5 of the Best Free Learning Tools in Chicago

2830879095_ba471d2bba_bThe city of Chicago is full of great (and free!) resources to get you and your family learning and having fun at the same time. Here are some local favorites from Chicago, IL tutor Samantha S...


Living in a major cosmopolitan city provides abundant cultural and learning opportunities. Knowing where and how to find these opportunities is key. Once you get clued in, going deeper into your interests won’t even cost a thing. Here are a few tricks to the Windy City to get you hooked up to free learning.

The Chicago Public Library

No brainer, right? Well, yeah, we all know that the good old fashioned library card holds the power of infinite books. But did you know about the other opportunities provided at CPL, primarily at the downtown location, Harold Washington Library? The third floor boasts the award-winning Maker Lab, home to 3D printers that you can learn how to use in a free workshop. There are genealogy databases to research family ancestry, free practice rooms for musicians, story times, and frequent author events with renowned writers from Chicago and beyond. Visit today as it is open seven days a week!

The Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is a must-visit for out-of-towners and citizens alike. Home to the largest Tiffany stained-glass dome in the world, it is an aesthetic wonder as well as cultural gem.

Formerly the downtown Chicago Public Library as well as headquarters to the Civil War Union Army’s veterans’ office, the Cultural Center now hosts a variety of rotating art exhibits and an ongoing lunch-time music series. In addition, the center offers free 45-minute building tours.

Chicago SummerDance

Ever felt the desire to tango? Or polka? Then you’re in the right place. Chicago annually hosts SummerDance, an ongoing dance lesson with live music in Grant Park. Each Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the city brings in a different dance company to teach the basic steps of that dance. Then, the floor opens up for all dancers to try out their steps, complete with live music. (And if these public dance classes get you hooked, don’t forget to browse the Chicago dance teachers at TakeLessons to continue working year-round with a private teacher!)

Free Museums Day in Chicago

Chicago has some of the best museums on earth, and generously offers free museum days to all Chicago citizens. The Art Institute, perhaps second best to the Louvre and Uffizi, offers a free night every Thursday from 5-8pm. Other museums, such as the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, and the Chicago History Museum hold monthly free days (more info can be found online).

Free Concerts in Millenium Park

So your bank account is too broke to go to Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. Fear not. Chicago provides a free concert series in Millenium Park that may have those other festivals beat. From classical music to electronic world beats, the city of Chicago covers it all, at no expense to the concertgoers. Come with a picnic blanket and your snacks of choosing to fully enjoy.

Whether you want to delve deeper into art, history, or music, Chicago is the place to do it. Take the CTA downtown to really experience Chicago’s people, then jump into learning — at no cost!

SamanthaASamantha S. teaches writing in Chicago, IL. She has her masters in the art of teaching, and a license to teach elementary education. Learn more about Samantha here!



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