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Free Things to Do in Chicago
It's easy to spend money in Chicago, what with shopping, museum-entrance fees, restaurants, and theater, but if you'd like to put your wallet away for a while, here are some options. The Lincoln Park zoo is also free.
Chicago has some of the most famous public art in the country, including a Picasso in Daley Plaza, Alexander Calder's Flamingo in Federal Plaza, and the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. For a fairly comprehensive list, see cityofchicago.org/publicart or pick up a Chicago Public Art guide at a visitor center.
The City Gallery (806 N. Michigan Ave. 312/742-0808) in the Historic Water Tower has rotating exhibits of Chicago-themed photography.
Five different galleries showcase contemporary visual art by local artists at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St. 312/744-6630 www.chicagoculturalcenter.org).
Grant Park and Millennium Park host regular classical and pop concerts in summer. For a schedule, pick up the Chicago Reader or buy a copy of TimeOut Chicago.
Chicago is a festival town, celebrating blues, jazz, and world music during the warm months. For a schedule, see www.explorechicago.org.
Free jazz and classical concerts are performed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:15 in the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St. 312/744-6630 www.chicagoculturalcenter.org).
Local library branches and parks across the city show free movies throughout the summer—check the Chicago Park District website for details (www.chicagoparkdistrict.com).
Every Wednesday and Saturday night in summer Navy Pier puts on a showy display of colorful explosives. Watch from the pier or along the waterfront opposite Buckingham Fountain.
The world-famous Second City comedy troupe has a free improv set following the last performance every night but Friday. For more information, go to www.secondcity.com or call 312/664-4032.
Free Museum Days
Always Free: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, National Museum of Mexican Art, Oriental Institute Museum, Smart Museum of Art
Sunday: DuSable Museum of African-American History
Tuesday: Museum of Contemporary Art, Swedish American Museum Center (second Tues. of each month)
Wednesday: Art Institute of Chicago (first and second Wed. of each month)
Thursday: Chicago Children's Museum (5-8 pm only), Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
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