This post covers how to get discounted tickets to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, including free days, tours, and exhibits. Read more »
This post covers how to get discounted tickets to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, including free days, tours, and exhibits.
- Tickets + Free Entry
- Available Discounts
- Plan Your Visit
- Things to Do in Chicago
- Free Tours by Foot
TICKETS + FREE ENTRY
This section will give you an overview of ticket types and ticket prices. There are a few options in addition to general admission.
Any free entry option is limited to general admission and we have listed them just below the ticket descriptions.
TIP: To get a discount of up to 50% on your tickets, check out the attraction discount passes below.
This gives you access to all permanent exhibitions and collections.
- Adult: $19
- Child (3-11): $8
- Children under 3: FREE
- Click here to get your tickets.
Entry + 1
This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections plus one show ticket of your choice.
- Adult: $28
- Child (3-11): $17
- Click here to get your tickets.
This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections plus two show tickets of your choice.
- Adult: $35
- Child (3-11): $24
- Click here to get your tickets.
Anytime All-Access Pass
This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections with unlimited access to your choice of shows.
- Adult: $34.95
- Child (3-11): $29.95
- Click here to get your tickets.
PRO TIP: The exhibits are awesome, but kids really love the Adler shows! You can see one, two, or all of them with various ticket levels.
Free Museum Admission Days for Illinois Residents
Free admission entitles Illinois residents with a valid state ID to the general admission to the planetarium on specific days.
Residents may upgrade to an All-Access Pass at a discounted price. Check the website for specific days.
Free Admission for Teachers + Active Police + Active Firefighters
Illinois teachers (K-12) with ID enter free for general admission.
The Adler Planetarium is part of the Blue Star Museum organization. Any active military personnel receives free general admission with military ID.
This section includes the various discounts available for Adler Planetarium tickets. Don’t pay full price when you don’t have to.
Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
General admission to the Adler Planetarium is included in all of Chicago’s tourist passes.
These passes work by combining tickets to popular attractions and tours into one discounted price, up to 55% off.
You can also save time by skipping the ticket line at select locations, which really can be a blessing in the summer.
In addition to the Adler Planetarium, here are a handful of the other popular attractions included with some passes:
- Field Museum
- Brookfield Zoo
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- Architecture Cruise
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Museum of Science and Industry
- And more!
If you want to learn more about attraction discount passes that can save you 50% on Chicago activities, check out our full post.
Go Chicago Explorer Pass
The Chicago Explorer Pass will give you admission to 3, 4, or 5 attractions at a discount of up to 40%.
The Adler Planetarium is included in the list of 29 eligible attractions.
NOTE: If you would like either the Discovery or All Access Passes, you need only pay the difference when you arrive.
Go Chicago Build-Your-Own Pass Card
With the Go Chicago Build-Your-Own Pass Card, if you are planning to attend any other attraction, then you will save at least 20% off the retail price.
General Admission tickets to the Adler Planetarium are included with the build your own card options.
The CityPass booklet is a pre-packaged discount bundle that includes 5 popular tourist attractions at a discount of 53%.
All you have to do is purchase the one ticket and make a few choices on the options they give you.
We have a full tourist attraction discount pass comparison on our blog.
City of Chicago Residents
City of Chicago Residents with ID receive discounts on all admission passes every day.
Adults receive $2 off their tickets and children receive $3 off their tickets.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
This section will help you plan your visit including how to get there, when to go, and how long you should expect to stay.
If you’re looking for ways to get discounted tickets, check the section above.
How to Get There
Adler Planetarium is located at 1300 S Lakeshore Drive at the Museum Campus.
We recommend using this Google Maps link for directions to the museum.
While the Adler is within reasonable walking distance from most downtown hotels and popular attractions, there are public transportation and parking options to save time and energy.
- #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express/Museum Campus
- #130 Museum Campus (mid-May through Labor Day)
- Exit the Roosevelt stop (Red, Orange, Green lines) and transfer to bus #146 at State Street and Roosevelt Road.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
- Chicago’s hop-on-hop-off buses have Museum Campus stops!
Best Times to Visit
Adler is open every day from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm, with extended summer hours to 6:00 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
They are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The museum is most popular mid-day on Saturdays and Sundays, so we suggest trying to arrive as they open on weekends or before noon on a weekday.
How long should I stay?
