One of the best way to spend a few hours in Chicago is to stroll through the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo. It doesn’t matter if you are simply going on a run through the zoo after work, searching for a beloved animal with your little ones, meeting a photographer for an engagement photo shoot, taking your class on a field trip, taking in some holiday fun at Zoo Lights, or catching a free summer concert–the Lincoln Park Zoo has it all. And the best part??? It’s FREE!
We have been frequenting the Lincoln Park Zoo a whole lot more because my sister and brother-in-law live across the street from it (how cool is that?!?) and we always find something new and unique to do there, no matter how many times we have been for a visit.
You see, the Lincoln Park Zoo isn’t just your typical zoo. Yes, it has cool animals and exhibits, as well as tons of food carts to indulge in an authentic Chicago dog or popcorn, but it has a whole lot more than what most people would expect. If you are looking for tips on a more traditional zoo (that we still love!) check out Brookfield Zoo.
The Lincoln Park Zoo’s newest attribute is the creation of a kiddie train on which little ones can pass through different types of landscapes (canyons, forests, you name it), all under your watchful eyes.
Another great feature that makes the Lincoln Park Zoo stand out from the rest is the totally awesome Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure. This crazy rope maze is a great way to escape the rain, cold, or heat, and it is totally FREE!
Be sure to check out the “Farm in the Zoo” to check out how the pigs, cows, and goats are doing and experience some of the free programming such as the “Sing Along with Mr. Singer” and “Play Days At the Farm.” I mean, for kids who are city slickers, it’s great to get a taste of farm life in the middle of a massive city!
Another great place to check out while at the Lincoln Park Zoo is the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. There, kids can go face to face with animals, as well as attend demonstrations and “meet and greets” with featured animals of the day.
Our whole family are huge fans of wandering through the Nature Boardwalk at the zoo, seeking out native plants and animals that we know and love here in the Midwest. It also makes for a gorgeous backdrop for family photos.
And of course, we ALWAYS have to take a ride (or two) on the Endangered Species Carousel.
Oh, and parents, I haven’t forgotten about you! One of my favorite features at the Lincoln Park Zoo is Café Brauer, a trendy yet casual café situated along the beautiful pond in the zoo, where you can get some really great food and adult beverages. To be perfectly honest, you don’t even feel like you are at a zoo (no cafeteria style food here!) while relaxing at the café. Café Brauer is also a very popular place for weddings based on its beautiful architecture, a striking feature you will find on many buildings and structures throughout the zoo.
Now don’t think that we ignore the animals at the zoo, because we always check them out. One of the greatest features of the Lincoln Park Zoo is that you can get very close to the animals (albeit through very thick protective glass), a great way for little ones to ally get nose to nose with these gorgeous and majestic animals.
My last tip for your trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo is to take public transportation or try to find parking on the side streets along the zoo. The lot fills up rather quickly, so it is best to make the trek early in the day. And if you are not in Chicago but still want to check out the zoo, rent “Return to Me.” Yes, it’s a chick flick, but it gives you a GREAT view of the zoo.
Looking for other animal fun? Search “zoo” in the side bar.