48 Hours in Chicago for Active Duty Service Members

Coming up to Chicago for the weekend? As an active duty service member, there is a lot to take advantage of in the city for free or a fraction of the normal price! And with warmer temperatures right around the corner, there is no better time to explore all that Chicago has to offer. Here are some of our suggestions for how to make the most of your time in the Windy City:

–> Check out the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, then make your way through Millennium Park (make sure to stop for a picture with the Bean!). If you’re feeling active, pick up a Divvy bike at one of their many stations surrounding the park and ride along the Lakefront path for stellar views of the skyline.

–> Visit any of Chicago’s amazing museums, many of which offer free admission to active duty service members. Our favorites are the Field Museum and Art Institute! You can see a full list of military discounts in Chicago here.


–> Head North to Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the nation’s oldest zoos housing 1200 animals – find detailed directions here.

–> Check out the view from Willis Tower Skydeck, which is free for active duty military who show their ID to the cashier.


–> Hungry? Grab a slice of Chicago’s infamous deep dish pizza at Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s.


–> Have a late night laugh at Chicago’s historical improve club The Second City, where active duty military can receive a free ticket to any show! We recommend the nightly Mainstage Revue. See a full list of shows here.

–> Any last minute gifts or shopping you need to get done? Look no further than the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue! With tons of stores to choose from, it won’t be hard to find that perfect gift for a special someone. Be sure to check out this list of stores offering military discounts beforehand!

–> Browse the Tickets for Troops website to see if there are any sporting events going on while you’re in town. You could score free tickets to see the Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs, Bears, and more!

–> In the early decades of the twentieth century, Chicago’s fast-growing industries brought the city a great deal of wealth, along with an abundance of jazz music. Catch a live performance at the historic Kingston Mines.


The map below highlights many of the attractions we mentioned, and may give you ideas for more activities should your schedule allow it. And if you do take any of these tips, be sure to tag us in your social media posts (@ILJoiningForces). We can’t wait to see what you do!


Written by Caitlin Hodes, IJF Program Analyst

Lenny Harris

Author Lenny Harris

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