We know how costs add up when you’ve got kids (we’ve got a couple of our own), so we love a good deal—and happy to share them with visitors.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Between the new Tinkering Lab, the old-favorite WaterWays and the faux fire station, kids’ glee is priceless. And even better when it’s free: every Thursday 5 pm-8 pm for all visitors and every first Sunday of the month for kids under 15. Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., 312-527-1000, www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org
At this improvised children’s show hosted on Saturdays, audience members shout out the ideas, actors make it real, and kids help create sets. A steal for 10 bucks. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., 773-327-5252, www.stage773.com
Art Institute of Chicago
Did you know admission is always free for kids under 14? Yep. And on top of that, the Ryan Education Center—filled with art-related puzzles, computer games, books and games—charges zilch for everyone any time. Art Institute of Chicago, 115 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600, www.artic.edu
Smack dab in Grant Park, there’s an outdoor dance party going on. All ages, no cover and free lessons beforehand. June 27-Sept. 14. Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan Ave.
Navy Pier Fireworks
Ooh and aah over the pyrotechnics every Wednesday at 9:30 pm and Saturday at 10:15 pm. Considering the entertainment is comped, we recommend a boat ride or dockside dinner to accompany. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., www.navypier.com
Grab a blanket and settle in among the trees for Movies in the Park at more than 100 Chicago Park District locations throughout the city, including Loyola Park and Garfield Park; or combine a visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo (always free admission there) with the first annual after-hours Zoovies screened for viewing pleasure on its South Lawn. Check schedules at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com; www.lpzoo.org