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8 Free Things to Do on Chicago's North Shore

There’s nothing like summer on Chicago’s North Shore. With the beaches and nature centers, plus attractions, museums and more, there’s always something to do (no matter if you prefer to get outside or cool off indoors). But, summer gets even better when events are free!

Here are just a few of the free events taking place this summer (and early fall) that will allow you to save some cash without skimping on fun.


Free Cooking Demonstrations at Chicago Botanic Garden 

Noted chefs prepare recipes in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden’s open-air amphitheater as part of Garden Chef Series which runs on weekends through October 8.  Seating is first-come, first-served. for these free demonstrations. 


Bikepaths Galore

Evanston has gorgeous bikepaths for a short ride along the lake or longer rides for the cycling enthusiast.  The Green Bay Bike Trail takes you along the Metra Union Pacific North line with easy access to three Merchant Districts in the Village of Winnetka, Downtown Glencoe as well as the Chicago Botanic Garden. 



Monday Night Car Show

This weekly event, held at Westfield Old Orchard through Labor Day, not only gives you a chance to see classic cars, but it also provides an evening of fun activities and food from Old Orchard restaurants. Don't miss the last show:  Truck Night (Sept. 4).



Thursday Night Live

On Thursday nights through Aug. 24, enjoy free concerts celebrating a variety of genres in Downtown Evanston. Chairs are provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own in addition to food. Upcoming shows include Brazilian music from Maracujaz (Aug. 17) and American standards and jazz by Sam Fazio Quartet (Aug. 24). You can also play big versions of games like Scrabble and Jenga and take part in kids’ activities.




Wednesdays on the Green

For seven years, the Village Green in Skokie has been the site of free entertainment on Wednesday nights throughout the summer.  On Aug. 16, don’t miss Kaleidoscope Dance Kidz Bop Dance Night with Classy Clown. The summer series ends on August 23 with the Chicago Soul Revue.  Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket!

 Skokie's Wednesdays-on-the-Green



Nonfiction Night at The Book Stall

If you’re always looking for that next great read, don’t miss this event at The Book Stall in Winnetka on Aug. 15. Jon Grand will share his picks for the best new books and guests will have the chance to win free books and gift cards. Refreshments will also be served. While the event is free, the bookstore asks that you reserve your space by calling 847-446-8880 or emailing



Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival

This festival, back Aug. 18-20, brings together two summer favorites: art and food. Not only can you shop paintings, sculptures, home accessories and more from 130 artists, but you can also dine on food, beer and wine from Evanston restaurants.



Heirloom Fest: Tomatoes & More

Although admission to Chicago Botanic Garden is free, you will need to pay for parking (unless you ride your bike!). Visit Aug. 26-27 for a fun-filled weekend all about tomatoes. Visitors can take a tour of the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, watch seed-saving demos, make an herb mix, play games like tomato toss and “Sorting Supper,” and shop products from local vendors. Plus, Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen and Social House and The Barn will take part in the Garden Chef Series on Aug. 27.
And mark your calendars now for Chicago Botanic Garden’s Harvest Weekend, Sept. 23-24.



This entry was posted in Attractions, on July 21, 2017.

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