With Labor Day now behind us, we thought we would highlight things to do this Fall in Chicago that are a little friendlier on the pockets to take advantage of our nice weather! September has some of the best weather in Chicago and we need to take advantage before we know what’s coming 🙂
Many of these are family friendly or would make a nice solo date to explore the city!
Attractions, Museums & Libraries
🎟 Grab a Museum Pass from your local library & head to a museum for free! (Need a library card, but you can now even get them online without going into the library!). I think this is one the of most budget friendly tips I can give people in the city. You have the pass for one week before you return it and you can see which library has them available on their website.
🎃 Starting October 1st, Navy Pier gets decked out in 1,000 carved pumpkins all over the pier. The kids love it and it’s best to go at night because they light up! It’s free, so you can just walk around the pier. Many of the bars/restaurants also have deals running for the event. Maybe catch a fall sunset from the pier and then check out the pumpkins. Also, you can grab a drink on the pier and walk around with it or just bring snacks. We always use Spot Hero for parking when heading to Navy Pier.
🌺 Peggy Notebart Suggested donation on Thursdays. Also pack a lunch and sit in Lincoln Park! You can also make it a day and head to the zoo.
💚 Dusable Museum on Wednesdays are free. Bring a lunch and sit in the park to eat. It’s street parking (or pay for a spot across the street), so I would go early!
🏛Museum free days: you can see a full list of free museum days here. I would pack a lunch or snacks for the kids and try to find street parking if you can!
📚 Harold Washington Public Library: the upstairs atrium is stunning! They often have budget and kid friendly (usually free!) events happening, so check their website before going!
🏛 Chicago Cultural Center is free and the building is gorgeous! They usually have a rotating exhibit on the top floor. I took Mila one day to walk around the center and then we went across the street to Maggie Daley Park. I brought a lunch for us and used Spot Hero for parking!
🎵 Attend Hyde Park Jazz Festival, September 24th and 25th, and walk around the area. It’s in it’s 16th year, free (suggested donation), and it’s so much fun! Grab blankets, chairs, food and enjoy a relaxing night listening to live jazz! You can bring the family or make it a night out with friends.
🏢 If you have never done Open House Chicago with the Chicago Architecture Center, I highly recommend! Open House Chicago is happening October 15th-16th this year. This is your chance to check out buildings and parts of the city that are normally closed to the public and learn its history, etc. It’s FREE & really cool way to explore the city. Many of the sites will indicate if they are family friendly, accessible, etc. This is awesome for tourists and residents to explore the city! Tickets are required just to reserve your spot because some locations fill up quickly.
🇨🇳 Explore chinatown & Ping Tom Memorial Park: check out the beautiful public library, Chinatown Square, grab some Boba tea or dumplings at QXY dumplings
🇸🇪 Explore Andersonville, check out women & childrens bookstore & Swedish Museum gives walking tours of the neighborhood for $7
🚶♀️Explore Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and Pilsen (if you’d like a full, detailed list of things to do in these areas, you can shop my 3 day itinerary of these neighborhoods here)
Art & Theatre
🖼 National Mexican Art Museum (suggested donation): you can also check out their Dia de Los Muerto’s Exhibit from September 23rd to December 11th. During the last weekend in October, you can see the community ofrendas set up in Harrison Park. It’s a beautiful experience that we try to of to every year!
🎨 Mural hop on 16th in Pilsen
🖼 Hyde Park Art Center: They have various free events so check their website for more! You can walk around, shop on 53rd street or even walk over to the Promontory Point and take in the views on Lake Michigan and the city.
🎥 Movies in the park (Park District, Gallagher Way, Millennium Park): these run into the fall and Gallagher Way plays lots of Halloween themed movies! They are all budget friendly (free to enter), you just purchase snacks, drinks, etc.
Conservatories, Gardens and Parks
🦁 Lincoln park zoo + conservatory
🌸 Garfield park conservatory
🌱 Osaka Gardens in Jackson Park: there is still lots of nice weather to explore this park. It’s stunning!
🚶♀️Check out the Henry (Palmisano) Park: located in Bridgeport and it once used to be a quarry, it’s huge! People fish, there’s a track, climbing rocks and great views of the city!
Parks & Trails
🚴 Walk or bike the 606
🏞 Riverwalk picnic: I think one of the best times to visit is in the fall because it’s less crowded!
🧗♀️ Maggie Daley Park: the recently updated playground is great for kids!
🚶♀️ Walk the lakefront trail, then stop by Lakefront Cafe! If you are by Montrose Beach, stop by the Dock at Montrose that will be opened until the weather changes.
💐 Farmers markets: many of them run into fall! Check out a full list organized by day of the week here.
Here are some budget friendly things but there are so many more things! If you want my fall Bucket List this year, check it out here.