At face value I thought Chicago would be an expensive city. I figured with fancy sounding names like “The Magnificent Mile”, “John Hancock Building”, “Chicago Art Institute” and “Buckingham Fountain”. But as it turns out, not only is it a city you can be cost effective in, you can also do some pretty rad things for FREE. That is right FREE CHICAGO. What are these fantastically frugal activities? Where should I even begin?
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building that opened in 1897. It’s not just gorgeous on the outside, but the inside staircase and stained glass dome are the true gem to behold. It’s a great starting off point during your first visit to Chicago.
Chicago is right next to Lake Michigan which makes it a prime location for beach side fun, like piers. Chicago’s Navy Pier is an excellent choice if you want to get near the water without actually having to touch it. Navy Pier was built in 1916 and is also a prime location to view the Chicago skyline.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is located north of the main downtown Chicago area, but worth the quick cab ride if you’re done exploring the city and need a bit of a break. The zoo is relatively mellow compared to some place like the San Diego Zoo and you really can’t beat free admission to see some animals.
Now, Millennium Park is actually a park within Grant Park. It’s well kept and beautiful. It is centrally located and just an overall great place to relax for an afternoon. There is a playground for children as well as adults that includes a rock wall and an area to rollerskate. There are also works of art scattered throughout the area. The most notable of these art project to be The Bean or as it is properly know as, Cloud Gate.
Oh Cloud Gate. This is new iconic Chicago. Everyone knows the giant silver bean. It’s really interesting up close and personal. The sky’s reflection distorted by it’s bean shape. Cloud Gate is also insanely popular. It is almost impossible to take a photo alone with The Bean. You can go there in the evening and there are people.. early in the morning… there are people. Good luck trying to be alone!! Unless of course you’re me and insanely luck out that all the tourists ran away as soon as it started raining and it was the perfect moment to be alone. And for the record, it is even more gorgeous when no one else is around.
This is a little all encompasing, but photo opportunities around the city are free. You can snag some killer shots of the buildings, both new architecture and old. You can capture images of the river, lake and bright colored trees from many places in Chicago as well. Just make sure you stop by the Chicago Theater, because let’s face it. Your trip won’t be complete unless you won’t!