Free Things to Do in Chicagoland with Kids

March is here! There are so many free things you can enjoy with your family this month that will help you kick off the year without spending a dime. Check out these free activities around Chicagoland for the family and find more local events on our calendar.


Sap’s Rising

When: Feb. 29; March 1, 7-8, 14

Where: River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook

Walk in the sugar maple forest as winter comes to an end and learn about the sweet history of maple syrup making.


When: March 1

Where: Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St., Oak Park

What’s all the buzz about? Discover and celebrate honey bees, beekeeping and what makes them so special. This annual family event includes hands-on educational activities, scavenger hunt, and fun crafts. Timed tickets required.

Family Day at Hull House

When: March 1

Where: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St., Chicago

Join Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as Hull House kicks off Women’s History Month by highlighting women at Hull-House, their relationships with each other and their self expression through the arts.

Irish Tea

When: March 8

Where: Vogt Visual Arts Center, 17420 S. 67th Ct, Tinley Park

Enjoy a spot o’ tea before heading to the Irish Parade. Located a block off of the parade route, the Vogt Visual Arts Center will be decked out for St. Patrick’s Day with decorations, music, and traditional Irish goodies like scones, soda bread and an assortment of teas.

Flashlight Clover Hunt

When: March 13

Where: Nelson Prairie Park, 2366 Nelson Road, New Lenox

Join the staff at Nelson Prairie Park and help them find the clovers. (There will also be a few specially-marked clovers for a prize.) Dress for the weather as this is an outdoor event and be sure to bring something to hold all of the collected clovers.

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade

When: March 14

Where: Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Street

This parade features more than 200 floats and marching bands.The river dyeing begins at 9 a.m. and the parade starts at Balbo and Columbus. The parade units will proceed north on Columbus Drive and the viewing stand will be located in front of Buckingham Fountain.

Global Connections: Holi

When: March 14

Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Celebrate Holi, a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love.” Colored powder available while supplies last from 1-4 p.m.

South Side Irish Parade

When: March 15

Where: Western Ave. 103rd to 115th Street, Chicago

Alcohol-free parade on Western Avenue from 103rd to 115th on Chicago’s South Side (Beverly/Morgan Park). Expect high school bands, bagpipe bands, Those Little People, Irish dance schools and more.

St. Patrick’s Day at Gallagher Way

When: March 15

Where: Gallagher Way, 3637 N. Clark St., Chicago

Festivities will include live dance performances by the Trinity Irish Dancers, Irish dance lessons and a 12-piece band from the Old Town School of Folk Music. Guests will be able to watch a special performance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Bagpipe Band at noon, and partake in other activities including lawn games, face painting and family friendly crafts.

Kohl Children’s Museum in Waukegan

When: Through March 21

Where: Waukegan CLC Campus, 111 N. Genesee St., Waukega

The pop-up museum includes hands-on STEAM activities for kids 3-8 and their families. The pop-up will feature elements from the “Build It” exhibition including a Young Paleontologist tent where children can role-play working as a naturalist in a canvas tent outfitted with real field equipment.

Esconi Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show

When: March 21

Where: DuPage County Fair, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton

The Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois will host dealers, demonstrators and museums for a rock and mineral show. Kids can receive a free collection of minerals and fossils, play games, make crafts and try to split a geode.

Spring Celebration

When: March 21

Where: Douglass Branch Chicago Public Library, 3353 W. 13th Street, Chicago

Kids ages 3-10 can celebrate the arrival of spring with games, crafts and music for the whole family.

Maple Syrup Festival

When: March 22

Where: North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago

Come and see the entire maple syrup-making process from tapping the tree and collecting the sap, to boiling it down into syrup. Take a walk through the sugar bush, enjoy storytelling, make a maple craft, warm yourself by the fire and taste real maple syrup fresh off the fire.

Always Free

Free museum days for Chicago-area museums

Illinois residents have a chance to see their favorite museums for free. In March, get free access to Adler Planetarium, the Chicago History Museum and more.

Lincoln Park Zoo

See your favorite wild animals at Lincoln Zoo, where it’s free 365 days a year. Be sure to stop by on Wednesday and Friday mornings for Sing Along with Mr. Singer.


Your kiddos can dance along to their favorite musicians on the first and third Fridays at the Chicago Cultural Center and the first and third Saturdays at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Outdoor murals

Chicago is filled with some amazing art and you can see so many murals by visiting different neighborhoods in the city. If you snap a photo for Instagram, don’t forget to use our community hashtag #sharechicagoparent!

Garfield Park Conservatory

This urban park is a great oasis for families who want to have a nice day without spending a time. Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden offers hands-on activities for your kiddos and there’s plenty of free family programs throughout the year.

The 606

Stroll the 2.7-mile long trail and along the way, discover parks, public art, restaurants and more. Here is our family guide.

Chicago Fed’s Money Museum

Learn about history of money in this free and interactive museum located at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Don’t forget to grab your free bag of shredded money on the way out!

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This post is updated regularly.

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