The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have placed restrictions on many events and businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We strongly recommend confirming the status of attractions and upcoming events by reaching out directly to the attraction, venue, or ticket provider before proceeding.
You don’t need to reach for your wallet to get your fill of culture and fun in Chicago. Here are free things to do in Chicago this March, including free cultural celebrations, outdoor markets, concerts, parades, and more. And check out our budget-friendly guide for free and cheap things to do in Chicago all year long.
1. Go for a spin on an outdoor ice rink
Through March 8
Only a week left to lace up your skates and go for a spin at one of the two ice skating rinks in Millennium Park. Check out the McCormick Tribune rink in the shadow of the iconic “The Bean” statue, or the Skating Ribbon, which loops around nearby Maggie Daley Park. Admission is free, skate rentals are available.
2. Browse a century-old market
Sundays in March
This 100-year-old Chicago tradition opens for the season on March 1. The outdoor Maxwell Street Market is brimming with eclectic, international treasures waiting to be found every Sunday. Expect tools, clothing, collectibles, baked goods, produce and more — and come ready to bargain.
3. Visit a Chicago museum
Various dates in March
Many of Chicago’s most popular museums are offering free admission days this month. The Chicago History Museum will be throwing a free birthday celebration for the city of Chicago on March 4, with family-friendly activities, performances, and birthday sweets.
Check out the schedule of free museum days for Illinois residents this month:
Check out our list of free museum days all year long.
4. See spring flowers bloom
All month long
Feeling a bit of cabin fever? Get a taste of spring at Chicago’s free flower shows. Two lush conservatories are currently presenting their spring showcases. Lincoln Park Conservatory is displaying a rainbow of camellias, azaleas, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, hydrangea, and geraniums, and more. And the Garfield Park Conservatory show, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, focuses on flowers that thrive at dawn and dusk.
5. Hear live music from around the world
Wednesdays in March
Head to Old Town School of Folk Music for World Music Wednesdays, their weekly showcase of global music and dance. The lineup features both local and touring talent — a highlight this month is a performance by José del Tomate Group on March 11 as part of the Chicago Flamenco Festival. Most performances are free (with a $10 suggested donation), make a reservation online or over the phone to guarantee your spot.
6. Catch a classical concert
March 20, 2020
Stop by the Chicago Cultural Center for a free lunchtime chamber concert, presented by Bach in the Subways. This international project promotes classical music through free concerts in public spaces. This pop-up performance will take place in the stunning Chicago Cultural Center beneath the world’s largest Tiffany glass dome.
7. Get a custom tour of Chicago
All month long
No one knows Chicago like a local. The Chicago Greeter program pairs visitors with friendly Chicagoans for free tours of their favorite neighborhoods and places. Request a custom tour based on your interests (foodie-friendly, architecture, art, and more), location, language and more.
8. Explore Mexican art and culture
In the heart of the city’s vibrant Pilsen community, the National Museum of Mexican Art showcases more than 3,000 years of Mexican art and culture. The always-free museum is home to one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections, with a 10,000-piece permanent collection that celebrates the rich diversity of Mexican art across centuries.
9. Tour an architectural gem
This 1923 bank building was deteriorating for decades, until it was radically restored and transformed into the Stony Island Arts Bank, a hybrid gallery, library, and community center. They also offer a regular schedule of free live music, DJs, film screenings, exhibitions and events including readings, talks, and performances.
10. Visit the Poetry Foundation
The first space in Chicago dedicated solely to the art of poetry, the Poetry Foundation includes a 30,000-volume poetry library, an exhibition gallery, and a performance space for the Foundation’s extensive roster of public events. Check out their upcoming event calendar for creative workshops, discussions, visiting poets, and more.
Looking for more? Check out our guide on free things to do in Chicago all year long.