Free Things to Do in the Chicago Suburbs

Free Things to Do in the Chicago Suburbs

As the crown jewel of the Midwest, Chicago offers plenty of fun for individuals and families alike. But what about the surrounding Chicagoland area?

Rising inflation has more of us looking for ways to save money where we can. That usually means less spending on extracurricular activities, particularly in a city where concerts and sporting events tend to be expensive.

Fortunately, the surrounding suburbs of Chicago offer plenty of exciting activities that won’t hurt your wallet. Check out these free things to do in the Chicago suburbs.

Joliet, IL

5 Free Things to Do in the Chicago Suburbs

Emily Oaks Nature Center

Location: 4650 Brummel St., Skokie, IL

The Emily Oaks Nature Center is located at 4650 Brummel Street in Skokie. This scenic conservancy features thirteen-acres of wildflowers, oak trees, and a two-acre pond.

It’s an ideal location for birdwatchers and those interested in spotting woodland wildlife.

Red Cardinal
Red Cardinal

You can take advantage of the conservancy’s indoor nature center to learn more about the area. The conservancy also schedules events throughout the year that are open to the public, including scavenger hunts and after school nature clubs.


Location: Kirk Road and Pine Street, Batavia, IL

Named after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, Fermilab is the only particle accelerator in the United States. The facility employs over 1700 scientists and engineers from across the globe.

Since 1963, Fermilab has explored the cutting-edge of particle physics, including the study of dark matter.

Science buffs, educators, and the general public can enjoy educational, in-person and virtual tours of the facility.

Check out our List of the Most Affordable Chicago Commuter Towns

Naperville Riverwalk

Location: Naperville, IL

Naperville Riverwalk
Naperville Riverwalk

The Naperville Riverwalk stretches close to 2 miles along the West Branch of the DuPage River. Visitors who take a stroll down this iconic path along the river will pass by outdoor artwork, venues, and memorials on their trip.

During the Christmas season, visitors can find the riverwalk decorated with lights, making this an ideal place for those looking to get into the spirit of the holidays.

Kimball Hill Museum

Location: Rolling Meadows, IL

Opened in July 2002, the Kimball Hill Museum (known as the 1950’s House) offers visitors a window into the lives of suburban families who lived in the 50’s.

The Rolling Meadows Historical Society fashioned the museum after the first ranch-style home built in Rolling Meadows by Kimball Hill in 1953.

Vintage TV
Vintage TV

The museum features 50’s memorabilia displays and information on the development of the first homes in Rolling Meadows. Tours of the 1950’s House are available at no cost, but the historical society does accept donations.

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Little Red School House Nature Center

Location: 9800 Willow Springs Road, Willow Springs, IL

The Little Red School House originally functioned as a normal schoolhouse in Palos Hills, IL between the late 1800’s and the late 1940’s. By 1952, the schoolhouse was moved to Willow Springs.

Opened as an educational location in 1955, the center’s main exhibit building features local wildlife displays.

Nature lovers who visit the Little Red School House Nature Center will also enjoy up to 3 miles of hiking trails. In addition to monthly events and educational field trips, the nature center offers volunteer opportunities for those looking to lend a helping hand.

Hiking Trail
Hiking Trail

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About John Curiel

John holds a BS in technical communication from Arizona State University. He is a freelance writer with SEO and social media management experience. Based in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois; John has written content for businesses across the United States. In his free time, he writes fiction and enjoys gardening.

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