Are you looking for affordable things to do in Chicago this summer? Lucky for you, this is one great city where there is never a shortage of activities.
Hit the beach. The beach is the perfect place for everyone to have fun. However, if you want to avoid the bikini-clad population, go later in the evening (and bring a blanket). When the weather cools down, most of the people who want to sun bathe have left. You can pull out a portable grill, cook up some food, and just enjoy praying Maghrib by Lake Michigan 1000 N. Lakeshore Drive
Movies in the park – Why go to your local cinema and pay exorbitant prices for tickets and popcorn when you can see the movie for free? Every Tuesday night this summer, Chicago families can enjoy a free movie at Grant Park. If that is too far for you, Chicago Park District plays movies in neighborhood parks throughout the city from June until September. Bring a picnic basket of goodies, a blanket and make a night of it. Movies start at dusk and are usually family-friendly with a PG rating. Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph Street, Chicago. www.chicagoparkdistrict.com. You could also enjoy G and PG movies in a theater experience for just $1 on Wednesday mornings at www.classiccinemas.com during the summer
Lions, tigers and bears. Take a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo. There are dozens of things to do and even more to see at the zoo. When was the last time you saw the tall giraffes or the crazy sea creatures? Go stand in awe of Allah’s creations. Keep in mind: the zoo is free, but bring money if you want to sample some of their restaurants and zoo fare. Take a train ride downtown as up to three kids ride free with each fare-paying adult on the Metra. Request your free summer kit at www.metrarail.com. 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago. www.lpzoo.org
“Field Trip” to the Museum – Take advantage of the free/discount days at Chicago’s world famous museums. The Field Museum is free the second Monday of every month (coming up on July 13—mark your calendar). The Art Institute is free every Thursday after 5 p.m., The Children’s Museum at Navy Pier is free the first Sunday of every month (coming up: July 5); The Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry also have free days coming up in late summer/early fall.
Art Buffs Unite - From July 10-12, jewelry makers, photographers, sculptors and painters display pieces for every taste and price range. Pioneer Court at the Chicago Tribune Tower, 401 N. Michigan Ave. 954-472-3755. The DuSable Museum of African-American History also has a free art festival from July 11-12. 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago. www.dusablemuseum.org
Feed the Bookworm: The Newberry Book Fair has more than 100,000 books, many of which are priced at $2 or less. July 23-26. Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago. www.newberry.org
Get in touch with nature in August: While the Chicago Botanic Gardens is always free, they have a special free kite festival on August 8 and 9 and the Malott Japanese Garden Summer Festival event for families on August 15 and 16. The Japanese festival celebrates summer with storytelling and arts and crafts. One caveat: Parking is $20 a car, but free for members. 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, Ill.