Nestled between the hustle and bustle of the Windy City on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, is Chicago’s iconic Lincoln Park Zoo. This free zoo, located in the the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood (hence the name) and in the middle of the large park by the same name, is an attraction not to be missed. It has long been one of D’s and my favorite parts of the city, even before the kids came along.
We didn’t realize before arriving in Chicago five years ago that our apartment was so close to the entrance of the zoo. When we learned that it was only a 15 minute walk from our street, we knew we had to check it out. Lincoln Park Zoo became the destination of many early date nights for the two of us. And why wouldn’t it be? Back then, D was in law school, my job didn’t pay much, and the majority of our income went towards student loans. We didn’t have the money to spend on luxurious dates. So, we went to the zoo. As a result, Lincoln Park Zoo holds many wonderful memories for us.
We moved to the suburbs over two years ago and, although I love it so much more than living in the city, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of two locations I miss the most about living in Chicago. The other is living so close to the lakefront. It’s difficult for us to go to the zoo very often now because of our time commitments and the distance but we still try to make it at least once a year.
So what makes Lincoln Park Zoo so great?
I’ve already mentioned that admission is free. The zoo relies on monetary donations as well as money from merchandise and food sales. For me, that’s reason enough to go. Every time we go, we let Ladybug pick out a souvenir to take home to do our part to keep the zoo running.
The location is amazing. I love Lincoln Park. During our three years in Lakeview, I spent a lot of time in the park and at the waterfront. I am not a city person. I prefer open spaces to buildings packed together. At times the busy city feels suffocating, as if the tall buildings are closing in on me. But just a few short blocks east, it feels as if I am transformed into a completely different world- one filled with peace and tranquility. And right in the middle of that world, is the zoo.
When I heard that Lincoln Park Zoo was free, I expected it to be a lame attempt with just a few animals scattered about so that it would look like a zoo. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not that way at all. There is a wide variety of animals to see from zebras to gorillas; from the largest cat to the smallest reptile. Here’s a weird tidbit about me: my two favorite animals are the snow leopard and the hippopotamus. Lincoln Park has both. Ladybug informed us that her favorite animal is the rhino (that’s news to me)- Lincoln Park has a couple of those, too. True, this zoo might not be as big as some other zoos but considering that admission is free, I think it is a pretty decent size.
Not only does Lincoln Park Zoo have wild animals, there is also a farm. If you exit the main zoo and walk a few minutes south of the southern most exit, you’ll find the entrance to the Farm in the Zoo where kids and adults have the opportunity to pet goats, watch a cow be milked, and explore exhibits that give visitors a chance to learn about life on a farm. Ladybug begged us to take her to pet the goats but decided she liked them better with a fence between her and them.
And if those four reasons aren’t enough to draw people to it, let’s not forget that parts of the film Return to Me was filmed at Lincoln Park Zoo. I think that’s pretty cool.
Lincoln Park Zoo is a place worth visiting for young and old alike. But don’t take my word for it. Come and see for yourself.
Have you visited Lincoln Park Zoo? What did you think?
Like this? Follow Becoming a Traveling Family on Bloglovin’!