In general, visitors stay at the planetarium for 2.5 to 3 hours.
Is there somewhere to eat at the Planetarium?
Yes. Cafe Galileo offers a beautiful, uninterrupted view of Lake Michigan, with Navy Pier clearly visible in the distance.
Is there a gift shop?
Yes! The Adler Store has educational games and toys, books, souvenirs, and clothing.
Are other attractions close to the Planetarium?
EXHIBITS AT ADLER PLANETARIUM
This section lists some of the fun exhibits available to interact with.
There are over 35,000 square feet to explore within the museum and it has one of the best views of the Chicago skyline!
Launch into space with Captain Lovell as you learn about the history of America’s space race, meeting the crew of Apollo 13 and touring the Gemini 12 spacecraft!
Our Solar System
Touching space rocks!? Enough said.
Feel fragments of the Moon and Mars, and get an up-close and personal view of meteorites while you learn the science behind their creation.
Community Design Lab
You’re a scientist with your toolkit (marshmallows, popsicle sticks, bubble wrap, etc.) to problem solve, understand more about how the world works, and create space-exploring inventions!
The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time
A history of the universe from the Big Bang right up until your visit!
This is the exhibit most people expect to see when they go to a world-renowned planetarium, and the Adler does not disappoint!
A space-age, indoor playground! For children ages 3-8 years old. Kids can let their imagination soar as they climb, crawl, and play in this interactive jungle gym!
Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass
Examine the tools that first gave us a glimpse of the stars, from 1608 to the present day.
Marvel at the ingenuity of our fellow human beings’ inventions, including a colossal 22-foot-long antique!
Astronomy in Culture
Explore the Medieval European and Middle Eastern history of stargazing.
The galaxy has fascinated everyone for centuries, and you’ll learn about the early theories in this exhibit that puts you in a replica medieval classroom!
What is a Planet?
Voted #1 in the British Society for the History of Science’s 2016 Exhibitions Competition, this exhibit teaches all ages what classifies an object as a planet as it travels among the stars.
- Discounts for the Art Institute in Chicago
- Discounts for the Museum of Science and Industry
- Tourist Attraction Discount Passes in Chicago
- Things to Do in Chicago
This post provides information about how to visit the Museum of Science and Industry on their free days, as well as other potential discounts on tickets you might want to consider.
Read more »
This post has information on the best things to do in Chicago, including nighttime, free, as well as family-friendly events and activities. Read more »
Getting around Chicago on public transit is easy for visitors and tourists, and can really save you money as you explore the Windy City. Read more »
In this post, we will list all of the museums you can visit for free in Chicago.
While some locations only offer free museum days, others provide admission to veterans, military family, and other specific groups. Read more »
This post compares the best discounts on Chicago boat tours and cruises, including architecture cruises, sightseeing tours, speedboats, sailboats, kayaks, and water taxis.
Read more »
Chicago is a fantastic city to visit. If you only have 24 hours in Chicago to spend, we want you to make the most of it.
Therefore we compiled a list of things to do and things to bring on your next trip to Chicago. The people here are friendly, the food is delicious, and the architecture is exquisite.
Of course, we recommend you spend as much time as you can to enjoy the wonderful things that Chicago has to offer, but if you only have one day and really just want to experience the most famous “highlights”- here is your guide.
Check out our Chicago Visitors Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Chicago attractions.
Tip: Save more money in Chicago with a tourist discount pass, which offers one-day attraction discounts. Read our post to see if one is worth it for you.
We also offer several pay-what-you-like walking tours.
What should you bring with you for a day in the city?
- Cash, an I.D., your phone (and/or a map)
- A refillable water bottle
- Camera! (or phone with a camera)
- Some healthy snacks to chop on like an apple or carrots. (You will be eating indulgently in Chicago so your body might need a break)
- COMFORTABLE walking shoes. (Don’t worry- Chicago won’t judge your sneakers.)
- Layers- Chicago’s weather can be tricky. Check out the weather before your day hear and be prepared.
Click the map to enlarge or click here for a movable map.
Breakfast in Chicago
We recommend you start the day with some food, so you can easily accomplish this full day of Chicago fun! There are so many delicious breakfast-food places in the city.
They open at 6:00 am Monday-Saturday (closed on Sundays), so you can start your day early!
Plus, they are hidden inside of an architectural gem, the Pittsfield Building.
