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Free places to go on Labor Day weekend

You’ve earned this.

There are few things that are better than enjoying the day off, and because the best things in life are free, you should enjoy the best on your day off. Here are a few things to consider:

Dance your heart out at Chicago SummerDance.
You’ve got the weekend off, too, right? So it’s a no brainer for the uninhibited among us that dancing is a great form of expression that also happens to relieve stress and help clarity of thinking. And there are 43 different bands over the course of the summer that are vying for your attention and moves. Dance lessons are provided for those that want to improve their game, and free style is always an option. And of course, it’s okay to just listen and watch. Check out the schedule and waltz over to the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park.

Get in touch with your wild side at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
No list would be complete without this in the middle of the city that’s been standing since 1868. Take two to three hours and enjoy the plethora of animals on the lake front amid the backdrop of the skyline. They close at 5pm, so make it a mid-day activity.

Appreciate the culture of the Chicago Cultural Center.
This is the first free municipal cultural center in the entire country. In 1897, it opened as the city’s first public library. Take in the gorgeousness of the materials used here, from mosaics, Italian marble (some hails from Vermont and Tennessee, too), to the two majestic stained glass domes. And there are regular events, too—check out the Booker sculptural exhibition. Presidents and royalty are brought here, so you could bring yourself here, too.

Soak up more knowledge on the power of architecture.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit organization that offers walking tours that promise to delight and inform as you roll through various themes on the city’s rise from a backwater frontier town to a major city. And there’s a 1,000-building scale model of Chicago to make you want to pick up your LEGOS again. Head over to 224 South Michigan Ave.

Enjoy the outdoors at the Navy Pier.
Go to the fountain to cool off, enjoy the Ferris wheel, skate on the ice rink in the summertime, or just sit and watch the boats go by. Check out the sleeker look of the 50-acre plus property if you haven’t been back since the remodel. South Dock has become an open promenade with trees and native plants, most of which have been locally sourced from within 50 miles to support their sustainability effort. There are some surprises, too—like the 100-foot long and 16-foot high hand-painted mural that showcases the cultural diversity of Chicago.