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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 16

Gapers Block

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RN / May 4, 2005 11:30 PM

Free museum day!

Maureen / May 5, 2005 12:51 AM

Dog beach!
Chicago Cultural Center
Movies in the park
Bike path (though not on the weekends, it gets too crowded)
Walking around in neighborhoods with neat buildings, or walking around the loop at night and looking at neat buildings

Emerson Dameron / May 5, 2005 3:14 AM

In all sincerity... and it's tough, since no one's said anything about anyone's mom... the Garfield Park Conservatory gets my vote.

amyc / May 5, 2005 6:31 AM

Sitting by the lake and breathing in that lake-y smell while watching the water sparkle in the sun. Especially after a crappy day at work.

Also, another vote for the dog beach.

Michael / May 5, 2005 7:19 AM

Garfield Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo, Movies in the Park

Aliota / May 5, 2005 8:04 AM

'Free' Millenium Park, which cost over half a billion dollars.

Save the CTA! Sell the Bean!

Tim / May 5, 2005 8:31 AM

walking/enjoying/swimming (yes, swimming. Not right this minute though) the Chicago lakefront from 35st Street to the newly reconfigured 57th Street beach. We have a great city.

Overwrought / May 5, 2005 8:45 AM

I second the lake.

Hector A. Villagrana / May 5, 2005 8:47 AM

Garfield Park Conservatory, especially during a grey January or February day.

miss ellen / May 5, 2005 9:13 AM

garfield park conservatory, the beach, millenium park, and all the free summer festivals....

Carole Brown / May 5, 2005 9:21 AM

My favorite thing to do is take cabs to work and then act like I could give a flying damn about the concerns of transit riders.

yet another Jen / May 5, 2005 9:51 AM

Grant park music festival - free symphony in the park, eating a picnic while watching the sun set behind the skyline. I don't know if I'll still love it since they've moved it to Millennium park.

anne / May 5, 2005 10:03 AM

I third the doggie beach, and I don't even have a dog! (also, seeing the dogs frolic at Wiggly Field, makes me happy, even from the train.)

Honestly, I love that the Lincoln Park Zoo is free. There aren't many (if any?) in the country of that scale that are. (Now if they can just keep all the animals alive...)

Michael / May 5, 2005 10:18 AM

You are correct, Anne...

Lincoln Park Zoo is the sole remaining free zoo in the country.

dcer / May 5, 2005 10:29 AM

The National Zoo in D.C. is free.

salty / May 5, 2005 10:30 AM

Sitting by the lake is my favorite free thing, too.

And I like to stroll the Lincoln Park Zoo and see the Sichuan Takin. :-)

(Btw, the National Zoological Park in D.C. is free, and they have *pandas* -- but I've never been there.)

Michael / May 5, 2005 10:47 AM

I stand corrected. Perhaps I had read that the Lincoln Park Zoo is the sole remaining "city" zoo, as the one in Washington D.C. is considered the "national" zoo.

salty / May 5, 2005 10:50 AM

My other favorite free Chicago thing is making snarky comments in the "Fuel" section of Gapers Block. hee hee

Perch / May 5, 2005 10:52 AM

Definitely going to see music with eating at wonderful restaurants a close second.

I especially enjoy it when the weather's so nice that I can ride my bike to the lake, hang out a bit, then zip inland to get a bite to eat while sitting outside.

Another thing that I enjoy during the summer, although it can be way too crowded at times, is the old town art festival. I just enjoy walking through those beautiful neighborhoods and taking in the amazing art work.

Xan / May 5, 2005 11:02 AM

anybody know when the Summer Dance schedule comes out? That is a goooood time.

Erica / May 5, 2005 11:27 AM

Free summertime funstuff:
Hanging out in my backyard or stoop
Walking around different neighborhoods
Checking out the farmer's markets
The flea market on the Southside
People watching
Craft fairs
Dog park
Biking to Montrose Beach
Taking the top of the Jeep and going for a joyride, which turns out, costs gas money, but whatever!
Cozying up to a fire near the backyard fire pit after dark
Laying out a towel and getting some sun whilst reading a good book or doing a crossword.
Sight seeing

Maggie / May 5, 2005 11:54 AM

Lincoln Park Zoo makes me VERY happy, as does the lake and walking down Michigan Ave and laughing at tourists. I guess being judgemental is free?

Eric Z. / May 5, 2005 12:32 PM

-Noontime concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center.
-Bookstores: 57th Street Books, Myopic, Powell's.
-Record store in-store shows (some of my favorite, because the bands are usually off-the-cuff and having fun).
-Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.

Naz / May 5, 2005 12:38 PM

I still miss the old Summer Solstice celebration that the MCA used to hold. Good times and helping a cause too.

Craig / May 5, 2005 1:07 PM

Laying around in a city park with your significant other and doing some serious people watching.

J / May 5, 2005 1:26 PM

Not quite the city, but the shark feedings at the Living Seas Pet Shop in Park Ridge are pretty fun.

