If you are looking for fun, cheap things to do in Chicago you can't go wrong with the Lincoln Park Zoo. First of all, admission is free which is a big plus. The Zoo is a nice size without being too big. You can see plenty of animals that you would see in a paying zoo without having to walk a lot to see them. The only con of this zoo is food prices. For a family of 4 we spent over $35 on lunch so I would recommend bringing in your own food or eating before you go in.
The Cultural Museum is closed until they move into their new building but we visited them right before they closed and had a good time. Admission is free and the main attraction, for us anyway, was the Bozo the clown memorabilia. They have the costumes of Bozo & Cookie along with the original buckets from the Grand Prize game. They also have the big drawing wheel where Bozo would pick the kid who would play the Grand Prize game at home. If you're interested in watching you can go into the video room to watch tapes of the old shows. This place has other things besides Bozo stuff (including the camera that filmed the Kennedy debate) and it's a great free place to visit in Chicago.
There's nothing quite like being out on Lake Michigan and looking at the most beautiful city in the US...Chicago. My family and I visited Navy Pier over the summer and Shoreline was having a deal on their Skyline boat tours. With our paid adult admission our children got to ride free. Since we really wanted to do this boat tour anyway we jumped at the deal. The tour consists of boating up and down the shoreline while you look at the buildings and hear the tour guide tell stories. My wife and I found it informative and my kids just loved being out in a boat. Next time we plan on taking the Architecture Tour which travels down the Chicago River!
One look inside this mall and you will see that this is no ordinary mall. This place is filled with glass & lights which give it a very bright and shiny appearance. Each level is slightly smaller than the level above it which makes for a neat view when you are on the top level. My kids loved the big glass elevators...they were an attraction of their own. We love the new Cubs store that is located on the seventh floor. Go Cubs!
My kids used to love The Wiggles so when we found out they would be in Chicago at the Chicago Theatre we bought tickets right away. The Theatre is amazing inside with its gorgeous grand staircase with plush red carpeting and the beautiful paintings painted on the ceilings and walls inside the theater itself. It has stadium seating which was great for the kids. The staff was amazingly friendly and seemed to really enjoy all the kids that were on the scene. Now that we've seen a kids show there I would love to go back with my wife and see something more grown up. This place was amazing and I can't wait to go back.
This place is definately a MUST to visit if you are planning a trip to Chicago. The Field Museum has something for everyone. The kids loved seeing Sue, the giant T-Rex on display. They also loved the dinosaur room where they had several other dinosaurs on display including a pteradactyl. My wife and I loved the Egyptian exhibit which allows you to do deep into a replica of a pyramid. They have a room filled with the prettiest gems you have ever seen. Admission is a bit pricey but where else can you find a place to visit where everyone will enjoy it?
During the summer if you visit the Navy Pier be sure to stop into the Children's Museum. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-7 and this is an essential place to visit if you are in Chicago and have kids. This museum is designed with kids in mind with interactive exhibits such as the dinosaur dig & the waterway exhibit. My kids loved the dinosaur exhibit where they were able to put on archeologist gear and dig to find dinosaur bones. This museum is jammed packed with fun stuff for kids & is (in my opinion) the best place in Chicago for kids.
I take all our cans to Tenco to have them redeemed. Unlike the other can redemption centers in town, I can get in and out quickly. The workers are fast & friendly. They also accept donations such as computers, monitors etc. I recommend taking your cans to Tenco any time you want them redeemed.