Published: July 23, 2019

Make the Most of Your Summer Museum Visit

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Our insider’s guide to enjoying summer at the Field, with ideas for your group, interests, and budget.

Pink coneflowers in front of the Field Museum's north entrance on a sunny day with clear blue skies.

Getting here

Take public transit

For a convenient and environment-friendly mode of transportation, take CTA Red, Orange, or Green lines to the Roosevelt stop. From there, you can either take the #146 bus right to our front door or walk about 15 minutes from the L stop to the Field. Once you cross Columbus Drive, you'll enter Grant Park. Follow the path through an underpass, then turn right and up a slight hill to the museum's north entrance. Several north-south CTA bus lines also drop off at Columbus, where it’s just a short stroll through the park to the museum.

Hop on a bike

Take advantage of the (short-lived) Chicago summer weather by grabbing a bike and making your way to the museum from the Lakefront Trail. Park your own bike at the racks by our building’s north and east entrances, or drop off a Divvy bike at the station on McFetridge Drive near the south entrance to the museum.

Drive

The closest parking garage to the Field is at Soldier Field. All parking options on Museum Campus are owned by the Chicago Park District, and rates are subject to change.

If you’re planning to drive, be sure to check for events happening at Soldier Field, on Museum Campus, or in downtown Chicago (concerts, festivals, races, etc.) that may affect your route. 

To snag a deal on parking, check out the SpotHero app for nearby Field Museum parking spots. New app users get 5% off by using promo code FIELDCHI.

Find more details on directions and parking, including accessibility.

What to see

Best places for young ones

  • Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet: This is where you’ll find most of our dinosaurs, including SUE, the world’s best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex. Be sure to pick up a free copy of the Dinosaur Highlights Guide from the info desk to embark on your own self-guided paleontological adventure.
  • Máximo the Titanosaur: You can’t miss him! This dinosaur cast, which kids are welcome to touch, will greet you when you walk into our main Stanley Field Hall. Try texting Máximo at 70221 to learn more about him and have a delightful conversation about dinosaurs.
  • 3D movies: Movies last about 20 minutes and are a great opportunity to sit down and take a break.
  • Nature Walk: Stroll the boardwalk through some of our classic diorama scenes and see how many creatures you can find.

Embark on a wildlife-watching expedition through Nature Walk.

Lucy Hewett

Best photo spots

  • Fantastic Bug Encounters!: This special exhibition is here for a limited time only, and there’s a photo opp around every corner—Weta Workshop, the designers behind sets and props for The Lord of the Rings, created the larger-than-life bug models. At the Live Bug Zoo, get photographic proof that you’re brave enough to hold a live cockroach, beetle, or grasshopper.
  • Quetzalcoatlus: Imagine you’re getting a hug from the enormous pterosaur sitting outside the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet.

  • SUE the T. rex: Find SUE’s gallery inside Evolving Planet. Wait a few minutes for the lighting to change colors and capture your favorite SUE look.  

  • Photo murals in Abbot Hall of Conservation: Restoring Earth: Every great profile picture needs a great backdrop. These large-scale photos of iridescent beetle wings and snakeskin provide the perfect spot to pose. 

  • Get eye level with Máximo on the second-floor balcony to capture his permanent prehistoric smile.

Best spots to hide from the crowds

  • Plants of the World: Rows of displays showcase hundreds of realistic, handmade plant models. The low lighting and long halls make for a meditative respite and a new appreciation for nature.
  • Audubon’s Birds of America: This intimate exhibition features John James Audubon’s rare bird book alongside colorful murals and comfy armchairs. Find the entrance to the Brooker Gallery on the upper level, at the top of the northeast stairs.
  • Sue Ling Gin Garden: Enter this contemplative space after making your way through the Cyrus Tang Hall of China. Inspired by classical Chinese gardens, this indoor space includes sculptures, seating, and natural light. You can also reach it from Plants of the World or the dinosaur hall in Evolving Planet
  • Ronald and Christina Gidwitz Hall of Birds: Wander the rows of winged specimens, then take a rest in the Artists’ Corner as you sit and admire bird-inspired art. 
  • Rice Native Gardens:  Make your way through the paths in the gardens on the north side of the museum. You'll find benches nestled among native plants like milkweed, coneflower, and blazing star.
Eight spirit stones fill the Sue Ling Gin Garden—two stand about five feet tall, while others are smaller. Three stones are in the foreground with a bamboo-floor path separating them from other stones in the background.

Unwind in the Sue Ling Gin Garden, a peaceful space filled with eight spirit stones donated by the municipal government of Suzhou.

Morgan Anderson

See more for less

Summer can get expensive, but a trip to Field doesn’t have to be. First, start out with CTA as an affordable way to travel. Take advantage of Free Admission Days for Illinois residents, happening every Wednesday from August 14 through November 13. You’ll enjoy free Basic admission, which includes hits like SUE the T. rex, the Tsavo lions, the Fighting African Elephants, mummies, meteorites, and more. 

All year long, we have additional discounts for Chicago residents, Illinois teachers, and active military personnel. As part of Museums for All, we offer low-cost admission for families with EBT or WIC cards from any state. 

If you’re coming from out of state and want to see all the Chicago sights, CityPASS or Go Chicago Card are great options for saving money on more attractions. Check out all these details and more as you plan your visit.

And for locals, a Field Museum membership is a great way to save. Members enjoy unlimited Basic admission throughout the year, as well as early access to special exhibitions and many other perks. 

You’re welcome to pack lunch or a snack to enjoy in one of our picnic eating areas on the ground level. And of course, you need a souvenir to remember your visit. Find one (or all!) of the Mold-A-Rama machines around the building to a) watch in wonder as your new dino or elephant is made before your eyes, and b) bring home a memory that’s worth way more than the $3 it costs.

Can’t visit in person?

We know the summer days can fill up quickly. Sometimes a visit to your favorite natural history museum just isn’t in the cards. You can still keep up with science and discovery through The Brain Scoop, learning resources like Mission to the Mesozoic, and wherever you get your social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you're heading out of town, take the Field with you on vacation. Consult the Lake Michigan beachgoer’s guide or our guide to Milwaukee fossils, or dig deeper into a variety of plant and animal life you can identify by using Field Guides. Wherever summer takes you, we hope you're enjoying nature and learning something new!