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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 the Garden Chef Series, which runs on weekends. 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. 

Thursday Night Live

On Thursday nights, enjoy free concerts celebrating a variety of genres in Downtown Evanston. Chairs are provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own. Local restaurants will also offer dinner specials, and there will be activities for kids.


Wednesdays on the Green

The Village Green in Skokie is the place to be for free, family-friendly entertainment on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket!

 Skokie's Wednesdays-on-the-Green

The Book Stall

This local bookstore is always hosting events, author visits, and more fun for bookworms. Find a complete list of upcoming events here.

Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival

This festival, 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 during this festival 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.
And mark your calendars now for Chicago Botanic Garden’s Harvest Weekend



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