Summer Days: The Broke College Way

Seven free things to do during the hot weather season in The Windy City.


Photo by Rut Ortiz

Tourists and locals alike come to see the “Bean” at Millennium Park.

Silvia Burian, Writer

Well we’ve made it NEIU; summer is finally upon us, despite Mother Nature’s best attempt to stop it. It’s time to let loose and have fun and that shouldn’t include worrying about breaking the bank. So here’s a list of sun-time fun times that are completely FREE. Ladies leave that purse at home and gentlemen no need to worry about picking up the tab. Let’s dive in!

1. Lincoln Park Zoo

Let’s start this list off with a classic. Who doesn’t love spending the day leisurely strolling through the park and looking at animals? Open every day of the week from 10 a.m. – 5 pm you can spend the afternoon ambling around this 35-acre park. If you do find your money burning a hole in your pocket, the zoo also hosts an abundance of activities with varying fees. These events can be found on the zoo’s web page. After a long day in the sun the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is just a three-minute walk from the zoo; also for no charge.

2. Chicago Summer Dance

What better way to heat up a windy city night than with free dance classes followed by free music and dancing? All summer long on Saturdays and Sundays Grant Park is hosting a plethora of dances in a variety of styles. Whether it’s a girl’s night out or a date on the town this is the perfect event for all. Don’t know how to dance? No problem! From 6pm-7pm you can learn and once you get into the rhythm of things you can dance the night away…well, you can dance until 9:30pm.

3. Weird Fridays

Working at night? That’s ok, I’ve still got you dance fanatics covered. Every first and third Friday, Weird Fridays are a midday dance party, from noon to one, located at the Chicago Cultural Center. Easily accessible by public transportation you can stop by on a work break for a quick burst of cardio or stay for the whole time!

4. City Gallery

If dance isn’t quite for you the City Gallery can provide that quieter vibe. Located in the Historic Chicago Water Tower the gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. The current exhibit is titled, ‘For the Common Good: Cards Against Humanity’ and takes a look at Chicago based designers and entrepreneurs while looking at a variety of social issues.

5. Family Fun Festival

Have younger siblings and can’t have the day to yourself? No worries, the family fun festival will provide quality entertainment for all. From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Millennium Park Chase Promenade North Tent, the activities vary by time and date which can be found at the city’s website.

6. Tour Breweries

Not to worry boys (and gals), if none of these activities tickle your fancy this one might just quench your summer thirst. Two Brothers Brewery in Warrenville offers free 45-minute tours at select times on Saturdays and Sundays. There’s also the city’s largest brewery—Lagunitas Brewing Company—which gives free tours at their Douglas Park location. They even offer tastings at various times Monday through Friday. More information can be found on each breweries respective websites.

7. Movies in the Park

Old school drive-in movies take a bit of a city twist at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion where everyone is welcome to sprawl out on the green and watch some big screen hits. Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. screening will begin. Grab a blanket and bring some snacks. This city classic is perfect for family, friends, or a more romantic evening and a perfect way to end the day!

Of course these aren’t the only free things to do and so many more can be found on the city’s website, There’s of course: the beach, as well as all of our great museums- many of which boast free days, Navy Pier, the Botanic Gardens, festivals, parades, the air and water show and many more adventures! But, the above activities are a few of the lesser-known options! Whatever your idea of the perfect summer, I hope at least one of these options catches your interest.