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Best Of Chicago

A Guide To Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo

September 20, 2013 7:00 AM

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King the eastern black rhinoceros. (Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

King the eastern black rhinoceros. (Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Lincoln Park Zoo
Cannon Drive at Fullerton Parkway
Chicago, IL  60614
(312) 742-2000
www.lpzoo.org

For a fun-filled day, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. From aardvarks to zebras, the zoo features an assortment of animals and activities that make it a great destination for a day with the kids, meeting up with friends and even having a first date with that special someone. It’s also free and is open 365 days per year, making it a great spot to visit at any time. But when do you go and what should you see? Consider checking out the following guide to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

How To Get There

Lincoln Park Zoo is located at Cannon Drive at Fullerton Parkway in Chicago, and is right off Lake Shore Drive if you’re driving; just exit on Fullerton Parkway. Parking is available at the zoo’s lot, with rates available on the zoo’s website. Free parking is available on several streets around the zoo, but parking spots fill up quickly. You can also take the CTA’s buses and trains, with more details available online.

King the eastern black rhinoceros. (Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

King the eastern black rhinoceros. (Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

What To See

With approximately 49 acres, there is a lot of ground to cover at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The great part of visiting the zoo is you can take as much or as little time as you want to visit it, as you can stop in during your lunch break for a quick stroll or spend a good part of the day visiting with friends and seeing the animals.

Since the zoo boasts approximately 1,100 animals, you might be wondering where you should start. The Kovler Sea Lion Pool is a must-see attraction, especially during feeding times. Make sure you take a few minutes and head to the observation room so you can see the seals underwater, too. If you’re not squeamish about snakes, then definitely check out the Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House. In addition to snakes, you can see crocodiles, newts and boas, among other reptiles. No visit to the zoo is complete without seeing the Regenstein Center for African Apes, as the building allows visitors to see chimpanzees and Western lowland gorillas in an educational and fun environment.

If you’re visiting the zoo with children, then you’ll want to add Farm-in-the-Zoo to your list of things to do. The attraction includes cows, horses and chickens, and you can even pet the goats. While you’re there, make sure you check out the zoo’s Edible Garden. And don’t forget the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, which includes a host of animals that children can see up close. For a complete list of animal houses to visit, consider checking out the zoo’s website.

Related: 2013 Guide To The Field Museum

Where To Eat

Whether you want to have a picnic with food you brought from home or grab a sandwich while you’re at the zoo, you’re in luck. There are plenty of benches for you to sit and have a bite to eat, as well as plenty of open green spaces where you can open a blanket and relax. The zoo has an assortment of cafes that offer sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, organic food, soft drinks and beer and wine, allowing you to visit at your leisure. The restaurants at the zoo include Park Place Café and Café at Wild Things. There are also plenty of spots to pick up ice cream or a cold beverage on a hot day.

When To Visit

As the zoo is open 365 days per year, there are a number of activities planned all year. Upcoming events include a salsa dance class, the harvest festival, the annual ZooLights celebration and discussions on topics that range from gardening to the kinds of animals that live in North America.

Related: 2012 Guide To The Museum Of Science And Industry

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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