Lincoln Park Zoo


The zoo has been around since 1868 and is a local freebie favorite, filled with lions, zebras, snow monkeys and other exotic creatures in the shadow of downtown. Check out the Regenstein African Journey, polar-bear-stocked Arctic Tundra and dragonfly-dappled Nature Boardwalk for the cream of the crop. The Gateway Pavilion (on Cannon Dr) is the main entrance; pick up a map and schedule of feedings and training sessions.

Families swarm the grounds. Kids beeline for the African exhibit, which puts them close to pygmy hippos and dwarf crocodiles. The Ape House pleases with its swingin’ gorillas and chimps while snow monkeys chill in the Macaque Forest. Farm-in-the-Zoo features a full range of barnyard animals and offers frequent demonstrations of cow milking, horse grooming and other farm work, along with kid-centric play events. The half-mile-long Nature Boardwalk circles the adjacent South Pond and teaches about wetlands ecology; keep an eye out for endangered birds such as the black-crowned night heron. Kids can also climb aboard the vintage train and carousel ($3 per ride). A completely revamped exhibit house for the zoo's pride of lions and a state-of-the-art new visitor center should have been completed by 2020.

As well as the Gateway Pavilion, the zoo has multiple entrances around its perimeter. Drivers be warned: parking here is among the city’s worst. If you do find a spot in the Cannon Dr lot, it can cost up to $35 for four hours.

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