themed story time and craft.

Valentine’s Story Time at Garfield Ridge Branch

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 18 months-4 years old can join Garfield Ridge Branch for a special Valentine’s Day story time and crafts. Wear something red. Registration required.

Free events in North/Northwest suburbs

Winterfest at Century Park Pavilion

Jan. 13, 2024

Families can enjoy winter activities for all ages at Century Park Arboretum. Toast s’mores over the fire, watch the sled dog team and more.

Winter Bash at Wood Dale Park District

Jan. 14, 2024

Families can enjoy this indoor/outdoor event with entertainment, activities, hot cocoa, meet and greet with the dogs and mushers from Free Siberian Rescue and more.

Georgia Garvey Book Reading at The Book Stall

Jan. 18, 2024

Teens can hear from Georgia Garvey, a former Chicago Tribune editor when she comes to do reading from her new book, Everything’s Going to Be Ok (Until It’s Not).

Book Release Party and Anniversary Celebration with Christopher Eliopoulos at The Book Stall

Jan. 21, 2024

Come out to The Book Stall to see illustrator, Christopher Eliopoulos for a book release party featuring his new book, I Am Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This picture book is perfect for ages 5 to 9. Registration required.

Sweet Dreams: Saturday Storytime with Rick Telander at The Book Stall 

Jan. 27, 2024

Join The Book Stall for a special story time with journalist and poet, Rick Telander. He’ll be signing and sharing his new book, Sweet Dreams: Poems and Paintings for the Child Abed.  The book is perfect for kids ages 3 to 6.

Valentine’s Day Storytime & Craft at Palatine Library District – Main Library

Feb. 13, 2024

Ages 2-6 can enjoy a Valentine’s story time with songs, stories and a special craft at 6:30-7 p.m. Registration required.

Valentine’s Day Storytime & Craft at Palatine Library District – Main Library

Feb. 14, 2024

Ages 2-6 can enjoy a Valentine’s story time with songs, stories and a special craft at 10-10:30 a.m. Registration required.

Free events in South suburbs

Ice & Lights Fest in Downtown Lemont

Jan. 21, 2024

  • Address: Downtown Lemont

Enjoy Lemont’s 4th Annual Ice & Lights Fest with live reindeer, live ice carving, marshmallow roasting and more.

Made with Love at Tinley Park Public Library

Feb. 10, 2024

Children in grades K-1 can come out to the Tinley Park Public Library to create a special Valentine’s craft. Registration required.

Valentines Craft with Recycled Items at Frankfort Public Library District

Feb. 13, 2024

Drop into Frankfort Public Library District to create Valentine’s Day crafts using recycled items. For ages 8-12.

Valentine’s Day Storytime at Fountaindale Public Library District

Feb. 14, 2024

All ages can come out to Fountaindale Public Library District to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special storytime. 

Free events in Western suburbs

MLK Day Teen Service Project at Naperville Public Library

Jan. 15, 2024

Teens in grades 6-12 can celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by giving back and creating Valentine’s to brighten the days of their home delivery patrons. The event will take place in the Nichols Library Community Room. Registration required.

Ice Festival Downtown Downers Grove

Feb. 2-4, 2024

  • Address: Downtown Downers Grove

Enjoy nearly 60 pre-carved ice sculptures that will line the streets of Downtown Downers Grove. There will also be live carving demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the local stores and businesses will offer deals and discounts to event goers.

Winter Fest at Sunset Knoll Recreation Center

Feb. 3, 2024

Enjoy an indoor/outdoor winter fest with crafts, games, hot chocolate, ice carving, dog sledding, visits from special guests and more. 

Teen Craft Kit: Heart Garland at Naperville Blvd. Library

Feb. 5, 2024

Teens can drop by Naperville Blvd. Library all day long to create a paper heart garland. Craft kits are available for pick up at the Adult Services Desk, while supplies last.

Heart Puzzle Wreath at Geneva Public Library District 

Feb. 13, 2024

Families can come to the Geneva Public Library District to create a heart-shaped wreath with puzzle pieces and cardboard, while supplies last. 

Hearts & Hugs Family Story Night at Downers Grove Public Library

Feb. 13, 2024

Join Downers Grove Public Library for a Valentine’s Day story and craft, featuring hearts and hugs. Geared towards preschoolers, but everyone is welcome. Children must be accompanied by a caregiver. Registration required.

This post is updated regularly.


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