Nicole / May 5, 2005 2:16 PM

I love farmers markets. Can someone tell me where to find some good ones in Chicago this summer? I'm originally from Madison, WI, and haven't seen anything that lives up to their Farmer's Market yet. Of course, I haven't known where to look!

redliner_chi / May 5, 2005 3:13 PM

the St. Louis zoo is free, too. actually, almost all the museums in St. Louis are free.

in Chicago the best free thing to do is definitely walking on the beach. I love walking along the path at Loyola beach watching all the soccer games, people with kites, crazy dogs, tennis players, hippies grilling out, old ladies sunning themselves and Soul Guy--the guy who rides through the park with a radio in his bicycle basket blaring soul and r&b music. man, I can't wait for summer.

waleeta / May 5, 2005 4:11 PM

That's specific to Chicago? Walking along our beach, Tuesdays at the Art Institute, movies in Grant Park, skating on state...

and best of all - fully experiencing that euphoric "oh my God it's spring outside" feeling that is stronger in chicagoans than any other city-folk....anywhere!

Michael / May 5, 2005 4:11 PM


You can find a weekly roundup of the farmers markets here.

Blake / May 5, 2005 4:48 PM

As a member of the soon-to-be-jobless population, I proclaim this the best thread ever!

Yet another Jen / May 5, 2005 4:59 PM

Nicole - that link may tell you about farmers markets, but unfortunately none of them measure up to Madison's.

hey Xan - this unwieldy address may take you summer dance chicago

Michelle / May 5, 2005 7:14 PM

Re: farmers markets: I heard a rumor that the all-organic Green City Market in the park at 1750 Clark will be on Saturdays this year as well as Wednesdays. Can anyone confirm this?? The size of it does not compare to Madison, but the quality is outstanding.

Tracy / May 5, 2005 9:38 PM

I just visited Chicago for the first time and really loved walking around, looking at the amazing buildings and the gorgeous river front.

miss mann / May 6, 2005 12:01 AM

I'm not sure how the farmers MARKETS got on the free thread but I'm always willing to pitch in on the topic....

the rumors re: the Green City Market on Sat. are indeed true. Chicago generally seems to be a little shaky on its hippy credentials regarding farmers markets and co-ops...the Green City is good though, if you have a car Evanston's market is good as well, although a bit spendy (as they'd say in MN and maybe Madison as well)

as for things that are actually free? headphones and long, long walks. lakey bits. crammed in social events on little back porches. libraries.

mike / May 6, 2005 2:35 AM

fishing off of Montrose pier.
driving down LCD between 2-5AM
talking to strangers

but the best of favorite free Chicago thing to do as a teen was to drive downtown with my friends after midnight and skateboard.

craftymonkey / May 6, 2005 2:59 AM

Spring is in the air...we can tell when all that's on our minds is daytime activities (preferably done in sunny weather).

I want to know more about all FREE stuff in Chicago that I can do at NIGHT! I was just out for cinco de mayo and spent a fortune to be in a festive atmosphere...

2 cents ::: LPZoo is best when the MONKEYS are active!

Matt / May 6, 2005 10:16 AM

YEA MONKEEYS!!!! Watching Monkeys throw poo at each other, always free and fun.

andrew / May 6, 2005 12:10 PM

Monthly free readings at Mojoe's Cafe. Never know what you're going to find. Seriously, Andrew Huff showed up once and read a recipe. We have all types of writers and writing fans that show up to read and listen. First Saturday of every month (umm, like tomorrow), 7:30pm, corner of Roscoe and Oakley. Tomorrow's will be a release party for Living Proof #4, and hosted by Andrew of Living Proof.

Erica / May 6, 2005 1:09 PM

Glencoe Beach, up on Sheridan, is a pretty cool quasi-road trip just North of the city. We just walk along the beach and down the pier, and after, check out the fancy pants houses on Sheridan that we'll never afford.

Glencoe Beach

Erica / May 6, 2005 1:10 PM

Glencoe Beach, up on Sheridan, is a pretty cool quasi-road trip just North of the city (I don't believe it costs anything to park and walk around). We just walk along the beach and down the pier, and after, check out the fancy pants houses on Sheridan that we'll never afford.

Glencoe Beach

Erica / May 6, 2005 1:11 PM

I'm retarded and can't figure out how to make a link. Sorry. No, don't look at me, I'm a failure.

Eamon / May 6, 2005 1:51 PM

Glencoe Beach.

christy / May 6, 2005 4:13 PM

free at night: hiding out by the lake after the cops cruise by -- much more of a challenge now that so many of the rocks are replaced with concrete slabs. :(

walking around the side streets after dark, but before the main bedtime, when people's lights are on and blinds raised. Don't go right up to the window and stare! But even with glances, you can get a good gallery show or minor sitcom. :)

matt / May 6, 2005 4:39 PM

Hmm, Christy, I am smelling a peeping tom? LOL

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