open main hall of Field Museum with Maximo Dinosaur

The Field Museum: Free Days, Discounts, and Tips (2023)


The Chicago Field Museum is definitely a must-see if you’ve never been, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago. It helps to plan the details of your visit ahead of time to minimize costs, see special exhibits, and partake in fun events. Read this guide for tips, tricks, free museum days, and special events on select days.

What is it?

The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the United States. It features dinosaur skeletons, artifacts from the Ancient Americas, a DNA discovery center, and many other fascinating exhibits that deal with the natural world.

Permanent exhibits include Inside Ancient Egypt, Cyrus Tang Hall of China, Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, The Ancient Americas, Underground Adventure, Grainger Hall of Gems, 3D Theater, Abbot Hall of Conservation’s Restoring Earth, and the Crown Family PlayLab.

It’s located on Museum Campus, right by the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. An added bonus to checking out the architectural icon that is the current building of the Field Museum is you will have unrivaled views of the Windy City.

centered picture of the exterior of the field museum
The Field Museum is an architectural icon in Chicago © Field Museum

Illinois Resident Free Day Tickets:

On free admission days, Illinois residents can get free general admission into the museum with proof of residency. Additional fees apply for discovery and all access passes. Illinois free day tickets are available on the following days:

Tickets for Free Days are only available to Illinois residents on-site and cannot be reserved in advance. You cannot take advantage of Free Days when buying tickets online.

Upcoming Illinois Resident Free Days Are:

June 6, 13, 19

Unable to make those days? There are many other available discounts and special offers listed at the bottom of this post.

Fun Facts:

  • Much of the collection was put together for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, so it was formally known as the Columbian Museum of Chicago. Marshall Field donated $1 million dollars to move the collection into a new museum building to give the collection a permanent home. They have since grown to 40 million artifacts and specimens. and it is now known as the Field Museum. The building is an amazing structure with tremendous views of Chicago, including the famous skyline and glistening lakefront.
  • The Tyrannosaurus Rex was arguably one of the coolest dinosaurs of all time, and the Field Museum has the most complete T.Rex in the world! Her name is SUE, and she moved from Dinosaur Hall to the second floor of the Evolving Planet Exhibit in 2018. SUE’s skeleton was found in North America!
  • Taking the place of SUE in Dinosaur Hall is Máximo, the Titanosaur. The Titanosaur is the largest dinosaur scientists have discovered, and Máximo is from Patagonia, Argentina.
  • The Field Museum has one of the largest collections of mummies in the Western Hemisphere, with 23 human mummies and 30 animal mummies.

Tips:

  • The museum is within walking distance of Millennium Park and Grant Park, two of Chicago’s most beautiful parks. The Chicago Park District hosts lots of amazing events in these parks, so planning a trip to the Field Museum around a movie, concert, or festival in the park could be a great Sunday afternoon!
  • Guided tours are available daily at no extra cost.
  • Coat check is available for $3 per item. You can check coats, strollers, bags, etc. but the Field Museum is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
  • Strollers can be rented for $3 for a single, or $5 for a double, on a first come first serve basis.
  • If you want to bring your own food, there are tables open to museum visitors on the ground level in the Siragusa Center and near the Sea Mammals.
sue the dinosaur, in new wing at the Field museum
Sue, the most complete T.Rex in the world © Field Museum photo by John Weinstein.

Kids’ Activities at the Field Museum

Recommended Ages:

0-100. Everyone loves the Field Museum.

Accessibility:

  • There is a passenger drop-off area on the East side of the museum. Enter the road near the East parking lot entrance booth.
  • Accessible paid parking is available in the adjacent East Museum Lot on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Pace Suburban Bus may offer prearranged paratransit services in your area. Visit Pace’s Chicago ADA Service website for more information.
  • Wheelchairs are available at either of the entrances. They are thoroughly sanitized between uses.
  • Sensory bags, including fidgets, sunglasses, emotion cards, and headphones are available at the visitor center.
  • Read more about accessibility at the Field Museum.

Tickets:

Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. To guarantee admission, it’s recommended to buy your tickets ahead of time. Certain discounts (teacher, military, Museums for All, etc.) are not available online and are noted below.

Cost:

Ticket prices vary depending on residency and package.

Out-of-State AdultsIllinois ResidentsChicago Residents
Basic Admission $29$27$18
Discovery Pass (Basic
Admission plus one 3D movie
or one of four ticketed exhibitions)
$36$34$26
​All-Access Pass (Basic Admission plus a 3D movie and all four ticketed exhibitions)$42$40$32

Special Offers and Discounts

Chicago CityPASS®  and C3®

CityPASS® C3®
Adult$114.00$88.00
Child (3-11)$93.00$64

Tourists can purchase CityPASS®  for discounts on Chicago attractions, and it can save a lot of money if you plan on doing multiple tourist activities within 9 days.

