There is quite an enormous list of available options when it comes to cheap things to do in Illinois. Illinois is known as Prairie State which instantly begs one to recall President Abraham Lincoln who got his start in politics when he was elected to the state legislature in 1834. The state features some exotic, drive-in movie theatres, towering skyscrapers, historic sites, lush botanical gardens and world-class museums for art lovers in Illinois. There is a never-ending list of options when it comes to exploring the area. Here are the top cheap things to do in Illinois which cost very little.
Want to the best cheap things to do in Illinois in a flash? Check out the slides below:
- 1 Millennium Park: Inexpensive Family Activities
- 2 Leaning Tower of Niles: Best Budget Attraction In Illinois
- 3 US Grant Home State Historic Sites: Budget Historic Experiences
- 4 Discovery Center Museum: 300+ Science & Arts Attractions
- 5 Lake Catherine Nature Center: Budget Nature Getaways
- 6 Art Institute of Chicago: Oldest Illinois Attractions
- 7 Buffalo Rock State Park: Top Attractions For Road Trips
- 8 360 Chicago Illinois: Fun & Inexpensive Illinois
- 9 Free Museum Visits: Educational & Inexpensive Illinois
- 10 Participate in free tours of the city!
- 11 Explore the beautiful gardens: Family & Romantic Attractions
- 12 Lincoln Park Zoo: Interesting & Inexpensive Illinois
- 13 Abraham Lincoln sites: Budget Historic Experiences
- 14 Wrapping Up Inexpensive Illinois Experiences
Millennium Park: Inexpensive Family Activities
Located in the center of Chicago, Millennium Park is a 25-acre picnic spot. It closely resembles Town Square of New York City. Millennium Park also features hundreds of free cultural events all year. This includes family activities, exhibitions, as well as musical concerts. This area is perfect for families to cool off and beat the heat in summer. One can Splash around in the Crown Fountain and skate on McCormick Tribune ice rink during the winters. The Park displays impressive pieces of art and architecture such as the Cloud Gate which is a massive stainless-steel structure. It has, in fact, become the signature Landmark of Chicago.
Leaning Tower of Niles: Best Budget Attraction In Illinois
The Tower is a half-size replica version of the renowned leaning Tower of Pisa and is located in Niles, IL. It was completed in the year 1934. This Tower was initially constructed as a part of an amusement park. It was initially built for the two large water tanks that supplied water to the poles in the park. Entry to this site is free of cost, therefore it is one of the unique and best cheap things to do in Illinois. Visitors can go on a picnic with family on the surrounding grounds. Tourists also have permission to click photographs around the Leaning Tower of Niles to make their vacation even more memorable.
US Grant Home State Historic Sites: Budget Historic Experiences
Built in 1960, the Ulysses S. Grant Home was designed by William Dennison. This historic site is the former home of civil war general Ulysses S. Grant. The city of Galena gifted this residence to the general in 1965 as thanksgiving for his incredible service. However, he moved out of this home when he was elected as the 18th president of the United States in 1869. The home, since then, has been maintained as a memorial. Today, it is a popular place of interest and considered a historical museum. It has rooms furnished in typical 1860s style giving the perfect vintage vibe. If you want to get a glimpse of the era bygone and want to learn more about the legendary war hero, then you need to visit this site while in Illinois. This home is open to tourists and visitors five days per week. You can also opt in for a guided tour of this site by paying a nominal fee.
Discovery Center Museum: 300+ Science & Arts Attractions
This museum is one of the top family attractions and tourist spots in Illinois. It is located within the campus of the Riverfront Museum Park. It is home to over 300 Science and Arts exhibition. This center has quite a lot of attractions for children belonging to all age groups. The featured highlight of this museum is its two-story maze which is the play area aimed to attract toddlers and babies. The planetarium is also a prime attraction and invites both young and senior tourists. The Museum is accessible seven days per week and is closed during selected holidays. The admission into the Museum is free for children under 2 years of age. If you have the membership card, you get unlimited access and can also get a variety of perks.
Lake Catherine Nature Center: Budget Nature Getaways
The Lake Catherine Center and Botanic Gardens is non-profit Park dedicated to engaging the public with nature. It is open seven days per week and is situated over 85 acres of land. This park has diverse areas including prairies, wetlands, woodlands along with a 10-acre beautiful lake. The visitors have access to gardens and kayaks. They can also rent canoes during the warm weather. It also features cycling, walking, and jogging trails in this park. A menagerie of animals and reptiles can also be seen in the nature center. This park offers numerous opportunities to experience animals in the wild. This activity tops the list when it comes to cheap things to do in Illinois.
