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10 free things to do in Chicago on Black Friday

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As Chicagoans, we have many things to be grateful for. And while families across the city will come together for the holiday which is meant for reflecting and sharing time with loved ones, it's also a holiday that has become known as the launch of the frantic shopping season. It may be easy to get roped into the chaos of Black Friday, but over the years, many have found that they prefer spending time with friends and family instead of spending money in shops and stores. Here are 10 alternatives to consider this Black Friday that are free, fun, and far less stressful.

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1. Cloud Gate

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Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60602

If you have friends or family in town, a trip to Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) is in store. It doesn't cost a dime to take a stroll around the popular public art piece and take a few photos. Maybe it's a touristy thing to do, but it is the holiday season after all—revel in it.

2. Chicago Cultural Center

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78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630
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Head over to the Chicago Cultural Center to warm up and take a stroll through this architectural gem. The building is famous for featuring the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world. The memorial wing dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic is equally stunning.

3. Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon

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337 E Randolph Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 233-1001
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The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park has only been around for a couple of winters, but it's become a major hit for tourists and residents alike. Entry to the park and the skate ribbon is free—granted you have your own skates. The rink is in the middle of downtown and offers incredible views of the skyline to skaters.

4. Chicago Riverwalk

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Chicago River
Chicago, IL 60601

The weather is supposed to be mild this Thanksgiving weekend, so it may be a perfect opportunity to take a stroll along the new stretches of Chicago Riverwalk. While there are some food and beverage offerings along the path, it won't cost a thing to just take a relaxing walk alone or with some company.

5. Christkindlmarket

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Organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce, the Christkindlmarket is an annual outdoor market featuring all things Germany. While it is a market with plenty of goods for sale, entry is free and it doesn't cost a penny to just enjoy the festive spirit of the market.

6. Macy's

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111 S State St
Chicago, IL 60603

Yeah, yeah, we know what the official name for this store is. However, the old building at 111 N State Street will forever be known to Chicagoans as Marshall Field's. You don't have to spend any money to make the trip worth it—the building features an iconic clock (which is a great photo opportunity) and window displays.

7. Harold Washington Library Winter Garden

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400 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605

Perhaps you're just looking for some peace and quiet on Friday? If so, make a visit to the Winter Garden atrium at the top of the Harold Washington Library. The perch of the popular postmodern building is the perfect place to meditate and think about all of the things we should be thankful for.

8. Lincoln Park Zoo

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2001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000
Visit Website

This Friday, the Lincoln Park Zoo's popular ZooLights series kicks off for the season. The zoo is decked in colorful holiday lights for the event, which is a perfect attraction for families with children.

9. Adler Planetarium Skyline Walk

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1300 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827
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Do you have a photographer in the family? Take them towards the museum campus—specifically the Adler Planetarium—to get some of the very best ground-level views of downtown Chicago.

10. Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District

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If you've already visited all of the sights in the city and are looking for something else truly spectacular to do, head over to Oak Park and take a tour of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright/Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. Wright designed 25 homes and buildings in the suburb and many of them are clustered together in an area that is walkable.

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1. Cloud Gate

Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60602

If you have friends or family in town, a trip to Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) is in store. It doesn't cost a dime to take a stroll around the popular public art piece and take a few photos. Maybe it's a touristy thing to do, but it is the holiday season after all—revel in it.

Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60602

2. Chicago Cultural Center

78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Head over to the Chicago Cultural Center to warm up and take a stroll through this architectural gem. The building is famous for featuring the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world. The memorial wing dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic is equally stunning.

78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

3. Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon

337 E Randolph Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park has only been around for a couple of winters, but it's become a major hit for tourists and residents alike. Entry to the park and the skate ribbon is free—granted you have your own skates. The rink is in the middle of downtown and offers incredible views of the skyline to skaters.

337 E Randolph Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

4. Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago River, Chicago, IL 60601

The weather is supposed to be mild this Thanksgiving weekend, so it may be a perfect opportunity to take a stroll along the new stretches of Chicago Riverwalk. While there are some food and beverage offerings along the path, it won't cost a thing to just take a relaxing walk alone or with some company.

Chicago River
Chicago, IL 60601

5. Christkindlmarket

Chicago, IL

Organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce, the Christkindlmarket is an annual outdoor market featuring all things Germany. While it is a market with plenty of goods for sale, entry is free and it doesn't cost a penny to just enjoy the festive spirit of the market.

6. Macy's

111 S State St, Chicago, IL 60603

Yeah, yeah, we know what the official name for this store is. However, the old building at 111 N State Street will forever be known to Chicagoans as Marshall Field's. You don't have to spend any money to make the trip worth it—the building features an iconic clock (which is a great photo opportunity) and window displays.

111 S State St
Chicago, IL 60603

7. Harold Washington Library Winter Garden

400 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

Perhaps you're just looking for some peace and quiet on Friday? If so, make a visit to the Winter Garden atrium at the top of the Harold Washington Library. The perch of the popular postmodern building is the perfect place to meditate and think about all of the things we should be thankful for.

400 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605

8. Lincoln Park Zoo

2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

This Friday, the Lincoln Park Zoo's popular ZooLights series kicks off for the season. The zoo is decked in colorful holiday lights for the event, which is a perfect attraction for families with children.

2001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

9. Adler Planetarium Skyline Walk

1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

Do you have a photographer in the family? Take them towards the museum campus—specifically the Adler Planetarium—to get some of the very best ground-level views of downtown Chicago.

1300 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605

10. Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District

Oak Park, IL

If you've already visited all of the sights in the city and are looking for something else truly spectacular to do, head over to Oak Park and take a tour of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright/Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. Wright designed 25 homes and buildings in the suburb and many of them are clustered together in an area that is walkable.