If you have a sweet tooth and just want a quick bite, try one of Chicago’s boutique donut shops.
Their donuts are AMAZING and fresh. So fresh that at this location when they are out of donuts- they close up for the day, so make sure you come early.
Try the pistachio lemon donut, the good old buttermilk, and the maple bacon donut.
Visit the Cultural Center Chicago
If you just ate at the Pittsfield, the Cultural Center is across the street at Washington and Michigan.
Most days it is open by 9 am (Sundays and Holidays 10 am).
At the bottom level, there is a visitor’s center with maps galore. If you don’t have a map or a smartphone – we recommend you pick a folding map up here.
Be sure to read our post on free museums in Chicago.
Tour Downtown Chicago (the Loop) & Millennium Park
Free Tours by Foot offers many different tours and frankly, they all show different wonderful sections of Chicago but if you only spend 24 hours in Chicago we recommend the Loop & Millennium Park tour.
We also offer it as a GPS-led audio tour, which you can take any time of ay.
Your Chicago-loving guide will take you on a journey through the downtown Loop district of the city which begins near State and Lake.
You will see the Chicago Theatre, Marshall Field’s, the Picasso, and the Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower).
While learning the history of Chicago you will gaze up at the magnificent buildings and appreciate the architectural genius that is in Chicago’s concrete landscape.
The tour ends at Millennium Park the famous sculpture “Cloudgate” (aka “The Bean”).
They have Chicago style hotdogs, which are all beef, with mustard, tomatoes, onions, relish, pickle, hot peppers, celery salt, a poppy seed bun, and NO KETCHUP and Italian Beef Sandwiches.
Although we call them Italian, this sandwich is certainly not from Italy. Most Chicagoans ask for the Italian Beef with mozzarella cheese, sweet or hot peppers (aka Giardiniera).
We ask for it to be “dipped”, which means the cook will take your entire sandwich and dunk it into seasoned meat juice. It is essential but messy, and so delicious.
Let’s leave the Chicago Loop and head north to see one of Chicago’s oldest buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1871.
It’s the Water Tower and Pumping Station – a real Chicago gem at Michigan and Chicago Streets.
The Water Tower now hosts a series of rotating free exhibits and the Pumping Station is now the Looking Glass Theatre.
It’s free to visit and open daily from 10 am – 6:30 pm (except Holidays).
It is an entire mile of shopping and historic hotels. You’ll find Coach, Gucci, Burberry, Apple, H & M, and even a Nordstrom’s Rack.
Along the road are some architectural highlights, including the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, NBC Studios, and Trump Tower.
Eat the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Dinner? You can’t come to Chicago without trying the famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
According to the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Uno’s is the original deep dish pizza. Their pizzas are great, and the restaurant feels like a friendly underground lounge.
Gino’s East also has a lot of character. Their crust deviates from the Chicago original by using cornmeal as the base. Very tasty.
(Bring a permanent marker since you are encouraged to “leave your mark” on the walls.)
Visit the Hancock Building and the Signature Lounge
Now is the time to see one of the best views of the city.
We do recommend you visit the Observation Deck, it’s worth the ticket price and you can take great photos and enjoy the view.
If you want to save yourself the admission fee though and instead spend the money on a cocktail or two instead, ride the elevator up to the 96th floor to the Signature Lounge (you’ll have to show your I.D. here for age proof).
The Signature Lounge is a great place for cocktails and/or dessert.
The food is wonderful but the view is unbeatable. Sip your cocktail while looking at the Sears Tower (aka the Willis Tower).
Even though the line to get into the bar can be long (especially on weekends) the wait is worth it.
Also, attention ladies: use the ladies’ bathroom to enjoy the splendid views from the top. Sorry pals, no view for you in the bathrooms!
By now, it is either nighttime or the lights are lining the streets or perhaps the sun is about to set, so enjoy your drinks.
Enjoy Chicago Improv OR Blues
For the last event of the night, head to a blues club, or venture down to an Improv Theatre.
There are options for both that are only a few train stops away or just go ahead and treat yourself to a cab since you are only here for a day.
Second City is famous for training some of the best comedians like Tina Fey, Mike Myers, and the Belushi Brothers.
The closest Blues club would be Buddy Guys Legends at Wabash and Balbo.
Either choice is a perfect end to a Chicago visit, especially because Chicago is known for the blues and improv.