Art Institute of Chicago: Oldest Illinois Attractions
Founded in 1879, The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest and the oldest art museums in America. It features a permanent collection of over 300,000 pieces of art. These are complemented with over 30 special exhibitions held annually. This museum is open seven days per week except for few holidays. The visitors and tourists can participate in regular tours. There is an option for both self-guided and group tours. The events hosted in the Art Institute of Chicago include a wide variety of social events, lectures, and performances. Most of them are open to the general public.
Buffalo Rock State Park: Top Attractions For Road Trips
It is located on the top of a bluff that used to be an island in the Illinois River. This State Park promises magnificent views of the river to its visitors. The park is comprised of 298 acres of land and was formerly utilized as a blind canyon by the Illinois Indians for capturing wild buffalo. Today, the park is home to herds of American Bisons, animal sculptures, a baseball diamond, and a children’s playground. It also houses two picnic shelters. One of the picnic shelters also includes a fireplace.
360 Chicago Illinois: Fun & Inexpensive Illinois
360 Chicago is a 1,127-foot skyscraper and an observatory located on the 94th floor of John Hancock Center. It offers a 360 degree view of the city. If you are lucky to visit on a clear day, then you might be able to catch a fine glimpse of four states and a distance of about 80 miles. A free interactive tour is offered to tourists in multiple languages. So, just grab a drink and enjoy the view. You can pay an additional fee for accessing the TILT platform which is a panel of floor to ceiling windows that tilts to a 30-degree towards the Michigan Avenue. This activity is one of the popular cheap things to do in Illinois.
Free Museum Visits: Educational & Inexpensive Illinois
Numerous museums in Illinois provide free entry to visitors. The National Museum of Mexican Art is one of the nation’s largest accredited Latino art museums. It displays work by Chicano, Latino and Mexican artists and traces their influence on the identity of the city. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum houses a cube made from $1,000,000 dollars. You can learn all the vital skills of identifying fake money bills. You also can explore the history of US currency and its transformation over the years.
Participate in free tours of the city!
If you are keen on exploring the city of Chicago, then head to the Chicago Cultural Center. It has the largest Tiffany dome in the world and is designed from 30,000 stained-glass pieces. The dome is they key feature on a neoclassical building. You can either explore it on your own or opt for a free guided tour. If you are lucky, you might get a chance to explore art exhibits, watch films, performances and get a taste of complimentary concerts.
You can also become a part of the two to four walking tours of the city. You have the option to choose from over 25 neighborhoods and 40 common interest areas including public art, ethnic Chicago, film, fashion and more at Chicago Greeters. Make sure to make a reservation in advance if you don’t want to miss this wonderful opportunity.
Explore the beautiful gardens: Family & Romantic Attractions
Chicago Botanic Garden houses twenty-six display gardens occupying a 385-acre site. It has over two million plants and hosts family activities during the weekends. The Garfield Park Conservatory is home to over 10,000 species of plants underneath a 2.8-acre glass dome. You can explore tropical palms, ancient ferns and rotating exhibits at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Lincoln Park Zoo: Interesting & Inexpensive Illinois
Opened 1868, this neighborhood zoo is one of the oldest in the entire country. It houses over 1,200 animals that share the 49-acre zoo. The Farm-in-the-Zoo, primate house and the Sea Lion Pool are some of the favorite joints in this zoo. This is one of the most popular cheap things to do in Illinois.
Abraham Lincoln sites: Budget Historic Experiences
Numerous sites in Illinois remind us of the life, presidency, and perspective of Abraham Lincoln. You can take a 30-minute guided tour of Old State Capitol building where Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature and have his famous “House Divided” Speech. The Tomb State Historic site can be explored on a self-guided tour. The docents reveal a lot about his life, family, death, and burial. You can also pay tribute at his final resting place which is a 117-foot brick tomb. You can visit the only home that he ever owned. He lived with his wife in this Greek-Revival style house from 1844 to 1861. The décor reflects the 1860s vintage style. You will need a ticket to enter which can be picked up for free from the visitor center. You shouldn’t miss visiting these historic sites and monuments if you are looking for some interesting and cheap things to do in Illinois.
These historic sites also feature on the top Illinois road trip destinations, if you want to know more about such destinations, check out our comprehensive sampling.
Wrapping Up Inexpensive Illinois Experiences
Illinois is a state that attracts numerous visitors and tourists every year. If you own a property in a prime spot, then the best thing you can do is turn it into a vacation rental. You can list your property on Rentaltrader.com. This can be done with a simple signup process. Also, if you are a traveler, you can choose between numerous properties listed on the Rental Trader to book the best one of your choice, anytime of the year.