Now Reading
10 Free Attractions To Visit Near Columbia College Chicago

10 Free Attractions To Visit Near Columbia College Chicago

Every college student has to budget. If you're a student at the Columbia College Chicago, here are 10 free attractions to visit around your area.

Chicago is a brilliant city to study, play, and work in. From its variety of universities to its diverse population, the Second City has much to offer to the curious mind of a college student. Also, we have deep dish pizza which is basically what would happen if pizza and cake had a baby. For those of you who cannot currently afford a reckless shopping trip down the Magnificent Mile or Cubs tickets, have no fear. Here are 10 free things to do around Columbia College Chicago.

1. The Art Institute of Chicago

Once the Art Institute got voted the best museum in the world by TripAdvisor, the whole city did a collective hair flip. It is worth the hype. The collections are outstanding and cover the whole spectrum of art – from ancient Byzantine pieces to experimental, contemporary movies. They never disappoint.

The Monet and 20th century American art collections are must-sees. There are also exhibits in rotation. Some past ones include Picasso, Magritte, and Lichenstein. The best part is the Art Institute and Columbia College Chicago teamed up to give Columbia students free access to the museum! All you have to do is get a ticket as normal, show your Columbia ID, and tell them your zip code. For most of you on-campus dwellers, it will be 60605. Some of the “extras” and temporary exhibits will cost extra, but is still offered for students at an unbeatable price.


2. Free Museum Days!

Free Museum Days are offered to all Illinois residents in the popular museums of Chicago. The dates vary month to month, but are easily accessible on their websites. On these select days you can roam the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry for free! Just show that sweet Columbia College Chicago ID and you are in. The Museum of Contemporary Art in the Near North Side, off the Chicago red line stop, is free for Illinois residents every Tuesday. Like the Art Institute, some exhibits will be extra, but still significantly cheaper than full-price.

3. Millennium Park/The Bean/Crown Fountain


Chicago pulls no punches when it comes to their many parks. Millennium Park, the bigger and more popular brother of Grant Park, is massive and thriving, especially in the summers. During the humid, cloudless warm months, you will find many a Chicagoan enjoying a free concert at Pritzker pavilion, wetting their feet at Crown Fountain, or the beautiful, scenic Lurie Garden. In the winter, you will find ice skating and puffy coats replace the skateboards and sandals, but will be equally as entertained. The giant Christmas tree, formerly located in Daley Plaza, has recently been moved to Millennium Park the last couple of years. Despite the many tourists, this stretch of land is worth it.

4. Chicago Cultural Center

One of the most beautiful buildings in Chicago is the Chicago Cultural Center. It was the first of its kind when it was inducted as a public cultural center in the 90s. It houses the biggest Tiffany glass dome in the world, and boasts beautiful architectural details that bring tourists from all over the globe. On top of its beauty, the Cultural Center offers free concerts, events, and exhibits that change every month. They vary from chamber music to jazz ensembles to unique art installations and performances. Also, don’t forget to take a selfie with the Bronze Cow outside of the southern entrance.


5. Maggie Daley Park

The newer addition to the parks of Chicago has become a huge hit. From rock climbing to mini golf to an Enchanted Forest, this place is literally for kids of all ages. It is the perfect escape from midterms, exams, and general adulthood stress.

6. Fireworks at Navy Pier


The fireworks at Navy Pier are definitely something to behold. While mostly offered in the summer, there is still plenty of time to bask in their glow before or after the semester starts at Columbia College Chicago. There are also amazing fireworks offered on New Years Eve for those daring to venture in the cold twilight. In some parts of the South Loop, you can see them and avoid the crowds, so be sure to hunt to find the perfect spot.

7. Museum of Mexican Art

The Museum of Mexican art is one of the most underrated museums in Chicago. Admission is free for everyone and features amazing installations from local and featured artists. Their gift shop is also a party in itself. Hop on the pink line to 54th/Cermak and admire the many beautiful murals of Pilsen.  More importantly, stuff your face with tamales and conchas.


8. Murals and Public Art

See Also
There isn’t much to explain on how to have a good time, but there are four main things you should be aware of during Halloween weekend at Temple!

Seeing is usually free, and there is a lot of public art to view in Chicago. Instead of seeing Chicago’s Picasso for the 80th time in Daley Plaza, check Instagram or other art sites for the best and underrated murals in Chicago. Whether it be for a selfie or a class project, the delights of the Chicago art scene will not disappoint.


9. Free Concerts

If you are not feeling like shelling out a tuition’s worth of money for a Taylor Swift show, perhaps venture into the world of dives, student bands, and concerts at Millennium Park. Many up-and-coming bands play at smaller venues around the city. Places like Wicker Park are covered in a rainbow of flyers begging for audiences. Make sure to get a cone at Jeni’s while you are there.

Columbia College Chicago also has a great band scene. New artists can be found at Big Mouth that are manned by students and professors to showcase fantastic talent. The biggest space for a free show would be the free concert series at Millennium Park in the summers. From opera to ballet to movie scores, pop a squat, bring a cool beverage, and live easy in the grassy expanse beyond Pritzker Pavilion or snag a seat if al fresco is not your style.


10. Columbia Events!

If you are living on campus at Columbia College Chicago, your RA will bug you to go to a random pizza night now and then. However, before the scoffing commences, there really are some fun events provided by the school that are worth exploring. The Blood Ball and end of the year Manifest Arts Festival have been hailed by many current students and alumni as awesome events. Columbia is very dutiful about posting flyers and sending emails about upcoming spectacles. Every department has a weird, quirky following and there are about as many clubs and student societies as there are actual students.

Enjoy the undergrad scene before you get too snobby, because like a famous fictional Chicagoan teen once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Share your free, fun things to do around Columbia College Chicago in the comments below!
Featured Image Source: