If you’re thinking about heading to a museum on free day but wondering exactly what you get I’ve done the legwork for you.
Location: Adler Planetarium, 1300 S Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-7827. All free museum days.
Regular admission is $12/$8 for adults/children 3-11. On free day when you’re an IL resident you show your ID at the ticket counter and everyone in your party gets in free regardless of where they reside.
Regular and temporary exhibits
You will get access to all the temporary and permanent exhibits in the main museum building including Our Solar System and A Walk through our Solar System. There is also a lab for kids to explore and a planetary themed play area. You will also have access to the Doane Observatory. The observatory is a separate building behind the Adler to the east. It’s open only when the weather is bright and clear and there is a volunteer available to man it. You can call in the morning to see if it will be open that day.
You do not get access to any of the six 30 minute sky shows. Two shows are specifically for children. You can add one sky show for $12.95/$11.95 or all the sky shows for $17.95/$16.95. If you want to see all the sky shows you should arrive as early as possible. When you purchase unlimited sky shows they will only issue tickets to two shows at a time. After you’ve seen two shows you have to go back up to the ticket counter and get tickets for two more shows, if they’re available.
You also do not get access to the Atwood Sphere which is a rudimentary and historic dome that represents the Chicago night sky as it appeared in 1913. A volunteer points out the the stars and constellations. The Atwood Sphere is open 10:30 to 11:30 am and 2 pm to close. Admission is $5 for all.
Pay for the Sky Shows if you can
The Sky Shows are awesome and should be seen if you can afford it. The rest of the exhibits are excellent and interesting and can easily take the better part of a day.
If you are thinking about visiting more than one attraction the City Pass or Go Chicago Card both offer the best discount you can find. Using these passes takes some planning but you will save a lot of money which you can reallocate to dining or hotel costs or something else.
- You can purchase food and eat inside Cafe Galileo. No outside food or beverages are allowed.
- You can bring your own food and, weather permitting, dine on the slopes outside the planetarium, on the outside patio or at 12th Street Beach just past the planetarium to the south.
- There’s a Del Campo’s Tacos at the beach that serves awesome tacos for $3 each.
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