The validity period is 9 consecutive days starting with and including the first day you visit an attraction. You have one year from the date of purchase to start using your tickets.

You still have to make reservations for most of the attractions, so I highly recommend checking the availability before purchasing your passes!

CityPASS® –One-time admission to the 3 following attractions

  1. Shedd Aquarium
  2. Skydeck Chicago
  3. Field Museum

Plus get admission to 2 more attractions of your choice. No need to choose now—decide later.

  1. Art Institute of Chicago
  2. Museum of Science and Industry
  3. 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
  4. Adler Planetarium

C3®-One-time Admission to 3 attractions:

mummy in ancient egypt exhibit
Inside Ancient Egypt Exhibit © Field Museum

For Locals Only

Illinois Resident Free Days

The Field Museum offers special free days/weekends for Illinois Residents. They are typically in the winter or during less busy times of the year. I will post free museum days as they’re announced, so check back here periodically for updates!

*Chicago Public Library: Kids Museum Passport*

This amazing program no longer exists! Contact Chris Brown, the library commissioner at commissioner@chipublib.org to request the return of the program!

If you’re a Chicago Public Library cardholder and an adult resident of Chicago, you may check out a Kids Museum Passport at any CPL location. Each CPL location has a limited number of Kids Museum Passports for each museum.

Your group must include at least one child under 18 for the Kids Museum Passport to be valid, and a maximum of two adults are admitted with each pass. Please show your online reservation and Kids Museum Passport when you arrive at your selected time. No tickets will be available onsite.

For Tourists and Locals

Memberships

While probably most appealing to locals, both tourists and locals can buy memberships to The Field Museum. The membership often pays for itself if you plan on visiting more than two times a year. Members receive free basic admission, free admission to all special exhibitions, and discounts on every 3-d movie. Members receive a 10 percent discount at the gift shop and museum restaurants. All memberships are 100% tax deductible.

They are currently offering a 10% on memberships with the Promo Code: MEMTEN

Find membership info here.

Museums for All: EBT Cards

Families with valid EBT (Link) or WIC cards are eligible for $3-per-person Basic admission for up to six people. Please show your valid EBT (Link) or WIC card when you purchase tickets at the museum. This offer cannot be obtained online. Museums for All is made possible by Ford Motor Company.

Illinois Teachers

Illinois Teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) will receive free basic admission with an employee ID when purchasing tickets at the museum. This offer cannot be obtained online.

Active Duty Military Personnel

Active military personnel will receive free basic admission with a Military ID when purchasing tickets at the museum. This offer cannot be obtained online.

Senior Citizens:

TBD

Safety:

Vaccines and Masks are no longer required, though masks are encouraged. The museum has hand sanitizer stations, and high traffic areas are cleaned regularly.

Location & Hours:

The Field Museum is open daily from 9:00 am-5:00 pm, with last admission at 4:00 pm. They are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Getting There:

The Field Museum is located off S. Dusable Lake Shore Drive. If you are staying downtown, you probably want to take public transit, a taxi/rideshare, or possibly, walk. If you are coming from out of town, parking rates are listed below. There is metered parking on Solidarity Drive, but those spots can fill up fast and they aren’t available during special events, etc.

CTA’s # 146 Bus to Museum Campus: Operates daily until around 11:35 p.m.

Best for those heading from State Street downtown, North Michigan Ave. or the north side of Chicago.Please note that there is another route of the #146 Bus (Harrison/State) that will not take you all the way to Shedd. Please make sure the bus is labeled as going to Museum Campus.

CTA’s #130 Bus eastbound: Operates between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day only.

Best bet for Metra or Amtrak users! Buses leave Union/Ogilvie stations between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The last #130 bus leaves Shedd at 6 p.m.

Roosevelt Red/Orange/Green Line Station: The Field Museum is about a 15 minute walk east from the Roosevelt station.

Water Taxi: This is a super fun way to get to the Field Museum from Navy Pier. It starts in May and runs through September, but sometimes it will run during other seasons if the weather is nice. It departs every 30 minutes and costs $15/adult and $8/child for a one-way trip. You buy the tickets at the water taxi docks, and they can close during inclement weather. No advance reservations. Check here for more info.

For more detailed public transit instructions, click here.

Parking

The Museum Campus also has several lots where you can park. Parking fees, which can change without notice are:

  • Soldier Field North GarageUp to 4 hours, $25 4 to 12 hours, $30 12 to 24 hours, $50 Special event, pay on the way in, $30
  • East museum lot $30
  • Adler lot Early bird, before 9:30 a.m., $12 Daily, $25 Night rate, after 4:30 p.m., $15
  • Valet parking Available most weekends for aquarium guests for $35 a vehicle, subject to limited availability. Take advantage of this service at the guest drop-off area on the south side of the aquarium, off Solidarity Drive.

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